Business incubators for biodiversity
Marketing the fruits that Mother Nature provides
Operated by: PerúBioInnova and the University San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL)
Under the title BioStartUp, PerúBioInnova established an incubator programme for start-ups in the biodiversity sector and in succession a ‘navigator’ to disseminate the lessons learned and materials developed. PerúBioInnova was a joint initiative of the Swiss Cooperation SECO and the German Cooperation in Peru, and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in the framework of the programme ProAmbiente. The Green Business Model Navigator, an English language knowledge-sharing product on green business models in general, served as inspiration for the BioStartUp navigator. It was published by the GIZ sector programme “Sustainable Economic Policy and Private Sector Development” on behalf of BMZ.
Peru is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. The arid plains of the Pacific coastal region in the West, the Andes mountains from the North to the Southeast, and the tropical rainforest in the Amazon basin in the East feature very different ecosystems, with a distinct flora and fauna. Unfortunately, this wealth of biodiversity providing important ecosystem services is under threat due to land use change and habitat loss.
Businesses can be a main driver for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources but only few entrepreneurs work with what Peru’s biodiversity has to offer. The ones that do so face multiple challenges from legal issues on access to genetic resources and patent rights, to permits for sustainable forest management or the inclusion of local or indigenous communities in the value chain. Other challenges relate to market access for sustainable products or sustainable packaging.
Under the title BioStartUp, the initiative PerúBioInnova initiated an incubation programme for biodiversity-based start-ups that have a positive impact on society and environment. Over an eight-month period in 2016, selected start-ups benefitted from targeted support to improve their products and business models based on Amazonian plants or fruits for nutrition or cosmetic purposes. Among others, they attended technical sessions on topics such as access to genetic resources, benefit sharing, traditional knowledge of communities, biotrade, or design thinking. The programme also offered every start-up a personal mentor depending on their specific needs.
Based on the experiences from this incubation programme, a navigator was developed to facilitate the replication and up-scaling of the BioStartUp programme. It comprises an overview of the different phases of an incubation programme as well as technical topics to be addressed. The navigator further provides access to a range of tools and instruments that were developed for BioStartUp. It was endorsed by the Peruvian Ministry of Environment and Production. Through the incubation programme and navigator, BioStartUp contributes to a new economy in Peru that endorses and protects the rich biodiversity.
- Seven biodiversity start-ups improved their business models, developed new or improved products for the local and export market by using Peru’s rich biodiversity, making social and environmental impacts.
- USIL has started its own incubator ‘USIL Ventures’, financed by the Ministry of Production and implemented two more rounds of BioStartUp in the following years - among others with a focus on the Andes region. Currently BioStartUp 4 is being launched.
- Two of the BioStartUp businesses won the competition for biodiversity businesses ‘Reto Biodiversidad’.
Source: Green and Inclusive Business Toolbox (p. 74-77)
Photo by GIZ/ Diego Pèrez