Techstars Launches Next Sustainability Challenge to Progress Net Zero Goals

Techstars collaborating with Challenge Partners including Shopify and AWS Startups to seek innovators whose technology solutions can accelerate commerce’s path to Net Zero

BOULDER, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, is now accepting entries for the Techstars Sustainability Challenge: Net Zero. The equity-free challenge is looking for startups focused on carbon accounting and measurement, quality carbon offsets and industrial carbon reduction solutions. Judges will select up to ten winners to showcase their solutions at the second Techstars Sustainability Summit in September. At least one winner will receive the opportunity to run a pilot with a Challenge Program Partner such as: AWS Startups, Shopify, Carbon Direct, Equinor, The Heritage Group, Cargill, The Nature Conservancy, Drawdown Labs, Stanley X, My Climate Journey and XPRIZE.

The Techstars challenge will identify technology entrepreneurs and startups who are developing solutions to enable enterprises to achieve their Net Zero objectives, and forge meaningful collaborations to help founders get their innovative solutions to market faster.

The global business community wants to accelerate their climate objectives and is looking to put more financial investment behind them; however, the gap between intention and technology transformation remains wide. The Net Zero Challenge is the second equity-free challenge Techstars will hold in 2021. The first annual Sustainability Challenge in April received more than 300 entries from entrepreneurs and innovators around the world.

“The first Techstars Sustainability Challenge presented an invaluable opportunity for our organization whose sole mission is to tackle problems driven by the environment,” said Tom Rump, founder of The experience provided an unprecedented level of collaboration with corporations throughout the submission process, which has set us up for engagements which will accelerate our growth.”

Submissions will be judged by a panel of carbon reduction and carbon removal experts representing Challenge Partners and Techstars leaders. The submissions will be judged based on (1) problem solution fit, (2) scale of the solutions potential impact, and (3) ability to implement a pilot with an enterprise organization.

“There is a lot of confusion about what Net Zero means and the path to get there,” said Cody Simms, senior vice president of climate and sustainability at Techstars. “Establishing this new challenge will provide startup founders and corporations a clearer path for information gathering, deepen market insights and solutions diligence to feasibly achieve Net Zero goals.”

Entry Categories:

Innovators will submit their entries to one of three categories:

  • Carbon Accounting and Measurement – Effective technologies are needed to measure and account for carbon. Combining carbon reduction and carbon removal is a balance and priority on the path to net zero, and these solutions will help companies make progress on that pathway.
  • Quality Carbon Offsets – Navigating the ins and outs of offsets is complicated, quality is a serious challenge, and offsets are often assumed to be in great supply. Solutions can include verification technology and leading nature-based options.
  • Industrial Carbon Reduction – Reducing carbon supplemented by technology solutions is a primary goal and such solutions are available today. Those that are scalable and can help corporations in the immediate future will be strongly considered.


  • April 15, 2021: Applications Open
  • Aug. 2, 2021: Applications Close
  • Sept 8, 2021: Pilot Workshop – Finalists will participate in a private workshop with Challenge Partners to showcase solutions and to identify opportunities to work together with the intention of identifying opportunities for pilots.
  • Sept. 15, 2021: Techstars’ Second Sustainability Summit – Finalists will be invited to pitch to the entire Techstars sustainability network, including corporations and investors. At least one—and potentially more—of the winning proposals will have an opportunity to run a pilot with one of the Challenge Partners.

Follow this Link to enter the Techstars Sustainability Challenge: Net Zero

About Techstars

The Techstars worldwide network helps entrepreneurs succeed. Founded in 2006, Techstars began with three simple ideas—entrepreneurs create a better future for everyone, collaboration drives innovation, and great ideas can come from anywhere. Now we are on a mission to enable every person on the planet to contribute to, and benefit from, the success of entrepreneurs. In addition to operating accelerator programs and venture capital funds, we do this by connecting startups, investors, corporations, and cities to help build thriving startup communities. Techstars has invested in more than 2,200 companies that today have a combined market cap valuation of $29 Billion.


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