Podcast: How accelerators can drive equitable, sustainable innovation

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The latest Innovation at the Edge podcast features Dawn Lippert, Founder and CEO of Elemental Excelerator. 2020 has been a unique year all around, dominated by the pandemic, but there are also positive trends that seem to be gaining ground. Not only have we seen an acceleration in digital innovation, but there has been an awakening in terms of the urgency required to tackle the climate crisis and widespread reaction to deeply embedded social injustice and racism issues.

If there was ever a moment to focus on building a more sustainable and equitable economic system, it’s now.

2020 has also shown how massive overnight change can happen, demonstrating that we can act when faced with a crisis. Many observers believe that we should rethink and rebuild with a stronger focus on environmental, social and governance goals.

It’s for that reason that Schneider is partnering with Dawn and the Elemental Accelerator team to innovate for sustainability, focusing on meaningful businesses and developing the people and leaders driving a more inclusive, community-led approach to entrepreneurship.

As a nonprofit, Elemental works with +100 startups on the digitization of different sectors from energy, climate, water and agriculture to do interesting and innovative things.

Elemental has developed a step-by-step approach to drive successful and effective start-up corporate collaboration.

  1. Build a selection process promoting inclusiveness and diversity. Every year a few thousand companies are contacted through an open application process, which democratizes access to capital and networks. Each year around 800 entrepreneurs from different countries and different educational backgrounds are shortlisted to become part of the Elemental start-up funnel.
  2. Inside the accelerator program, start-ups benefit from support whatever stage they’re at on their unique growth path. Through a series of milestones, known as commercial inflection points, their fundraising, sales, marketing and operations progress is tracked. Targets are set to help them reach milestones faster. For example, by identifying and coaching on how to reach a must-win account faster.
  3. Entrepreneurs are coached to scale through corporate partnerships, and timelines are matched. Through meetings and referrals, entrepreneurs meet with the relevant industry bodies, corporates or technology companies, and work together on how to best deploy their innovation. Elemental provides funds for projects, but also sets the clock that it has to be executed on- providing an incentive for the corporate to work on the startup timeline.

On top of this process to grow companies, Elemental also prides itself on focusing on both equity and access. From the start when working with founders and entrepreneurs, they question if a business – its people and its impact – really represents and respects the customers and communities it serves.

The rationale behind Schneider and Elemental’s partnership is to create positive connections between start-ups and corporate. We also agree that only entrepreneurial spirit can deliver the right level of disruption needed to create a more electrified world, built on decentralized and digitized technologies.

 Listen to the full episode with Dawn Lippert on Apple 


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