Google, the company with a founding principal of “don’t be evil,” is seeking startups in Europe and Africa focused on climate change and sustainability, hoping to provide them with funding and expertise to get them off the ground.

The company unveiled its “social impact” accelerator program at the Web Summit in Lisbon this week. Google wants startups, also from the Middle East, to participate for six months beginning early next year. A second group will start later in 2020, Business Insider reported. Applications will open up soon. 

“Often social impacts don’t have access to a cohort of the community in same ways as others,”  Kate Brandt, the company’s chief sustainability officer, said, according to Forbes. “We will be starting with a cohort of eight to 10 companies focusing on three specific areas of support – providing technology, mentors, ability to access certain Google platforms, giving support on monetisation and improving access to capital.”

Google and rival tech companies are being pushed by environmental advocates to do more than simply cut carbon emissions. The reasons aren’t purely altruistic: a host of studies highlight the risks to company finances from climate change, while others say sustainable businesses may be more profitable. An International Renewable Energy Agency report in June showed that unsubsidized renewable energy is often cheaper than fossil fuels. 

“Often social impacts don’t have access to a cohort of the community in same ways as others.”

Google will use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to pick the startups, Brandt said. The 16 goals include fighting poverty and inequality, education, affordable and clean energy, gender equality and health.

The company isn’t a newcomer to accelerator programs. As Google has expanded into areas, from cloud computing to advertising, it has launched a six-month acceleration program including  mentorship, support and introductions to Silicon Valley executives. 

  • More than 1,000 Google employees signed an open letter released on Monday that calls on the company commit to zero emissions by 2030 and other aggressive steps.
  • Workers at Google, Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft and other technology companies took part in global climate strike on Sept. 20.
  • Google announced a record purchase of renewable energy on Sept. 19. The firm will buy 1,600-megawatts of wind and solar energy in 18 separate deals.