Sainsbury's exploring world of green tech

Searching for sustainability innovation: Sainsbury’s announces green tech accelerator

Sainsbury’s has said it will invest at least £5 million in green tech start-ups over the next four years as it ramps up its search for sustainability innovation.

Through a new accelerator programme, ‘Sainsbury’s Innovation Investments’, the UK supermarket chain is looking to reward companies that can help reduce operational carbon emissions and water usage.

In collaboration with tech organisation, Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), Sainsbury’s is looking to accelerate these start-ups as part of its pledge to reach net zero in its own operations by 2035.

The retailer is searching for green tech innovation in areas ranging from refrigeration to ventilation, in the hope it can find carbon reduction or water-saving solutions that help its own business and wider society in terms of eco improvement.

WAE has been tasked with scouting and investing into early stage companies on Sainsbury’s behalf. The green tech businesses on the radar are not restricted to those already involved in Sainsbury’s supply chain, and the first investment is expected to be announced before the end of 2022.

In addition to funding, Sainsbury’s will help these small-to-medium-sized businesses develop, test, and deploy their technology in real-life business scenarios.

Sainsbury’s and WAE’s partnership goes back to 2017, when the retailer began the process of installing aerofoil technology to its in-store fridges. Since then the tech, which was developed by UK start-up Aerofoil Energy and WAE, has been rolled out across the entire Sainsbury’s estate, resulting in an estimated 15% energy reduction.

Patrick Dunne, Sainsbury’s property & procurement director, said: “We know that reducing emissions and water use is a critical part of tackling the climate crisis and to achieve this, we understand the importance of investing in pioneering technologies that can be adopted by all retailers.”

Matthew Burke, director at Williams Technology Ventures, said: “Embracing new and unproven technologies is a necessary requirement to meet net zero and many of these products and services will emerge from the technology start-up community.

“Sainsbury’s Innovation Investments will accelerate the commercialisation of these technologies through the opportunity of investment, trial and deployment across Sainsbury’s vast estate and operations. In doing so it will act as a springboard for wider and rapid technology adoption by customers across retail and other sectors who all share common net zero challenges.”

Sainsbury’s accelerator programme comes after Tesco and Marks & Spencer each launched eco-focused initiatives of their own as part of their respective searches for the latest carbon-reducing and environmentally-friendly ideas in the business world.

[Image credit: Sainsbury’s]

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