Start-ups for more forests and a better climate

Start-ups for more forests and a better climate

Can entrepreneurship solve the climate crisis? A Swiss venture studio is bringing start-up thinking to environmental action, generating projects that use technology and data to facilitate targeted, effective reforestation and afforestation. Its first two entities have just been incorporated. 

Brainforest was founded in December 2019 by a group of entrepreneurs and NGO experts (including WWF Switzerland), with the support of Migros Pioneer Fund. Their goal was to unlock the untapped potential of forests as a superior natural climate solution. Through economic incentives, we can facilitate the flow of investments into this underutilized climate asset. Although scientists have already expressed forests’ tremendous capacity to mitigate carbon emissions, their potential will not be realized until markets are better developed and can accurately account for the many environmental benefits they provide. 

The first Brainforest venture, Xilva, is developing a global digital marketplace for forests. As a “one-stop hub” that facilitates the entire investment process, Xilva offers a transparent, automated process which lowers transaction costs and complexity, while making it easy to assess potential investments based on a range of relevant factors – such as biodiversity, social impact, clean water and timber harvesting – not only carbon absorption. Furthermore, drone monitoring and data analytics provide additional high-quality information throughout the investment lifecycle. 

Brainforest has also spun off the Ecosystem Value Association (EVA), which is creating a digital forest climate standard to generate carbon credits initially geared towards German forests. By driving a multistakeholder approach, key decision makers of the German economy, NGOs, forestry and academics are all actively involved in the creation of the standard. EVA expects to enable a market of around 4.5 million carbon credits annually, as well as deliver co-financing of €200 million for reforestation. 

Brainforest co-founder Leo Caprez expressed: “Great entrepreneurial ideas often revolve around simplifying. If you remove friction, you can get the money flowing – that’s how Xilva and the EVA are helping to direct more funds into forest projects. We know that to achieve the ambitious Paris climate goal we have to look at both sides of the equation, capturing carbon as well as reducing emissions, and forests are our most powerful tool. Brainforest’s goal is to unlock that potential by developing impact-driven businesses that pursue both environmental and financial returns.”  

Brainforest is enabled by the Migros Pioneer Fund and other Swiss Foundations. Robin Born, project manager at Migros Pioneer Fund, added: “There are many organizations and companies that want to move forward on climate protection. But this requires a certain degree of automation to ensure that the solutions sought are not only ecological, but also economically viable. We are convinced that with Brainforest we are supporting the right team that will lead the project to success with technical expertise, experience and a broad network.”

So far, CHF 2 million in philanthropic funding and CHF 4.5 million in impact investments have been mobilized. This from foundations, family offices, private investors and a European sustainability bank. A clear sign that different types of capital providers are needed to finance climate change. 

A diversified team and network of experts, corporate partners, investors and venture builders continuously identify and develop new solutions for more forest and better climate. 

About Brainforest

Brainforest is the first for-impact venture studio for forests and climate, striving for entrepreneurial solutions to unlock the climate potential of forests at speed, scale and quality. Brainforest was founded by a powerful combination of business entrepreneurs and NGO experts in December 2019 in Switzerland and is enabled by the Migros Pioneer Fund, a part of the social commitment of the Migros Group. By 2023, Brainforest aims to have unleashed at least CHF 500 million of new capital globally for additional forests. 

About Xilva AG

Xilva is a global marketplace for investments in forest projects, bringing capital providers together with forest project owners and developers. We simplify the processes of finding suitable projects, conducting due diligence, and monitoring the projects during their lifetime. By making it easier to invest in forests, we mobilize substantial capital for this unique natural climate solution.

About Ecosystem Value Association (EVA)

EVA is the creator of Waldklima Standard, the first digital climate standard designed specifically for Germany. Through lowering costs and removing complexities, the company makes it easy for forest owners to sell carbon credits and attract investment into reforestation, thus aligning climate goals with the economic incentives of both forest owners and carbon emitters.

About Migros Pioneer Fund

The Migros Pioneer Fund looks for and supports ideas with social potential. It enables pioneering projects which break new ground and seek out forward-looking solutions. Its impact-oriented funding approach combines financial support with coaching services. The Migros Pioneer Fund is part of the Migros Group’s social engagement and is enabled by the Migros Group with around CHF 15 million annually. For further information:

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