News - September 17, 2020

Solar Impulse Foundation Finds Strategic Alliances in USA

Written by Alexandra Barraquand 4 min read

Our global mission is to gather 1000 cleantech solutions that protect the environment while being profitable. Despite being one of the most prolific countries in terms of cleantech startup development, the United States has been underrepresented in the foundation's portfolio of Efficient Solutions - innovations that have been vetted, validated and labeled by third-party experts for profitability and positive environmental impact throughout the life cycle. So, in 2020, the Solar Impulse Foundation established a location near Washington DC to invite American cleantech innovators and entrepreneurs into the Solar Impulse network, led by explorer Bertrand Piccard.

Bertrand Piccard enjoys celebrity status throughout Europe, following his history-making flight around the world in a solar-powered airplane, and before that his circumnavigation of Earth in a hot air balloon. Both were pioneering "firsts" to prove the power of innovation and clean energy. Oddly, most Americans remained unaware of his eventful flight of Solar Impulse, powered only by the rays of the sun.

While the plane  successfully delivered the message in 2016 that clean technologies can achieve the impossible, Piccard – a psychiatrist by profession – was convinced that an ecological transition to address climate change could only be a reality if it was perceived as profitable. So, in 2018, he launched the Solar Impulse Foundation to award the Efficient Solutions Label for innovations that could prove their clean technologies are as good for the economy as they are for the environment. The goal remains – to select 1000 clean and profitable solutions for the planet, and bring them to decision makers in business and government in order to accelerate the transition to a sustainable economy.

Joining forces in America

Sharing the story is one thing, but to reach American cleantech innovators more easily, we needed to partner with established players in the US cleantech industry.

A partnership with the Cleantech Group was announced during the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco in January 2020. Since then, The Cleantech Group has encouraged eligible cleantech companies to join the #1000Solutions Challenge. This included hosting an event with Bertrand Piccard and Richard Youngman, CEO of the Cleantech Group, for American cleantech entrepreneurs. 

More recently, we entered into a partnership with New York-based Boundless Impact Research & Analytics. Boundless provides insights on climate and business risks in a company’s supply chain through evidence-based research and data. All cleantech companies analyzed by Boundless are now offered the opportunity to apply for the Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label through a fast-track process, providing a clear added value to boost their business. 

Both partnerships have proven to be quite successful to reach entrepreneurs looking to grow and scale their cleantech projects, as they help us understand the importance of third-party validation for American innovators.

Tangible benefits of the Label 

Recommendations from renowned organizations have been (and still are) crucial, but American cleantech companies needed tangible proof of the Label’s benefits. While European solutions mostly join the #1000solutions Challenge because they believe in our mission to boost the adoption of clean technologies, Americans have a different business approach: What do they get in exchange for applying to the Label? This is the question that most innovators ask.

The Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions Label provides:

  • Access to markets and potential customers

  • Access to investors and capital markets

  • Influence for the global environmental agenda

  • Insights and coaching from industry experts

  • Promotion and communication

But what does this mean specifically? Here are just a few examples:

  • We put a Houston-based labelled solution in contact with one of our European corporate partners; we will replicate this approach in order to open the doors of the European market to US companies whenever possible.

  • We are hosting an e-Pitch event on November 19th dedicated to US innovators looking to raise Seed and Series A financing rounds with European investors.

  • Sierra Energy, a waste gasification company founded in Davis, California, was appointed by our Team to pitch in front of over 200 VCs and corporates at the Techmeeting Towards a Sustainable Future on September 23, 2020

  • We have extensively communicated with media and business networks about 26 American solutions that received the Label in 2020, such as LanzaTech, Solectrac, and PureCycle Technologies.

Sharing Bertrand Piccard’s message

One of the goals of the Solar Impulse Foundation is to advocate that protection of the environment is good for the economy as much as for the planet. It simply makes sense to build a sustainable economy, as it creates local and long-term jobs and stimulates clean economic growth. While Bertrand Piccard was one of the first to envision ecology through the lens of economy, his message has increasingly caught on, by both sides of the political spectrum. 

US media attention is expanding, and Bertrand Piccard's voice is growing louder in the US.

Bertrand Piccard will participate in Climate Week NYC in September 2020 (check the Solar Impulse program here), the only major climate summit to take place in 2020, which will bring together leading international private and public figures to showcase climate actions and find ways to do more. Here, Bertrand will try to convince decision makers to move faster on climate change.

Our first few months in the US have introduced us to plenty of local innovators, CEOs, national politicians and academics who share the pragmatic eco-logic vision of Solar Impulse when it comes to tackling climate change. We look forward to working with even more experts, labelled solutions or political organizations. 

If you want to work with us on this bold mission, please get in touch.

Written by Alexandra Barraquand on September 17, 2020

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