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Climeworks Wins First Helena Prize

Winner Is First Company to Develop and Install a Commercial Plant to Capture Carbon Dioxide from the Air

LOS ANGELES—Helena, a global NGO and think tank, and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), one of the world’s leading management consultancies, announced today that Zurich-based firm Climeworks has been named the first recipient of The Helena Prize, a worldwide award designed to spur and support young entrepreneurs fighting climate change. Climeworks is the first company to develop and install a commercial plant to capture carbon dioxide from the air.

Climeworks will receive management and digital consulting support from BCG, access to Sierra Energy’s Area 52—a state-of-the-art business incubator workspace at the University of California Davis—and mentorship from leading climate scientists and clean-tech entrepreneurs. Climeworks’ founders will receive membership in Helena’s Brain Trust.

Founded by 33-year-old engineers Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher, Climeworks is a direct-air carbon capture company. Its plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere to supply to customers in a wide range of markets, including commercial agriculture, food and beverage industries, the energy sector, and the automotive industry. Customers use this pure CO2 in carbonated drinks or for producing carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels and materials.

“We’re thrilled to be the inaugural recipient of the Helena Prize,” said Gebald and Wurzbacher in a statement. “We have a long road ahead of us, and our future depends on help from smart partners like Helena and BCG, which can provide the business advice and know-how we need to grow rapidly. We look forward to a long-term relationship with them to work toward negative emissions.”

Earlier this month, Climeworks opened its first plant in Hinwil, Switzerland, which will supply 900 tons of CO2 annually to a nearby greenhouse. Unlike other carbon removal technologies, direct-air capture does not depend on arable land, has a small physical footprint, and is fully scalable.

Samuel Feinburg, Helena’s executive director and COO, said, “Investing in and supporting the development of this carbon capture technology is critical to saving the planet from disaster. Climeworks is the world leader in this space and we are incredibly proud to be supporting them.”

Jeff Hill, a BCG senior partner and the head of the firm’s Los Angeles office, said, “Climeworks demonstrates the aim of The Helena Prize, with its groundbreaking technology and social impact mission. We look forward to lending our expertise to ensure that the venture grows and gains momentum.”

BCG has committed to assist Helena’s initiatives through pro bono advice and support from its management consulting practices and BCG Digital Ventures, the firm’s corporate venture and incubation arm.

Launched last October as part of a strategic partnership between Helena and BCG, The Helena Prize is open to anyone 35 or under whose for-profit venture helps to reduce radiative forcing, a metric of environmental harm.

The Helena Prize was judged by a board of leading climate scientists and clean-tech entrepreneurs, who will now provide mentorship and guidance to Climeworks. They include:

  • Aaron Berger, Co-Chairman, Nexus Working Group on Climate Change
  • Alexander Pfeiffer, Doctorate Student, University of Oxford
  • Austin Rosenbaum, National Scholar, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Power & Energy Society
  • Ben Caldecott, Director, Sustainable Finance Programme, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford
  • Cameron Hepburn, Professor of Environmental Economics, University of Oxford
  • Chip Comins, Founder, Chairman, and CEO, American Renewable Energy Institute
  • Dan Miller, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Roda Group
  • Gordon L. Clark, Director, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford
  • John R. Seydel, III, Director of the Office of Sustainability, City of Atlanta
  • Klaus S. Lackner, Director, Center for Negative Carbon Emissions
  • Maria D. Carvalho, Policy Team Member, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Noah Deich, Executive Director, Center for Carbon Removal
  • Richard Martin, Senior Editor for Energy, MIT Technology Review

For more information on Helena and The Helena Prize, please visit www.helena.co/the-helena-prize.

For all other queries, please contact Priscila Martinez at +1 (424) 230-3309 or priscila@helena.co.

About Helena

Helena is a think tank of global leaders who are daring to define the future. Its members include Nobel Laureates, senior military and political figures, technology entrepreneurs, human rights activists, and more. In frequent meetings across the globe, Helena works alongside its members to address important problems and create exciting innovations. To date, Helena’s projects have sought to address climate change, urban poverty, nuclear security, and more. In addition to The Helena Prize, these initiatives include Helena’s Advanced Technologies Division, and The Helena Security Council, which focuses on artificial intelligence, nuclear security, and additive manufacturing. For more information, please visit http://helena.co.

ABOUT THE BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 85 offices in 48 countries.

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