Celebrating Black Leaders in Climate tech

This Black History Month, join Carbon13’s Deborah Olaifa for an in-depth conversation with Jonathan Bean, CEO and founder of Materials Nexus and alumnus of Carbon13’s Venture Builder. 
“Growing up, I couldn’t really name a Black Scientist that I could look up to, an African Scientist, the problem isn’t that they don’t exist, it’s that they haven’t been lifted up”
Jonathan shares his journey from Research Scientist at Cambridge University, to founder of a climatetech venture and together with Deborah, examines the crucial issues for Black founders today – including the lack of representation of Black innovators, something which has impacted Jonathan personally. 
As the celebrations of Black History Month take place throughout the country, Carbon13 wanted to both celebrate our Black founders, as well as identify where accelerator programmes like ours can improve, to see more black founders successfully build high-growth climatetech start-ups.

Jonathan Bean

After joining Carbon13’s Venture Builder Programme as a science founder on cohort 2, Jonathan soon formed a team and then came Materials Nexus. The company combines the insights of quantum mechanics with the power of artificial intelligence to accurately predict the properties of materials. Giving the ability to design materials much faster and more effectively; reducing global CO2 emissions by enabling new green materials with reduced emissions and improved performance.


The Interviewer

I’m Debbie Olaifa, and I work in climatetech as a Marketing Manager for Carbon13. In 2020, I founded Cambridge For Black Lives, a local network and social movement that seeks to highlight racism, discriminations and racial inequality, as well as supporting local black businesses to develop their business strategies all round; Cambridge for Black Lives now works in association with Cambridge Council.

Carbon13’s mission is to use entrepreneurships to reduce emissions by at least 400m tonnes per annum. It was founded with a belief that diversity in entrepreneurial founders is an important part of bringing the “think different” mindsets and perspectives which can achieve the kinds of breakthroughs required by the Net Zero challenge… so how do we get more diversity?