New challenge backed by Salesforce, industry leaders aims to accelerate sustainable aviation
Salesforce, Airbus, Breakthrough Energy, Boom Supersonic, Deloitte, JetBlue Ventures, Qantas Airways Ltd., and World Energy launched a call Aug. 24 for ecopreneurs to submit innovative solutions to support the decarbonization of the aviation sector.
While air travel plays a vital role in connecting people and driving the global economy, the aviation industry contributes to roughly 2 percent of total global greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions.
The Sustainable Aviation Challenge calls for solutions that decarbonize aviation, like sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) or battery-powered flight.
SAF is a type of fuel produced from renewable resources, organic materials or waste feedstocks and is designed to significantly reduce emissions.
Despite its benefits, however, SAF is still expensive and not yet widely available.
The challenge also invites solutions beyond fuel alternatives, like hydrogen and batteries, innovations in feedstock, engineering, and physical and market infrastructure.
The Sustainable Aviation Challenge is supported by the FMC, a joint initiative between the World Economic Forum and the U.S. Department of State, launched in 2021.
FMC’s goal is to scale emerging technologies for hard-to-decarbonize industries representing more than one-third of the world’s GHG emissions.
These include aviation, aluminum, chemicals, concrete, shipping, steel, trucking, and direct air capture.
Proposals will be accepted Aug. 24 through Oct. 2, and top innovators will be announced later in the year.
The challenge is hosted on UpLink, a global hub for innovation managed by the World Economic Forum, with support from Deloitte and Salesforce.
Top innovators will benefit from the World Economic Forum and UpLink network in brand building, visibility, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
The effort will prioritize collaboration between innovators and leaders in sustainable aviation to support growth, commercialization and deployment of novel solutions.
“To meet our climate goals, we must bring disruptive clean technologies to market at scale,” said Suzanne DiBianca, executive vice president and chief impact officer for Salesforce. “Together with our partners, Salesforce thoughtfully approached this sustainability challenge as a way to support and foster innovative ideas from ecopreneurs who aim to help decarbonize the aviation industry.”
Adam Klauber, World Energy’s vice president of sustainability and digital supply chain, added, “Accelerating climate-technology innovation is essential to decarbonizing aviation, one of the hardest-to-abate sectors. World Energy is excited to support the Sustainable Aviation Fuel UpLink Challenge. Winning startups will be World Energy’s future partners, helping propel the aviation industry to new heights.”
Salesforce joined FMC in 2021 as a founding member company with a commitment to replace 5 percent of the company’s annual business-travel jet-fuel usage with low- and no-carbon alternatives by 2030.
In support of this initiative, Salesforce has purchased SAF sourced from World Energy, from United Airlines as part of the EcoSkies Alliance, and from JetBlue as part of the Sustainable Travel Partners program.
These purchases are helping stimulate a market for low-carbon alternatives to traditional jet fuel.