Singapore-based bank DBS and its global partners on Tuesday launched the second cycle of Sustaintech Xcelerator, a six-month climate-focused hybrid accelerator programme.

The programme is organised in partnership with Temasek, GenZero, Google Cloud, the World Bank, Capgemini, and the Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions at the National University of Singapore (NUS), according to DBS statement.

Verra will support Sustaintech Xcelerator as an independent standard setter. The group aims to accelerate the development of practicable climate tech solutions that will help businesses reduce their carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions at a faster rate.

According to the statement, the second run of Sustaintech Xcelerator will focus on solutions in three main areas: nature-based approaches such as afforestation and reforestation; technology-based approaches such as carbon capture and storage; enablers such as digital tools and capabilities on carbon accounting and sourcing of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data, with a preference for solutions that can help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) implement viable technology solutions to green their operations.

A total of SGD 250,000 ($178,254) in grants will be awarded to up to five successful applicants to scale their solutions.

These successful applications will also get access to Sustaintech Xcelerator’s network of world-leading research and commercial partners and will also be paired with senior mentors in the climate tech ecosystem.

In addition, they also have the option of receiving in-kind support such as mentoring and office space at DBS’ innovation hub, DBS Asia X (DAX).

“We need to accelerate climate action at scale. Sustaintech Xcelerator is well-placed to drive real action by providing sustaintech start-ups with mentorship from some of the best businesses and academics globally as well as technical and financial assistance so that these innovators can bring next-generation solutions to life,” said Helge Muenkel, Chief Sustainability Officer at DBS.

While the race to reduce carbon emissions remains an important strategy in managing the climate crisis, DBS said climate math is showing that gigatonne-scale carbon removal is needed in the coming decades to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Cited World Resource Institute (WRI) and Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), it said Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) is increasingly recognised as a critical strategy for the world to achieve its target of becoming a global net zero economy by 2050.

When paired with the simultaneous deployment of carbon management and mitigation measures, it said CDR is an effective tool that can address emissions from the hard-to-abate sectors such as agriculture and transportation to remove legacy carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.

“From the first cycle of the Sustaintech Xcelerator, it has been evident that there is both quantity and quality in the start-up ecosystem within the CDR domain,

“DBS and partners want to tap into that rich pool of innovative solutions and take a few through an amplification process where promising climate tech start-ups can draw on the deep and diverse expertise of our globally recognised partners. The time has come to amplify our efforts to green our emissions and business models,” said Bidyut Dumra, Group Head of Innovation at DBS.

Meanwhile, an inaugural survey of 800 SMEs across six markets in Asia conducted by DBS and Bloomberg Media Studios in August found that Environmental Social and Governance initiatives are a business priority for more than 80 percent of SMEs in Asia.

On the flip side, the top three challenges that SMEs face are – balancing the roll-out of sustainability solutions with business priorities, a lack of knowledge and know-how on which sustainability solutions to implement, and the difficulty in calculating clear return- on-investment (ROI).

“SMEs are the backbone of economies globally, they make up 90 percent of businesses and provide more than 50 percent of employment worldwide. As such, they have a very important part to play in the green transition,

“It is essential that they are given access to viable sustaintech solutions to green their operations in an efficient and practical manner. We hope that the solutions borne out of the Sustaintech Xcelerator will empower SMEs on their net zero journeys,” said Muenkel.

The Sustaintech Xcelerator Cycle 2 (2023) is now open for applications through December 2022. Five scale-up start-up finalists will together embark on their six-month acceleration journey from March/April 2023.

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