Sustainable entrepreneurship is now self-evident for corporations. Whether it concerns making their products and processes circular or switching to clean energy sources, large budgets are made available for these transitions. Governments do the same at European, national and regional level. Both realize that the development of green innovative products and services are crucial for a sustainable economy. The big question is who can bring real change in this transition.
I believe the answer to that question is the start-ups and scale-ups that are Double Green. This means developing and selling products and services that are good both for the environment and the wallet (as a stack of green dollar bills). I like to call such businesses green-ups.
The VNO-NCW network “Green Scale-Ups” (Groene Groeiers) supports the businesses that are Double Green by opening doors for them. We connect the challenges of large companies and public institutions to the solutions of green-ups. The matches made form a good basis for the development of cooperation between green-ups and corporations or governments.
The experience with my first green scale-ups business, LG Sonic, made me passionate about scaling up green businesses. I have first-hand knowledge of what is needed to grow a green business with an unknown name and technology. Most importantly, you need a launching customer who wants to do a pilot with you. The program team of Green Scale-Ups brings entrepreneurs into contact with potential large customers, such as Philips, Heineken or a governmental organization.
Last year, I became a member of the Advisory Board of European Innovation Council (EIC). EIC supports the growth of successful scale-ups in Europe that are high risk and high impact. Just in 2020, the EIC pilot budget is €1.55 billion (equivalent to €11 billion over 7 years). As an advisor, my role is to share my knowledge on the challenges that green-ups face and how to close the financial gaps.
For example, TUSTI and Ranmarine, two Dutch green-ups, have been selected for the EIC Accelerator of 2019. They will receive a joint support of €5.2 million to scale and the roll-out of their innovative products in the European and global markets.
At the EU Research & Innovation Days 2020, I spoke at the Plenary Session on the topics of Green Deal and entrepreneurship together with Jean-Eric Paquet, Johan Rockström, Eimear Manning, Mariya Gabriel, Frans Timmermans. These discussions are needed to promote the innovation and scaling up of green businesses in Europe.
Chairman of VNO-NCW network Green Growers