A Chat with Amali de Alwis MBE, CEO at Subak: The World’s First Accelerator For Climate Non-Profits

Subak is a global not-for-profit accelerator that funds and scales tech startups that use data to tackle the climate crisis. Our Subak community is uniquely positioned to answer some of the toughest climate challenges by linking tech, data, policy and human behaviour. In order to reach our climate goals, we must find our common ground and understand mutual challenges on a global scale. This means sharing our data and tools so we can connect our knowledge and help the public and policy decision-makers to make better decisions around climate change.

Our team at Subak believes that if one person solves part of the puzzle, we should share that knowledge so all sides can benefit. Subak’s members by definition are not competitors, they’re collaborators. By working together we’re unlocking the potential of global organisations and scaling their impact to truly make a difference.
Jobs at Subak - Otta - The only job search that does you justice

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

Subak was founded by Baroness Bryony Worthington, who many know from her work as the lead author of the UK’s Climate Change Act. ‘Subak’ is an Indonesian term which refers to an ancient agricultural system that allows farmers to coordinate their efforts when irrigating and growing crops. This system allows farmers to carefully synchronise their use of water, thereby maximising their rice production and ensuring the survival and growth of the community – and that’s exactly what our Subak is doing, but with data.

By sharing and channeling our information and tools, we can maximise our efforts to combat climate emissions and global warming – data and collaboration are truly the most vital tools we have in this fight right now.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

Subak was created in early 2021 and officially launched in July this year – so the company has evolved from a seed of an idea to a full-fledged organisation during the timespan of the pandemic!

I feel very lucky to work with a team of such talented and motivated individuals who have already achieved some incredible milestones in this short amount of time, and the impact our member organisations are having already is truly inspiring to watch. I know this is only the start of what we will accomplish together.

What can we hope to see from Subak in the future?

This is just the beginning for Subak! The global need for innovative solutions has never been more critical, and I believe Subak is uniquely positioned to have a real, tangible impact on climate change by bringing together tech, policy and consumer behaviour.

One of our primary ways to achieve this is to find and fund the people and organisations who can have the greatest impact in these areas. It’s something we’ll be particularly focused on in the coming months as we prepare to welcome a new cohort of startups to our 2022 accelerator programme.

As for the future of the wider industry, we hope to see a dramatic increase in sustainable investments, including new and innovative grant funding models, to scale and develop the technologies we need to reach Net Zero, such as battery technologies and green hydrogen. We also need to face our responsibilities as a global player in the world’s journey to net zero.

It was fantastic for example to see pledges coming out of COP26 from several countries to help developing countries with decarbonisation. And the UK has an important role to play – we have some of the best educational and research institutions in the world, and we must share that knowledge and expertise to help others, as well as continue to learn from others who are leaders in different areas from across the globe.

Facing the climate problem is a universal issue that comes with a myriad of vital challenges. These aren’t easy challenges to address, but we absolutely must address them.