Helping get Gravity Challenge 03 into orbit

Steve Ellis

14 October 2021

Space is a quite the thing these days.

Apart from being cluttered with tech execs and senior actors, there’s a lot of technology up there looking down on us 24x7. Using it to help save the planet makes complete sense.

To that end – in a very, very small way - I recently spent a little time helping out, as a judge on the GRAVITY Challenge.

Driven along by Deloitte and a range of partners drawn from science, academia and tech, the GRAVITY Challenge is a global technology innovation program that connects start-ups, entrepreneurs, and universities with businesses and governments to solve real world business challenges using space enabled data, technology, and capability.

I was part of the team judging submissions against the challenge posed by Responsible Risk. It was all about Valuing Nature. And looking at the challenge through a sustainable finance lens, how might dynamic satellite data be used to monitor risk, measure impacts and determine risk around Natural Capital assets and ecosystem services.

The two finalists - Frontierra and Treeconomy - each did a fantastic job at framing their solution, its scope, plans and the technology and tools to be applied. With a healthy dose of Machine Learning and blockchain, plus an operational pilot, Treeconomy squeezed home in front to become a Challenge Champion for GRAVITY 03.

All the winners are detailed in the GRAVITY Challenge announcement.

Harry Grocott, CEO and co-founder of Treeconomy, summed it all up: "We know qualitatively that our financial and business sectors are intrinsically linked to nature. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated this very clearly, but there are very few tangible and quantitative links in our business-as-usual society. At Treeconomy, we have used the GRAVITY 03 Responsible Risk challenge to really accelerate our work in both valuing nature quantitatively, in a manner that financial institutions and capital allocators will understand, and converting this into something digestible by making the supply chain much more transparent. The benefit for business is that carbon, climate and nature risk are quickly becoming financial liabilities, and therefore having a solution to track risk and opportunities in a clear manner is increasingly valuable.”

A great result to give Treeconomy the chance to put themselves in the spotlight and get their solution to the verge of a PoC project.

Not sure how much of a dent I personally made in the planet saving problem, but the experience of participating was thoroughly rewarding. And I have no doubt the innovators we helped will go forwards and contribute their energy and ideas to that bigger goal.

If you get the chance to volunteer for something like this, make sure you raise your hand. It’s a rewarding experience, in any number of ways.