Planet Superheroes Converge at Collision

This week was the start of many firsts. It was the first time that I had been to New Orleans. And it was also the first time that Arlington Economic Development (AED) had visited Collision — a tech conference that brings together experts in a variety of tech fields and related topics such as autotech, robotics, startups, marketing, big data and planet:tech. As the name suggests, it is truly a collision of thoughts, solutions and back to back panel sessions.

My focus on this first day was to immerse myself into planet:tech. As a community, Arlington, VA has always held and implemented ambitious sustainable energy goals for their buildings, transportation, businesses and residents.

So, it should be no surprise that Arlington is home to a few well-known companies with an energy, sustainability and planet:tech focus. Accenture, Conservation International and Opower (acquired by Oracle) are just a few of the companies that have made a difference in these sectors and appeared on stage on the planet:tech stage at Collision.

Here are three takeaways that underscore the importance of technology as it supports our planet and sustainability goals on a local and global scale.

  1. Investors care about investing in energy and sustainability technology companies. Since 2013, investing in software and service companies within energy technology has grown. The space is rapidly growing and changing thanks to new entrants in the market. David Mount, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has been investing in companies with energy portfolios for a decade and sees no sign of a slowdown. In fact, David and his company have invested in Arlington’s own Opower and note that massive costs are coming down in digital industries and can lead to great investments and great opportunities.
     
  2. Big businesses are shifting their attitudes towards sustainability. Accenture’s Jessica Longe has seen this change in big businesses — noting that they have changed from viewing sustainability as part of their corporate social responsibility to moving sustainability into their core business practices. Doing this makes their business more competitive and impacts their future growth and ability to save on costs. Based on this information, it implies a future full of opportunities for startups with a sustainability focus to work with big corporate or nonprofit entities that share their core values. Not to mention, bigger companies and organizations often have access to essential resources that could make the difference and help a startup grow.
     
  3. The planet needs technological innovation right now. This is another fact that should be music to any energy and sustainable tech startup’s ears. For example, protecting the world’s water sheds is a problem that needs assistance right now. Food waste is a huge global program that costs billions of dollars in economic losses. It is essential that innovative solutions are created to save people and that is an incredible and timely responsibility that is shared around the world. We are seeing not only a need in certain sustainability sectors but rapid growth.

    Startups with solutions and products in renewable energy, food and agriculture, and water scarcity will find a tech sector brimming with opportunities to showcase their solutions to our planet’s most pressing problems. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity to help influence the behavior of people all over the planet to do their part in keeping the planet safe and clean for all.

Topic: BIG Update