Orange Silicon Valley announces Decarbonization Challenge finalists

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.

Read the official press release announcing the results here.

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:

The Startups

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.

Agtools is a worldwide SaaS platform that gathers real-time government and institutional data for over 500 specialty crops and commodities. A platform built for agribusiness operators, this startup helps operators make faster, more informed decisions that help them increase profits and reduce food waste in their supply chain.
Carbon Reform
Carbon Reform is the creator of the Carbon Capsule, a modular CO2 capture device that helps eco- and health-conscious building owners reduce carbon dioxide and contaminant levels from their ventilation. Aside from filtration, the Carbon Capsule allows buildings to save energy on heating and cooling by up to 40%.
Daanaa focuses on improving power transmissions. Their semiconductor technology can power and transmit energy without requiring wires. They are also designed to integrate with other existing technologies, ranging from daily electronics and appliances to solar and wind power, electric vehicles (EV) and battery management systems (BMS). With Daanaa’s technology, power and data can travel together medium and modality free as well as help businesses save costs and improve efficiency.
Syzygy Plasmonics
Developed at Rice University, Syzygy Plasmonics is developing a chemical reactor powered by light instead of combustion. With their generator, businesses can dramatically reduce the number of carbon emissions and chemicals they produce. The startup also plans to enter the market by generating hydrogen gas. Hydrogen gas made through their process can help industries reduce costs and help expand the hydrogen-fueled vehicle market.
Verdigris is an AI IoT platform specialized in creating “smart buildings.” The startup combines hardware sensors, machine learning, and software technology to “learn” a building’s patterns and create comprehensive reports. Examples include energy forecasts, alerts about faulty equipment, maintenance reminders, and detailed energy usage information for each device and appliance used. With Verdigris, companies can audit their buildings and reduce energy consumption and costs.

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.

The Challenge

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.

The event ran in partnership with corporate partners Delfingen and NVIDIA, investor partners EDF, Clean Energy Ventures, and collaborating partners Business France, and  BNP Paribas.