The recent United Nations report on climate change confirms that ongoing processes in the world will inevitably force us to change our habits. Humanity will have to come to terms with increasing droughts, fires, floods, water scarcity and many other challenges that climate change will cause over time. However, not everything is as gloomy as it may seem at first glance. At the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, while global leaders were discussing and arguing about country-level commitments, startups were pitching concrete technological solutions on how to achieve them. However, did the global leaders listen? Although some questioned that, Lithuania with 9 other countries found a way to make policy makers listen. How?
Since September until November, eighteen GovTech scale-ups virtually travelled around the world to meet directly with the most influential policy makers, public procurers, and other ecosystem players. Startups presented their solutions focused on increasing environmental resilience, reducing food waste, and decarbonising transport. They were all part of the programme called Global Scale-Up Programme – a learning opportunity for the public sector and scaling opportunity for startups. But it was not just startups pitching their solutions, countries prepared their pitches as well. Lithuania, for instance, presented its national business environment, green strategy of Vilnius as well as GovTech opportunities – all to make sure that global green companies choose Lithuania as their next scaling destinations. At least four startups from Brazil, Israel, Poland and Scotland did, and some already managed to secure potential contracts with local government agencies.
Although the hard work was almost done by then, the programme culminated in November at the UN COP26 conference. Pitch events, organized by the GovTech Lab Lithuania and its partners, made sure that solutions by GovTech startups are listened to not just behind closed doors, but also on the big stage. Lithuania was truly punching above its weight here – three startups from Lithuania had an opportunity to pitch in front of the political leaders – Datahood, Foros and CHRG Network. This shows the maturity of Lithuania’s green GovTech startup market – with just 0,0004% of the global population it managed to capture 17% of the stage.
This experience shows that for GovTech startups to be able to make a difference and be part of the conversations, it is not enough to organise a side stage in the UN conference.
“There has to be a focus on one-on-one honest conversations between policy makers and startups, without the fanfare and the global attention. Conversations, where the public sector is not afraid to ask questions about how different technologies work, and startups can learn about public procurement and their role in achieving the country’s climate commitments” said Kamila Gasinska, International Partnerships Lead at GovTech Lab Lithuania. This is exactly what GovTech Lab Lithuania with partners is trying to do with the Global Scale Up programme.
“Global Scale-Up Programme was an experiment from the very beginning” she added, “as a group of enthusiasts from the public sector and academia from all around the world, we were shaping this programme to help the governments solve climate-related challenges. And we can see the results already – some of the scale-ups have already decided to scale and test the solutions abroad.”
GovTech Lab Lithuania continues to support the scaling for the Global Scale-up Programme participants for the upcoming six months and organise a similar programme starting in the spring of 2022. If you would like to learn more about the programme, visit the GovTech Lab Lithuania website.
GovTech Lab Lithuania is a project at the Agency for Science, Innovation andTechnology and has received funding from European Regional Development Fund. Numberand name of operational programme measure: 01.2.1-LVPA-V-842 Inogeb LT.