AB InBev, the Belgium-headquartered multinational brewing giant, is about to launch the second year of their incubator program to help fund sustainable startups. Named 100+ Accelerator, the owners of Budweiser and Hoegaarden are hoping that it will become the next “shark tank” of companies creating global sustainability solutions. In the midst of the climate crisis, the move signals that corporations across the world are realising that sustainability and long-term profitability are intertwined.
Belgian beverage giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, better known as AB InBev, wants to create the world’s largest accelerator for sustainability solutions, as it gears up for the second year of their 100+ Accelerator incubator program for environmental startups. Speaking to Business Insider, chief sustainability officer at the company Tony Milikin said that the goal is to crowdsource a green version of the popular television program “Shark Tank”, where green solutions are backed up by powerful business leaders and high-profile individuals.
“We want to create the Shark Tank that has all these green funds, which are coming up and are big. People like Larry Fink from BlackRock could get involved, or a large network of high-net-worth celebrities that are really preaching about sustainability can come join us,” Milikin said.
AB InBev is one of the largest brewing companies in the world, with a portfolio made up of some of the best known brands globally, including Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Beck’s. I
n the first round of their incubator program, the company received 700 proposals, which they narrowed down to 14 teams achieving contracts totalling US$50 million. One of the startups, BanQu, has developed a blockchain system to help small African farmers verify that they are AB InBev suppliers, which allows them to open bank accounts and develop credit lines. Another startup, Brazilian-based GreenMining, has managed to bring post-consumer packaging back into a supply chain and divert waste from landfills.
Commenting on the work achieved by BanQu, Milikin said: “We know [farmers] are connected to us and we are responsible for them — their livelihoods, subsistence, getting out of poverty.”
The 100+ Accelerator program is about to start its second year, and is now currently accepting applications for the round. In the interview, Milikin alluded that this year, more major corporations may be joining AB InBev in funding startups that are offering sustainable solutions to the world’s most crucial issues.
AB InBev is not the only corporation in recent years to realise the profitability potential of sustainable companies. Last year in November, Google launched a new “social impact” accelerator scheme to target companies aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly those startups who have struggled to find investors who share the same vision. Here in Asia, Hong Kong-based food tech accelerator Brinc has been offering support to a host of emerging startups in the space that are tackling the issue of food insecurity, malnutrition, and the environmental footprint of livestock farming.
Scientists, experts and youth climate activists all over the world have been sounding the alarm on the need for immediate climate action. Given that the planet is now at a crossroads to collectively fight climate change or succumb to the loss of human civilisation altogether, it is vital that all hands are now on deck and geared towards a zero-carbon world.
However, given the rate at which global heating and climate disasters are escalating, there could be too little time to place our hopes on future sustainable innovations and solutions. At the World Economic Forum (WEF) conference in Davos, Switzerland last week, teenage climate leader Greta Thunberg recognised the potential for future sustainable innovations, but remained cautious about whether these climate solutions would be enough. For now, before these solutions emerge, it is imperative that the world puts an end to the environmentally devastating fossil fuel industry, which will bring down significant amounts of greenhouse gases responsible for global heating.
Lead image courtesy of Kyle Lam / Bloomberg / Getty Images.