Sainsbury’s is to invest at least £5m into start-up businesses building technologies to reduce carbon emissions and water use.
The launch of its Sainsbury’s Innovation Investments in partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) comes as the supermarket looks to reach net zero in its own operations by 2035.
The new venture will scout and invest in start-ups with proof of concept technologies that can reduce emissions or water use in areas of the supermarket’s business from refrigeration to ventilation. The first investment under this scheme is expected to be announced before the end of this year.
Patrick Dunne, Sainsbury’s property and procurement director, says: “We are committed to reaching our Net Zero target of 2035 and are proud to be doing our part in leading the way to create solutions that will reduce carbon emissions and water usage not just in our stores, but across the entire sector. 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.
“Tackling an issue of this scale requires collaboration and we’re really excited to not only invest in these businesses, but also provide a pathway to in-store use, working towards a more sustainable future for everyone.”
So far Sainsbury’s, an Elite retailer in RXUK Top500 research, has cut the carbon emissions in its own operations by 7% over the last year, and 20% on its 2018/19 baseline. It has pledged to reach net zero emissions in 2035 – in 13 years time. Existing partnerships include working with Aerofoil Energy and WAE to use Aerofoil technology to save energy in its fridges. That partnership started in 2017 and has now seen all of its stores use the technology in their fridges, cutting an estimated 15% from their energy use and inspiring other retailers to follow. Sainsbury’s sells through more than 600 supermarkets and more than 800 convenience stores.
Matthew Burke, director at Williams Technology Ventures, says: “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. With WAE’s focus on sustainability, and expertise in technology and engineering combined with early stage technology investing, we are delighted to be supporting Sainsbury’s journey to Net Zero with the launch of this unique investment initiative.”
Sustainable technology businesses are invited to apply online.