News - July 16, 2021

#BehindTheLabel: What's next for our solutions?

Written by Jamie Wylie 4 min read

In April this year, the Solar Impulse Foundation reached a very significant milestone: 1000 solutions receiving our Efficient Solution Label.

This was a key moment for us, proving that a wealth of solutions to protect the environment exist which are both clean and profitable, offering an opportunity to replace polluting technologies whilst delivering economic benefits.

First conceived in 2017, the label started as a tangible response to our Chairman Bertrand Piccard’s vision that started with the first solar flight around the world, showing the potential of clean technologies to address the problem of climate change. Beyond demonstrating that these innovations exist, the objective was to give them a platform on which they can be found and thrive so as to have them implemented worldwide. 

Since the start, the labelling process, audited by Ernst & Young, has invited over 360 independent experts of 68 different nationalities to assess innovations according to their feasibility, environmental impact and profitability. From just 75 solutions being awarded the Efficient Solutions Label in 2018, this stepped up to around 250 in 2019, but by 2020 more and more solutions were arising, with over 550 solutions receiving the Label. In April this year we hit the fantastic milestone of 1000 solutions.

But now we’ve reached 1000+ clean and profitable solutions, where do we go from here? Whilst we will continue to find more clean and profitable solutions, the mission does not stop there: receiving the Label is just the first step on the journey to help them thrive and accelerate the wide adoption of clean technologies to protect the environment.

Opening new doors

Becoming part of the portfolio of Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions opens the door to an exclusive network of solution seekers, investors and other innovators. It gives them assurance that the solution can be trusted to offer environmental benefits as well as being profitable. 

Coupled with networking opportunities, the innovators behind our Labelled Solutions have the chance to make new contacts and increase the visibility of their solutions through various opportunities such as events. Indeed, just last month, a selection of innovators behind our Labelled Solutions were invited to attend VivaTech 2021, Europe’s largest tech and start-up event. Solutions on display at VivaTech included Carbonium, Geebee, Teebike, WATTPARK and many more. A number of solutions at the conference were on stage with Bertrand Piccard as he delivered a speech.

Partnering Up

The Solar Impulse Foundation has the benefit of counting many global players as partners that support our work and help us label new solutions. Our partners are themselves actively seeking solutions which can help them achieve their sustainability targets and improve their operations. Our partner and major French airline, Air France, is already using four Labelled Solutions and is considering more. One of those, APU OFF, contributes to the airline's target to power all aircrafts on ground at ORY and CDG airports with electricity, in order to reduce their fuel consumption. Last month, with our partner Adeo, European DIY leader and 3rd largest DIY market player in the world, 52 solutions were invited to pitch during Adeo’s Home Challenge e-pitch. 41 solutions generated interest from Adeo, which could end up in fruitful collaborations with a huge player in the homeware and home improvement sector.

Funding the future

Many of our solutions have arisen from the start-up world, and as such need support to get to the next stage of their development. In May this year, we were delighted to reveal two new investment funds in partnership with BNP Paribas, Rothschild & Co and Air Liquide. The two funds will total up to €350 million and will support and invest in solutions receiving the Efficient Solution Label. The BNP Paribas Solar Impulse Venture Fund, with a target size of EUR 150 million will invest in early to late-stage promising startups dedicated to the ecological transition. Rothschild & Co’s Merchant Banking business, together with industrial company Air Liquide through ALIAD, its venture capital arm, plans to put in place a EUR 200 million growth & buyout platform.

Joining the journey of the Foundation

In order to truly accelerate the wide adoption of all these efficient and innovative solutions, we wanted to go further and provide a platform that would attract all stakeholders - be they companies, governments or individuals to pull solutions on a much larger scale. Later this year we will launch the Guide, a search tool that will provide them with a list of innovative solutions (products, processes or services) tailored to their needs with the guarantee that they are good for the environment as well as for their wallet.

Finally we want to show decision-makers a concrete path to achieve their environmental targets with the Cleanprint. The Cleanprint will seek to demonstrate the impact of many Labelled Solutions in a given context, for example a country or a region, and will demonstrate the environmental and economic benefits to be gained there by implementing these solutions. Our first Cleanprint will be produced for Scotland, ahead of the COP26 conference taking place in Glasgow later this year. This is a huge moment for the solutions: being directly recommended to governments.

As we move into a new phase at the Solar Impulse Foundation, we want to recognize that breadth of creativity coming from our Labelled Solutions with innovations that many haven’t even thought of. Through these new and exciting initiatives, we’ll be putting solutions centre stage. We can’t wait to see them grow and succeed in the months and years ahead because they are a key component towards achieving a clean and profitable future.

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