Ecocene is a profit-for-purpose company focused on building businesses, technologies and initiatives that put nature at the centre of everything we do. OnImpact spoke with founder, Julian Kruger.
What does your business do, and who are your customers?
The company began as a specialist biodiversity consultancy called Astron that was focused on working with clients to understand and manage their impacts on biodiversity and the environment. From there, we evolved and created a remote sensing based technology platform called Ecoda that empowers people through using a drone and a mobile device to rapidly, rigorously and transparently monitor and manage their biodiversity and ecosystem restoration outcomes.
We’re now working on a funding platform called Eco-engine that will sponsor local communities to restore natural habitats whilst giving them free access to Ecoda to monitor their progress. Each community will be able to use this technology to turn their restoration outcomes into digital assets, which will be certified by a third party before being purchased back by the Ecoengine community.
To kickstart this initiative we are launching an art project called NovelEco utilising a longform generative art collection which will be released in the form of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Holders of the NovelEco NFTs will be recognised as the founders of Ecoengine and champions of a movement to accelerate nature positive outcomes.
Our clients currently include large multinational organisations who want to better manage their impacts on nature, governments who regulate and manage natural resources and conservation organisations and local communities who restore and protect the environment. We are recognised by many of the world’s largest companies as a trusted partner for nature positive outcomes and environmental innovation.
What’s the core problem you’re trying to solve?
Our purpose is to solve the biodiversity crisis and help accelerate the global transition towards nature positive. For us, this comes back to a core belief that any effective movement towards nature positive will begin with people who are inspired and empowered to protect and restore the natural environment.
We believe that technology will facilitate this transition by offering people access to comprehensive and robust data from which they can derive meaningful insights and make superior decisions to best protect and restore nature. Technology will also assist with the funding mechanics of community-based restoration programs by providing verification of restoration and conservation activities, enabling traceability and the ability to easily transfer outcomes as digital assets. Finally, we believe that technology can offer a means of reconnecting people with nature through initiatives based on networks, communities, art and culture. We believe that the integration of these components will form the basis of functional online communities who will interact directly with local communities to create powerful restoration economies driven, led and implemented by passionate people.
How have you seen investor interest in the climate-tech space develop in the past 5 years
To date Ecocene has been self-funded with revenue derived from our consulting activities being used to finance development of the technologies and initiatives within the group. However, there is a growing interest in nature tech within the broader investment community. This is particularly the case for Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) technologies that quantify the implementation and effectiveness of nature-based solutions. A report compiled by PWC has identified a surge in nature tech investing in recent years with an estimated US$2 billion in global investment occurring in 2022 for nature-related technologies that help companies understand, mitigate and adapt to the twin climate and biodiversity crises.
What support (from Government or other stakeholders) would help accelerate growth in the climate-tech space?
The Australian government is moving forward with a range of great initiatives including reviewing biodiversity protection legislation, developing natural capital accounts and creating a nature repair market. These initiatives enforce integrity for nature-based projects. When combined with complementary improvements to carbon markets, this represents a good start to ensuring that nature and biodiversity protection are at the core of everything society does.
To further accelerate growth in the sector it would be wonderful to see greater support for the core vocational skills required to build a restoration economy, particularly in the regions and at the local level. The aspiration for any local restoration economy is to be able to support the livelihoods of local people who are undertaking meaningful work to protect and restore the natural environment. This is particularly the case for First Nations communities who are undertaking traditional land management practices and protecting cultural values associated with nature.
The intersection of technology based approaches to help local communities build restoration economies is a wonderful narrative that deserves greater recognition and promotion by government. We believe that Australia has a real opportunity to be a world leader in this regard by collaborating with some fantastic companies and organisations operating in this space, and it would be awesome to see our government pick up on this and run with it.
Was there a business (either local or globally) that influenced the development of your organisation?
At the moment we are becoming more involved in the web3 space, mainly learning about the broad applications for the technology but also exploring how tokenised communities with strong core values can be catalysts for positive collective action. In this regard we’ve been enjoying watching the growth and development of Metagood (www.metagood.com) and the way in which it builds, engages and empowers its community.
What’s in store for your business in 2023?
Having spent the last couple of years building, testing and refining our core technologies 2023 is the year that we will be releasing and expanding many of our initiatives. We are aiming to have our field-based data collection application mid-year, coinciding with the release of our foundation NovelEco NFT collection.
Next we will be building the core Ecoengine funding infrastructure and trialling creation of the world’s first community owned restoration economy in southwest Western Australia. With increased demand for biodiversity, nature positive and ecosystem restoration services we’ll also continue to grow our core consultancy team. So, it’s looking like another busy year ahead!