DBS and global partners sound clarion call to climate innovators developing solutions to address carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas removal

Sustaintech Xcelerator launches the second cycle of its six-month accelerator programme focused on innovative climate tech solutions that can help businesses become more carbon efficient

A total of SGD250,000 in grants as well as research, mentoring, networking and office space support to be awarded to up to five successful applicants

SINGAPORE and SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov. 8, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — With the risk of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions pushing past dangerous warming thresholds, DBS together with seven partners and supporters, have committed to further build on efforts to nurture and scale the climate tech ecosystem.

DBS and global partners today launched the second cycle of Sustaintech Xcelerator, a six-month climate-focused hybrid accelerator programme 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). 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.

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 ESG data, with a preference for solutions that can help SMEs implement viable technology solutions to green their operations

A total of SGD 250,000 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).

Helge Muenkel, Chief Sustainability Officer at DBS, said, “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.”

While the race to reduce carbon emissions remains an important strategy in managing the climate crisis, climate math is showing that gigatonne-scale carbon removal is needed in the coming decades to avoid the worst effects of climate change. According to World Resource Institute (WRI) and Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), 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[1].

When paired with the simultaneous deployment of carbon management and mitigation measures, 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[2].

Bidyut Dumra, Group Head of Innovation at DBS, said, “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.”

Encouraging Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to accelerate their net zero commitments

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% 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). 

Muenkel added, “SMEs are the backbone of economies globally, they make up 90% of businesses and provide more than 50% 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.”

Even as Sustaintech Xcelerator starts its second cycle, its first cohort has continued to scale-up their offerings:  

Perennial (or formerly known as Cloud Agronomics), developing standards and technology to underpin the generation of soil-based carbon removal credits for the voluntary carbon market, recently raised a funding round with investors including GenZero and Temasek. Its vision is to unlock soil as the world’s largest carbon sink. Sylvera, the leading carbon credit ratings platform, has gone on to raise a SGD 32m Series A from investors, Index Ventures, Insight Partners, Salesforce and LocalGlobe, to accelerate it’s mission to become a source of truth for carbon markets. Taking Root, accelerating the restoration of the world’s forests, works with organisations to enable smallholder farmers to grow trees and earn money from the carbon they remove from the atmosphere. After participating in Sustaintech Xcelerator Cycle 1 and the inaugural Google Climate Change Accelerator, Taking Root has expanded their flagship CommuniTree Carbon Program across the entire country of Nicaragua. Treevia, smart technological solution for monitoring forest assets, joined Google for Startup Accelerator (agribusiness) in Brazil; received investment and recently started multiple projects (in amazon and in other biomes) with corporates and governments to deploy its IoT sensor-to-satellite technology with Treevia SmartForest, an intelligent platform for Digital MRV and forest operation management. Rainforest Connection (RFCx), using acoustic technology to stop illegal deforestation and monitor the biodiversity of threatened wildlife and rainforests, in the past 12 months, has deployed 103 RFCx Guardians for various projects around the world and expanded their work to an additional 19 countries.

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. For more information on the Sustaintech Xcelerator, please visit: https://www.sustaintechx.com/

Additional partner and supporter quotes are included at the end of this release.

[1] Source: Word Resource Institute: https://www.wri.org/initiatives/carbon-removal; Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), https://www.csis.org/analysis/climate-solutions-series-carbon-dioxide-removal-solutions.

[2] Source: US Department of Energy: https://www.energy.gov/fecm/carbon-dioxide-removal

Partner and Supporter Quotes

“Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is now a critical component of humanity’s response to climate change and to act meaningfully towards our net zero target. We need innovative technology- and nature-based solutions as a holistic and integrated approach to address the emissions gap. It was an enriching experience working with the Sustaintech Xcelerator start-ups last year, and we are keen to continue catalysing impactful solutions to support climate innovation globally.”

–  Frederick Teo, CEO, GenZero

“Nature is an important ally in humanity’s fight against climate change, with nature-based solutions featuring in all of the pathways to net-zero highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The NUS Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions is a focal point for world-class research and thought-leadership that will give governments, investors, and civil society greater confidence in scaling up nature-based carbon projects, which will help in the conservation of the region’s rich natural habitats. We are excited to work with the Sustaintech Xcelerator again for a second cycle to explore appropriate carbon removal applications with passionate and leading innovators.”

–  Professor Koh Lian Pin, Director, Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions, National University of Singapore

“Climate action is the top priority to preserve our planet for future generations.  It is at the heart of Capgemini’s purpose and strategy to collaborate closely with our clients to achieve their sustainability goals. We have a long-standing collaboration with DBS, and we are excited to leverage our corporate network and resources to support innovators from the second cycle of Sustaintech Xcelerator. By empowering these start-ups, we are hopeful that, together, we will help accelerate the path to #NetZero sooner.”

–  Shobha Meera, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer & Member of the Group Executive Committee, Capgemini

“We all have to act now and act together if we’re going to avert the worst effects of climate change. At Google we believe that technology plays a vital role in achieving sustainability goals at scale. We are honored and very excited to once again share our technology, know-how and passion for sustainability with the next generation of innovators at Sustaintech Xcelerator.”

–  Mauro D. Sauco, Director, CTO Office, Google Cloud

“At the World Bank, we see a strong potential for nature-based measures to address climate change. Innovative technology solutions for more accurate, timely and cost-effective application are also urgently needed. Through our partnership with the Sustaintech Xcelerator, we look forward to recognizing individuals and organisations who are passionate in developing these solutions and technologies to market.”

–  Jennifer Sara, Global Director for Climate Change, The World Bank

“Carbon dioxide removal (CDR), alongside deep emissions cuts, is crucial to solving the climate crisis. Verra is committed to developing robust standards that drive finance to high-quality CDR activities. We look forward to supporting another cohort of innovators on using carbon markets to scale up their work and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable world.”

–  David Antonioli, CEO of Verra

“We worked with some of the Sustaintech Xcelerator Cycle 1 Cohort start-ups to strengthen our carbon market’s quality offerings. It is crucial that we can scale up more solutions that can avoid or remove GHG emission. Finding the right partners and support can truly accelerate the scale-up. With increasing demands of high-quality carbon credits, if we can couple it with the right solution providers I do think we can speed up our journey to net zero target.”

–  Mikkel Larsen , CEO, Climate Impact X; former Chief Sustainability Officer, DBS Bank 

About DBS
DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia with a presence in 18 markets. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, DBS is in the three key Asian axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The bank’s “AA-” and “Aa1” credit ratings are among the highest in the world.

Recognised for its global leadership, DBS has been named “World’s Best Bank” by Global Finance, “World’s Best Bank” by Euromoney and “Global Bank of the Year” by The Banker. The bank is at the forefront of leveraging digital technology to shape the future of banking, having been named “World’s Best Digital Bank” by Euromoney and the world’s “Most Innovative in Digital Banking” by The Banker. In addition, DBS has been accorded the “Safest Bank in Asia” award by Global Finance for 14 consecutive years from 2009 to 2022.

DBS provides a full range of services in consumer, SME and corporate banking. As a bank born and bred in Asia, DBS understands the intricacies of doing business in the region’s most dynamic markets. DBS is committed to building lasting relationships with customers, as it banks the Asian way. Through the DBS Foundation, the bank creates impact beyond banking by supporting social enterprises: businesses with a double bottom-line of profit and social and/or environmental impact. DBS Foundation also gives back to society in various ways, including equipping communities with future-ready skills and building food resilience.

With its extensive network of operations in Asia and emphasis on engaging and empowering its staff, DBS presents exciting career opportunities. For more information, please visit www.dbs.com.