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Sustainability and digitalization: small startups for a greater future

The UN 2030 Agenda, the roadmap for our global priorities, seeks to achieve different goals and more and more attention is committed to the concept of sustainability: “We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations”. Drawing from these insights, the international community has started evaluating new sources of renewable energy and many big firms have invested in sustainable projects. Among others, there is the Life company A2A.

This company is based on one pillar mission: improving the life quality of clients, citizens, and people by thinking about the future of the Planet and new generations. Sustainable growth is guided by the principle that everything can be reused because everything never stops to have value while simultaneously respecting the environment and boosting innovation towards a greener future.

The idea of ecological transition is the main reason why the group decided to start a corporate venture capital (CVC), a program born before the pandemic period to foster energetic development and increase renewable sources' use. With such interesting premises, what does this program entail? Despite the exponential growth of technological progress, many digital solutions that are helpful in the struggle against environmental issues are still in an embryonic phase. Drawing from such limitations, A2A’s corporate venture capital financially supports some valuable startups that have improved people's and nature’s (future) well-being as their core mission. De-carbonization, water cycle, sustainable mobility, sharing economy, and energetical transition are some of the operational fields of those projects together with a focus on digitalization, where artificial intelligence, blockchain, control systems of electric webs, domotics and remote managing of installations are interesting and fundamental subcategories.

Let’s see some examples of these initiatives:

Greyparrot – Aiming at solving the global waste crisis, this startup was the first entity to be supported by the A2A program. It has created an AI waste recognition system which can replace the manual process of sampling and auditing material with a completely automated analysis solution. In-depth data are collected with this AI-powered computer vision software and are shared with any stakeholders involved in the resources and waste sector. Two percentages can show the incredible efficiency of this system, which is still improving thanks to machine learning: 100% of waste is monitored and provides instant live data; 95% of accuracy in recognizing waste performance.

Enspired - An Austrian startup which has developed a digital platform for energy trading. To make more flexible electric webs and to help balance demand and supply in the energy market, the platform is managed by artificial intelligence based on its algorithm and some automated and sophisticated trading strategies. The objective? Optimizing the management of installations dedicated to energy production, provision, and storage.

Beem Energy – To remove obstacles that block access to self-consumption, this French startup has been established to be simple, transparent and attentive to (local) communities’ issues. Acknowledging that high costs and technical knowledge are considerable limitations to some new possible energy sources, the team behind Beem Energy has developed a photovoltaic panels kit, based on plug-and-play technology, that makes this system accessible to all without specialized technical support.

Energy Dome - This Italian startup has patented a high-efficiency long-lasting battery based on a thermodynamic cycle which uses carbon dioxide. Such a solution can optimize the storage and use of energy originating from renewable sources. Furthermore, it allows a balance of moments of unavailability of natural resources such as sun, water, and wind by managing the energy supply.

Hades - Wastewater management needs some complex facilities to control and maintain. In collaboration with the University of Zurich, this Swiss startup exploits the potential of AI technology to simplify the monitoring of those wastewater networks. Video shooting by cameras entered in conduits is now replaced with an automated system which also uses 3D Vision to inspect networks to find possible breaks or damage and accurately localize them. After the inspection phase, collected data about sewer conditions are uploaded on the web app, analyzed, and eventually shared to facilitate technical repairs.

Startups mentioned above are only a small part of a greater wave of sustainability that has invested in different sectors of the industry and beyond. Aside from growing environmental issues, many other constraints and limitations must be overcome, including conceptual, technical, and financial ones. But every big leap forward requires a starting point: these innovative projects prove that a strong sustainable mentality is increasingly spreading in our world, one that must be necessarily accompanied by financial investment to concretize the efforts. The path is only at its beginnings and as Observatory on Digital Communication, OCCAM is always ready to follow and promote it as we have done for the past twenty-six years.

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