Insights from the PlanetTech World Conference

This blog provides key takeaways, notable startups, and valuable advice for new ventures in the climate tech space.

6/18/20249 min read


On 18 June 24, Tel Aviv hosted the PlanetTech World Conference, a significant event that brought together leaders, innovators, and startups to discuss the future of climate tech. Some of the topics covered in the conference include carbon offsets, smart agriculture, and innovative building materials. This blog provides key takeaways, notable startups, and valuable advice for new ventures in the climate tech space.

Part 1: Advice for Startups (based on the sage advice of opening panellists)

Financial Strategy

One key advice for startups is to bring in a good CFO early. (as a CFO, this was music to my ears). Scaling a company requires careful financial planning and management. A CFO can help navigate funding rounds, manage cash flow, and ensure the company's financial health supports its growth ambitions.

Key Advice:

  • Focus on financial planning from the start.

  • Ensure the CFO is involved in strategic decisions to align financial goals with business objectives.

Customer-Centric Solutions

Startups must ensure their solutions address real customer needs. Early market feedback is crucial to validating the product's value proposition and gaining traction. Solving problems that customers care about and are willing to pay for is essential.

Key Advice:

  • Conduct thorough market research to understand customer needs.

  • Iterate on feedback to refine the product and ensure it meets market demands.

Pre-orders and Market Validation

Securing pre-orders can significantly enhance a startup's credibility with investors. Demonstrating a strong order book helps shorten the investors' imagination gap, providing a clear trajectory of the company's growth potential and revenue generation.

Key Advice:

  • Showcase a robust order book to attract investor interest.

  • Use pre-orders to validate market demand and reduce perceived investment risk.

Protecting Intellectual Property

Protecting intellectual property (IP) is crucial in the climate tech industry. Startups developing hardware-based products should prioritise patent registration to safeguard their innovations. Consulting with IP experts early can help determine the best timing for patent applications and avoid potential pitfalls related to IP contamination in partnerships and grants.

Key Advice:

  • Prioritize IP protection early in the development process.

  • Consult with IP experts to navigate the complexities of patent registration and avoid contamination risks.

Part 2: ESG and the Role of Corporates

ESG Integration

The conference underscored the importance of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria in corporate strategies. ESG is increasingly becoming a priority for investors and stakeholders. It was super interesting to see the Heads of ESG from leading banks, real estate companies, and insurance companies at the event. Companies should integrate ESG considerations into their core operations through finance, management, or marketing to enhance their sustainability credentials and attract investment.

Key Takeaways:

  • ESG integration is becoming essential for corporate sustainability.

  • Companies should align ESG strategies with their core business functions to maximize impact and investor appeal.

Future Engagements

In the coming weeks, I hope to engage with ESG leaders from various sectors to understand how they view the role of ESG in their companies. Integrating ESG into the CEO's office and strategy could signal a significant shift towards more sustainable business practices.

Key Takeaways:

  • Engaging with ESG leaders can provide valuable insights into best practices and emerging trends.

  • ESG's role in corporate strategy is evolving, and its integration at the highest levels of management is crucial for effective implementation.

Part 3: The Next October Initiative

Honouring Innovation: One of the most moving presentations was by the Next October initiative, which aims to honour the memory of those lost in the October 2023 Hamas War through innovation. This visionary project proposes the establishment of a new tech startup for each fallen soldier and civilian victim. The initiative commemorates the victims and fosters growth and progress in their memory. Next October

Global Impact: The Next October platform seeks to manage and promote this initiative to investors worldwide, ensuring that the names and stories of the victims are integrated into the journey of these startups. This approach transforms grief into growth, building legacies through innovation.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Next October initiative highlights the potential for innovation to honour and commemorate those lost in conflicts.

  • The initiative fosters a unique connection between grief and growth by linking startups to the memory of victims and integrating the stories of the victims into the startups' journey.

  • The initiative has the potential to attract global investment and support for Israeli startups.

Part 4: Key Themes and Startups

Carbon Offsets - Challenges in Carbon Trading

The conference highlighted some critical challenges in carbon trading and offsets. The consensus was that relying solely on carbon extraction and storage income is not a strong business model. Instead, these activities should be a by-product of other core operations.

Key Takeaways:

  • Carbon trading models need to be integrated into broader environmental and economic strategies.

  • Innovative approaches to carbon offsetting, such as those showcased at the conference, can provide valuable insights and solutions.

Panels at the conference discussed the growing importance of carbon offsets and smart agriculture. Startups in these areas are working on innovative solutions to reduce carbon footprints and enhance agricultural productivity. For instance, companies are developing advanced weather prediction tools to help farmers optimise their operations and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Notable Startups:

  • Home Biogas: This startup provides carbon-offsetting solutions through home biomass systems. They are targeting projects whereby small farmhold farmers can obtain these systems at a discount, enabling them to convert organic waste into energy and reduce their carbon footprint.(and Corporates can offsets this carbon)

  • Rewind: Leveraging the natural ability of plants to capture CO2, Rewind uses wood waste from forests and stores it in the Black Sea for thousands of years. This innovative approach helps in long-term carbon sequestration. Rewind

Key Takeaways:

Innovative Building Materials

One of the most exciting areas of focus was the development of new building materials. Several startups are creating eco-friendly alternatives to traditional materials, such as concrete. These innovations aim to reduce pollution and promote sustainability in the construction industry.

Featured Startup: Eva Eva has developed a revolutionary cement replacement that cuts pollution from cement production by a third. Using demolition waste as its raw material, Eva's technology reduces carbon emissions and supports a circular economy by repurposing waste materials. Eva

  • How It Works: Eva's supplementary cementitious material replaces traditional cement. It uses composting or recycled building waste, which is then chemically and physically activated to create a partial cement replacement. This product is mixed with concrete, reducing overall carbon emissions and energy usage in cement production.

Key Takeaways:

  • The cement production process is highly polluting, and innovative technologies like Eva's can significantly reduce the environmental impact.

  • Circular economy models, which repurpose waste materials, are crucial for sustainable construction practices.

Fire Management and Energy Efficiency

The conference also highlighted advancements in fire management and energy efficiency in buildings. Startups leverage AI and other technologies to develop systems that detect and manage fires more effectively. Additionally, energy-efficient building solutions are becoming more critical as the world seeks to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Featured Startup: Firewave Firewave uses the unique acoustic signatures of fires for remote sensing and early detection. This technology allows for faster response times, potentially saving lives and property. Firewave

Featured Startup: Firedome Firedome's patent-pending system provides a dual protection-suppression layer. Once a wildfire alert is received, it creates a protective perimeter of fire retardant around the property and uses AI to detect and suppress fires within the protected area.

Key Takeaways:

  • Early detection and rapid response are critical for effective wildfire management.

  • AI and sensor technologies are transforming fire management strategies, making them more proactive and efficient.

Smart Agriculture Innovations

Smart agriculture remains a key area of interest, with startups developing technologies to address food security and sustainability. Digital agriculture and corporate partnerships can drive significant advancements in this field, although new Agro business models are still needed to support these innovations.

Featured Panelists:

  • Anne Williams from Bayer: Emphasized managing environmental changes and improving input efficiency through partnerships and digital technology.

  • Vanessa Bartram from Zora Ventures: Focused on early-stage B2B solutions that address food production and population growth challenges.

  • Conrad Rein: Advocated for a shift away from top-down approaches to support agriculture in the global south, emphasising the need for new thinking and digital agriculture.

The Missing Piece: Agribusiness Models A critical aspect often overlooked in discussions about smart agriculture is the business models that support these innovations. Agribusiness can significantly address food security challenges by leveraging technology to enhance food production, distribution, and trade. Efficient market systems and value chains are essential to promptly bringing agricultural products from farms to consumers. Moreover, focusing on food enhancement techniques and quality standards can help increase food products' nutritional value and safety. This was highlighted in discussions at the International Business Model Award (IBMA) Conference, which emphasised the need for innovative agribusiness models to ensure sustainable food security in regions like Africa and beyond.

Key Takeaways:

  • Smart agriculture technologies can significantly enhance food security and sustainability.

  • New agro-business models are needed to support the adoption and scalability of these innovations.

Featured Startups:

  • NOF - Natural Offset Farming: NOF has developed an advanced, portable, and user-friendly cooling technology for post-harvest treatment. This technology shifts CO2 from emitters to fields, enhancing photosynthesis and extending the shelf life of produce. NOF's devices can generate cooling temperatures down to -70°C without the need for electrical infrastructure. NOF - Natural Offset Farming

  • Tree Tube: Tree Tube provides a patented technology that ensures optimal conditions for tree growth in urban environments. This system supplies trees with the necessary soil volume, gas exchange, and water, helping them thrive in compact urban areas. Tree Tube

  • Sol-Chip: Sol-Chip develops sustainable energy solutions for IoT devices, enabling them to run longer and more efficiently. Their autonomous, all-in-one chip-based solutions are environmentally friendly and support two-way data communication and management. Sol-Chip has specific applications in agriculture, including soil management, water, and weather monitoring. Sol-Chip

Key Takeaways:

  • Smart agriculture technologies can significantly enhance food security and sustainability.

  • New business models are needed to support the adoption and scalability of these innovations.

Innovations in Energy and Recycling

Hydrogen Energy Solutions

Featured Startup: Gencell Gencell harnesses the power of hydrogen to provide cost-effective, clean energy solutions. Their systems use multiple energy sources for backup, including solar, grid, and hydrogen stored in a battery. When the battery runs out, hydrogen is used to generate power from water. Gencell

Key Takeaways:

  • Hydrogen energy solutions offer a sustainable alternative for backup power needs.

  • Multi-source energy systems enhance reliability and reduce dependence on any single energy source.

Recycling Innovations

Featured Startup: Axiv Materials Axiv Materials is developing biodegradable fibers from protein waste, such as wool and chicken feathers. Their technology extracts high-quality proteins from waste streams and upcycles them into sustainable, biodegradable textile fibres. Axiv Materials

Featured Startup: Naki Naki is bringing the days of affordable SAF closer by taking untreatable sludge from the food industry and transitioning it to a valuable material via an innovative & less carbon-harmful process.

Key Takeaways:

  • Innovative recycling technologies can transform waste into valuable resources.

  • Sustainable textiles have the potential to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion and textile industries.

Conclusion: Hope for the Future

The PlanetTech World Conference showcased a wide array of innovative solutions and forward-thinking strategies in the climate tech space. The event highlighted the potential for startups to drive meaningful change, from advanced building materials and fire management systems to smart agriculture and ESG integration. With continued innovation and collaboration, hope exists for a more sustainable and resilient future.

In these challenging times, the Jewish and Israeli commitment to making the world a better place remains steadfast. The PLANETech conference and establishment of the Arison Centre for ESG are testaments to this enduring spirit. As we embrace the lessons of a troubled world, let’s take this opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the world.

Thank you for reading. I invite you to reach out to me at Let’s work together to create a sustainable and equitable world for all. In this regard, I am involved with a few impactful Agro Tech businesses and initiatives. I encourage you to learn more about my platform, Upgrading ESG. You are also invited to buy my book, “Upgrading ESG: How Businesses Can Thrive in the Age of Sustainability,”

About the book

The “age of sustainability” reflects a growing recognition of the need to address pressing global challenges, such as climate change, global warming, resource depletion, social inequality, and environmental degradation. We are now in the age of sustainability. This transition will not be easy. It will require collective efforts to transition toward more sustainable practices in daily life and various industries. This involves adopting the UN SDGs and eco-friendly technologies, promoting responsible consumption, supporting ethical and fair business practices, and pursuing policies and initiatives that protect the planet’s natural resources and ecosystems. This book is primarily intended for business leaders, including CEOs, CFOs, and directors, but it is recommended for anyone concerned with creating a fairer and more sustainable world. For more information, you can visit Upgrading ESG.

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