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Bupa backs 18 start-ups in sustainability and health drive

3 min read

Bupa offers support to new businesses tackling climate change as the company underlines the growing link between human health and the environment. 

A raft of start-ups working at the interface between climate change and human health have received financial backing and commercial support from the global healthcare business Bupa as the company focuses on the link between the environment and health. 

“As a provider of healthcare services to millions of people across the world, we recognise the link between the environment and human health,” said Iñaki Ereño, Bupa’s Group CEO. 

Bupa is offering a mix of financial support, marketing expertise from its own people and further networking opportunities to 18 global start-ups which are pioneering products aimed at tackling climate change in innovative new ways. 

The company’s eco-Disruptive programme will culminate in an inaugural event in London in July. Start-ups will have the opportunity to showcase their novel approaches to reducing emissions to potential investors and Bupa colleagues, as well as collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs. 

The 18 finalists have been selected by Bupa employees across the world in a competition where they picked their preferred businesses from more than 1,000 hopefuls based on their positive impact to both healthcare and the environment. Colleagues made their selection from innovative start-ups based in countries including the UK, Spain, Hong Kong and Australia. 

Under the initiative, special squads of Bupa colleagues join forces with the start-ups to brainstorm development ideas and further opportunities. The 18 finalists additionally each receive over AUD$47,000 to develop a minimum viable product and the winner receives over AUD$380,000 to help develop their product further. 

The shortlist of start-ups that have gone through the programme in 2022, some of whose products are already being trialled in Bupa hospitals and clinics throughout the world, include: 

  • SageTech Medical which has created a process to capture and recycle waste anaesthetic gases. These volatile gases are highly damaging to the environment and significantly contribute to the total carbon footprint of healthcare. 
  • Upcycled Medical which manufactures personal protective equipment such as medical scrubs, gowns and workwear from waste plastic collected from the sea and landfill. 
  • Cassava Bags which has created a 100% natural biodegradable alternative to plastic bags made from the roots of cassava that can dissolve in boiling water in minutes. 

“We know that we cannot solve these global challenges on our own, so we are joining forces with others to make a difference,” Ereño added.  

Alongside Bupa’s ongoing drive to achieve its net zero targets by 2040, he said the initiative showed that by working with disruptive and promising start-ups, corporates can accelerate the transition that we urgently need. The eco-Disruptive programme also provides an opportunity for Bupa colleagues to learn agile ways of working from start-ups and engages all of Bupa’s workforce in delivering its sustainability agenda. 

“At Bupa, we are working together with these promising new businesses to help them realise their potential in reducing carbon emissions,” stated Ereño.  

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“This goes beyond financial support and involves our own people joining forces with their development team in order to help co-create.” 

Roger Sharp, Bupa APAC Chief Sustainability & Corporate Affairs Officer said the eco-Disruptive program had created a genuine sustainability movement within the organisation. 

“Since the program launched in 2021, I’ve seen first-hand a newfound passion and pride in our sustainability commitments and an eagerness for people to roll up their sleeves to make a difference. 

Sharp highlighted that the challenge for them is the need for pace because the planet cannot afford more years of complacency. 

“In the years we have been on this eco-Disruptive journey, I’ve been so thrilled at the speed and scale of what we have been able to achieve with our partners and our people as we work towards delivering on our Net-Zero ambitions,” said Sharp. 

Applications for the upcoming 2023 eco-Disruptive programme for Australia and Hong Kong will open on 11 July.  

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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