Local governments around the world are committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and achieving carbon neutrality (Net Zero) to reach the Paris Agreement goal of keeping the Earth’s temperature at 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The implementation of ambitious measures is urgent, given that the average global temperature has already risen 1.1 degree Celsius, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Synthesis Report on Climate Change 2023 released in March. It may not seem much, but every tenth of a degree matters, scientists point out, because global warming is responsible for increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, with a tendency to worsen food and water insecurity around the world.
To support cities and regions in the urgent challenge of decarbonisation, Connected Places Catapult is leading the UK-LATAM Net-Zero and Resilience Programme, funded by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology through the Science and Innovation Network, with support from the UK Government. The Programme aimed at identifying barriers to achieving carbon neutrality and with the potential to be solved through LATAM and UK innovation and new technologies.
“We help british companies to find opportunities in Brazil and help brazilian companies to find opportunities in the UK”, summed up Martin Whalley, Head of the Trade & Investment at British Consulate in São Paulo.
The first phase of the Programme was implemented with the support of ICLEI South America and ICLEI Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean in the cities of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Campinas (Brazil), Monterrey and Guadalajara Metropolitan Area (Mexico). Two other cities, Porto Alegre (Brazil) and Santiago (Chile), were observers of the Programme and could identify additional challenges and will be able to replicate the model developed with the four core cities to accelerate local decarbonisation.
“We are also very happy to be working with the cities of Santiago and Porto Alegre, as observer cities in this project, as they are developing their own Net Zero profiles, by doing that we would be understanding where they are in terms of challenges, so we can move on to a next stage and also select companies from the UK, Santiago and Porto Alegre to together address local challenges”, highlighted Guilherme Johnston, Head of Global Partnerships at Connected Places Catapult.
In January 2023, a Call for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) was launched to stimulate the formation of partnerships. Between February and March, more than 150 local leaders and stakeholders participated in face-to-face workshops, hosted by the four core cities of the programme, when they identified and selected their priority challenges for decarbonisation and climate resilience. With these definitions, the innovation ecosystem of the United Kingdom and Latin America was triggered and 11 startups presented potential solutions to the priority challenges pointed out by the cities. These initiatives were showcased by representatives during the South Summit Brazil 2023, one of the biggest innovation events, in Porto Alegre. The Innovation Mission to Brazil also included visits to government and private organisations in São Paulo and Campinas.
“Cities are responsible for 75% of the world’s GHG emissions and it is where people are most vulnerable to climate risks. We need to innovate to meet these challenges. That is what this Programme also sets out to do: generate a more secure institutional environment for local governments to be able to host innovation dynamics”, said the Executive Secretary of ICLEI South America, Rodrigo Perpétuo.
“ICLEI is delighted to be in a continued partnership with Connected Places Catapult, supporting the British government and British Embassy in Brazil, trying to emphasize the way those connections are necessary to create local development in a fashion that connects sustainability to innovation. We are completely onboard in the way to make those solutions happen in the territory”, competed Rodrigo Corradi, Deputy Executive Secretary for ICLEI South America.
The UK-LATAM Net-Zero and Resilience Programme, which places small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at the centre of collaborations between the UK Government and Latin American cities to tackle climate challenges, stimulates the development of sustainable solutions in the innovation ecosystem and facilitates new business opportunities and access to finance from development banks and the private sector. The implementation is in its early stages and will seek additional funding to carry out a range of activities in the coming years, in the next phases of the programme.
Results of the first phase of the Programme:
- Internal teams and local ecosystem stakeholders mapped and identified;
- Desk research to identify market trends and understand the regional context conducted;
- Interviews with 26 expert stakeholders from academia, government and industry;
- City Academy workshops in the four cities to present research findings and co-design detailed challenges for resolution in the next phase of the project: +100 participants;
- Workshops with stakeholders in the four cities to understand the challenges and opportunities for designing a test bed to deploy and test technologies: +50 participants;
- 11 selected SMEs solutions;
- Local leadership buy-in and willingness to try new approaches;
- Research and scenario building on the possible impacts of implementing specific solutions compared to maintaining the status quo in the territories;
- Market scanning to identify organisations innovating in challenge areas in the UK and in each of the participating cities;
- Investigation of similar and relevant initiatives already underway in partner cities;
- Business Matchmaking between SMEs with relevant innovations in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, Monterrey, Campinas, Buenos Aires and the UK;
- Testing scope defined, potential testing locations identified and testing potential partners engaged;
- UK-LATAM Net-Zero and Resilience Programme featured in three South Summit Brazil panels: “Innovative Solutions for Cities to Achieve Net-Zero and Resilient”, on The Next Big Thing stage; “UK-LATAM Net Zero and Resilience Pitching Event”, on Explore stage; “The Importance of Bilateral Collaboration for Net Zero”, on Demo stage;
- Networking sessions; exchange of experiences; possibility of opening new markets and business prospects (e.g. joint venture between two SMEs in Monterrey).
GET TO KNOW THE CHALLENGES OF CITIES AND THE SOLUTIONS OF STARTUPS:
Campinas | Last-Mile Mobility and Logistics – Enabling data-driven transport planning and services to encourage transition to alternative and sustainable transport methods. The workshops took place on 1 and 2 March 2023, with 20 participants.
- WeDRT: a company from Hempstead, UK, that provides transport on demand to municipalities and aims to trigger modal shift from single occupancy cars. Check out the testimonial from Eugenia Agell-Bernard, Business Development Manager at WeDRT.
- Inteliports: a Southampton, UK company developing smart drones for maritime, medical, surveillance and parcel delivery sectors and rapidly deployable and modular drone ports. Check out the testimonial from David Park, Cofounder of Inteliports.
- Scipopulis: startup from São Paulo, developed the Trancity platform, which integrates static and real-time data from the public transport network, assisting transport agencies in making Evidence-Based Public Policies. Check out the testimonial from Buno Maximino, Transport Specialist at Scipopulis.
Buenos Aires | Last Mile Logistics – Optimising last mile logistics to meet the growing demand for deliveries and reducing the number of cargo vehicles in the city centre. The workshops took place on 7 and 8 March 2023, with 50 participants.
- Rasic LTD: startup from London, which developed software to design routes quickly, process data and collect information from sensors in vehicles and mobile devices, communicate with drivers, locate vehicles, etc. Check out the testimonial from Nicolas Rincon, Developer at Rasic LTD.
- Grid Smarter Cities: a Newcastle, UK-based company specializing in pavement management to address key logistics challenges and environmental issues in cities. Grid’s Kerb® is an “Airbnb of kerbbside”. Check out the testimonial from Toby Hiles, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Grid Smarter Cities.
- Moova: a platform developed by a startup from Buenos Aires that turns idle logistics capacity into a highly efficient, low-cost and eco-friendly delivery solution. Check out the testimony of Lucas Jaime, National Manager for Peru and Chile at Moova.
Monterrey | Water Resilience – Implementing changes and solutions that improve water resilience in the city. The workshops took place on 23 and 24 February 2023, with over 40 participants.
- Water Offsets: startup from Hertfordshire, UK, has software to support cities on the path to water neutrality and resilience. During the Programme, it partnered with startup Gentian to work together in Monterrey. Check the testimonials of Tapiwa Gavaza, CEO of Water Offsets, and Niall Williams, who is part of the company.
- Gentian: a London-based company that has developed a remote sensing tool to monitor biodiversity, using AI, satellite imagery and deep ecological knowledge. During the Programme, it allied with Water Offsets to enhance its work in Monterrey. Check out the testimonial of Daniel White, CEO of Gentian.
- BMA (Business Modelling Applications): startup from Leeds in the UK that developed the Decisio™ artificial intelligence decision processor, which helps build the most complete understanding of its clients’ businesses and the ecosystem in which they operate. Check out the testimonial from Michael Avant-Smith, Director at BMA.
- Alis (Algae Innovation Solutions): biotech company from Monterrey that uses microalgae in water treatment. Check out the testimonial from Ramón de Hoyos, founder and CEO of Alis.
Guadalajara Metropolitan Area | Mobility – Improving the public transport service by enabling data-based solutions to provide real-time information. The workshops took place on 28 February and 2 March, with over 40 participants.
- WhereIsMyTransport: London-based, leading technology company and source of mobility data in emerging markets. With the Rumbo app, it provides real-time passenger transport information in Mexico City, Lima and Bangkok. Check out the testimonial from Felipe Duque, Business Development Director of WhereIsMyTransport.
- ITP (Integrated Transport Planning): Sustainable urban transport consultancy from Nottingham, UK. Provides creative and viable solutions to urban transport challenges for clients in over 60 countries on six continents. Check out the testimonial of Stuart William Clapham, Associate Consultant and Leader of ITP in Latin America.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE STARTUPS? Access the project report here.
Text: Cibele Carneiro