A group of Sydney organisations and startups have come together to form a super squad of tech folks tackling climate change and helping protect the environment.
Led by TechSydney, the Envirotech Alliance is focused on bringing people in the tech space together to discuss scalable solutions to climate change, while combining efforts to build businesses with positive environmental impact.
Founding members include co-working space and startup community Fishburners, energy community Spark Club, women’s tech startup Girl Geek Academy and startup communications agency Launch Group.
Speaking to StartupSmart, Girl Geek Academy co-founder and chief Sarah Moran says the initiative reflects a broader sea change in the Aussie startup scene.
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“Technology exists already to help with what we need to achieve,” she says.
“But the key thing about technologists themselves is that they’re always thinking about the future and what’s next.”
Over the past 12 months or so, we’ve seen “a tipping point” in the startup community, Moran says.
“What’s the point of working on future technology if there’s no world for that tech to succeed in?”
“For some people it has been that stark,” she adds.
It’s not just a handful of greenies that are thinking this way anymore, it’s the mainstream of the tech community.
“So our meetups are starting to look different and feel different, because the conversations we’re having are different,” Moran says.
“Having a space that’s actually dedicated to that becomes extra important.”
For Fishburners, a huge community hub for tech startups, it’s about instilling the importance of environmental considerations at the earliest stages, and supporting startups to build them into the fabric of their business.
These are startups that could grow into the next Atlassians, Canvas and Culture Amps; in the future, they could have a significant role to play in the Australian economy. As such, they have a responsibility to think about the environment and climate change.
“That’s why I’m so keen to be talking about it now,” Fishburners chief Nicole O’Brien tells StartupSmart.
“So at the early stages of their development they can build it in from the beginning … that’s where the change is going to happen,” she adds.
“It happens too slowly at the political level. As we know, with a lot of these movements they need to happen at the grassroots.”
For O’Brien, this means Fishburners has something of a responsibility too.
“We’re in a really unique position to play a role in informing, educating and providing the resources and tools for our startups to play a roll at that grassroots level,” she says.
And, while acting ethically is one side of the story, there’s also a strong business case here too. The way a business acts now could genuinely affect its ability to trade in the future, Moran notes.
Already, for example, BlackRock has stopped investing in coal projects.
“Where you get your investment from will start to be reflective of what your own environmental policies are,” Moran suggests.
“That’s the way the world is going, so get on board or you may be really damaging your future company’s opportunities.”
O’Brien agrees, and hopes founders can see the opportunity of taking climate change and environmental issues seriously — or the danger of not.
“That’s really what consumers want,” she says.
“I do think there will be a good payback on that, eventually.”
The first Envirotech Alliance meetup will be at Fishburners on March 17.