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Net zero is a priority for four fifths (80%) of start-ups, with 72% working to achieve carbon neutrality and 8% already carbon neutral or negative according to research from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

Innovate UK found that while start-ups are passionate about their climate impact, they are divided over whether it should be a priority over business growth. Nearly half (45%) of start-ups believe they should balance growth and sustainability, versus four in 10 (42%) believe growth is more important, but start-ups should try to be sustainable in their activities where possible.

Start-ups believe that the number one thing a company can do to reduce its carbon footprint is to innovate around a solution which combats climate change (38%), followed by encouraging sustainability in its supply chain (24%) and reducing emissions from its operations (17%). Just 15% of start-ups suggested that restricting business travel by choosing online meetings was most important.

Start-ups view renewable energy infrastructure (30%) as the most important innovation to long-term sustainability. This is closely followed by recycling, waste management and sustainable materials (29%). Only 8% of start-ups cited renewable and energy efficient transport, such as electric vehicles, as the most important area for sustainable innovation.

Jonny Voon, Head of the Sustainable Innovation Fund at Innovate UK, says: “Pioneering entrepreneurs are unsurprisingly future-focused, and recognise the need to balance growth and sustainability.

“It’s incredibly promising to find that so many early-stage companies recognise the need to achieve net zero in their operations and are passionate about innovating towards climate change solutions. They serve as an important reminder that profitability and sustainability are increasingly closely aligned and through innovation we can achieve both.”

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