5 impact startups that stood out at Web Summit 2023

20 November 2023, By Deborah Gray, Founder and Managing Director

With more than 70,000 attendees, the Web Summit of 2023 has closed a new edition consolidated as one of the major technology events in southern Europe. Not even the controversial resignation of its CEO weeks before the start of the event and the boycott of companies such as Meta have managed to tarnish an edition that has registered a full house. More than 2,600 companies and 900 investors gathered in Lisbon to learn about the main trends in the technology landscape, from artificial intelligence to medical technology.

However, if there is one topic that has been especially present on the table this year, it has been sustainability, which has been reflected in the conference agenda and in details such as the stands made from recycled materials or the 200,000 cardboard cups distributed to attendees. In addition, the Impact initiative has been launched, which brings together more than 250 startups working to promote the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

As an agency specialized in communication with impact, we summarize the proposals that we liked the most.


1s1 Energy, green hydrogen made in Portugal

Founded in 2019, this materials technology startup develops water electrolysis systems for the production of green hydrogen. Such gas is set to be the fuel of the future, offering a clean and sustainable energy source. The problem is that it is very expensive to produce, something that 1s1 Energy’s technology can make cheaper.

The company has a subsidiary in Portugal, which last year received 2.2 million from the European Union to develop a green hydrogen pilot plant in that country.

Magnotherm, the magnetic cold coming from Germany

Another major challenge for green hydrogen is its storage at very low temperatures, which drives up cooling costs. This German startup wants to solve this problem with a new cooling technology based on magnetocaloric materials.

This avoids the use of greenhouse gas refrigerants and can be applied to all kinds of uses, from industrial refrigeration to supermarkets. Its first launch is POLARIS, a kind of magnetic refrigerator with the capacity to cool up to 150 beverages.

Greyparrot, artificial intelligence applied to recycling

From the UK comes a startup that uses artificial intelligence to optimize waste recycling. To do this, they install cameras on conveyor belts in recycling centers and then analyze the images using AI software.

This makes it possible to improve waste separation processes to make better use of materials. It also provides manufacturers with full traceability of their packaging to optimize regenerative economy strategies and give a new life to these resources.

Ecosia, an Internet search engine that plants trees

The technology sector consumes 7% of global energy and this figure is expected to double by 2030, according to Greenpeace. To help reduce this impact, German startup Ecosia has created a search engine that plants trees for every search performed.

All we have to do is install an add-on in our browser that displays ads from partner companies, and a portion of the proceeds goes to reforestation projects around the world – more than 186 million trees have already been planted!

The Exploration Company, the new "green" border

Space exploration is humanity’s great hope for finding the resources we need without exhausting the planet. For now, however, it is an unsustainable sector. 

This Franco-German startup, led by Hélène Huby, develops a reusable orbital vehicle that avoids generating more space junk or debris falling on our heads. This year they have closed a 40 million round of financing and want to go to the moon in 2028.

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Deborah Gray is Fundadora and Managing Director


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