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Let's Talk About Sustainability: Startups Leading the Way

On October 24, the event "Let's Talk About Sustainability " took place in the Stadtoase of the Hotel Kolping. At this event, with great speakers, everything revolved around the topic of ecological sustainability in the startup scene. We had in-depth discussions, because start-ups in particular have the unique ability to develop new solutions and innovations that pave the way for a more sustainable future.

The event was opened by Raphael Friedl, Managing Director of tech2b. Clemens Zillner, who is responsible for sustainability at tech2b, gave an impressive explanation of how the company has embedded sustainability in its DNA. He emphasized the importance of raising awareness of sustainability in the early stages of start-ups.

The keynote speech was given by Sylvia Dellantonio, CEO of Austria's largest digital marketplace - Willhaben. Sylvia shared her experiences about the successful transformation of Willhaben and how the company lives its purpose. Her credo is: "Making a positive change in the world by giving everyone and everything a new purpose." This purpose has been integrated into Willhaben's vision and mission and has made it a pioneer of the circular economy. From "Good Deal" to "Re-Use " - Willhaben has shown that second-hand can not only be sustainable, but also stylish.

A key topic was the need to integrate purpose into a company's vision and mission in order to bring about real change. Topics such as climate protection and EU regulations also played a key role in this. Sustainability requires commitment at all levels, from the management team to the OKRs of a company.

These inspiring speeches were followed by a lively panel discussion. Federal Minister Leonore Gewessler, sustainability expert Birgit Gahleitner, Johannes Naimer-Stach from the Climate Protection Academy, Anita Schwaiger from Creonect and Sebastian Tanzer from Triply contributed valuable insights and ideas to the discussion.

Federal Minister Leonore Gewessler explained how the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) supports and promotes startups. There are three main funding opportunities to increase the impact in the startup scene, including the AplusB centers, the seed program and basic programs in the FFG. These initiatives aim to increase the proportion of start-ups with a climate protection & environmental focus. "In the last funding period, 20% of knowledge and technology-based start-ups were able to bring innovations to the market that make a contribution to the environment and climate protection." "In addition, we at the Ministry of Climate Protection are working in all areas to increase the proportion of women. There is still a lot to do, especially when it comes to start-ups. Only around 15% of founders are female."

Birgit Gahleitner emphasized the importance of small steps towards sustainability. "We don't have to change life, we have to live the change". The circular economy should cover all areas of life and companies should take a critical look at where they can achieve the greatest impact.

Anita from Creonect spoke about the role of digitalization in agriculture to increase yields and operate more sustainably. Sebastian from Triply presented an innovative software for operational mobility that helps companies to reduce their emissions.

Johannes Naimer-Stach from the Climate Protection Academy provided valuable insights into the discussion. He emphasized the need to always start with the assumption that you are starting from scratch when working with companies. Not everyone in the team understands the issue of climate protection, so it is important to create a basic understanding of the problem. He emphasized that the future is unwritten and full of opportunities that can be used by startups and established companies alike.

The panel emphasized the importance of education and communication to raise awareness of climate action and facilitate the transition to a sustainable economy. New ideas should build on existing resources to encourage innovation.

The event ended with a clear appeal: at a time when the challenges of climate change are becoming increasingly urgent, startups have the potential to bring about real change and pave the way to a more sustainable future. It is up to all of us to drive change and seize the opportunities of the circular economy. Thank you to all the climate ambassadors. The future is full of possibilities and we can shape it together.

Photos (c) Richard Haidinger

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