Camille Goldstone-Henry On AI Technology Preventing Biodiversity And Habitat Loss — Impact Boom | Social Impact Blog & Podcast | Global Changemaker Community | Social Innovation, Enterprise, Design
Where do you believe there are opportunities for change makers to collaborate and work together to help conserve wildlife and habitats?
There are many areas for collaboration in this space, and I think we’re particularly lucky here in Australia that we have a lot of change makers working on fixing the environment, sustainability, wildlife and habitats. HATCH is just one of the accelerator programs that helps bring all of those concepts together, but I’m also part of the Fishburners Tech For Good Hub, and there’s a whole suite of incredible change makers working on these problems. The opportunity for collaboration and also the collaboration that is currently going on really helps us all further our goals, because we’ve all got the same mission. We all want to preserve the environment; we all want to leave the world a better place than how we found it. One way in which I’m collaborating with other change makers is by working with other female founders in this space. I think the Climate Salad Tech Report came out recently, and that is an industry wide scope on what’s happening with climate technology in Australia and what start-ups are working on in this space. Almost 50% of climate tech founders are women, which is comparable to the wider start-up space where only about 25% of the entire space are female founders. There are a lot of female founders working and collaborating in this space, because we all need to work together to overcome some of the barriers we face compared to our male colleagues, and that includes things like access to investment.
Less than 4% of venture capital funding goes towards female founders, and it’s even less for those working in the environment, wildlife and sustainability spaces. I’m working with a lot of female founders in this space to compare notes, make introductions to investors, share opportunities so we all can realise our ideas and visions.
With the rising tide floats all boats, and that’s where I really love working with the female founders in this space. But there are so many other facets to conserving wildlife and habitats, and so many change makers working in this wider ecosystem. We’ve got a really exciting partnership with a cloud tech start-up based in Tasmania. The reason why these guys are so exciting is Xylo Systems is based in the cloud, so it’s a huge part of what we’re building. This start-up called Firmus is operating a close to carbon neutral cloud, which is completely unheard of. If you think about cloud computing, it takes up a lot of energy and resources, and most of those are from non-renewable sources. I don’t want to name any names, but you can probably name some of the really big cloud providers out there, so we’ve partnered with this cloud start-up to make sure we are operating our platform as close to carbon neutral as possible. I’m not going to try and talk about the technology they’ve got that helps them become carbon neutral, but it really is incredible, and I think that shows you the potential of how change makers are collaborating in Australia to really bring us closer to net zero and hopefully in the future become net positive.
What inspiring projects or initiatives have you come across recently that are creating a positive social change?
It’s so hard to fit this answer into the short time we have, because there are so many out there and I would just love to give them all a shout out. If you’re listening to this podcast, I love you all and you’re doing great work. But for some of my favourite initiatives at the moment, there’s firstly a start-up called Carapac, and their founder, Kimberly Bolton, actually won the HATCH Accelerator last year. She’s doing a really incredible job of tackling the plastic problem and plastic in our oceans. Carapac are taking crustacean shell waste and making in into a biodegradable, antimicrobial alternative plastic. This plastic can be used for example in supermarkets where you currently get your baby spinach in a plastic bag. In the future, that will be Carapac’s biodegradable, antimicrobial plastic, which not only preserves the shelf life of that food, but you can also plant in your plants at home when you’re finished with it, which fertilises them. It’s really incredible, she has this image of a dying house plant and a flourishing house plant, and she put her Carapac product in the flourishing plant. It is such a cool job she’s doing, because she’s tackling two problems there, the crustacean shell waste problem, and also the plastic problem.
We’re also working with an organisation called Environmetrics, and they’re a start-up out of Queensland who are using satellite data to help mines manage their natural assets and sustainability.
They’re operating in a very similar space to us, but are using satellite data, which is really cool. They can map the impacts that mines have on the natural environment around them and help them better manage habitat regeneration or reduce the impacts of mining on the environment around the actual mine. That’s another really cool start-up operating in Australia. The final one I’m just so excited about is RePlated, another HATCH alumni. The founder, Naomi Tarszisz has developed a Tupperware container that replaces a takeout plastic container. So, when you go and get Thai food in your plastic container, Naomi has developed an industry standardised Tupperware container that can be used over and over again, so you can get take away more sustainably. She’s taking over the world here and she’s everywhere in Sydney. Check them out, they’ve got some really cool products.
To finish off what books or resources would you recommend our listeners check out?
If you’re interested in biodiversity, a really good place to start is a podcast called The Business Of Biodiversity, and you can get that wherever you get your podcasts. That gives you a really good overview of all the innovation happening in the Australian biodiversity and wildlife spaces. As a start-up founder, it’s very much a roller coaster starting your own business and managing the uncertainty of a start-up, particularly a tech start-up. A book I read recently is called The Hard Thing About Hard Things, and it talks about the answers a lot of the other start-up books don’t have.
What do you do when you’re trying to hire the right person, or what do you do when you need to fire an entire department, which are really scary things you have to think about as a start-up founder?
We’re seeing in the tech space in Australia a lot of layoffs, and it is hard economically. I think for the start-up founder, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is a must read book. It’s given me a lot of answers I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. Finally, and I want to touch on this because I touched on female founders before and there’s a lot going on in the world at the moment in terms of gender equality and women’s rights. Another book I’m reading right now is called Invisible Women, and as a data nerd I love this book. It’s about the gender data gap and how this world is not exactly built for women, so I’d really recommend that if you’re interested in data and the artificial intelligence space.