News In Context

Europe’s Climate Plan Gets Off To A Flying Start

European leaders said the climate plan presented on July 14 could put Europe at the forefront of new technologies like offshore wind generation or aircraft that run on electricity or hydrogen.

 It is off to a flying start. United Airlines and its regional airline partner Mesa Air Group said this week that they would buy 200 19-seat ES-19 electric planes from Swedish start-up Heart Aerospace, as the U.S. carrier eyes battery-powered aircraft for regional routes.The deal, which includes an option of purchasing up to 100 additional aircraft, was announced together with a $35 million Series A funding round. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, United’s venture arm and Mesa led the round. Seed investors EQT Ventures and Lowercarbon Capital also participated.

The ES-19 is a regional airplane (see the photo) that seats 19 and runs on batteries and electric motors instead of traditional jet fuel. The startup says it will deliver the first aircraft for commercial use by 2026.

Heart Aerospace is just one of a growing number of European startups focused on sustainability. Investment into Europe’s climate-focused start-ups has soared to over $11 billion cumulatively in the last five years, according to The State of European Tech 2020 report.

The European Commission’s plan, “Fit for 55,” calls for its 27 member states to cut their output of greenhouse gases by 55% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. The effort makes the bloc’s proposal the most aggressive and detailed plan in the world to reach a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 and has the potential to be an important catalyst for continued investment in this area.

To that end, the European Commission has announced a partnership with Bill Gates’ sustainable energy funding vehicle with the goal of unlocking new investments for clean tech and sustainable energy projects totaling up to €820 million between 2022 and 2026.

The partnership will initially focus on four sectors that are being prioritized for their potential to deliver substantial reductions in regional emissions — namely:

  • Green hydrogen.
  • Sustainable aviation fuels.
  • Direct air capture.
  • Long-duration energy storage.

The goal is to scale technologies that are currently too expensive to compete with fossil-fuel-based incumbent technologies.

The market potential for the leaders in clean technology-led, net-zero goods and services is expected to be at least €800 billion annually from 2030-50, according to CapGemini Invent.

European firms like the automaker Scania know this. Alongside venture capital firms, Scania has invested in H2 Green Steel, which plans to build the world’s largest green steel plant near a major Swedish port with abundant, local renewable energy supplies. This $2.5 billion project will be powered by a hydrogen electrolyser 40-50 times bigger than any other on the market, and by 2030 the plant expects to produce 5 million tons of green steel annually.

In Other News This Week:


Enel X and VW To Install Over 3,000 Fast EV Chargers In Italy

Volkswagen Group announced that together with Enel X, the Enel Group’s advanced energy solutions business line, it will establish a new joint venture (50/50) to build a fast-charging infrastructure in Italy.The plan is to deploy, own and operate more than 3,000 high power charging points (up to 350 kW each) at about 700 locations. The network will be available for all electric cars.

Virgin Galactic Took Paying Customers To Space. Paying Customers Are Next.

Richard Branson is officially an astronaut. Now, Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.’s true test begins: Can it translate his flight into a steady stream of space tourists? The British entrepreneur beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos to the edge of space. Mr. Bezos is set to embark on his own space flight later this month aboard his Blue Origin LLC’s rocket. The two men are part of a new generation’s space race, both attempting to expand access beyond the reach of government and research missions—at least to a handful of high-net-worth individuals who can afford it.  At the crux of Galactic’s business model will be whether demand for space travel is sustainable.


REvil, Russia’s Most Aggressive Ransomware Group, Disappears

Just days after President Biden demanded that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia shut down ransomware groups attacking American targets, the most aggressive of the groups suddenly went off-line July 12. The question is who made it happen? The group, called REvil, short for “Ransomware evil,” has been identified by U.S. intelligence agencies as responsible for the attack on one of America’s largest beef producers, JBS. Two weeks after Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin met in Geneva last month, REvil took credit for a hack that affected thousands of businesses around the world over the July 4 holiday.

The U.S. Offers A Bounty For Info About Malicious Cyber Actors

Meanwhile, the United States on July 15 offered up to $10 million for information that can identify or locate malicious cyber actors working at the behest of a foreign government to target critical U.S. infrastructure.The U.S. State Department said in a statement that “certain malicious cyber operations targeting U.S. critical infrastructure may violate the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act)” and that it has “set up a Dark Web (Tor-based) tips-reporting channel to protect the safety and security of potential sources.”

SolarWinds Says Unknown Hackers Exploited Newly Discovered Software Flaw

Software company SolarWinds said July 12 that unknown hackers exploited a previously unknown flaw in two of its programs to go after “a limited, targeted set of customers.” The statement, issued over the weekend, did not identify the hackers involved.In a question-and-answer page appended to the statement, SolarWinds said the flaw was “completely unrelated” to last year’s hack of government networks by alleged Russian spies, a sprawling espionage operation that used the Texas-based software company as a springboard to break into target networks.The page added that SolarWinds “is unaware of the identity of the potentially affected customers” caught up in the latest hacking campaign.


Brain Implant Lets Man Speak After Being Silent For More Than A Decade

Researchers in California reported July 14 that they had developed and successfully tested an experimental brain implant that translates brain signals into words on a computer screen.The achievement, described in a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, marks a step toward technology that may one day help people speak by thinking. It also offers a glimmer of hope for the thousands of people who each year lose the ability to speak as a result of injury or illness.


Nestlé Said To Be Eying The Cultured Meat Market

Nestlé intends to enter the cultured meat market via a partnership with Israel- based alt-protein company Future Meat, according to a report from Bloomberg. Unnamed sources familiar with the matter said Nestlé is working on various products that mix its own plant-based proteins with cultivated meat from Future Meat. Future Meat recently opened what it says is the world’s first production facility for cultured meat. The plant, located in Future Meat’s hometown of Rehovot, Israel, can produce 500 kilograms of cultured meat per day, or the equivalent to about 5,000 hamburgers, according to the company. The new facility is currently processing cultured chicken, pork, and lamb. Beef production is also in the works.


LVMH’s Moët Hennessy Teams With Campari  On E-Commerce Venture

LVMH’s Moët Hennessy  and Italy’s Campari have agreed to team up to invest in wines and spirits e-commerce companies and create a European  e-commerce player in the sector. In a July 12 statement, the two groups said Campari would transfer its stake in online wines and spirits company Tannico into a newly set up joint venture.The deal, subject to regulatory clearance, envisages the sale of half the JV’s equity capital by Campari to Moët Hennessy for €25.6 million euros in cash. “While e-commerce was already a growing channel for wines and spirits, the global pandemic has triggered a significant acceleration,” Moët Hennessy CEO Philippe Schaus said.


Apple Partners With Goldman Sachs on Buy Now Pay Later

Apple is working with Goldman Sachs to develop a buy now, pay later service that lets customers pay for their Apple Pay purchases in installments, according to Bloomberg. Dubbed Apple Pay Later, the service will use Goldman Sachs as the lender to cover the installments, says Bloomberg, citing sources.The BNPL play will be available for all Apple Pay purchases made with any card and not just linked to the Apple Card, for which Goldman is also a partner.

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About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.