Google launches an accelerator for impact startups
Priya Wadhwa
10x Industry

Google launches an accelerator for impact startups

The news comes amidst employees' demands for Google's climate change policies.

Did you know that Google became carbon neutral in 2007? That basically means that it offset the carbon it was producing through planting trees and other projects. However, Google’s employees want to stronger change. In an open letter signed by 1000 employees, they’ve urged the tech giant to have zero-emissions by 2030.

Their letter includes that Google should forgo and cancel contracts that support or accelerate the extraction of fossil fuels, as well as ban funding people or groups, including lobbyists and politicians, who deny climate change or delay solutions. Furthermore, they have demanded that Google should not collaborate with those who harm refugees or people affected by climate change.

While Google hasn’t done much in an answer to this letter, it has a number of projects going on in support of sustainability. For example, it signed 18 new energy deals across the US, Chile and Europe, which include solar and wind energy farms.

Now, it has announced the launch of an accelerator programme for startups in Europe, Middle East and Africa, whose business models include making a social impact in the world in the field of "poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.”

Google will choose 8-10 startups for their cohort, based on UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The six-month programme will start early next year and provide the social impact startups with “access to training, products and technical support.” “Startup founders will work with Google engineers and receive mentoring from over 20 teams at Google, as well as outside experts and local mentors,” wrote Kate Brandt, Google Chief Sustainability Officer.

While Google itself will not be funding the startups as part of the accelerator, it will connect them to investors, which will enable them to raise funding independently.

Technology can help address some of the world’s biggest challenges, from empowering others to use AI to address social challenges, to setting ambitious and long-term environmental sustainability goals. When businesses and investors work together with government, nonprofits, communities and individuals, we can make real progress.
Kate Brandt, Google Chief Sustainability Officer

Regarding the programme and its offerings, Kate Brandt further wrote that the program “is designed to address the unique challenges founders face when building a social impact company” through the following ways:

Product and engineering expertise

People with social impact expertise don’t always have experience building tech products. So our program seeks to bring startups together with the best technology products, data and people to help them build expertise.

Business development

Monetization for social impact startups is complex and can involve multiple parties: The people who pay for it may not be the people who use it, or the people who benefit from it. Our accelerator will help founders connect with the audiences they need to, such as potential users, investors and advertisers.

Access to funding

While investors are increasingly seeing the value in social impact startups, there are unique challenges in attracting the right investors, and competing with traditional startups who are focused primarily on growth or acquisition. This accelerator will help participants connect and work with a wider base of potential investors.

The new accelerator is part of Google for Startups which help startups build and scale great products by matching them with the best of Google—our people, network and advanced technologies.