Connect: Impact Startup Winners Show That Innovation Will Provide Hope in Reaching Global SDGs

January 20, 2023


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As we move full-steam ahead into 2023, policymakers and business executives are battling a myriad of challenges—with some of the most pressing on the sustainability front. In fact, the 12th Annual UN Global Compact and Accenture CEO report found that 98% of CEOs agree that sustainability is core to their role, and 51% believe they could play a critical role to achieve the SDGs with increased commitment and action.

The same report found that CEOs are requesting a new roadmap to accomplish global SDGs as the world nears the halfway mark of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The C-suite sample surveyed leaders from 18 countries, but one common denominator remained across the spectrum—many CEOs are urging governments to lower barriers and hasten the transition to a greener economy.

This week’s Connect event, Connect: Impact brought together some of the most innovative startups in the sustainability and social consciousness sectors, helping to provide solutions on how to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainability. Let’s take a look at the three winners whose comapanies will help to evolve the future of business for the better. 

Connecting Environmental Data to Society

The first-place winner of this week’s competition was Terrafirma, a startup aimed at empowering urban planners, municipalities, and climate scientists with the digital tools needed to protect cities and environments.

Alejandro Excia, Chief Creative Officer, Terrafirma (1st place)

A software company based in Puerto Rico, the company works to visualize and mitigate climate change. Using a myriad of technological capacities, they help to connect environmental data to the policymakers who need it, providing insight to leaders to understand their landscape so that they can protect their communities. 

The company uses a variety of tools to extract this data for environmental protection. This includes aerial imagery, vector contours, DEM height maps, AI feature recognition, solar sequence, cumulative solar exposure, flow accumulation, and fluid and wind simulation.

With the number of natural disasters rising from an average of three per year in the 1980s to 13 per year during the 2010s, these types of events are not only occurring more frequently but also becoming more costly. This makes Terrafirma’s multi-faceted approach to mitigating climate crises a solution that both governments and businesses need to help protect both their assets and their people. 

Leveling the Worker Playing Field 

Second place went to a company that is looking to close the socioeconomic gap that seems to always be perpetuating, imprisoning so many to remain poor or below the poverty line in countries all over the world. 

Matt Strauss, CEO & Founder, RiseKit (second place)

RiseKit is a startup aimed at ensuring workers from under-resourced communities can access a workforce system— helping to navigate a pathway to help more people achieve financial security.

​​Eradicating extreme poverty for all people everywhere by 2030 is the number one goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, so this company’s purpose-built work is vital.

By providing the toolkits to workforce system stakeholders, such as government agencies, funders, employment service providers, and employers, RiseKit enables them to coordinate efforts and provide a predictable, and impactful end-to-end experience for workers along their employment journey.

RiseKit’s mission is to create a world where a person’s barriers, zip code, and history do not unfairly define the careers they can create and the life they’re destined to live.

Fostering a Better Food System

Agrotoken, Connect: Impact’s third-place winner, is focused on the ways to link the farming industry and its important contributions to society to the digital world we now live in. They do this by transforming grains into digital assets, to save or exchange for supplies, services, and other assets. 

Eduardo Novillo, Founder and CEO, Agrotoken (third)

The second SDG is to “End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. By helping to link sustainable agriculture to the modern economy, this unique cryptocurrency will help to empower small farmers, mitigate rural poverty, and help ensure healthy lifestyles.

This startup’s goal is to build a new ecosystem that allows for business with agro commodities, simply, securely, and with lower costs. Their proprietary crypto-coin, Agrotokens, allows commercial and financial transactions to be directly backed by grains, with the value linked to the price of soybeans, corn, and wheat.

With blockchain technology that is transparent and decentralized, Agrotoken’s approach is collateralized with more grains in more countries, providing more functionalities to support transactions and financing.

A Greener Future

Time is of the essence now more than ever, with the clock ticking on natural resources and mother nature showing that she will not wait long for the human population to clean up its act.

This makes the implementation of sustainable and impactful solutions in the business landscape all the more important in 2023. The winners of this week’s Connect competition show how innovation will help both businesses and society as a whole move towards a greener future.

Disclosure: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.


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