A new Climate Tech collaboration has launched today at London Tech Week, bringing together key Climate Tech hotspots across the UK and Europe to promote, develop and scale climate-critical technologies at speed and scale.
I contacted Roland Harwood, co-founder of Climate Tech Supercluster, to learn more.
Its mission is to galvanise founders, funders and organisations to accelerate collective climate action, innovation and impact across the region, which spans the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Through his work at Liminal, Harwood witnessed not only the speed of growth in climate but "how fragmented the sector is and the need to build better networks and a connected ecosystem that connects investors, innovators, and institutions."
The Supercluster wants to replicate the connectivity of Silicon Valley, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, providing a means to research innovation, map ecosystem stakeholders, and "connect the connectors" with their events, meetups and roundtables.
It will achieve this through various activities, from events, sponsorship and investment to access to research and networks. Harwood contends:
"R&D-focused geographic clusters facilitate talent, capital, process, data and IP flow between organisations, with players interacting for mutual benefit. By working together, the sum of Climate Tech action can be much greater than the parts."
"Climate tech is fundamentally a hardware rather than a software challenge.
"Many investment models are predicated on a software scaling model, where it's expensive to develop something. It's cheap to scale because you're essentially copying code, whereas climate tech is the opposite.
It's expensive and risky to develop a new product. But initiatives such as solar panel or EV charging rollouts require a very different kind of investment model."
Further, with climate tech only second to Generative AI for investor attention right now, it's easy to question the validity of new green tech investment initiatives, especially those rooted in deep tech science, especially as many investors come from an MBA or software background.
This raises the question of how they acquire the deep domain knowledge necessary to do business with startups creating granular technical solutions, sometimes at the cellular or chemical level, much less the ability to foster these into commercial offerings and new business models.
Imagine investors adversely blinded by science and hype while green tech startups struggle to find the right investment partnerships to create commercial opportunities.
Harwood contends that the involvement of Cambridge Cleantech, the UK's oldest cleantech network, and Oxfordshire Greentech, a specialist climate tech innovation network, are instrumental in capacity building, education, and networking.
"We know the best-connected people or the most expert people in any sector, or any geography or type of organisation."
Key geographic areas within the Supercluster include London, Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh and the northern triangle of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield in the UK, as well as Paris, which is home to the Paris-Saclay Cluster. Other key regions include Eindhoven and the Randstad - encompassing Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Reiden and The Hague - and the key Belgium tech zones of Brussels, Leuven, Flanders and Eindhoven.
Lead image: Karsten Würth