group photo of the 10 startups in the sustainability accelerator at 2019 demo day
Techstars Demo Day 2019 Techstars Sustainability Accelerator Demo Day 2019 © Kari Geha/TNC

Techstars Sustainability Accelerator

Now, More Than Ever, We Need Technology to Help Solve Our Food, Water, and Climate Challenges

Niraj Swami headshot.
Niraj Swami Sr. Director, Conservation Tech Strategy & Enablement


Applications are now open!

Be sure to apply by May 12th.

Apply Today

With time running short in this critical decade for our planet, we at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) recognize how imperative it is to find innovative methods and technologies to rapidly scale our solutions for nature. With this in mind, we are putting our call out to innovators, entrepreneurs, creatives, and technologists from all areas of the globe representing diverse backgrounds and ideas, who are looking to help save the world. 

For the third year, we are seeking all for-profit tech start-ups aiming to help solve our food, water, and climate challenges for our next Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in Partnership with TNC that kicks off this fall in Boulder, Colorado. Ten startups will be selected for the accelerator program and will each receive seed funding up to $120k, plus exposure to TNC's global footprint of programs, projects and partners, and Techstars’ extensive network of 10,000+ mentors. Applications are open now through May 12th.

We invite all of you to please help us find these entrepreneurs and share this call for applicants to your networks. If you are an entrepreneur or innovator with a commercially viable technology solving the top threats to nature (listed below), please apply or reach out and talk to our team.

The Time is Now to Build Tech For Nature The Sustainability Accelerator will ensure that we innovate to make the world a better place to live.
Techstars Startup Water Meter
Water Security Tech in Action Techstars startup, Mammoth Water, works with a farmer using new technology to measure water usage from irrigation. © Jenn Brunson/TNC

Interested in the 2021 Sustainability Accelerator?

Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy 
Application period: February 22nd, 2021 – May 12th, 2021 
Accelerator runs: September 13th, 2021 – December 9th, 2021 
Location: Boulder, CO

Apply Now | Contact Us

We Are Looking For Companies Solving These Problems:

We are focused on investing in companies that can make a material contribution to building a world where people and nature thrive. By solving the top threats to nature, we can also improve the lives of millions of people.



Climate Change Mitigation

  • Carbon Sequestration, Carbon Measurement and Market Validation, Precision Forestry, Sustainable Timber, Reforestation
  • Carbon risk analysis, scenario planning tools & cross-sector innovation

Climate Change Adaptation

  • Advance nature-based solutions to lessen climate impacts (drought/flooding) (examples of nature-based solutions include: wetland conservation, open space protection, dam removal, groundwater infiltration, living shorelines) with technologies such as innovative insurance and finance models, remote sensing, and spatial planning.


Protect Land and Water

  • Technology that unlocks conservation investment in land and ocean protection, coastal restoration, expand community-led conservation, protect oceans, protect water at its source, build ‘zero-deforestation’ supply chains

Energy and Infrastructure

  • Technology to improve energy siting, land-use planning and development, renewable energy planning, mitigation mapping, build a model of sustainable energy development, and inform smart infrastructure decision-making

Indigenous People and Local Communities

  • Technology that facilitates community-based natural resource management, multi-stakeholder engagement, sustainable economic development for local communities and indigenous peoples

  • Increase climate change-resilience

  • Knowledge-sharing & policy advocacy

Sustainable Agriculture

  • Soil health and nutrients, zero-deforestation supply chains, sustainable yield increases,  precision irrigation and fertilization, nutrient runoff monitoring, sustainable grazing, carbon capture, microclimate sensing

  • Rethink agricultural practices

Sustainable Fisheries

  • Catch monitoring, bycatch exclusion, supply chain transparency, vessel tracking, automated stock assessment, improve fishery health

  • Technology to support sustainable aquaculture such as monitoring systems, ecologically restorative business models, siting technologies, feed innovations,off-shore / open-ocean systems

Water Security

  • Water Funds and Markets; Watershed-scale sensing, flow measurements, sensor connectivity, usage mapping technology, aggregating water data, groundwater recharge, fintech companies that assist in the arbitrage of water use/allocation

Technologies that catalyze transformational change to achieve a world where people and nature thrive
Catalyzing transformational change How conservation science and tech flow together © TNC


Technologies that catalyze transformational change to achieve a world where people and nature thrive (see adjacent figure).

Planetary Telemetry 

  • Tools that increase our understanding of/ monitor/ improve - ecosystem services, pollution, and natural resource use (Remote Sensing, GIS, Sensors/Hardware) 

  • Tools that aggregate/ analyze/ visualize/ digitize data

Influence Decision Makers

  • Tools that better inform Natural Resource Managers (farmers/fisherman/industry etc)

  • Influence policymakers and business leaders

  • Innovative finance and funding mechanisms that

  • incentivize decisions to improve planetary health

Note: We will not be investing in companies directly competitive with our current alumni companies from 2018 and 2019.

Interested in applying? We're here to help!

If you are interested in applying to the 2021 Accelerator, reach out with questions.

Niraj Swami headshot.

Niraj Swami is Senior Advisor, Applied AI for The Nature Conservancy. Follow him on Twitter.