Staying ahead of the technology curve means advancing the world we live in. That is why we give you data-driven innovation insights. Based on our analysis of 3.365 startups & technologies advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, you get to discover 17 hand-picked startups enabling progress towards the SDGs.
Innovation Map highlights Global Startups advancing the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
For this in-depth research on the Top Trends & Startups working towards the UN SDGs, we analyzed a sample of 3.300+ global startups and scaleups. These insights are derived by working with our Big Data & Artificial Intelligence-powered StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 2.093.000+ startups & scaleups globally. The platform quickly delivers an exhaustive overview of emerging technologies within a specific field as well as identifies relevant startups & scaleups early on.
In the Innovation Map below, you get an overview of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Further, this research gives you data-driven innovation intelligence that improves strategic decision-making by giving you an overview of emerging technologies & startups tackling societal, economical, environmental, and industrial challenges. For insights on the progress being made towards the SDGs, get in touch.
Discover the 17 Sustainable Development Goals & Top Startups
1. No Poverty
Income inequality remains one of the biggest global challenges. Through financial inclusion, startups are enabling millions of people around the world to access financial services. Moreover, affordable energy, inexpensive healthcare, food security, and learning opportunities are key to eliminating poverty. The private sector also plays a crucial role by creating employment opportunities and upskilling workers for higher-paying jobs. Some solutions advancing UN SDG #1 include:
- Access to Clean Energy
- Digital Financial Inclusion
- Low-Cost HealthTech
- Private Sector Initiatives
- Affordable Cooking Solutions
DOT Glasses offers Low-Cost Prescription Eyeglasses
Czech startup DOT Glasses provides low-cost prescription eyeglasses. The startup further offers small kits for vision testing to enable brands and organizations to set up vision camps. It also includes frame components of eyeglasses and scratch-resistant polycarbonate lenses. The startup distributes its eyeglasses via multiple channels, including non-profits, micro-entrepreneur networks, and government entities. As a result, this increases the productivity and earnings of low-income people.
2. Zero Hunger
The major challenge for the food & agriculture sectors is to feed an exponentially growing population while transitioning to sustainable practices. With the use of technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and geospatial imaging, startups offer solutions to optimize yield while minimizing resource use. Other solutions make food systems more transparent and resilient by reducing waste and enabling urban farming. Some solutions that aid progress in SDG #2 include:
Vultus uses Precision Farming to Generate Higher Yields
Swedish startup Vultus develops satellite solutions for precision farming. By analyzing satellite images, the startup determines the exact fertilizer needs for any farm. It also detects threats, such as pests, weeks before the symptoms are visible to the naked eye. Additionally, the startup provides insights on plant health, water stress, and weather patterns, as well as intra-field performance over periods ranging from weeks to years.
3. Good Health & Well Being
The healthcare industry is shifting to digitization, with different kinds of patient and device data playing an important role in care delivery. Moreover, with precision and personalized medicine, the focus now is also on treating each patient individually. However, large regions of the world remain underserved in terms of health. But inexpensive solutions for diagnostics, treatment, and care are bringing many more people under the ambit of healthcare. Some HealthTech solutions that further the SDG #3 include:
- Clinical Decision Support Systems
- Digital Health Platforms
- Personalized Medicine
- Patient-Specific Implants (PSI)
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based Medical Image Analysis
Implicity Remotely Monitors Patients
French startup Implicity works on a remote monitoring platform for patients with connected pacemakers and defibrillators. An AI module determines the criticality of each alert, considering the medical context of the patient. The platform analyzes and filters the data coming in from remote locations, freeing up valuable time for electrophysiologists to focus on essential tasks.
4. Quality Education
EdTech startups are leveraging technologies like immersive reality and audiovisual methods to encourage experiential learning. The development of novel interdisciplinary educational systems further contributes to this transition. Schools and education boards use analytics to track and improve student outcomes. Lastly, students now have better access to tools to upgrade skills, particularly in science and engineering subjects. Some solutions that promote SDG #4 include:
- Experiential Learning
- Interdisciplinary Educational Systems
- Skill Development
- In-Class Analytics Tool
- Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Maths (STEAM) Learning
Me.reka furthers Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics (STEAM) Learning
Me.reka is a Malaysian startup that offers an alternative education space. Me.rekea Makerspace offers a range of boot camps, courses, and corporate training programs. The startup’s solutions prepare students for careers in STEAM, as well as promote the digital inclusion of underserved communities. For instance, Me.reka’s courses deliver project-based learning and 21st-century skills to help students for digital-era jobs in tech, design, and content marketing.
5. Gender Equality
Solutions that focus on uplifting all gender equality primarily focus on health, economic mobility, and safety. Startups offer a range of devices and platforms to ensure women’s safety, for example. Health platforms that empower transgender persons and womxn to overcome taboo and shame, helping them access any care they need. Professional women networks provide women with opportunities to grow in their careers. Solutions for SDG #5 advance the following metrics:
ThereSheGoes builds Professional Women Networks
ThereSheGoes is a French startup developing a platform for professional women networks. The startup’s mobile app allows women to find and connect to professional networks worldwide. This allows women to attend events and meet businesswomen offline to further their careers. For organizers of professional women networks, it offers a dashboard to help them easily manage their community.
6. Clean Water & Sanitation
A lack of access to clean water is directly linked to hunger, health, and poverty. This is why startups develop solutions that provide access to underserved populations. These include solutions such as purifying water, harvesting rainwater as well as treating wastewater before it reaches water bodies. To ensure affordable and equitable access to drinking water, smart cities leverage technologies like IoT for efficient water management. Among other solutions, startups working towards SDG #6 provide the following services:
- Safe & Affordable Drinking Water
- Sanitary Wastewater Treatment
- Rainwater Harvesting
- Water Data Management
- Industrial Air Dehumidification
Hilico works on Rainwater Harvesting
Israeli startup Hilico offers a portable and lightweight rainwater harvesting system. The startup’s system takes just a couple of minutes to install and fits into the smallest spaces. It uses an advanced filtration unit that prevents any debris from contaminating the water. Further, the system enables water self-sufficiency and reduces pollution as it does not require any electricity to operate.
7. Affordable & Clean Energy
Access to affordable energy is critical to tackling energy poverty which, in turn, boosts economic conditions. To achieve sustainability goals, the industry is moving away from fossil fuels to clean energy sources. Startups build solutions to integrate energy production from solar and wind into local, national, and transnational grids. Moreover, clean energy and smart grids facilitate the wider adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Some of the paradigms that startups are working on to advance SDG #7 include:
- Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)
- Internet of Energy (IoE)
- Decentralized Energy
- Energy Storage
- Waste to Energy
Elivere Solar offers Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) Solutions
Spanish startup Elivere Solar develops EaaS solutions for domestic and industrial purposes. It installs solar energy equipment, as well as monitors, tracks, and analyzes solar power generation and consumption. The startup’s solutions range from small projects like solar-powered street lighting to large-scale PV power plants that offer trading excess or stored energy back to the grid. It also offers EV charging facilities for public spaces and for homes and irrigation services for integrated utility parks.
8. Decent Work & Economic Growth
A major focus of initiatives stimulating economic growth is on industries that employ a high number of people, such as agriculture and manufacturing. By enabling farmers and small & medium enterprises (SMEs) to access financial aid, startups create jobs in these sectors. Further, local data is crucial for such initiatives as well as other developmental projects. At the scale of individuals, anonymized recruitment and upskilling opportunities help them find decent work. Some of the sustainable development goals of decent work & economic growth solutions include:
- Food & Agriculture Analytics
- Crowdsourced Insights
- Anonymized Recruitment
- Digital Financial Ecosystem
- Plastic Upcycling
Pezesha builds a Digital Financial Ecosystem
Kenyan startup Pezesha develops an ecosystem to enable digital financial inclusion. PataScore, the startup’s solution, provides services for electronic know your customer (e-KYC), financial education, automated credit decisions, and financial statement analysis. Pezesha also offers a Platform-as-a-Service to help lenders with loan management and credit assessment. By empowering micro, small & medium enterprises (MSMEs), the startup’s solutions promote economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.
9. Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
Innovations are crucial to sustaining growth for any economy, ranging from cities to the global economy. On the scale of smart cities, startups advance smart mobility, lower pollution, and promote access to sanitation and energy for underserved populations. On a global scale, solutions range from faster internet and knowledge sharing to democratizing finance. Additionally, backward-compatible solutions allow smaller companies to benefit from expensive innovations. Some of the solutions furthering SDG #9 include:
- Smart Mobility
- Retrofit Devices
- Commercial Air Purifiers
- Open Finance
- Infrastructure Machine Data
FinConecta enables Open Finance
US-based startup FinConecta builds 4wrd, an open finance platform. It offers a suite of tools and services such as digital banking models, banking as a service, and wallet as a service, to name a few. This enables financial institutions to make the transition to digitalization. For FinTech startups, it reduces the time to market while helping them scale their products globally.
10. Reduced Inequalities
Reducing socio-economic inequalities is an uphill task that requires effective partnerships between the public and the private sectors. Providing smallholder farmers with the tools to be profitable uplifts millions of people globally, particularly in developing countries. Further, inclusive practices in hiring and media reporting improve the representation of marginalized groups. Finally, reducing inequalities for younger generations also takes priority. Some solutions advancing the sustainable development goals of Reduced Inequalities include:
- Smallholder Farming
- Financial Inclusion
- Diversity Hiring
- Representation of Underrepresented Groups in Media
- Student Financing
Skillhus facilitates Diversity Hiring
Norwegian startup Skillhus enables companies to set up diverse and inclusive hiring practices. Through diversity training, it empowers hiring teams to improve diversity in leadership roles and minimize unconscious recruiting bias. Moreover, the startup also offers a recruitment platform for highly skilled international job seekers to match them with the right companies.
11. Sustainable Cities & Communities
Many cities have set goals to become carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative over the next couple of decades. CleanTech startups enable progress towards these goals in different ways. These include a push towards green mobility and efficient waste management practices as well as sustainable solutions for risk mitigation and disaster management. Other solutions help cities become safer and more resilient. Some of the metrics that startups working on SDG #11 improve include:
- Affordable Housing
- Urban Air Quality
- Disaster Risk Management
- Urban Waste Management
- Green Urban Mobility
EMSOL improves Urban Air Quality
EMSOL is a British startup creating solutions for healthy urban communities. The startup’s urban air quality solution helps organizations achieve net-zero targets for cleaner air. It provides real-time data on vehicular pollution to fleet owners and corporates, supporting them to reduce emissions. EMSOL also offers a solution to reduce noise pollution in urban settings.
12. Responsible Consumption & Production
Startups offer tools for businesses and individuals to monitor their carbon footprint. This allows them to reduce their consumption, enabling the transition to a carbon-negative economy. Further, traceability allows companies to monitor the carbon impact of every step in the supply chain. To this end, startups offer circular and closed-loop solutions that reduce waste. There is also an increase in sustainable business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) eCommerce platforms. Some SDG #12 solutions include:
- Carbon Footprint Tracking
- Supply Chain Traceability
- Responsible Sourcing
- Water Conservation
- Sustainable Animal Feed
Circulor offers Supply Chain Traceability
British startup Circulor develops industrial supply chain traceability solutions. The startup uses data tools to identify anomalies and fraudulent activity along the supply chain, verifying provenance. It determines if a process meets the location, date, duration, and mass balance of inputs and outputs as specified. The startup’s traceability-as-a-service solution also offers supply chain mapping, responsible sourcing, and implementation.
13. Climate Action
Today, climate change is impacting industries like agriculture, fisheries, forestry, among many others. Global warming also poses a serious threat to critical infrastructure around the world. This is why governments and companies are collaborating to limit and reverse climate change. A range of different incentives and metrics help companies and individuals limit the impact of their activities on the climate. Some solutions making progress towards SDG #13 include:
- Digital Tools for Climate Action
- Emissions Tracking
- Carbon Offsetting
- Consumer Powered Climate Balance
- Climate Finance Services
trace offers Carbon Offsetting Solutions
Australian startup trace provides carbon offsetting solutions so that consumers and brands can become climate positive. The startup runs employee engagement campaigns to help businesses train their employees to reduce and offset their carbon. It also calculates the carbon footprint of the supply chain and operational activities. For every tonne of carbon dioxide offset, trace procures one certified carbon credit.
14. Life Below Water
Waste, particularly anthropogenic waste, is hurting marine biodiversity at an unprecedented scale. CleanTech startups work on solutions to remove and valorize waste collected from the oceans. Sustainable fishing and aquaculture practices help oceans recover while empowering coastal communities. Startups also leverage space tech and analytics to monitor water bodies and detect threats to marine ecosystems. A few solutions that promote Sustainable Development Goals of Life Below Water include:
- Water Quality Monitoring
- Smart Fishing Gear
- Recycled Ocean Plastics
- Coastal Intelligence
- Sustainable Aquaculture
MarineLabs provides Coastal Intelligence
Canadian startup MarineLabs develops a coastal intelligence platform. CoastScout, the startup’s maritime IoT device, provides high-resolution data and sends updates as frequently as every 5 minutes for a multiple years period. Additionally, the startup’s platform, CoastAware, collects real-time data from a fleet of CoastScout devices. This allows companies to use this data to quantify marine hazards and make better decisions.
15. Life on Land
Terrestrial ecosystems are crucial to protecting biodiversity as well as making agriculture resilient to extreme weather conditions. Wildlife startups are working on automation solutions that plant trees at scale and document their growth. Monitoring soil and natural ecosystems using geospatial and on-ground data drive conservation efforts. Moreover, it helps stakeholders mitigate and eventually prevent catastrophic events such as wildfires and floods. Some solutions that enable SDG #15 include:
UBEES enables Precision Beekeeping
UBEES is a US-based precision beekeeping startup. The startup combines traditional beekeeping with sensors for non-intrusive and remote monitoring of the hives’ health. UBEES’ solution monitors the levels of parasites, pathogens, exposure to pesticides, and bee nutrition to facilitate data-driven decision-making. This way, beekeepers increase profits while saving the local biodiversity around food supply chains.
16. Peace, Justice, Strong Institutions
While peace and justice are generally geopolitical issues, social impact startups develop innovative solutions that align with these objectives. For instance, startups offer solutions that monitor threats from all levels running from cities to countries and globally. GovTech and CivicTech solutions promote the participation of citizens in governance. Other startups are addressing the legal knowledge gap and measuring the impact of social initiatives to improve access to justice. Some solutions that make progress towards SDG #16 include:
- Threat Monitoring
- Trade in Post-Conflict Regions
- Legal Knowledge Gap
- Social Impact Measurement
- Local Participation
isgood.ai enables Social Impact Measurement
Australian startup isgood.ai provides tech solutions to optimize and measure social impact. It uses AI to reveal complex patterns of cause and effect in social or humanitarian settings, thereby advancing UN SDGs. The startup’s impact management solutions enable organizations to leverage the power of data to drive change. For instance, isgooda.ai helped an organization that works on youth homelessness and mental health issues to improve their data-collation practices.
17. Partnerships for the Goals
All UN SDGs are interconnected as well as connect the interests of populations around the world. This is why startups offer platforms and tools to foster collaboration and innovation across borders. Leveraging rapid advances in internet penetration, partnerships between governments, nonprofits, and companies advance innovative solutions. Lastly, measuring the impact of initiatives helps stakeholders monitor and analyze progress towards the SDGs. Some solutions advancing UN SDG #17 include:
- SDG-aligned Impact Investing
- Capacity Building & Collaboration
- SDG Innovation Collaboration
- Multi-Stakeholder Technology Platforms
- Global SDG Project Management Platforms
LetsEndorse builds Multi-Stakeholder Technology Platforms & Tools
LetsEndorse is an Indian digital marketplace and social network dedicated to social development aligned with the SDGs. LetsEndorse’s multi-stakeholder technology platforms and tools enable operational and financial efficiencies and provide transparency in the process of bringing change. The platforms also allow social impact innovations to reach last-mile communities through partnerships with grassroots organizations and local governments. Further, the startup facilitates development capital in the form of large-scale philanthropy, corporate social responsibility (CSR) investments, venture capital, and international finance to maximize their social returns.
Discover more Startups advancing the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals
Every day, new startups and technologies emerge that advance the UN SDGs. These solutions span a range of applications across industries such as energy, healthcare, smart cities, mobility, and Industry 4.0, to name a few. Most of these startups and scaleups are aligned to multiple SDGs as the goals are connected to each other. Together, they improve the quality of life around the world by addressing topics like hunger, justice, economic growth, and poverty. Moreover, they accelerate the transition to sustainability, helping individuals, companies, and cities lower their carbon footprint for a carbon-negative future.
To identify specific solutions that align with your business and enable progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, get in touch.