Tackling The Challenge Of Our Generation: Decarbonization Through Corporate Innovation

In Episode 36 of MING Labs’ podcast Lost In Transformation, we talk to Marie Cheong, VP Venture Build at ENGIE Factory Asia-Pacific.

Listen to this episode to learn about how ENGIE Factory helps companies achieve their carbon goals in addition to high commercial growth, and to find out how corporate innovation in the field of zero-carbon transition looks like.

4 Main Takeaways From This Episode

01Combine passion and work: Tackling the challenge of our generating with decarbonization in venture building. “Just like so many people in the last few years, I started to feel a real growing urgency around climate change. And I really started to think that addressing climate change and decarbonizing our economy is sort of the challenge of our generation,” shares Marie. Wanting to combine her love for building and for ventures, she was eager to find out how to apply this exponential growth trajectory that we see in ventures to decarbonization. “With a venture lens, we think about: How does a new business or a startup make its first dollar of revenue? […] And is there a way to combine that thought process with decarbonization? So in addition to the venture lens, we also add a carbon lens […]. I think that there’s an incredible space to combine ventures of decarbonization.” (Listen from 02:45)

02Align incentive models across sectors to better address common challenges. “The incentive model currently isn’t right in the region. So we have to look at different business models that help to create those incentives.” The challenge Marie sees here is finding the right way to incentivize people to change their behavior and adopt more sustainable practices. She also noticed a lot of intersectionality in the venture building space. “If you think about the intersection between sustainability and transport and, for example, the logistics space, there is a lot of opportunity to build some really exciting partnerships with other venture builders that are also looking at at the same kind of questions.” Understanding and immediately addressing the real challenges to decarbonization should be the starting point. These include for example misaligned incentives between people or creating incentives for suppliers to green their operations. “And that’s where the benefit of corporate innovation in this space comes from and why it’s so important.” (Listen from 15:13)

03 To move forward with solutions to climate change, tackle barriers to adoption first. “I think this is a space that just needs all of the innovation and all of the disruption that we can get,” highlights Marie. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change and to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius, we have to continue to halve our carbon consumption in the next decades. “That’s an incredible pace of change, and innovation, digitalization, decentralization are going to play a really big part in this. And I think that this is a fantastic opportunity for entrepreneurs.” But to move forward right away, Marie urges us to stop focusing on big tech players. “The key is to really look at where the barriers to adoption are. […] We need solutions that can help us do that right away. Which means this is about business model innovation, creating the right incentive structures, doing education, changing mindsets, creating visibility of the challenge.” (Listen from ~30:00)

04 Build ventures that stay close to your core business and attract the right talent. Marie’s main learnings from her work with ENGIE Factory fall into two categories. The first one is building ventures that are as close as possible to your core business. “Not necessarily building ventures that are exactly aligned to our core business, but really taking the time to define the strategic fit of the venture and the core business early on.” Defining where exactly the venture gets value from a partnership with ENGIE and vice versa helps to set the parameters for ideation and venture building. The second learning refers to attracting the right talent: “Every year we learn better the types of entrepreneurs that work really well in this kind of corporate venture building context and the types of skillsets that we really value.” When talking to entrepreneurs, Marie likes to refer to investing in a founder rather than investing in an idea, as the right venture opportunity can be found with the right founder. (Listen from 18:31)

Jump and listen to each chapter from their timestamp here.

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MING Labs

MING Labs

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We are a leading digital business builder located in Munich, Berlin, Singapore, Shanghai, and Suzhou. For more information visit us at www.minglabs.com