Learning on the road is so exhilarating, isn’t it?
I was in San Francisco last month attending the Cleantech Forum, and this year the focus was more international and industry-diverse than ever. Canadian and Israeli innovators in particular were highly visible, and we were glad to see panels on topics beyond energy and transportation, like food.
The Cleantech 100 list kicked off the fun by highlighting the most exciting cleantech companies of the year, but as you review the list you can see that, more than ever, “cleantech” is shorthand for something more akin to “social innovation” – any type of technological, scientific or business innovation that benefits society, typically with a positive environmental sustainability impact.
The event panels were all compelling, but I’ve included below a hot list of panelist comments that resonated most with me.
On a panel about food waste, we heard an interesting chat about macrotrends and semantics:
- Matt Schwartz, CEO, Afresh Technologies, talked about how fresh food is growing more popular, which only underscores the importance of food waste
- Andrew Shakman, CEO, Leanpath, added that while food waste is an emotional term that activates people, we should be talking about circularity
- Christine Moseley, CEO, Full Harvest, framed the topic as resource efficiency
We also heard about big corporates prioritizing food waste innovation:
- Mosley talked about how big corporates were spending more on food-focused innovation after a period of cost-cutting. She’s been working with Starbucks to deploy her technology and says she’ll have another big corporate announcement soon!
- Shakman has seen more organized pitch competitions organized by big corporates, especially outside the U.S. He stressed the need for an executive champion inside the corporate. He’s working with Sodexo
- Aleks Strub, CMO, Imperfect Foods, is working with Kroger’s Zero Waste program
From a panel about building technology, two things jumped out:
- Kanav Dhir, Senior Product Manager, VergeSense, said his AI company is selling to three groups – real estate, facilities and increasingly, HR stakeholders focused on occupant happiness and productivity
- Wendy Gumb, Director of Sales, arbnco, noted that buildings already produce significant data, but innovators need to help them use (Many nodding heads). Her decision-makers are often sustainability department champions with access to plentiful but inherently unusable building data, delivered in the wrong format. As with most cleantech innovators, connecting dots across diverse stakeholders is a sweet spot for her
Beyond the real-world event, we followed the shadow event happening on Twitter. For the Forum, there was a remarkably high amount of nuclear innovation Tweeters and notables from Denmark, the UK and as mentioned above, Canada. Check out our Twitter recap here.
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About the Author
Joey Marquart is on the leadership team of Silverline Communications. With a focus on innovations that have a positive impact on society, he helps companies with transformative solutions foster trust, credibility and engagement with the right stakeholders.