Link maker

Accelerator backs German startup developing ‘critical link’ to capitalize on carbon

German startup HempConnect has been selected for an EU-backed program that helps early-stage carbon dioxide (CO2) removal initiatives realize their market potential.

HempConnect is the only hemp-focused company among 16 international startups selected for the program, part of CLIM Accelerator, a larger project that promotes climate solutions. The accelerator advises entrepreneurs and helps them interface with investors.

With a green coalition among Germany’s main political parties and the EU strongly promoting the European Green Deal, CO2 emissions are now front and center and mitigation solutions are being actively advanced by the government, said Nando Knodel, co -founder of HempConnect. .

“We are creating an essential link in Germany’s transition to a climate-neutral farming system that can be replicated anywhere in the world,” Knodel said of HempConnect’s carbon tracking service.

“At the same time, being selected for this program gives us a unique opportunity to network at the top of the carbon removal space, understand the latest developments and promote hemp to investors and other critical groups for the climate. ‘climate change reversal’, Knodel mentioned.

Hemp Business Case

Carbon removal advocates have said farmers will not incorporate hemp into their crop rotations solely for ecological benefits and need to be assured that growing hemp will be profitable. HempConnect initially focused on carbon monetization through circular projects that incorporate pyrolysis and hemp-derived biochar resulting in certificates that verify the monetary value of captured CO2. Certificates can contribute significantly to the business case of farmers, industrial-scale agribusinesses and agricultural cooperatives.

The regeneration cycle envisioned by HempConnect encompasses seeds and dietary fiber.

“Our first projects focus on seeds for food and straw for pyrolysis,” Knodel said. “Even for a very large operation that uses fibers and fibers, pyrolysis is a game-changer because the dust from decortication can also be used.”

Biochar produced from hemp straw can be used as a soil conditioner, additive in concrete, and many other applications. Although carbon credits from agriculture are not yet traded under the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), discussions at EU level indicate that this scheme will eventually encompass the agriculture by 2024. Until then, these credits can be sold in private exchanges between individual entities. Unified rules and financial incentives for carbon farming in the EU are expected by the end of this year.

HempConnect, which also offers consultancy and media services, has already entered into agreements with major European hemp companies that serve as strategic partners.

International reach

The carbon removal program under CLIM Accelerator was developed and is jointly managed by Delft University of Technology, Holland; Sustainability in Business Lab – ETH, Zürich; and Pro Innovations, a Budapest-based semiconductor manufacturer. The program is co-funded by EIT Climate-KIC, an EU climate innovation initiative; Stichting DOEN, a Dutch foundation for sustainable development; and Ergo/Munich RE, a large global insurance company.

Late last year, HempConnect received a €75,000 grant from Innovationsstarter GmbH, which helps entrepreneurs in Hamburg develop digital and sustainable business concepts. The company is also backed by a listing with INVEST, a funding program of Germany’s Economics and Energy Authority (BMWi) that provides acquisition and exit grants.

HempConnect operates from the Social Impact Lab in Hamburg, which supports the networking of social entrepreneurs.