From its global newsletter to its major annual events, ANDE members have access to a multitude of platforms for promoting their work and co-creating knowledge with other members. The ANDE Member Spotlight Blog is a series of short, interview-based blog posts highlighting an ANDE member organization and any new projects, recent investments, or ongoing research with interesting learnings that add value to the ANDE community.
GoMassive Earth Network is an investment network that enables private capital investments in sustainability startups focused on solving pollution and climate change. The network brings access to capital, mentorship, and validation of ideas through its partnerships with research labs, tech academia, and policy think tanks.
ANDE spoke with GoMassive’s Managing Partner, Sumeet Singh, about their new Air Quality Index (AQI) Comparison COVID Lockdown report, which quantifies the impact of pollution across eight cities in India. The study compared the average AQI of selected Indian cities during the extreme lockdown period from March 18-April 2, 2020 against the average AQI for the same dates in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Tell us about GoMassive Earth Network and the role it plays in the SGB ecosystem.
GoMassive Earth Network was launched out of the realization that capital was not reaching startups focused on pollution reduction and climate change. If you look at what causes pollution, and look at what causes climate change, it is practically identical. We should acknowledge that pollution & climate change are engineering problems caused by engineering inefficiencies. While policy will have an important role in scaling such solutions, the key to solving these problems will be innovation in engineering. Innovation can only be occurring if there is capital deployment. At GoMassive, we are enabling this ecosystem for capital deployment towards innovation of solutions for pollution and climate change.
We have three operating arms: GoMassive, Massive Earth Foundation, and Massive Mobility. GoMassive is the private investing network and Massive Earth Foundation is a non-profit that conducts research, such as AQI analysis, and launches pilot projects within the pollution reduction and climate change industry. Massive Mobility is a startup, warehoused & incubated by GoMassive, that focuses on financing electric mobility in India.
GoMassive has a strong networking component through which we introduce startups to various corporate leaders to develop professional relationships. Our whole mission is to fill the gap in finance for these startups and identify how private capital can be put towards ventures focusing on pollution and climate change.
What lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic do you think can be applied to environmental action?
Studying pollution in India has been a statistical nightmare — there are too many variables and it is difficult to pinpoint where to focus. The ongoing COVID lockdown presented a unique opportunity to study air quality when economic activity was at an all-time low. By removing the clutter of various data sources, we found that mobility is clearly one of the largest causes of pollution in India. Our transportation systems, which rely heavily on fossil fuels, have been one of the largest culprits. With public transportation closed during the lockdown, we saw a larger than anticipated increase in private mobility throughout India, which has a direct correlation with increasing levels of pollution.
We were only able to study this data at huge economic and social costs. This is not the way we would like to continue this environmental fight; we need to find viable and sustainable solutions. There is not much, if anything, to rejoice about when it comes to the data we collected and analyzed. I believe; however, the report does highlight the importance of taking proactive steps instead of the reactive response we have seen as a result of the pandemic.
How will this report be used to advance GoMassive’s mission of investing in sustainability startups?
GoMassive’s work focuses on three key pillars: promoting innovation and investment, understanding the necessary actions to reach solutions, and raising awareness. Air pollution from a distance seems like a domain of the government that should be rectified through policy measures, but in reality, air pollution is a function of broken mobility, energy and waste handling. Each of which is an investment opportunity worth $100 billion. While this report is focused on air pollution, the report also helps identify emerging segments for investments.
We recently also announced our city cleanup project in Agra in partnership with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which will specifically target plastic pollution. Agra is home to the Taj Mahal, one of the most distinguished tourist attractions in India. The city generates more than 75 tons of plastic waste per day. The lack of waste management in Agra has caused most plastic waste to end up in landfills, on sides of roads, or into the Yamuna river. The insights from the study on air pollution cast light on the severity of the problem and scale of human impact. We hope that by raising awareness around the issue of air pollution, people will also become more aware of other forms of pollution affecting India and the greater world. By highlighting the scale of these problems, we hope to drive private capital to ventures that provide viable environmental solutions.
ANDE is a global network with members all around the world. What takeaways do you think would be helpful for the rest of the community?
People are now correlating pollution and climate change and understanding how these two issues are interconnected; in the past there had been a disconnect between the two topics. North America and Europe historically have used significant amounts of fossil fuel, and we can see the consequences of its use in the melting of polar ice caps. The same technology is causing two issues in different parts of the world. The key question to consider is how we can align pollution and climate change globally. We are all saying similar things, but we must align our actions with our communities to connect these two issues and tackle them hand in hand — only then can we hope to build sustainable solutions.
How can ANDE members get involved?
Our team is very open to collaborating with ANDE members on an on-the-ground pilot or project. We work on the ground in India and have positioned ourselves within the administration & ecosystem to focus on environmental issues.
We have an ongoing live project in electric mobility with 150+ vehicles running in Delhi. Under this project we are financing electric rickshaws. This single project is helping to combat multiple issues, pollution, climate change, and poverty, by providing equitable finance to marginal section of the society to provide last-mile mobility solutions in urban clusters.
ANDE members can leverage our expertise in scaling startups and managing investment portfolios. We work very closely with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and recently concluded a 10-week bootcamp for South-Asian startups, shortlisted as part of the Low Carbon Lifestyle Challenge.
We are hopeful that our current plastic feasibility study and project in Agra with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste can act as a template for similar sized cities and can be replicated not only across India, but also in other developing countries. GoMassive Earth Network is excited about the potential of working with other ANDE members and opportunities for impactful collaboration.