How Corporate Enterprises are Embracing ClimateTech Meetup to Understand Corporate Startup Partnerships in Sustainability

June 22, 2022

It’s been three years since Hackquarters started Sustainable Growth Programme in partnership with HSBC and WWF. Since 2020, we’ve delivered two successful batches of the Programme and now are excited about the 3rd great batch. During the second online meetup, we talked about How Corporate Enterprises and International Organizations are Embracing ClimateTech. Following the first Climate Action Online Meetup, and the Program Kick-Off this online event received registration from 80+ sustainability experts, startups, and ecosystem players. 

The meetup started with Hackquarters Founder and CEO Kaan Akın’s speech on the details of the Program, Climate Action, and social entrepreneurship statistics. 350 startups have applied for the Program since 2020, and 31 were selected for the three batches. Our events had more than 1400 registrations so far, including meetups and demo days. Participants also benefited from 164 hours of mentorship and 130 hours of trainings on various topics ranging from Branding to Investor Relations.

According to Accumen report, Social entrepreneurship attracting enormous attention from the corporate side. 50% of the global social entrepreneurs have been selling their products to corporations for more than three years. 72% of the respondents have five or more corporate customers. 30% of the SEs surveyed had annual revenues over $1 million, 50% or more of those revenues coming from corporate customers. 39% of the SEs in our survey received outside investment, with 65% of these SEs raising over $250,000; and 17% raising over $2 million.

The meetup continued with Fireside Chat: Corporate Enterprises Embracing Social Innovation, moderated by Jülide Erdoğan, Co-founder at Katalist, with the participation of Yeliz Erinçkan, Strategy and Business Development Director at Sabancı Holding, and Tuba Gökcan, Strategy, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Director at Anadolu Efes. 

Jülide underlined that the corporates that can definitely work with startups and take action. In this context, she asked Yeliz and Tuba about the way Sabancı Holding and Anadolu Efes engage with startups and how they create greater value together.

Yeliz highlighted that the time of planning and strategy is over; we are in the era of “action”. Sabancı Holding prioritizes the main topics including being a pioneer in sustainability, customer experience, digitalization, and material technologies. She also stated a corporate cannot run R&D operations on its own. Open Innovation here is the keyword. 44% of the R&D budget of Sabancı Holding is going to innovation and planning to increase to 70%. Innovation is strongly related to building community and ecosystem. Sabancı Holding supports entrepreneurs with business development opportunities, and even investment opportunities (through Sabancı Ventures) when needed. So far, Sabancı Ventures has invested in Lumnion,, Bulutistan, and Thread in Motion. The Holding is ready to be a client of a startup, or they can launch new products & services together. 

Tuba underlined that the corporate companies cannot hold everything on their own, too. Anadolu Efes has more than 10 years of history of partnering with startups; with the last 5 years more organized and strategic. In line with its innovation focus, Anadolu Efes is running both entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship programs. When it comes to ecosystem partnerships, the red flag of Anadolu Efes is sustainability: sustainable relationships and creating value sustainably. Anadolu Efes is supporting entrepreneurs according to their needs, which can be R&D, recognition, scaling, or network. For example, Anadolu Efes is the biggest client of Ecording. It supported Blindlook with network and Biolive with R&D opportunities.

Keynote Speech: International Organizations and Donors Confronting Climate Change by Emre Oğuzöncül, Principal, Green Cities at EBRD, started by reminding us that the existence of the climate crisis is not discussable anymore. It has become a part of our daily lives. Last year’s forest fires were an exact example of the climate crisis. Paris Agreement was signed by 193 Parties. The goals are hard to achieve, but we must do our best. EBRD has been investigating climate risks while financing corporates for 2 years. Climate action has 2 main objectives from the corporate perspective. First, corporates can reduce their carbon emissions. Carbon markets are the other important tool to fight the climate crisis. With the advancement of carbon capture and sequester technologies, carbon markets are improving. EBRD prioritizes climate financing. By 2025, 50% of financing will be green financing. EBRD will continue to embrace green technologies including green banks, green buildings, green cities, green transportation, green manufacturing, and more.

Following Emre’s speech, Panel: Sustainable World, moderated by Sabina Babayeva, COO at Hackquarters, took the stage where co-founders of three startups from the 2022 batch shared their journeys: Doğukan Yükmen, Founder & CEO at Theta Clean Energy Technologies, Müge Baltacı, Co-founder at Köstebek, and Barış Can Üstündağ, Co-founder at Airqoon. Sabina asked the entrepreneurs what B2B partnerships look like when it comes to sustainability and social entrepreneurship. 

Barış mentioned that corporate companies are economy-oriented while social entrepreneurs focus on social benefits. The synergy between corporates and startups is significant while struggling with sustainability issues. Corporates are engaging with the startups both for technical support and increasing awareness. 

Müge stated that corporates are now looking for real solutions to the sustainability problems. The synergy of the partnerships must be measurable and scalable to enhance and sustain the advancement of green technologies. 

Doğukan said that the role of the corporate companies in Theta’s progress so far has been vital. Corporates are pushing them to achieve higher standards, and Theta is always trying to meet higher and higher standards. 

The next and last session aimed to showcase the Success Story of the Program’s Startups where Mustafa Erol, Founder at IWROBOTX, and Rahmi Erdem Yıldız, Founder at Momentum R&D talked about their achievements and future plans. 

Mustafa shared the journey of Doris, the water cleaning robot, which recognizes and classifies objects on the sea surface, collects waste, transfers the collected data to the internet, and prepares reports using cameras and sensors. With Doris, Caddebostan Seaside (Kadıköy Municipality, Istanbul) was cleaned from the waste in 2020. Doris first created the waste map of Caddebostan Seaside and it cleaned the sea according to data. Last year, IWROBOTX won the Mercedes-Benz StartUP challenge and started its partnership with Mercedez Benz. Murat lastly added that they are planning to expand IWROBOTX to European and American markets. 

Later on, Erdem from Momentum shared the story of the small and medium-scale wind turbine Karayel, which is an environmentally and user-friendly wind turbine producing 3 times more energy than traditional turbines. In addition, Karayel, which continues to operate independently in case of disconnection from the grid, produces efficient electricity for many years after deducting its investment cost. Momentum R&D is investing much in hardware; though running a hardware business is difficult by its nature due to the high costs and the need for human resources. Despite all these facts and the pandemics, Momentum R&D can also mention valuable partnership opportunities. They are now working with EnerjiSA, about to conclude the sales process with Vodafone, and negotiating with Turkcell, Türk Telekom, and IKEA. As the plans for the future, Erdem mentioned serious certification processes they are in the process now which requires the attraction of the new investment. 

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