5 Startups Tackling Global Issues


Finding transformative ideas among the noise


Sophia Cheng recently attended the Change Now Summit in Paris as an Ambassador for Finding Startups

She shares her experience in our latest guest post


It was my first time attending such a big conference, especially with such an ambitious mission: the largest positive impact gathering in the world

The venue was the Grand Palais on the famous Parisian street of ChampsÉlysées, inside the energy and optimism was palpable. There were 5 simultaneous tracks of talks, workshops and a StartUp fair in the middle with more than 100 stalls all vying for your attention

Over the three days I also learned about some truly transformative ideas and projects in the pipeline. Here are just 5 of them:


1. The Interceptor by Boyan Slat of Ocean Clean Up

Boyan Slat and his team have been working on a complementary piece of tech aimed at intercepting plastic waste before it reaches the ocean. I learned that rivers are the main source of ocean plastic pollution and that 80% of river plastic stems from 1000 rivers.

The Interceptor works on its own on solar power and can work across different river deltas.
Their goal is to tackle these 1000 rivers by 2025!

Take a look at this video to see how The Interceptor works:

2. Low Tech Lab

Low Tech Lab is a campaign as much as it is a product. Cofounded by Corentin de Chatelperro, who spoke at the ChangeNOW Summit, their mission is to share solutions and lowtech spirit with as many people as possible, in order to enable everyone to meet their basic needs in an autonomous and sustainable way.” 

They find and showcase lowtech solutions around the world, by boat! The SeaNomad has been on the waters since September 2015 and over the past 4 years, it has made stops in 16 countries and allowed the study of more than 40 lowtech products.” 

Through video tutorials and a wiki they are sharing many of these lowtech solutions with the rest of the world. Heres one

Even their website is intentionally low-tech, take a look.

3. SolarPak

A project from the Ivory Coast tackling lack of light in the evenings for school children in West Africa. They have designed a school backpack with a solar panel on that charges during the day and produces light for approximately 4 hours. Their cofounders, Evariste, Thierry and Armel blend their expertise in solar technology and supply chain, with innovative education and communications

So far they have distributed 55,000! 

They were selected by ChangeNOW in the next World Expo for the planet. Congratulations SolarPak

4. Climate Collage

Climate Collage originally started life as an experiment by teacher Cedric X, using graphs from a UN climate change report and arrange in order of cause and effect. Watching and listening to his students working through the task he realised this visual and playful method was an effecitve and efficient method of teaching the complexity of climate change. Hes been refining it for years and then began distributing it after hearing from friends and colleagues that it was really accessible and you didnt need to be an expert to play and learn a lot from it

And Climate Collage was brought to life, dubbed as a serious game about climate changeit promises: “Whether youre completely new to the topic or quite savvy, you can play the Climate Collage. In 3 hourstime, you will retrace the IPCCs UN scientists] reasoning and you may even have fun doing it! Youll also have the opportunity to discuss the consequences, challenges and changes that you see are coming or should be coming.” 

Groups of 4 8 work through 42 cards, building up a collage that explains climate change

Its been translated into 13 languages and in just over a year more than 20 000 people have played! Theres even a kids version

5. Courbet

A little different from the other entries, Courbet is disrupting the luxury jewellery industry

Using recycled gold sourced from old electronic waste and labgrown diamonds, Courbet is sidestepping the often terrible environmental and social impacts of this industry

Their slogan is inviting; “Without goodness, beauty means nothing” 

But their brand is not what youd expect from a company with an ethical core first and foremost they are a luxury brand. Their flagship store is on Parisfamous Place Vendôme

Today, labgrown diamonds represent 2 percent of the worlds diamond supply but Courbets mission is set on changing that. These diamonds have same physical, chemical and optical properties as a mined diamondproduced in the controlled environment of a Silicon Valley laboratory.” 

Find out how you growdiamonds


I was impressed by the creativity and variety of different initiatives being showcased at the ChangeNOW summit.

Thank you to Finding Startups for sponsoring me to attend. It was the injection of motivation I was looking for to kick off this all important of decades.

In a separate post I reflect on the change needed following the ChangeNOW Summit.

Sophia Cheng, with more than a decade of professional communications experience is reorienting her life around the climate crisis. Actively downshifting‘, she presents and hosts workshops around climate change and climate justice and shes recently launched a 1 on 1 mentoring service to support people wanting to make a change but not sure where to start. Find out more about EcoMentor

Connect with her o




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