Climate-smart technologies have become an innovation focus for many startups

J. Frank Sigerson, Innovation Enterprise

Climate change is a global phenomenon requiring solutions from around the world. Although tech startups are typically geared toward earning, many are actually addressing serious issues like climate change. One approach to finding solutions is called Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA). While CSA's initial development has focused on developing nations, its principles are applicable across various industries around the world.

The CSA movement is a focus of many aid associations working in developing nations. However, this focus is applicable to all nations and "may be defined as an approach for transforming and reorienting agricultural development under the new realities of climate change".

Tech startups addressing climate change can be said to be developing climate-smart technologies including approaches that reduce energy use while increasing crop yield. Today, startups can be found around the world in many forms developing climate-smart technology.

Here, we present a selection of startups working with climate-smart technologies that are relevant to this approach.

Climate-smart tech in India

A roundup of climate-smart technology startups in India can give one a sense of the diverse approaches. AgSmartic Technologies, for example, is "founded with the mission to help farmers increase their farm yield using a data-driven approach".

Atom Solar, on the other hand, is "making affordable solar-powered water pumping solutions for rural and urban areas", while Edible Routes "helps to find ways for people to grow food and eat seasonally". FarmerUncle is similar agri-tech firm with a "platform which enables consumers to buy directly from growers of their produce".

From these examples, one can see that climate-smart technologies are being designed to address local needs through the increase of production and reduction of energy usage in ways that also limit pollution.

Smart tech in the US

Although initially envisioned in developing nations, climate-smart technology is also applicable to nations where advanced technologies are the norm. In the US, tech startups are applying a variety of technologies that take a smart technology approach. The appropriately named Smart Cannabis Corp.is an example of a relevant agri-tech startup.

Through its subsidiary Next Generation Farming, Smart Cannabis is developing smart greenhouse technology with a high-efficiency system which is manageable by a smart app. Its greenhouses have been designed to use the least amount of space, allowing for maximum use of land. They also conserve energy and water use.

Smart greenhouses maximize energy from the sun, while additional hardware such as the Smart Multi-Spectrum Grow Light provide only the needed additional light with energy-efficient LEDs.

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Jupiter, on the other hand, is a company based in Silicon Valley which is addressing climate change through risk assessment. It is gathering both public and private data to analyze expected changes in the environment and how it will affect specific locations in the future. This data might include "hyper-local variables such as the state of the water infrastructure in a particular city". The resulting information is presented in climate change maps designed to predict changes over the next 50 years.

Diverse approaches in Europe

Europe has many smart tech startups addressing issues related to climate change. There are even accelerators such as Spain's Climate-KIC Valencia which supports new companies in the green economy that feature "clean technologies, intelligent networks, sustainable mobility, waste management and water management".

Climate-KIC Valencia has also funded such projects as #HydroCer which is developing hydro-efficient ceramics. Its smart technology allows such projects to "thermoregulate the building envelope by means of evaporative cooling". This approach leads to an estimated 90% reduction in cooling needs of buildings in Mediterranean climates, thereby greatly reducing energy consumption.

In the UK, OLIO has created a food exchange app that stops surplus food from being thrown away. Homes and businesses can take a picture of surplus food items, add a description and then share pickup information. Food is usually provided for free and the connection to one's neighbors adds an additional dimension.

In the Netherlands, The Great Bubble Barrier is attempting to address the issue of plastic trash pollution in the ocean. It has developed an air bubble curtain that moves plastic waste to the sides of rivers and other waterways where it can be collected before it makes its way to the ocean. Because the curtain or barrier is made of air bubbles, fish and other wildlife, as well as boats, are not impeded.

Smart technologies are global

Smart technologies are addressing the needs of the CSA movement around the world. Many agri-tech startups are finding ways to apply smart technology principles as they address climate change-related issues in the economies in which they operate. Projects include everything from reducing the use of water to maximizing the use of sunlight.

While climate change may seem like an overwhelming problem, the smart tech startups above will surely be part of the solution.

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