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Experts discuss how startups can drive sustainable development goals with innovation

Both India and the Netherlands have strong startup cultures contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During a panel discussion at TechSparks 2021, startup founders reflected their thoughts on the importance of SDGs.

Experts discuss how startups can drive sustainable development goals with innovation

Wednesday October 27, 2021 , 4 min Read

Startups are thought to be the drivers of change for an economy, and we also perceive them to be working against strong societal challenges like Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Now, both India and Netherlands have a strong startup base and collaborate on the same, considering the importance of startup policies. Besides, both countries also contribute immensely to the SDGs.

At YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, TechSparks 2021, startup founders from India and the Netherlands came together for a panel discussion on the topic: 'Why startups are important in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)?'


The panel was moderated by Marten van den Berg, Ambassador, the Netherlands to India, Nepal, and Bhutan. The panellists included experts like Sabine Stuiver, Chief Marketing Officer & Co-founder, Hydraloop Systems BV; Hugo von Meijenfeldt, Senior Sustainability Advisor, Global Compact Network Netherlands; Shiva Shanker, Vice President, Ankur Capital; Emile Schmitz, Managing Director, Bopinc; and Manish Das, Co-founder, Skilanacer Solar.

Marten put forward the thought regarding sustainability as an innovator. Sabine said the world is moving towards sustainable development, with the massive presence of a World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

“Businesses these days are not solely about making money for your shareholders. Instead, it’s how you sustainably source your products and pay work as a decent wage, and still make money”.

Sustainable development is like the newest principle of capitalism, which still has the potential for growth and making money.

“I am a vegan, I have solar panels, and I drive electric, so the thought of sustainability is kind of ingrained in me as a person,” said Sabine.

Owing to the massive environmental degradation spanning across the globe, the question came up whether the role of companies should be fast-tracked in adopting SDGs. To this, Hugo von Meijenfeldt of Global Compact Network Netherlands, said, “Startups should opt for a combination of efforts with government and NGOs, aided by science and innovation, and ramp up the process.”

How to fast-track the process of sustainable development?

We can keep on lamenting about how changes in governmental policies could effectively rope in changes in the environment, accelerating the process of achieving SDGs.

However, the panellists had diverse views. Sabine wanted to focus on the issue of scarcity of water in India. “It is like ‘blue gold', and it seems that we are not concerned enough about this. I would like to raise the concern and give water the value it deserves,” she said.

Shiva Shanker of Ankur Capital said that banking on innovations while scaling up the process of solar panels is the need of the hour. “Channeling the funding properly and exploring the avenues of innovation is what we should bank on,” he added.

“Proper impactful funds in sync with the SDG model is what we require for social entrepreneurs of both the countries to scale up and grow,” said Emile Schmitz, Managing Director, Bopinc.

“Effective funding along with proper handholding of startups by the government will encourage them to reach greater heights, incorporating the desired changes,” said Manish Das, Co-founder, Skilanacer Solar.

Startups are like the new interface of modern India and they have a key role to play in achieving SDGs with their innovation and collaborating on aspects of financial, tech, and policies would help fast-track sustainability in the society.

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For a line-up of all the action-packed sessions at YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, check out TechSparks 2021 website.