The second Amazon Sustainability Accelerator launches today, inviting early stage, sustainability-focused start-ups to apply for the program. Launched by Amazon, EIT Climate-KIC, Europe’s leading climate innovation hub, and WRAP, a leading UK climate action NGO, the Accelerator is open to start-ups which are both creating more sustainable consumer products and, for the first time, those developing technology that can help the industry recycle products more effectively and efficiently.
Last year’s Accelerator participants raised more than €5 million, and increased sales on and off Amazon by more than 250% following their participation in the Accelerator. The program last year accepted 12 of the 1,300 applications, including Suri, a UK-based start-up that designs, manufactures and sells electric reusable and repairable toothbrushes with replacement heads made from plant-based materials. According to its co-founder, Mark Rushmore, the Accelerator added “enormous value”, helping his business grow from “zero revenue to significantly over £1 million in a short period.”
Amazon Sustainability Accelerator is a 12-week bespoke program designed to help founders navigate the challenges of starting and scaling a sustainable business. The program includes expert-led virtual and in-person workshops, specialized mentorship, a tailored curriculum, and access to a network of like-minded founders. Amazon and EIT Climate-KIC will work in collaboration to guide Accelerator participants through a Climate Impact Forecast, where they will learn how to self-assess their business' climate impact, and develop strategies to improve their environmental footprint. Participants will also receive a grant, Amazon Web Services (AWS) credits, and free office space. This year’s Accelerator will focus on start-ups from two key areas:
- Recycling Technologies: Recycling is a critical step toward building a more circular economy, where products’ materials can be reused, thereby minimizing the need to extract more raw materials. Now, for the first time, Amazon Sustainability Accelerator is seeking start-ups with promising technologies that can help the recycling industry leap forward, including new technologies that tackle yet-to-be-solved recycling challenges, or technologies that significantly improve on existing tools, such as advanced sortation machinery and waste management data systems.
- Consumer Products: Amazon Sustainability Accelerator is also welcoming start-ups building physical products that help people live more sustainably. The products must be quantifiably more sustainable than existing products, such as being made with more recycled or upcycled materials, made with reduced carbon emissions, and helping consumers reduce, reuse or recycle. Participants will also work with the Amazon Launchpad team to help them refine their business strategy and help them scale.
Participant Colin Hutchinson of Leaf (UK) called the program a “business life changer,” and Christina Antonie Reh of Baybies (Germany) said, “This journey has been incredibly fruitful. We’ve learned so much about growth, and through the program refined our marketing and retail strategy to help us expand into new marketplaces.”
“Innovation is in Amazon’s DNA and through Amazon Sustainability Accelerator, we’re looking for sustainability-focused entrepreneurs ready to scale their business and shake up their industries,” said Zak Watts, Amazon‘s Director of Sustainability in Europe. “The Accelerator is open to entrepreneurs across Europe and I’d love to see a wide range of European talent and innovation represented amongst the shortlist.”
“We are delighted to be working with Amazon to help scale up its sustainability efforts through the Accelerator program, said Richard Swannell, Interim CEO, WRAP. “This expert support will be invaluable for many start-ups at a critical time in their development and help to fast-track our next generation of sustainability innovators. Our vision is a thriving world in which climate change is no longer a problem, and this program will help sustainable product development and improve recycling infrastructure. Both are key in delivering the circular economy we so urgently need.”
“We need radical collaboration between industry and business, policy makers, and financiers to both connect innovative solutions to one another and shape new markets to bring about bold systemic change, said Dr. Kirsten Dunlop, Chief Executive Officer, EIT Climate-KIC. “Our Accelerator programs set out innovation challenges that encourage entrepreneurs to put these systemic challenges at the very heart of their business solutions. At EIT Climate-KIC, we look forward to this new edition of the Amazon Sustainability Accelerator and to the new solutions that will create opportunities to connect into large-scale, systemic implementation.”
This year’s participants will receive a financial boost through a €12,000 equity-free grant and US$25,000 worth of AWS Activate Credits. Participants will meet and work with Amazon leaders and scientists from its Sustainability, Circular Economy, Product Sustainability, and Climate Pledge Fund teams, and receive access to free office space at Amazon’s headquarters in London and Berlin. Participants in the Consumer Products cohort will also receive free access to Amazon Launchpad for one year, including account management and marketing via the Amazon Launchpad storefront. At the end of the program, both the Recycling Technologies and Consumer Products cohorts will have the opportunity to pitch their business to an audience of seasoned investors to help them build connections and raise further funding.
Amazon, EIT Climate-KIC, and WRAP have brought together a team of start-up and sustainability experts to serve on the selection committee, including:
- Kirsty Macdonald, JamJar Investments, Investment Principal;
- Bettina Gilbert, WRAP, Head of Technical Support and Financial Mechanisms;
- Ben Honan, Investment Manager, Climate-KIC;
- Phoebe Wang, Climate Pledge Fund, Investment Partner;
- Rich Loretto, Director, Circular Economy, Amazon; and
- Cyrus Wadia, Head of Sustainable Products, Amazon.
The deadline for applications is 17 March 2023 and successful applicants will be announced in the Spring.