What is Germany’s Cleantech Strategy?
In his paper for the Israel Public Policy Institute, Severin Beucker, Senior researcher at Borderstep, presents the current status of the discussion on the topic of cleantech in Germany. He shows how the country has developed in terms of environmental protection and climate technology gives an outlook into the future.
From the 1970s onward, Germany led the way in cleantech and environmental protection. Early German environmental policy focused primarily on pollution control in the areas of water, air, soil, and waste disposal. However, in the 1980s, renewable energy and nuclear phaseout became the focus.
The paper is available free of charge.
The Israel Public Policy Institute (IPPI) is an independent non-profit think and do tank based in Tel Aviv with representations in Berlin and New York. It strives to foster fresh thinking on how to tackle some of the most pressing policy challenges of the 21st century from within an international and interdisciplinary perspective.
Digital building technologies: Borderstep at ICT4S 2022
Borderstep presented current research results at ICT4S 2022 ICT for Sustainability. Every year, the international conference bring together leading researchers in ICT for Sustainability with government and industry representatives, including decision-makers with an interest in using ICT for sustainability, researchers focusing on ICT effects on sustainability and developers of sustainable ICT systems or applications.
This year, the conference was held as a hybrid event at the University of Plovdiv in Bulgaria from June 13 to 17, 2022.
Borderstep presents study for digital association Bitkom at ICT4S
Borderstep was represented at ICT4S 2022 by two experts. Borderstep Managing Director Dr. Severin Beucker and Borderstep Researcher Simon Hinterholzer from the Digitisation and Green IT research area presented the results of a study for the digital association Bitkom.
“Building automation can save large amounts of fossil energy and emissions by 2030. That’s what our study for Bitkom shows.” Dr. Severin Beucker, shareholder and senior researcher at the Borderstep Institute, emphasizes.
Building automation could make almost 10% of gas imports from Russia dispensable
In view of the current political situation, the topic of energy saving takes on a whole new significance. Energy efficiency is the key here, says Severin Beucker. “According to a recent Borderstep calculation, the use of building automation can make almost 10% of Russian gas imports dispensable.”
The study on Klimaschutz und Energieeffizienz durch digitale Gebäudetechnologien includes the results for the German building sector. It assessed whether and how the study’s building model and assessment of climate protection potential can be used in other European countries. The paper also assesses how CO2 savings in the building sector can be incorporated into climate protection strategies.
The ICT4S conference also served as an opportunity for the Borderstep scientists to exchange ideas on an international level on the subject of ICT and sustainability. Digitalization can make an important contribution to solving the energy crisis, Simon Hinterholzer, researcher at Borderstep, is certain. “We need to quickly reduce energy demand with available efficiency measures such as building automation and, in parallel, further expand the supply of renewable energies.”
Simon Hinterholzer’s commentary on the situation looks suitably optimistic: “Our studies show: We have the technology to drive our energy independence. Now it’s a matter of implementing these solutions quickly.”
BPW: Borderstep promotes Special Award Sustainability
As a partner of the Business Plan Competition Berlin-Brandenburg (BPW), the Borderstep Institute sponsors the Special Award Sustainability, which will be awarded during the 3rd award ceremony of the BPW 2022 on July 4.
The Special Award Sustainability is endowed with 5,000 euros and is jointly sponsored by BPW and Borderstep. Borderstep Director Prof. Dr. Klaus Fichter is a member of the jury and will present the prize to the winning team on July 4, 2022.
BPW is the first business plan competition in Germany to have introduced the topic of sustainability into every chapter of the business plan. This means that all participants must take a binding approach to sustainability in their business concept. Corresponding online-seminars teach the basics. For the evaluation of the economic component, the entire business plan or canvas model is considered. The BPW manual thus supports all founding teams in taking into account sustainability issues relevant to success in the development of their business concept.
Borderstep has been supporting the BPW for many years in integrating the topic of sustainability into the entire BPW process and offerings. Among other things, the Borderstep Institute has systematically incorporated issues and aspects of economic, ecological and social sustainability into the sample templates for BPW business plans and BPW canvases.
In addition, Borderstep offers workshops on business model development with the Sustainable Business Canvas as part of the BPW.
Special Award Sustainability 2021: Fungtion
Special Award Sustainability 2020: Heatle
EEPA: Borderstep project wins German preliminary round
The European joint project “ScaleUp4Sustainability” represents Germany in the final of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA).
The project, which is funded by the EU’s Erasmus+ program, won the German preliminary round. In this project, Borderstep, together with partners from Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, developed innovative concepts for cooperation between students and companies with the help of practical teaching and learning formats (cooperative green venturing). The concepts developed as part of the project are intended to help anchor sustainability as a natural component in any new business model. Since 2006, the European Commission has presented the European Enterprise Promotion Awards annually to public authorities, business and educational institutions, and public-private partnerships that are committed to supporting entrepreneurship.
Combining economic and ecological thinking in a targeted manner right from the start of new companies: That was the goal of the European collaborative project ScaleUp4Sustainability (S4S). Together with the University of Oldenburg (Germany), Linköping University (Sweden) and Vennebroek Academic Services (Netherlands), the Borderstep Institute brought together students and companies from the respective regions. Participating companies in Germany were the chemical company BÜFA, Europe’s leading photo service provider CEWE and the utility company EWE; in Sweden, the waste-to-energy company Againity and the utility company Tekniska Verken; and in the Netherlands, the company ECOR, manufacturer of circular building material products, and the company Fujifilm Europe. Together with the students, they developed concepts on how sustainability can be anchored as a natural component in any new business model. The Sustainable Venturing Challenges platform developed by Borderstep as part of S4S supports teachers, students and companies in establishing contacts and collaboration for cooperative green venturing projects.
Prof. Dr. Klaus Fichter, Head of Project ScaleUp4Sustainability (Professor for Innovation Management and Sustainability, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg and Director Borderstep Institute for Innovation and Sustainability, Berlin): ScaleUp4Sustainability rethinks entrepreneurship with a view to the major challenges of the future. The concept we have developed of students and companies working together to develop innovative and sustainable products and business models gives rise to concrete ideas and implementation projects that combine economic solutions with environmental and climate protection. We call this novel concept cooperative green venturing.
Project with exemplary character
The project emerged victorious from the national preliminary round of the European Commission’s European Business Support Awards. It will represent Germany in the final, according to the RKW Competence Center, organizer of the preliminary competition on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection. In the fall, S4S will compete in the international final.
Prof. Dr. Florian Täube, Head of the Start-up Department at the RKW Competence Center: “ScaleUp4Sustainability meets various significant challenges of our time and shows great exemplary character. Both students and companies benefit from the collaboration: the former from the opportunity to develop sustainable solutions to real problems, the latter from the new ideas and impulses for their future-proof corporate development. At the same time, climate change is taken into account in the course of the newly developed business models and a contribution is made to social progress.”
Since 2006, the European Commission has awarded the European Enterprise Promotion Awards EEPA annually to public authorities, business and educational institutions, and public-private partnerships that are committed to supporting entrepreneurship. The competition is held in the EU member states as well as in Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Great Britain, Iceland, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) is sponsoring the German preliminary round of the competition and has commissioned the RKW Competence Center with national coordination.
The winners of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards EEPA 2022 will be announced on November 29 during the SME Assembly of the European Commission in Prague.
More information about the European Enterprise Promotion Awards EEPA and the German preliminary round can be found here.
What is ScaleUp4Sustainability?
The European collaborative project ScaleUp4Sustainability developed innovative concepts of cooperation between students and companies from Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands using practical teaching and learning formats (cooperative green venturing). The three-and-a-half-year project was funded by the EU as part of the Erasmus+ funding program. The focus was on the convergence of sustainability and economics in the development of new business models.
- University of Oldenburg https://uol.de/en/innovation
- Linköping University https://liu.se/en/organisation/liu/iei
- Vennebroek Academic Services http://www.createnewbusiness.com/Welcome.html
- EWE https://www.ewe.com/
- BÜFA https://www.buefa.de/
- CEWE https://www.cewe.de/
- Tekniska Verken https://www.tekniskaverken.se/about-tekniska-verken/about-us/
- Againity https://againity.com/
- ECOR https://ecorglobal.com/
- Fujifilm Europe https://global.fujifilm.com/en/all-regions/eu
- Borderstep Institute https://www.borderstep.org/
More about the project can be found on the project website.
Borderstep at the IHK Potsdam foundation meeting
Borderstep at the IHK Potsdam foundation meeting: Sustainable start-ups are on the rise. Especially companies from the food and nutrition industry are successful. However, they face challenges – including matchmaking with SMEs, access to capital and securing skilled workers.
What does the path of green start-ups look like? What are the success factors? Where are the difficulties? These questions will be discussed at the Gründungstreff Potsdam.
Borderstep Director Prof. Dr. Klaus Fichter will present current research results on green start-ups as keynote speaker. Registration is now open.
PROGRAMME GRÜNDUNGSTREFF IHK POTSDAM, 28 June 2022, 3 – 7 pm
15 Uhr | WELCOME | Welcome talk with:
- Prof. Dr. Dr. Mario Tobias (CEO IHK Potsdam)
- Bernd Rubelt (Councillor of the State Capital Potsdam for Urban Development, Construction, Economy and Environment)
15:15 Uhr | KEYNOTE
Impulse lecture on the topic “Sustainable founding: results and learnings from the Green Startup Monitor 2022”.
- Prof. Dr. Klaus Fichter, Borderstep Institute for Innovation and Sustainability gGmbH
15:45 Uhr | INSIGHTS
4 x 5-minute roundtable with regional companies:
- Philipp Hommelsheim New Path Solutions GmbH – Carmino
- Dr. Ina Henkel EntoNative GmbH -Tenetrio
- Holger Behrens Bio4Friends – Naturfleischerei
- Dr. Oswald Blumenstein InterEnviroCon GmbH
16:15 Uhr | FISHBOWL-TALK
“Sustainable founding and growth – how does it work?” Talk with:
- Thorsten Jahnke social impact gGmbH
- Prof. Dr. Dr. Mario Tobias IHK Potsdam
- Tobias Ahrens Berliner Volksbank eG
- Björn Kaminski Startup Verband
- Philipp Hommelsheim New Path Solutions GmbH – Carmino
- Dr. Ina Henkel EntoNative GmbH -Tenetrio
- Holger Behrens Bio4Friends
18:30 Uhr | GET-TOGETHER
Closing and networking opportunities with a small snack and drinks
100 percent renewable energy – possible?
Can we manage to transform the energy system completely to renewable energies? This is what Borderstep co-founder Dr. Severin Beucker talks about with the RESET digital for good platform. In doing so, he presents the results of many years of research work.
His conclusion is clear:
“The energy transition will only succeed with efficiency and intelligence.
How sustainable is digitalization? How can the energy transition become more efficient? Do we need regulations to ensure that the switch to renewable energies really succeeds? Severin Beucker discusses questions like these with author Sarah-Indra Jungblut.
Borderstep expertise for Greece
Borderstep expertise for Greece: The Goethe-Institut organized a trip to Germany for a delegation from Greece on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office. Borderstep supported the project with expertise on sustainable entrepreneurship and green start-ups.
Trip to Germany on the topic of “Change and Innovation”
The participants are representatives from research, politics and business. They will visit Germany from May 8 to 12, 2022, to learn more about the topic of “Change and Innovation” and to experience practices in this field on site.
The thematic focus will be on the promotion of innovative companies and start-ups in Germany. Sessions on technology, energy and the environment, also in connection with structural change in former coal mining areas, will complement the program.
Innovation in practice: Green Startup Monitor 2022
Alexander Schabel, Borderstep Senior Project Manager in Sustainable Entrepreneurship, presented current Borderstep research projects and successful practical projects in a session at the Instituto Cervantes in Berlin-Mitte (photo) as part of this study tour. This included the results of the Green Startup Monitor 2022, which Borderstep published in spring together with the Startup-Verband.
The goal of the trip is also to exchange ideas with regard to future collaborations and network building. The program was launched as part of the Greek government’s current support for the start-up environment.
ImpactNexus: Making sustainability investable
ImpactNexus was founded at the beginning of 2021 as a spin-off of the Borderstep Institute in Berlin. The company’s software products are primarily aimed at investors who want to manage the sustainability of their portfolios. In this interview for the website StartGreen, co-founder and CEO Dr. Jannic Horne talks about current developments in sustainability regulation. He knows why measuring the sustainability of startups is currently becoming increasingly relevant.
ESG and Impact: What’s the difference and why are these topics becoming increasingly important for start-ups as well?
While ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) focuses on minimizing risk, impact investing is more about taking a long-term view of one’s impact. Impact investing aims to achieve a significant positive social or environmental change with the investments made. ESG criteria are now applied to look for non-financial risks that can have a material impact on the value of an asset.
Today, there are good reasons for both large companies and small businesses such as start-ups or SMEs to engage with the topic of ESG and impact. Investors consider ESG as a major risk factor when considering new investments. Startups that are strong in ESG are considered safer companies because they have a lower risk of civil litigation or government fines, for example. In addition, more and more investors are specifically looking to make a positive impact. Particularly with regard to climate change, the number of impact investments is rising sharply. Climate tech, for example, is the fastest growing startup sector in Europe, growing 10-fold in four years. Compared to 2017, $1.1 billion has been invested in the sector, up from $11 billion in 2021. However, the benefits do not stop at better access to capital: for example, the issue is becoming increasingly important both on the customer side and in the area of recruiting qualified personnel, and can represent a decisive competitive advantage.
What is the situation on the side of the investors? What motivates them to become active in these topics?
Private capital plays a central role in the transition to a sustainable future. Legislators have also recognized this, which is why the regulatory environment at EU level for the financial sector is currently undergoing fundamental change. The EU Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) is particularly important here. The regulation, which came into force in March 2021, obliges financial market participants and advisors to incorporate ESG criteria within the entire process from disclosure obligations at company and product level, to advising clients, to investment decisions and risk management. From January 1, 2023, the corresponding reporting requirements will also be applied. The regulation will therefore also oblige venture capital players to underpin any decision-making processes relating to the product and company level from the point of view of sustainability.
How does ImpactNexus become active here?
ImpactNexus help investors such as VCs or private equity firms, as well as their portfolio companies, to reduce the complexity of these developments and make sustainable decisions in a simple way. For portfolio managers, this means that they can gain insights into the ESG risks of their investments in no time at all. Simple reporting features help them, as does the ability to track key sustainability performance metrics across the portfolio. Thus, many important steps have been taken to meet the demands of various new regulatory requirements.
What makes ImpactNexus different from other software providers?
What’s special about our solution is that we don’t just target investors, we take the portfolio companies by the hand with our software and help them. Our approach makes it easy for both the companies and their supporters. In addition, we are using AI processes to build a unique impact database that contains the social and environmental impacts on countless products and services. This will enable us to evaluate the impact of companies in an increasingly automated way. By the end of 2022, we will complete a first automated assessment for climate impacts. We will then successively add other important sustainability topics. In addition to the assessments, our tools also provide concrete suggestions for improvements to more sustainable measures, materials or processes.
“Impact” is part of the start-up name: How do the aforementioned themes connect to the concepts of impact measurement and management?
Like important international players, we finally understand the topic of impact as the overarching task. However, the precise measurement and management of impact based on the business model requires a very profound examination of a company’s own processes. This is a lot of effort. In addition, the measurement of impact very often takes place afterwards – often by then considerable damage has already been done to people and the environment. Our solution enables early intervention in this process and models any effects. This makes impact management much easier. Measurement is then still necessary afterwards. In our view, however, both are needed – good forecasts and then actual empiricism.
Are there any specific tips on what investors and startups can do to address the issue in a straightforward way?
Investors should ask themselves early on whether they want to address sustainability in their portfolio primarily as a risk factor or actually analyze the impact of the entire portfolio. According to the objective, they should focus on evaluating the appropriate targets and metrics for each company. Here, it is advisable to focus on the metrics that are particularly important. In other words, those that have a supposedly high sustainability impact. For a manufacturing company, for example, this might be annual greenhouse gas equivalent emissions. For a digital start-up, however, the focus could be on metrics from the area of diversity, for example.
At ImpactNexus, we are working on successively further automating all relevant processes and enhancing them with intelligent recommendations for potential improvements. For this, we are currently working on projects with DATEV as well as a research project within the framework of the Nationale Klimaschutzinitiative (NKI). If you would like to learn more about this, you can find out more on our website and easily make an appointment for a demo.
4th Green Startup Monitor published
With their great innovative capacity, green startups are driving the transformation of the German economy. This is shown by the 4th Green Startup Monitor, compiled by the Startup Association and the Borderstep Institute for Innovation and Sustainability.
Young innovative companies in Germany have a clear focus on the issue of sustainability: The support of innovations to tackle climate change (38%) forms the most important demand of German startups to politicians after the reduction of bureaucracy (40%). Thus, they are the driver of the sustainable transformation of our economy. This becomes clear in the energy sector: More than two-thirds of all startups in the energy sector can be classified as green because they accelerate Germany’s steps toward climate neutrality with their environmentally friendly products and services.
Women founding “green”
Green startups have become a central part of the German startup ecosystem; almost one in three German startups is green, according to the findings of the Green Startup Monitor. In addition, green startups are also doing pioneering work in terms of diversity. At 21 percent, the proportion of female founders is significantly higher than in the startup ecosystem as a whole.
At the same time, green startups want to have the greatest possible impact with entrepreneurial means and are transformation-oriented: 35% of these startups combine their sustainable orientation with an orientation toward rapid growth in order to change value chains and markets. In doing so, they meet the challenge of a sustainable transformation of the German economy with radically new entrepreneurial approaches to solutions, whereby they are more innovative and technology-oriented than conventional startups. German universities are an important starting point for green innovations. Almost one third of all green startups are research-related startups.
Little push in the construction and financial sectors
Green innovations are essential for achieving the climate targets. Green startups are spread across almost all sectors of the German economy. In addition to the energy industry, the proportion of green startups in agriculture is particularly high (66 percent). Other climate-relevant sectors such as construction and real estate (25 percent) or tourism (18 percent) urgently need to catch up. The same applies to financial service providers. Startups in the banking, finance and insurance sectors are not providing sufficient impetus for the realization of the Sustainable Finance Strategy of the EU and the German government.
Universities as hotspots
The dense network of outstanding university research in Germany is the origin of numerous innovative green companies. Almost one third of all green startups are research-related startups. Green founders often get to know each other at university (40%). Among green startups, the share of founders with a degree in engineering is significantly higher (29 percent) than among non-green startups (20 percent). While three out of four startups have taken advantage of consulting services and financial support such as EXIST funding, there is still considerable need for development in terms of sustainability-related offerings. Sustainability-related consulting and support services for startups have so far been scarce at German universities.
Prof. Dr. Klaus Fichter, Co-author GSM22, Founder and Director of the Borderstep Institute for Innovation and Sustainability, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Adjunct Professorship for Innovation Management and Sustainability (PIN):
“The Green Startup Monitor 2022 shows the high importance of universities and research institutions for innovative green startups. One serious deficit, however, is that universities have so far provided hardly any sustainability-related services as part of their startup support. Here, university managers and funding policy are equally in demand. The study Sustainability in University Start-up Support shows practical examples and starting points.”
Prof. Dr. Yasmin Olteanu, Co-Author GSM22, Borderstep Research Fellow, Berlin University of Applied Sciences, Professor of Business Administration/Entrepreneurship.:
“Every third green startup is transformational, i.e. a high potential for the big transformation towards a sustainable society and economy. These green startups think much bigger, are more innovative and technology-oriented – and thus actually highly attractive to funders. Nevertheless, a lack of capital is currently holding them back – especially in the area of venture capital. Our demand: a targeted improvement in the financing conditions for transformation-oriented startups in Germany.”
David Hanf, Vice Chairman Startup Association: “The Green Startup Monitor 2022 clearly shows that startups with a positive ecological impact have established themselves in Germany at a high level. This is good news in the context of the necessary transformation towards a climate-neutral economic system, because what matters now is speed and consistent implementation. To this end, startups need target-group-oriented support, especially for growth companies that have the potential to sustainably change markets in the sense of a generation-appropriate future.”
Green Startup Monitor
The Green Startup Monitor analyzes the importance of those startups that contribute to the ecological goals of a Green Economy with their products and services. It was published for the fourth time by the Borderstep Institute and the German Startups Association in 2022. The study is based on data collected through an online questionnaire from 1,707 innovative and growth-oriented companies that are less than 10 years old and have their headquarters in Germany. The Green Startup Monitor can be downloaded free of charge.
Study Sustainability in University Start-up Support
The brochure offers universities and especially university start-up consulting an insight into the spectrum of support services.
Borderstep Institute for Innovation and Sustainability gGmbH
As an independent and non-profit scientific institution, Borderstep researches the future and examines what is coming (innovation) and what is staying (sustainability). The focus is on developing solutions to problems and action strategies for sustainable economic activity.
The Startup-Verband is the representative and voice of startups in Germany. It explains and represents the interests, viewpoints and concerns of startup companies to legislation, administration and the public. It promotes innovative entrepreneurship and carries the startup mentality into society. The association sees itself as a network of startups in Germany.
Responsible Innovation Story with Borderstep
What is the current state of sustainability in Europe? Can the EU position itself internationally with it? And what do sustainable business models look like in concrete terms? “Responsible Innovation Story” explores these questions in a video interview.
The most important findings of the interview:
- Sustainability innovation has gained a lot of momentum, especially in the vibrant start-up scene.
- However, funding programmes that support start-ups to scale up and leave their niche markets are still underrepresented.
- Only by building a robust sustainability-based innovation ecosystem can we create a future-proof unique selling proposition for Europe