Giant Leap’s Small Steps: the social innovation we need to address climate change

- July 23, 2021 3 MIN READ
Giant Leap
The Giant Leap team: Will Richardson, Charlie Macdonald & Rachel Yang
Welcome to Giant Leap’s Small Steps, a newsletter offering global insights and news on the impact startups landscape. We’ll be sharing a edited version with Startup Daily readers every fortnight. 

Giant Leap is Australia’s first impact venture fund, and they use this newsletter to surface the ideas and businesses that intrigue and inspire them and broaden their own thinking on impact business.

You can catch Giant Leap partner Rachel Yang on the Startup Daily show on ausbiz.com.au, offering insights on the impact of the startup ecosystem.

Here’s what they have to say this week:

Food for thought 

Investment and innovation in cleantech has kicked up a notch in the past few years. But cleantech only gets us so far in addressing climate change.

Alongside crucial cleantech investment, we need massive systems change via social innovation – the realm of health and education startups. Only by improving economic wellbeing will we be able to accept climate positive policies and slow population growth at the rate required to avoid the worst of the climate crisis. 

Read Charlie’s argument on the link between social innovation and successful climate action here. 


What stopped us in our tracks

The World Economic Forum’s Helen Burdett featured on the Circular Economy Podcast on the back of a report that showed that impact-oriented startups have a 43% higher chance of scaling up than purely commercial ones. This backs up what we wrote about the “Impact Moat”- the unfair advantage of startups doing good.

The report also identified a new class of impact startup, the “Circular Trailblazer”. These are startups that pave the way for others in the circular economy by licensing their tech, lobbying for policy change, and sharing stories and resources that bring new circular founders to the fold. This is the leading edge of impact investing and we’ll be keeping an eye on their first cohort of trailblazers.

A unique project is underway in the UK to use flooded coal mines as a form of heating. How, you ask? Well, geothermal energy naturally heats the water in the mine, which can be pumped to the surface where it can warm buildings.The process is currently being used to heat a cellar and a warehouse, but with mines stretching across the UK, there’s hopes this could become a zero-emission form of heating households. 

Ever wanted to know who the world’s cleantech unicorns (startups valued <$1b) are? Here’s a list of all 22 of them, ordered by valuation. No Australians on the list yet – challenge, accepted.


Giant Leaps

Assuming the lockdown lifts as planned, our Partner, Rachel Yang, will be attending a Surf Coast Sustainable Pitch Party later this month in Torquay. 

Tune in to this StartUp Vic Startup Success Series on August 6 to hear our Associate Charlie Macdonald share Giant Leap’s framework for blending profit and purpose. 

We’ll be checking out StartUp Vic’s Life Sciences and Health Tech Pitch Night on July 27


New career paths

As always, there are 50+ more jobs on the Giant Leap Fund jobs board and more jobs at ethical companies on the global B-Work job board


Thoughts for the road

Congrats to Artesian, who released their Annual Impact report showing that their 2020 investments saved over 1,600 metric tonnes of carbon (or 753 fewer cars on the road). 

Phil Morle from Main Sequence Ventures wrote a guide to Slam Dunk Fundraising. It’s a model that forces founders to think about their businesses key milestones over a two-year period that will make the next capital raise a “slam dunk” for investors.

The latest StartUp Health Insights report showed a remarkable increase in the amount of funds being poured into health startups, from $US9.7 billion in H1 of 2020 to $US20, with sharp increases in valuations.

Philanthropic venture turned brain research startup Omniscient Neurotechnology just closed its Series B with some of our wealthiest Australians tipping into the book. The company is using research into brain connectivity to make inroads on treating Alzheimer’s disease, depression, chronic pain and brain cancer. One to keep an eye on. 

Talking about amazing health innovations, the 2021 MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarships just opened for applications, aimed at medical professionals or researchers who need a burst of funds to explore entrepreneurship and commercialisation goals.

The CSIRO invented Wi-Fi and Twisties? Who knew.