By Baptiste Leon | April 25th, 2022
On April 19th, Orange Silicon Valley hosted an in-person and virtual hybrid gathering at the company’s office in San Francisco for the Decarbonization Challenge.
After two years of the pandemic, this was the first hybrid event held in Orange Silicon Valley’s headquarters. The event comes at a notable moment in the fight against climate change, as the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, published on April 4, warns that we have only three years to reverse the trend of greenhouse gas emissions at the global level.
The solution will not be driven by tech alone, but the convergence of AI, IoT, and 5G represents an opportunity to better measure, manage, and mitigate industrial carbon emissions. Start-ups from a wide range of sectors presented to the jury, including Green Buildings, Green Computing, Clean Energy, Agriculture, and GHG removal. The problems of GHG emissions from human activities are deep and complex, and so are the solutions.
To understand and evaluate the potential of the solutions proposed by the startups, knowledge in many fields was necessary (e.g., functioning of the electrical network, financial viability, scalability of renewable energies, and specificity of each market in social and environmental terms).
The Decarbonization Challenge brought together a multidisciplinary jury composed of:
- Elizabeth Tchoungui: Executive Director CSR, Diversity and Philanthropy at Orange Group, and Deputy Chair for the Orange Foundation
- Gabriel Sidhom: CEO at Orange Silicon Valley
- Jérôme Goulard: Chief Sustainability & Ethics Officer at Orange Business Services
- Osama Idrees: Investment Director, EDF Pulse Ventures
- Reynaldo Gomez: Energy Partner Ecosystem Manager at Nvidia
- Shanbor Gupta: Investment Manager at Clean Energy Venture Group
More than 100 North American climate tech startups were identified by our teams; 30 were selected for diligence; 15 were invited to pitch in our office.
Each startup had four minutes to present its solution, followed by six minutes of discussion with the jury. These conversations made it possible to discover, for example, how AI can enable farmers to predict the concrete impacts of market changes, weather, or social events over 60 days to avoid losing crops and optimize their logistics flow. Considering that the decomposition of organic waste emits methane, a gas with a warming effect 28 times greater per kilogram than that of CO2, this kind of solution is crucial for a low-carbon world.
In the end, five finalists were selected by the jury — Agtools, Carbon Reform, Daanaa, Syzygy Plasmonics, and Verdigris.
The five selected startups will participate in an expense-paid trip to Paris in May, where they will attend business development meetings and present their solutions to Orange, its business units, external partners, and customers. The five startups will also have the opportunity to attend the ChangeNOW sustainability-focused conference where Orange is an Official Partner.
Orange Silicon Valley’s Challenge builds on Orange’s goal of reaching Net Zero Carbon by 2040. Via this project, Orange Silicon Valley intends to accelerate the matchmaking process between startups, the Orange Group, and the broader ecosystem of corporations and investors.