Innovate 4 Nature (I4N) | Marketplace for Nature of the Future

Mankind is facing great challenges. From the increasing risks of climate change to the ever-widening social and health inequalities. In the aftermath of the global pandemic, there is an opportunity to focus recovery efforts on an inclusive, resilient, and green economy. At the annual Innovate 4 Nature marketplace, investors, Swiss companies and providers of nature-based solutions come together to identify and develop the most promising solutions.


It is repeatedly suggested that the war in Ukraine could accelerate the so-called “green revolution” by “increasing political pressure on US and European governments to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas” and thus “raising the price of thermal energy so much that countries are forced to implement significantly more wind and solar projects” (Thompson 2022)1.

Further, the higher cost of thermal energy could also influence consumer preferences and behavior (ibid.). But while the shift to a more sustainable energy system is rightly the focus, the importance of biodiversity is often overlooked. However, biodiversity plays a key role in maintaining the ecosystems on which we humans depend. And time is running out.

Innovate 4 Nature (I4N) and 100 nature-based solutions by 2030.

To ensure that the investor proposals presented at the annual Innovate 4 Nature marketplace by Swiss companies and providers of nature-based solutions are ready for the market, they are evaluated in a three-stage process.

  • The first step in the three-step evaluation of nature-based solutions is a self-checklist that indicates whether a nature-based solution is ready for a pitch or needs further development in a co-creation workshop.
  • The second and third step follows the pitch, with a thorough assessment based on the ‘IUCN Global StandardTM for Nature-based Solutions’ and a further assessment for financial due diligence.

Through this in-depth review, I4N aims to ensure that important nature-based solutions that can have a significant positive impact on our ecosystems receive quality assurance and find the right investors. Through this process, the Innovate 4 Nature team aims to develop and promote 100 nature-based solutions in Switzerland and beyond by 2030.

Interview with André Hoffmann about nature-based solutions

Nature is by definition stable and long-term, but humanity is short-term oriented and societies are increasingly unstable. Therefore, we should take inspiration from nature to solve today’s challenges and create systems that are more resilient and stable, thereby creating long-term value.

Nature-based solutions focus on harnessing the power of nature to create benefits for our society and ecosystems. Because the question here is: How can nature work for mankind, and not how can mankind exploit nature?

The goal is not to convert nature into money, but we want a model that creates healthy conditions and resilience in the long term. Nature-based solutions are not only about promoting biodiversity, but also about building partnerships with nature and other stakeholders and developing solutions that serve nature and society. Finally, trying to control nature to create short-term value does not lead to a more resilient system. This shift in thinking and awareness is the key to a more sustainable and resilient world.

IUCN Global StandardTM for Nature-based Solutions

As defined by the IUCN2, nature-based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems that address societal challenges in an effective and adaptive manner while benefiting people and nature. Nature-based solutions address societal challenges through the protection, sustainable management, and restoration of natural and altered ecosystems, benefiting both biodiversity and human well-being.

Nature-based solutions are based on the benefits derived from healthy ecosystems. They target major challenges such as climate change, disaster risk reduction, food and water security, biodiversity loss, and human health, and are critical to sustainable economic development.

The importance of biodiversity and the promise of nature-based solutions

Biodiversity is declining faster than ever before worldwide, including in Switzerland. This loss of biodiversity threatens the very foundations of our economy, jeopardizing food security, the health of businesses around the world and our own health. Covid-19 has also been linked by many to biodiversity, as researchers argue that “biodiversity loss is a major driver of emerging infectious diseases and poses a host of other growing risks to businesses, society, and the global economy.”3. This is where nature-based solutions come into play.

Pilot Marketplace — INNOVATE 4 NATURE

Nature-based solutions are measures to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or altered ecosystems that effectively and adaptively address societal challenges while benefiting human well-being and biodiversity.

In other words: Nature-based solutions work with or through nature, rather than relying solely on conventional technical solutions, while helping society and communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. For example, using nature to green cities can lead to significant energy savings as well as health benefits.

Results of the first “Innovate 4 Nature” Marketplace

The first “Innovate 4 Nature” marketplace was organized as a hybrid event in Lausanne on December 8, 2021, building on the successes of the global “Innovate 4 Water” series. Attendance was limited to 100 people, made up of ecopreneurs, investors and project developers.

There were also a significant number of participants online. InTent, Swiss Business for Nature (SB4N) and Waterpreneurs were responsible for organizing the event and were supported by engageability, IN-FINITUDE and IUCN. The main goal of the event was to bring solution providers and investors together so that nature-based solutions (NbS) can be scaled for the benefit of people and the planet.

The format of the event consisted of short pitches, keynote presentations, workshops and breakout groups, seamlessly combining remote presentations with live presentations at the Swiss Tech Convention Center in Lausanne. During the breaks, participants were able to get in touch with solution providers at the “marketplace”.

A special feature of the event was the 23 short presentations by Ecopreneurs with innovative NbS in forests, infrastructure, food and finance. Each “pitcher” had five minutes to present their solution to the audience, seeking either funding or support to take the solution to the next level.

For example, Majbritt Byskov- Bridges, co-founder of Alver, introduced the audience to the challenge of getting microalgae into mainstream foods and sought 10 million euros in funding to accelerate the second phase of growth.

Meet Majbritt Byskov-Bridges, Co-Founder of Alver - InTent at Innovate 4 Nature

Other promising pitches:

Alessandro Villa:

Meet Alessandro Villa, Co-Founder of Planet - InTent at Innovate 4 Nature

Lorena Segura:

Meet Lorena Segura, Project Manager at Tour du Valat - InTent at Innovate 4 Nature

Thomas Aubron:

Meet Thomas Aubron, Project Development Manager at Eco-Bird - InTent at Innovate 4 Nature

Expert input

In addition to the pitches, the Innovate 4 Nature program featured a series of plenary sessions with keynote speakers such as André Hoffmann (InTent), Nicole Schwab (WEF) and Gerard Bos (IUCN / We Value Nature).

André Hoffmann pointed out the limits of current economic systems and called for a new contract between man and nature to create sustainable prosperity for 10 billion people.

Nicole Schwab gave a comprehensive overview of the future of nature and the economy, outlining five key developments since 2020. Schwab also spoke about the essential role of natural climate solutions and bringing nature and climate together in frameworks, metrics and business strategies.

Gerard Bos presented an interactive tool (Natural Capital Journey) that helps companies determine their maturity level and includes resources to overcome obstacles and support the business case. Bos also spoke about the IUCN Global StandardTM for Nature-based Solutions.

More about Innovate 4 Nature (I4N)