How many times have we seen tech companies set out with the lofty mission of “changing the world”? Maybe it started with Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” credo that smade it fashionable to harness technology for the good of mankind. It was almost de rigueur for any tech company in and around Silicon Valley.
But as a new generation of startups build solutions that solve common, day-to-day problems, as well as embody change and sustainability, there is a growing need for like-minded capitalists who believe in them and their mission. Someone who can provide these early-stage ventures the support and tools they need to commercialise their solution, and simultaneously make the planet a better place to live in.
This is where Impact Kommons comes in – the first accelerator of its kind in Asia that works with tech startups on solutions that fulfil the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Founded in 2019 as part of the Eureka Nova accelerator platform, Impact Kommons brings together the entrepreneurial spirit that Hong Kong is well known for, with the muscle of the New World Group conglomerate. Not only do they promote collaboration with some of the territories top-tier businesses to disrupt the market, they also assist startups in fundraising through external funding partners.
Since it’s launch, Impact Kommons have helped 19 startups and made 21 integrations that contribute to the UNSDGs, addressing problems including waste management, energy management, upcycling, elederly care, construction and more. They have also tackled 14 of the UN’s SDGs, diverted over 3 tons of wood waste and impacted over 5,000 stakeholders. While Impact Kommons has a strong connection with Hong Kong, by no means are they limited to the SAR. In their second cohort, they welcomed applications from 30 countries and territories including Belgium, Israel and Malaysia.
They are now in the midst of their third cohort with startups such as LUÜNA Naturals that seek to provide eco-friendly period care and Natpak with its sustainable packaging solutions for watches, jewellery and consumer electronics.
We spoke with Ben Wong, Head of Open Innovation at Eureka Nova to learn more about how Impact Kommons is driving UNSDG-focused sustainability and building a better world.
How important was it for Impact Kommons to align its platform with the UN’s SDGs?
It was very integral to the program because it provided us with an established framework that outlined goals we strived to achieve together with our impact and sustainability startups.
What makes Impact Kommons the right accelerator for these sustainability startups?
Our accelerator is designed to be results focused. Startups that join our program must drive sustainability impact through business integrations that are quantified. We believe that marrying impact with business measurements is a true win-win.
So what has been the reaction to Impact Kommons? Have you had startups approach you or does your team have to make more of an effort to convince these companies that you’re all about attaining sustainable goals?
We are thrilled with the impact we’ve been able to make in sustainability, business and the conversation in tackling sustainability challenges with innovative approaches. We are already in our third ohort and it has become clear that our program is seeing organic applications to the accelerator. We’re thrilled to see that there is growth in the number of startups in this space globally.
How do you choose the right startup to support? “Sustainability” is a hot buzzword and for all its worth – good or bad – people want to get it on in it. Do they have to be early-stage startups or seed-stage companies?
We tend to look for startups that have a proven track record. Because we’re focused on landing tech solutions within our businesses in the (New World) Group, we need the startups to introduce solutions that have matured a bit beyond the prototype stage.
Walk us through a typical Impact Kommons accelerator “cycle” – what would happen for a startup after they apply to your program?
Quite typical to be honest. It’s an application process according to the problem statements that we make public for each cohort. Then there is an evaluation period and we ask the startups to come in (or virtually) to pitch their solution. We then judge the startups with our problem statement sponsors, the sustainability team and the Eureka Nova team.
What type of support does Impact Kommons extend to startups accepted in its cohort?
Aside from business integrations with thr New World Group, startups will also be introduced to the Eureka Nova partnership network that has more than 3,000 connections in the innovation ecosystem.
And what’s in store for Impact Kommons in 2022?
Cohort 3 is currently focused on landing integrations between the startups and business units. We hope to make public these integration by the second quarter. In the second half of 2022, we will be recruiting for Cohort 4.
For more information about Impact Kommons or to apply for their accelerator program, visit impactcommons.com
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