Singapore, 8 June 2023 – Aquaculture vaccine developer TeOra and clean fuels venture Susteon and a have beat a record-breaking number of over 600 entries across 82 countries to each win S$1 million in grant funding at the grand finale of The Liveability Challenge 2023.
Singapore-based TeOra is developing an orally delivered vaccine to prevent and treat scale-drop disease virus in farmed fish. United States-based Susteon is working on capturing point-source carbon emissions and utilising waste hydrogen to produce low-cost methane.
At this year’s edition of The Liveability Challenge held at Ecosperity Week 2023, these two solutions emerged as the top winners in the Climate Change and Food and Nutrition tracks for their sizable climate mitigation potential, forays in underinvested sectors and credibility of ideas through extensive testing and pilot projects.
The eight teams featured at the grand finale held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre were chosen after a rigorous selection process, and pitched their innovations live to a panel of established investors who also awarded investment prizes to three of the finalists:
Seaforestation.Co received an investment of S$100,000 each from Quest Ventures and Rumah Group. The start-up also received a S$200,000 investment from Planet Rise. The Philippines-based business is using deep-sea marine permaculture to accelerate the regeneration of seaweed forests, which removes atmospheric carbon and acts as feedstock for bioplastics.
Susteon received an additional S$100,000 investment from TRIREC
TeOra received an additional S$100,000 investment from PeakBridge VC
Presented by Temasek Foundation and organised by Eco-Business, The Liveability Challenge (TLC) is a global platform that searches for and supports the commercialisation of innovative and sustainable solutions to the challenges of urban cities
Climate change is causing global temperatures to edge ever closer to the 1.5 degrees Celsius mark that scientists regard as a safety threshold for humanity. There is a two-thirds chance that the limit will be breached by 2027.
Asia is already facing severe climate impacts – the disastrous summer floods of 2022 have made way for record heatwaves in April this year. At the same time, climate change is warming our oceans and making it more acidic. Our marine ecosystems are under severe threat, exacerbated by overfishing and pollution. With rising constraints on land, water, and energy, food security has also risen to the top of the agenda.
Green finance and technological innovations, for both fighting climate change and adapting to its impacts, are urgently needed in the region.
This is why the 2023 edition of The Liveability Challenge focused on two tracks critical to making Asia’s cities more sustainable – climate change, as well as food and nutrition.
TLC worked with 70 organisations across the globe to crowdsource the best sustainability ideas and offer support to emerging start-ups. After a six-month search for the best sustainability solutions, two steering committees convened to select the best start-ups in each track.
Representing various countries such as Singapore, United States, Israel and the Philippines, the eight finalist teams — the highest number in TLC’s history — were shortlisted for their innovative solutions on climate change, and food and nutrition. The finalists underwent a month of coaching to further refine their pitches.
The judging panel was impressed with the teams’ efforts in advancing cutting-edge science, crafting business models that leverage the clean-tech ecosystem in Singapore, and their potential to scale at a global level.
“We were very impressed by all the innovative proposals, and excited about the prospects of big-scale, megatonne-level carbon emissions abatement,” said Steve Melhuish, entrepreneur and impact investor at Planet Rise, who was part of the judging panel.
“Winning The Liveability Challenge brings recognition to our work and enables us to bring futuristic solutions into reality today. We are now taking a big step up from working with shrimps to fish. If we can prove the technology works, there is almost unlimited potential for scale-up,” said Dr Rishita Changede, founder of TeOra.
“With all our expertise that we have developed in addressing carbon dioxide emissions, we will be able to both reduce Singapore’s carbon footprint and create a new business opportunity. We will be scaling up our prototype from a bench-scale to a pilot-scale unit, which will eventually allow us to deploy our technology in refineries,” said Dr Raghubir Gupta, president of Susteon.
“Temasek Foundation congratulates Susteon and TeOra for being crowned the two grand winners of the sixth edition of The Liveability Challenge (TLC),” said Mr Lim Hock Chuan, Head of Programmes at Temasek Foundation.
“By producing low-cost natural gas from carbon dioxide captured at point-sources, Susteon’s proposal is a potential game-changer by reducing 20 per cent of Singapore’s total carbon emissions, while contributing to energy security. We are also excited about the prospects of enhanced food security, safety and resource efficiency, brought about by TeOra’s vaccine technology. Besides treating seabass, it can also develop vaccines for other fish which will significantly reduce disease-related mortality in aquaculture systems,” Mr Lim said.
“Susteon and TeOra join the select group of TLC winners innovating on disruptive technologies to tackle sustainability and climate change, and we look forward to communities benefitting from them successfully scaling up their innovations,” he added.
“Climate risks and food security are two of the most pressing issues Asian cities will face in the coming years. It is crucial that we channel finance and provide support to the breakthrough innovations that address the unique characteristics and challenges faced by the region. This continues to be the core mission of The Liveability Challenge, which in its sixth edition has more than doubled the funding prize from when it started,” said Ms Jessica Cheam, founder and managing director of Eco-Business.
“I am confident that Asia can grow equitably and sustainably, if we can keep up the dedication and ingenuity shown by the participants, partners and stakeholders of the Challenge this year,” she said.
Comments from our Strategic Partners
James Tan, Managing Partner, Quest Ventures, said: “The Liveability Challenge has been instrumental in discovering, supporting and funding innovative sustainability ventures that are important for the future of the world we live in. The finalists of 2023 are working on truly game-changing and important work for humanity. In my eyes, they are all winners of this Challenge.”
Kathlyn Tan, Director, Rumah Group, said: “We are all acutely aware that innovation is what we need to improve existing practices and deliver on sustainable development. This is why celebrating efforts such as The Liveability Challenge, and the founders that make this meaningful, is critical as we embark on a net zero pathway. Just as Rumah is on a journey, we hope that other investors will also look inward at how their capital is being deployed and consider supporting innovative sustainability ventures that seek to solve the existential challenges of our time.”
Mike Lim, Partner, TRIREC, said: “Asian cities face significant sustainability challenges due to rapid urbanisation, population growth, and increasing resource consumption. The Liveability Challenge, as an initiative supporting and funding innovative sustainability ventures, serves as a unique platform to identify and showcase promising ideas and solutions from around the world. This year’s finalists’ solutions could play a crucial role in decarbonising hard-to-abate industries by offering scalable and replicable models that can be adapted to various urban contexts in Asia. TRIREC is privileged to be part of this challenge as we seek to discover and catalyse novel technologies that can lead to more sustainable development in Asia and the world.”
Steve Melhuish, Entrepreneur & Impact Investor, Planet Rise, said: “This is my fourth year as a judge and investor for The Liveability Challenge and the quality and quantity of entrants just keeps on getting better. It is heartening to see the increased focus and innovation, along with more entrepreneurs addressing big sustainability challenges, filling me with hope and optimism for the future. It was incredibly hard to select just eight finalists from the over 600 submissions, however each of these demonstrated significant potential to abate greenhouse gas emissions and/or improve food security. Congratulations to the winners and I look forward to seeing these start-ups growing into future climate-tech and food-tech unicorns.”
Yoni Glickman, Managing Partner, PeakBridge VC, said: “The work that The Liveability Challenge finalists are doing is truly admirable. They can play an important role in creating climate resilience for many Asian cities, which unfortunately, are under the threat of rapid climate disruption.”
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About Temasek Foundation
Temasek Foundation supports a diverse range of programmes that uplift lives and communities in Singapore and beyond. Temasek Foundation’s programmes are made possible through philanthropic endowments gifted by Temasek, as well as gifts and other contributions from other donors. These programmes strive towards achieving positive outcomes for individuals and communities now, and for generations to come. Collectively, Temasek Foundation’s programmes strengthen social resilience, foster international exchange and regional capabilities, advance science, and protect the planet.
For more information, visit www.temasekfoundation.org.sg.
Established in 2009, Eco-Business is Asia Pacific’s leading media organisation on sustainable development. Its independent journalism unit publishes high quality, trusted news and views in multimedia formats on business and policy developments around the world with a sustainability and ESG-focused lens. Eco-Business is headquartered in Singapore, with a presence in Beijing, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Bangalore, Zurich, New York, and correspondents in major cities across the world. Visit www.eco-business.com.
About Ecosperity Week
Ecosperity Week 2023 takes place on 6-8 June in a hybrid format. Themed “Breakthroughs for Net Zero”, the three-day event will focus on fast-tracking decarbonisation, enabling net-zero cities and financing Asia’s net-zero transition. It will bring together global business leaders, policy-makers, investors and civil society from across industries in addressing high-impact levers to bring about transformational climate action we need for our planet, businesses and communities. The programme includes panel discussions, fireside chats, roundtable discussions, and more.
For the full programme and line-up of speakers, please visit www.ecosperity.sg.
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