During the hectic schedule of London Tech Week - the flagship annual tech event in the UK – we were lucky enough to attend the thought-provoking ClimateTech Summit on the second day of the conference. At the intersection of both our Sustainability and Tech practices, climate tech is of growing significance to our clients. Here are some of our main takeaways from the sessions we joined:
- We are still at the beginning of this journey - when compared with other areas of tech like health tech and blockchain, climate tech is still in its infancy, and as a result the emerging climate tech businesses are generally still early stage – the climate tech ‘rockstars’ have not yet revealed themselves.
- Data is key, supported by AI – a big focus in many talks was the incredible amount of data that needs to be processed to allow the kind of corporate decision making needed to bring us to net zero. We suspect this will quickly lead to prominent AI-led climate tech solutions that augment the current human decision-making bottleneck.
- The UK Government are all in on tech, and climate tech – with appearances (either physical or virtual) from the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, Chris Philp, Julia Lopez and Sadiq Khan, the UK’s political leaders were very keen to show support for the UK tech sector via London Tech Week. From a climate tech perspective, the UK Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, Greg Hands, introduced the keynote panel to discuss how governments should review their approach to the regulation of technologies from a climate impact perspective – in the context of a dramatic shift in the energy landscape triggered by the war in Ukraine. Mr Hands was keen to impress on the audience that developments in Ukraine should be seen as an accelerant to, and not a detractor from, the UK’s efforts to achieve a transition to cleaner sources of energy.
- Lots of debates to resolve – there were plenty of lively philosophical disagreements on show amongst industry enthusiasts on important topics – whether it be the role of nuclear in the energy transition, the environmental impact of cryptoassets or the possible introduction of an EU Carbon Tax (and its likely impact on global trade and supply chains). Many of these debates ultimately related to or depended on government policy and regulation and it was apparent that the success or otherwise of many climate tech businesses is perhaps more reliant on successful (and predictable) government policy and regulation than their compatriots in other areas of tech.
- A growing ecosystem – there were clear signs of an ecosystem developing specifically around climate tech with consultants, advisers, academics and enthusiasts growing in number and sophistication (including ourselves!)
- The new frontier for venture capital – whilst there was a lot of discussion around the types of tech that will help the transition to net zero, it was clear innovation in finance is also required. The public and private sector will need to sit alongside each other on this journey, for which a major funding gap still appears to exist and investment is not necessarily being funnelled into the areas that will generate the most immediate and significant reductions in emissions.
Climate tech is a topic we will continue to explore further over the coming months and will look to publish further insights on the subject, including on data, AI, tax incentives and protecting innovation – published both via this blog as well as our longer form Horizon Scanning series, which you can subscribe to here.
If you are part of the climate tech community and would like to discuss the latest sector trends, or need help taking your venture to the next stage, feel free to get in touch here.