Modern slavery and biodiversity restoration among areas of focus for BSI sustainability start-up programme

14 August 2023

BSI and Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership scheme aims to support innovations that deliver trust in sustainability and benefit society

Cambridge, UK – A start-up using machine learning to monitor habitats for biodiversity conservation and another focused on eradicating child labour from the global supply chain are among those participating in a new accelerator programme seeking to build innovations that deliver trust in sustainability and positively impact society.

The year-long scheme is coordinated by BSI, the business improvement and standards company, partnering with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). The start-ups, which include biodiversity monitor Gentian, modern slavery tracker HACE and SkenarioLabs, which deploys data to optimise building portfolios for energy efficiency, will take part in the programme starting this summer.

Six start-ups have been selected, covering diverse sectors and offering digital solutions to accelerate progress on a range of sustainability challenges. The list includes a company leveraging generative AI to automate the Life Cycle Assessment process (CarbonBright) as well as tools to support compliance with traceability and due diligence regulation (iov42) and to help organisations identify gaps in their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) support (TEXpert AI).

The programme is designed to support the growth of innovative start-ups and SMEs, offering them business support, networking and mentorship and an opportunity to co-create and pilot solutions with the BSI Sustainability Innovation Lab. Participants can draw on BSI and CISL’s resources and network of experts, co-create solutions to sustainability challenges and work with clients and stakeholders to test them in the real world. They will also hear from external speakers, including Walter Stahel, founder of the Product Life Institute, who first defined the term circular economy in 1982.

The BSI-CISL partnership follows the opening of BSI’s Lab in Cambridge last year. It was set up to offer a collaborative environment for organisations to harness BSI’s knowledge and expertise to transform their business models and accelerate progress towards a sustainable world.

The Lab, based in CISL’s headquarters, aims to present new opportunities for collaboration with governments and industry peers and to help organisations of all sizes improve customer outcomes and organisational resilience, while also delivering a clear, positive impact for wider society.

Harold Pradal, Chief Commercial Officer, BSI, said: “It’s fantastic to have such a diverse and dynamic list of start-ups on board for our inaugural programme at BSI’s Sustainability Innovation Lab. Supporting individuals and organisations pioneering creative solutions to the pressing questions of our day, from modern slavery to conserving nature, can help accelerate progress towards a sustainable world.

“The support offered by BSI and our partners in progress, the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability, is designed to enable these start-ups to draw on our 120 years of knowledge and expertise in delivering tangible improvements for society. Together, we can increase the pace of innovation and create solutions that can drive real change that results in long-term benefit for all.”

Sam Laakkonen, Senior Director of Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship at CISL, said: “I am very excited to see the BSI team and the participating startups in the Entopia Building. I’ve had a few conversations with the founders and have been extremely impressed by the diversity of technology deployed to address trust in sustainability issues. They cover the full range of CISL’s three impact lenses; future place, future lives and future economy, which perfectly complements all our other activities and initiatives. I am extremely interested to see the progress these teams will be making over the coming months, as well as the outcomes of the piloting part of the programme.”

The start-ups taking part include:

  • CarbonBright – the company leverages generative AI to fully automate the Life Cycle Assessment process and guides customers with specific recommendations and innovations to reduce their Product Environmental Footprint. CarbonBright automatically collects product supply chain data from thousands of sources in advance and builds a digital-twin of customer supply-chains.
  • Gentian – Measurement and monitoring capabilities for habitats. Gentian is a precision monitoring tool, available via an online portal, for biodiversity conservation and restoration, by mapping habitat types using advanced Machine Learning and high resolution multi-spectral imagery.
  • HACE – A Manchester-based start-up that offers a data driven solution to eradicate child labour, by providing the Child Labour Index (the world’s only quantitative metric in the world for child labour performance at a company and group level). The Index provides reliable and up-to-date monitoring for users, who include investors, professional services, and financial institutions.
  • iov42 - Traceability technology, applied in the sustainable supply chain space to enhance trust and make life easier for organisations to comply with existing and incoming traceability / due diligence regulation.
  • SkenarioLabs – an advanced data-driven platform that enables the analysis and optimization of building portfolios for energy efficiency and carbon reduction. Through machine learning and analytics, it provides valuable insights into energy consumption, carbon intensity, and asset management strategies, helping organisations make informed decisions for sustainable buildings.
  • TEXpert AI - A Diversity Data Analytics cloud-based delivery model that harnesses Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) data and provides insightful analytics to help organisations see gaps in their workforce.