Q&A: 100+ Accelerator announces 36 new startups to take on some of the world's biggest challenges

Posted: September 07, 2021
Q&A: 100+ Accelerator announces 36 new startups to take on some of the world's biggest challenges

This week, 36 startups implementing their innovative solutions in over 20 countries around the world begin their journey as members of the third cohort of the 100+ Accelerator.  We sat down with Maisie Devine, Global Director and Managing Partner of the 100+ Sustainability Accelerator, and Carolina Garcia, Global Sustainability, Innovation & Operations, to get to know the new group of startups and catch up on the latest news from the 100+ Accelerator. 

Here's what they had to say about this year's kickoff week, the new partnership with The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive and Unilever, and what's next for the 100+ Accelerator. 

For those who need a refresher, what is the 100+ Accelerator? 

CAROLINA: The 100+ Accelerator was launched in 2018 to help us reach our ambitious sustainability goals faster by finding startups that can deliver breakthrough advancements across five key sustainability pillars—water stewardship, smart agriculture, circular packaging, climate action and upcycling. In its first two cohorts, the 100+ Accelerator has worked with 36 startups across 16 countries, with more than half of the startups securing long term contracts with AB InBev. 

AB InBev is the world's leading brewer. Why do you need help from startups? 

MAISIE: Our sustainability goals are ambitious and we know that we don't have all the answers. We view innovation as a key driver of progress towards our 2025 goals and the UN SDGs. To that end, we collaborate with passionate entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, investors and scientists who are working to solve some of the world's most pressing challenges. These partnerships are key to moving us forward. We go further together than alone. 

We support the Accelerator startups by providing mentoring, funding and opportunities to pilot and scale their ideas within our business and value chain. While these startups help us reach our goals, we in turn commit to being their advocates and champions in in developing and growing their business with peer companies and investors. 

What have some of the previous cohorts accomplished?  

CAROLINA: The 100+ Accelerator's startup innovations have already created tremendous impact. Examples include BanQu, which delivers traceability and enables financial inclusion for smallholder farmers and waste pickers in Africa and South America; OKO, which empowers farmers by providing crop insurance at an affordable price to provide protection from environmental risks like droughts and/or excessive rainfall; Conscious Container, which is building the refillable circular glass economy through a pilot of returnable packaging in the US; Yushuo, which recycles electric vehicle batteries for a second life as onsite renewable energy storage units in China; and Green Mining, which brings post-consumer packaging back into the supply chain in Brazil by diverting waste from landfills (today over 2,000 tons).  

How will the recent partnership with The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive and Unilever help expand the impact of the program? 

CAROLINA: Sustainable business is smart business, and we are working to solve huge problems that no one company can handle alone. It was always our dream to partner with other companies in the 100+ Accelerator, because the challenges we are working to solve aren't only ours—many are shared across companies.  

The addition of The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive and Unilever will expand our unique approach and will further establish the value proposition of the AB InBev 100+ Accelerator brand and mission. 

We used the combined reach of our 4 corporate partners to recruit the strongest cohort yet. Together, we are striving to supercharge adoption of sustainable solutions by funding and accelerating fantastic innovations that will change the world by making all of our businesses more sustainable at a global scale. 

Today you announced the newest startups to join the 100+ Accelerator. What can you tell us about them? 

MAISIE: From over 1,300 applications, we have selected 36 startups and will be implementing their solutions in over 20 countries around the world. 17 of the startups are female founded, and 10 are joint pilots with our new partner companies, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive.  

The 36 startups in our new cohort have already raised over 75 million in funding and show incredible promise to have significant impact on global supply chains. Fourteen of this year's startups are working on circular packaging challenges, eight are focused on climate action, eight on Water Stewardship, four on smart agriculture and two on upcycling. Collectively, the 100+ Accelerator and the startups of this cohort are tackling 16 out of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).  

Examples of the solutions this cohort will pilot include change:WATER Labs, which is providing smart water & sanitation solutions for communities living in stressed watersheds in Zambia; Chanzi, which is using organic waste from manufacturing facilities as feedstock for Black Soldier Flies, a protein that replaces soya and fish meal for animal feed (including pet food) in Tanzania; Enexor, which is using a variety of organic and plastic waste from manufacturing facilities to generate onsite heat and electricity, Solutum, which is implementing their packaging alternative that dissolves in water and then fully biodegrades, leaving no toxic residue or microplastics to replace secondary packaging, and Sunman, which is installing lightweight solar panels on facilities that cannot support conventional solar panels in China. 

These entrepreneurs have innovative solutions that address some of our most critical challenges and, through the partnership with Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive and Coca-Cola, we can scale them to the world. 

What happens during kickoff week? 

CAROLINA: For the first time since the 100+ Accelerator was launched, kickoff week will be held virtually, with speakers from AB InBev, Coca Cola, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive, pitches from all of our startups and guest speakers including: 

  • Erik Solheim, Former Executive Director for the UN Environment Programme and Former Minister of Norway 
  • Rohre Titcomb Chief Operating Officer at Female Founders Alliance 
  • Tom Rivett-Carnac, Founding Partner at Global Optimism 
  • Monica Araya, Distinguished Fellow at ClimateWorks Foundation 
  • Pavan Sukhdev, CEO of Gist Advisory and President and Board Chair of WWF-International 
  • Will Sarni, Founder and CEO at Water Foundry 
  • Danielle Joseph, Executive Director at Closed Loop Fund.  

In addition to 4 days full of inspiring speakers and content, teams will get to know each other and begin working on their pilots. Each startup will have the chance to engage with their implementing team during two individual working sessions.

What's next for the 100+ Accelerator?  

MAISIE: In the coming months, we look forward to working with the 36 startups in our third cohort to implement pilots and provide mentorship and coaching, all working towards our Demo Day in March 2022. At the Demo Day, the startups will pitch to  partners, NGOs, investors, large corporates, AB InBev employees and more to share their work and how they collaborate with our company to build a better future together. 

In the years to come, we will continue to build on our momentum and hope to partner with more companies to increase the impact of our program. These entrepreneurs are going to change the world and help build our sustainable future.   

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