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2022 Cleantech Trends with Nino Lazariia

Season 3: Episode 10


Blockchain, Business, Clean Energy, Cryptocurrency, Data Centers, Renewable Energy

Listen now on Apple | Spotify | SimpleCast

[01:50] First we like to get a sense of our guest and your background. Would love to have you tell us a bit about yourself and your work. How did you come to the cleantech space?

Nino Lazariia: Yes, of course. I was getting my master’s in public affairs and environmental science at Indiana University, and at first, I was mostly focused on smart cities and public affairs but then later on with the climate change issues. I switched my Masters during my time at the University and added a second Masters in Environmental Science. And that’s when I got very, very much interested in the field and get to read a lot more about it. Then I decided to switch my focus from only digital to digital and climate and combine those two since those were the two main topics of my interest. And that’s how I ended up at Cleantech Group.

[03:00] How would you define cleantech today?

Nino Lazariia: Yes, cleantech actually does have a lot of different definitions, and I think our company, Cleantech Group, defines it more broadly. It’s different sustainable innovations across different climate-related issues in all of the environmental sectors, including energy, materials, chemicals, transportation, and enabling technology as well. So a lot broader than we thought about it earlier.

[04:30] What do you see are some of the major upcoming trends in cleantech?

John Belizaire: What are some of your clients talking about, and what particularly around the growth sector and new industries are you leaning into in the cleantech space?

[07:30] What’s Cleantech Group’s take on the EV market, EV charging, and its potential effect on change to the climate issues that we’re having?

Nino Lazariia: Yes, that’s a good point. I do think that it seems like electric vehicles are taking a lead across all sectors in climate-related issues, and I don’t think that it’s necessarily a bad thing, because it also allows other sectors to grow. It allows the industry, in general, to grow and come up with new players and thus be a pioneer in the field. I did read a lot of reports where it says that it is an overheated industry with a lot of players and a lot of money, whereas there are some other, a lot more interesting areas or sectors, where the money’s more needed rather than just only in EVs or EV charging. But I do still think that it is important to invest and to lead on those, so I do think there will be a lot of benefits from EVs in general.

[09:00] One of your clients is UNIDO. Can you tell us a bit about UNIDO and the work you’re doing for them?

John Belizaire: It’s the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, as I understand it, and they’re focused on helping countries get their arms around their climate activities, it looks like.

[10:00] What do you think are some of the top digital solutions that will help alleviate poverty and improve the circumstances in some of these developing countries that UNIDO focuses on?

Nino Lazariia: Yes, it’s a great question also, because one of the exercises that we are doing as a part of this project is cluster mapping, where we’re trying to track cleantech activities in terms of where the startups and accelerators are. The risk capital is located in universities, and what are the key sectors? And we saw that a lot of innovation in those countries is around waste management and clean energy production. In waste management, digital technologies help to facilitate waste collection and recycling, whereas, in clean energy, countries are trying to use clean sources of energy as well as increase the efficiency of its use.

[12:00] Now, do you think AI, IoT, and other digital technologies, things as crypto, for example, have a role in playing social good these days?

They’re such new technologies, and AI in particular has a somewhat negative connotation to it sometimes, but do you think they can have a role to play in just social good in general, and how so?

[14:30] How do you manage bringing different stakeholders to a metaphorical table, let’s say, whether it’s executives, investors, legislature, or scientists? There’s so much involved. How does Cleantech Group do that?

Nino Lazariia: Yes. Cleantech Group actually runs different forums that bring all those stakeholders together. This year we already had four. All of them were in person. One in January was in Palm Springs, and then we had one in March in Edinburgh, later on in Singapore. And just last week we had one in Brussels. I think it’s a great way to connect the main players so that they can learn about new technology and trends that are upcoming, and also they can share some insights as well as some lists of books and articles that they read and you want to read after the conference.

[15:30] How do you think your University experience has shaped your work at Cleantech Group?

Nino Lazariia: I think a science degree helped me to have the background knowledge of climate technologies and what are some of the problems that we have, and just for myself to realize what solutions we might need to solve them. And then the public affairs side helped me to understand the policy process behind the laws and country strategies that we need to analyze. Having those two combined gives you a more broad perspective on the issues.

[16:40] You mentioned a particular passion for smart cities as we were preparing for the show. Can you talk more about what that is for listeners? What is a smart city, and how does that play in the grand scheme of cleantech and environmental action?

Nino Lazariia: Yes, definitely. I think as you mentioned, yes, I was always very much focused and interested in smart cities and tech, and I found it really interesting to see how tech can help in decision-making for different cities as well as in reducing inefficiencies and using creative solutions. My favorite example is this program that is set up in Singapore that lets seniors swipe a card at an intersection so that the signal will give them extra time to cross the street. I think it’s the attention to detail and efficient and creative use of tech that makes those decisions beautiful and easy to use and makes life for people easier in those cities. But yeah, smart cities and municipality that uses ICT technologies to increase operational efficiency and share information with the public can both improve the quality of government services as well as the citizen welfare.

[19:00] How do you stay motivated or inspired in the hard fight against climate change?

John Belizaire: I mean, you look at COP27, it was sort of demoralizing when they came out saying, “I don’t think we’re going to get to 1.5, maybe 1.7 degrees now.” How do you stay motivated and driven around the fight?

[20:40] Any predictions you have for next year, something you’d love to see come true in the coming year?

Nino Lazariia: I think a lot more people will be switching their jobs to climate. Also taking very recent layoffs in tech, I think a lot more people will have an opportunity to take more attention and put their knowledge and skills into the climate field. And I do think a lot more technology around cleantech and climate tech will be coming up, so that’s very exciting in general to see those new technologies rolling out and coming up with new things. And I do hope that we will have a more positive impact made, less CO2 emitted. We’ll see how that goes.