Can start-ups save the planet?

How can we address climate change by leveraging alliances between global enterprises and start-up companies?

Incubators and accelerators are ways to support the creation and the development of a young company. Thanks to their size and flexibility, start-ups are ideal allies to develop solutions that meet immediate needs, such as click-and-collect for retailers or telemedicine services for healthcare providers in need of a digital technology boost.

Large companies can provide start-ups with financing, coaching, the means and resources to develop proof-of-concepts, mature project management processes and international access to markets and customers. Being part of a large company’s ecosystem also brings global visibility and higher credibility with clients.

There are many different reasons for large companies and start-ups to collaborate: accelerating innovation, increasing agility or quickly pivoting to adapt to customers’ needs. However, there may be one even more compelling reason — the ability to partner to offer solutions to address the world’s biggest challenges, like decarbonization.

Allies in decarbonization

Decarbonization has recently become a top priority for many large enterprises. By way of definition, it refers to the measures and techniques used to limit the carbon footprint of a company, industry, country or economy. This ESG (environmental, social and governance) concern has become strategic for users, collaborators, and more recently for major companies and investors.
In our experience, start-ups have a lot to offer any company’s decarbonization strategy, which could include eliminating high CO2 emitting activities, buying green bonds or investing in renewable energy. For Atos, our decarbonization efforts fall into four major areas: environmental impact analysis, green IT, emission reduction and carbon offsetting.

Since we created Scaler (the Atos start-up accelerator program), we have taken each start-up’s contribution to decarbonization into account as a key selection criteria. We recently selected three start-ups for their direct impact on decarbonization.

The first is French company Greenspector, which offers a solution to reduce the environmental footprint of digital services, applications and websites. The second is a Berlin-based company, Plan A, which collects and measures carbon indicators, then proposes actions to reduce the carbon footprint and the third is Tier 1 in the United-Kingdom which handles secure and ethical disposal of end-of-life cycle IT equipment.

Beyond these pure decarbonization startups, 60% of the start-ups participating in Scaler provide solutions which advance the decarbonization agenda. For example,DreamQuark and Atos have launched an asset management offering that helps insurers and banks identify investors that are interested in sustainable finance then recommends assets and investments aligned with their personal values.

The same approach has been adopted with Sentient Science and Opinum, which are collaborating with us to strengthen the transition to renewable energy. Sentient Science (US) enables predictive maintenance for offshore wind farms in order to increase lifetime of the wind farms, while Opinum (Benelux) has created a data hub which successfully gather data from energy and utility market to sustain the energy transition and support both smart-grids and smart cities in their transformation.

With pandemic recovery plans now underway, it’s more important than ever for large companies and start-ups to work together to build an innovative, responsible way out of this crisis. There is also a role for public authorities and private organizations that support innovation and the economy, who must actively support the growth of start-ups. Together, we can make the most of this ecosystem for the benefit of all!


About Scaler: In 2020, Atos launched a new program for start-ups and small/mid-size enterprises called Scaler, the Accelerator. Scaler accelerates a fruitful collaboration between our experts and a start-up’s entrepreneurs to create a mutual win-win relationship. The startups win through accelerated development, access to our clients and partners, and brand power and visibility. Scaler wins through a spirit of innovation that inspires agility, creativity and disruption — adding sweet-spot solutions to the Atos portfolio and generating new customer engagements.

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About Isabelle Warnier
Vice-President, Head of Scaler, the Atos Accelerator program for start-ups and SMEs
Isabelle is a Vice President at Atos responsible for the global start-up accelerator program. Appointed to this role in 2019, Isabelle created an accelerator program for start-ups that enables Atos to better leverage the disruptive ecosystem economy. Known as Scaler, the Atos Accelerator Program was officially launched in July 2020. To date, Isabelle and the Scaler team are helping 15 new firms go international. In a cooperative win-win model, these start-ups in turn enhance Atos’s offering portfolio with innovative new decarbonization and industry-focused solutions.