#Asia An open letter to cleantech startups on climate change


Autodesk’s Jake Layes shares insights on how entrepreneurs can make the most of this new climate of ‘investing’ and innovating to make the world a better place

Jake Layes is Global Lead for Cleantech & Entrepreneur Impact and Head of Sustainability and Cleantech for Asia Pacific at Autodesk. He is speaking about the role of private sector innovation and investment in developing sustainable urban environments at the Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF15) to be held on December 7-8 at COP21 in Paris.

All eyes are on Paris today, as world leaders converge for the 21st United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP21). The first-ever universal climate change agreement is expected to be developed which will mark a monumental achievement in the global effort to tackle climate change.

Initial reports from the first week of COP21 are promising: global carbon emission from our energy consumption in 2014 stalled for the first time in 40 years, and the US and China — the world’s largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters — showed their support and commitment to a global climate deal.

Up to now, 184 countries (which account for about 95 per cent of global GHG emissions) have already submitted their reduction plans, called Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions, or INDCs, to the UN.

However, climate change cannot be solved by one country or government alone. It is a systemic challenge that requires creativity, imagination and innovation across the private and government sector and the public at large.

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Along with the work among our global nations, I believe that startups, entrepreneurs, pioneers and innovators with the vision to create positive environmental or social impact will be a tipping point for addressing climate change.

Today, a generation of empowered entrepreneurs can come together, and with investment, disrupt an entire industry. Even the term ‘investment’ has broadened beyond a financial definition.

The traditional image of a venture capitalist writing out a cheque has since evolved to include investments in various forms (for example, grants, training, services, networking opportunities,) undertaken by various stakeholders – individuals, governments and companies. This is a shift that was unthinkable only years ago.

At Autodesk, we are investing in climate change through our newly-launched Entrepreneur Impact Program, which provides free access to our 3D design to software entrepreneurs and startups that are bringing innovations to the market for a positive environment and social impact.

Entrepreneurs and early-stage startups worldwide now have access to the same advanced Autodesk technology that large companies are using.

We started this programme for one simple reason: too many startups and entrepreneurs creating cleantech solutions lacked the right tools, resulting in a barrier between turning ideas into products. By providing access to 3D design software, cleantech pioneers can now design and test ground-breaking ideas, allowing them to reduce costly errors and bring their product to market faster.

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Epic challenges like climate change are not solved in one, three, or even five years. But when governments, companies and individuals commit to prioritising and investing in the right solutions while valuing social and environmental benefits rather than just financial returns, the world can’t help becoming a better place.

The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, please send us an email at writers[at]e27[dot]co 

Image Credit: Vaclav Volrab/Shutterstock

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