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How 4 startups are using AI to solve climate change challenges

A group of approximately 35 people stand outside a building on a gravel surface. Some kneel while others stand behind them, all smiling and looking at the camera. They all wear Google for Startups badges and coats.
Accelerator: Climate Change cohort in Europe

Startups are using AI and machine learning to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges — like climate change. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to global warming, startups around the world are responsibly developing AI solutions to tackle some of the toughest problems related to climate change. Here’s a look at how four startups from the Google for Startups Accelerator: Climate Change programs in Europe and North America are using AI technology.

Two women smile and look at the camera in an office setting. One is wearing a floral dress and one is wearing a black t-shirt with jeans.

Ending global textile waste: Refiberd

186 million pounds of textile waste is generated each year, and less than 1% is recycled into new clothing. California startup Refiberd — founded by a team of women engineers during the pandemic — uses a patent-pending AI and robotics-based recycling system to accurately sort textiles by material, including hard-to-separate fabric blends.

“We have no requirements on the waste we accept and can handle everything from industrial fabric rolls to donated clothing to small fabric scraps,” said Sarika Bajaj, co-founder and CEO of Refiberd. “Then we use AI to sort the waste by material and color, and automatically remove any buttons, zippers, or other contaminants in the recycling process. Based on the material and color of each sorted section of textile waste, we send the processed waste to the recycler that can preserve most of the material.”

Two men and one woman stand smiling and looking at the camera, pictured from the shoulders up.

Mortar IO cofounders Ruggiero Guida, Ranjeet Bhalerao, and Josephine Bromley

Decarbonizing thousands of buildings: Mortar IO

Buildings are responsible for 40% of carbon emissions globally. “This is more than every single car, train and plane on the planet,” said Josephine Bromley, COO and co-founder of Mortar IO. “Considering that 80% of the buildings that will be standing in 2050 are already built, decarbonizing existing buildings is the true problem to solve. At Mortar IO, we believe catalyzing retrofits will unlock an accelerated path to net zero for every building and help secure the health and happiness of our planet.”

The London-based company uses AI to digitize and quickly plan carbon reduction for thousands of buildings. These automated digital audits help organizations understand how to achieve net zero for entire real estate portfolios in minutes, rather than months. With support from the Google for Startups Accelerator: Climate Change program, they also hope to include an AI-powered chatbot feature to automate energy audit tasks and deliver a tailored experience for their customers.

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AgroScout founder and CEO Simcha Shore.

Monitoring crop development: AgroScout

The growing impact of climate change could further cut crop yields, especially in the world’s most food-insecure regions. And our food systems are responsible for about 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. Israeli startup AgroScout envisions a world where food is grown in a more sustainable way. “Our platform uses AI to monitor crop development in real-time, to more accurately plan processing and manufacturing operations across regions, crops and growers,” said Simcha Shore, founder and CEO of AgroScout. “By utilizing AI technology, AgroScout detects pests and diseases early, allowing farmers to apply precise treatments that reduce agrochemical use by up to 85%. This innovation helps minimize the environmental damage caused by traditional agrochemicals, making a positive contribution towards sustainable agriculture practices.” With support from Google for Startups Accelerator, AgroScout has taken 2.4 million images across 145,000 acres and 20 counties to date.

A man stands in front of a gray wall wearing a blue suit, looking at the camera. founder & CEO Dr. Soudip Roy Chowdhury.

Reducing manufacturing emissions: is an emission intelligence platform designed to help manufacturers that work in the metal and mining, oil, and gas industries decarbonize their operations. “Our goal is to help companies achieve higher environmental regulation compliance with accelerated sustainable growth while improving their bottom line,” said founder and CEO Dr. Soudip Roy Chowdhury.

The software-as-a-service (SaaS) combines data from satellite images with machine and process data to provide a comprehensive overview of operations. Their AI then analyzes this data to help companies track, trace, and reduce emissions by 20-30%. In the words of Dr. Chowdhury: “We firmly believe that together we can make a significant impact and create a world that is not only greener, but also more sustainable for generations to come.”

Want to learn more about how startups use AI technology to protect our environment? Tune in to hear Google for Startups Accelerator: Climate Change participants pitch during virtual Demo Days on May 11 (for startups based in North America) and June 1 (for startups based in Europe and Israel).

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