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Reflections from the main stage: McKinsey & Co Green Business Building Global Summit

26 June 2024

Dominic Vergine
Dominic Vergine
CEO, Founder

Last week saw 600 business leaders, innovative start-ups and venture capitalists head to Stockholm for McKinsey and Co’s Green Business Building Global Summit. Of all of the consulting firms, McKinsey’s reputation of influence within the global business scene goes before them, as do their connections with the boards and C-suite of the world’s most powerful companies.

I was privileged to be invited on to the mainstage to talk with one of their partners about AI in engineering, Monumo, and the emerging role of Large Engineering Models (LEMs) under the title AI in R&D. So what were the main themes coming from the event?

Firstly, McKinsey talk about hyperscaling, forget unicorns, today it is all about decacorns (a term coined by Bloomberg business to describe ‘scale-ups’ with a valuation of over £10 billion). The firm believes that there are currently 16 decacorns and 195 unicorns in the ‘green business’ space that they can see, but within just six years from now these numbers will grow to 300 and 1,000 respectively. Being green is clearly big business. The firm has created a fund to help a selected number of start-ups scale at this incredible rate; businesses it believes that will be the superstars of the next decade. Many of these were invited to attend or to speak.

Companies invited to the main stage included both traditional and high growth start-ups in areas such as metallurgy and mining, batteries to green materials, next generation technology and, of course, venture capital. Key drivers were highlighted by way of fireside chats and these included:

  • ‘Plant as a product’ with Tesla’s former director of global supply chain talking about how they achieved the opening of new plant in months, not years, and against the relentless rise of the Chinese EV companies;
  • ‘Cost ramp down' – the actions needed to achieve ambitious unit cost reduction breakthroughs necessary to be sustainably successful in the medium term and achieve that all-important hyperscaling;
  • The climate brick’ – described as the missing manual for scaling climate tech; and
  • ‘The investor’s perspective on unit cost’, with the conclusion that green no longer affords a pricing premium going forward. Those wishing to create green products, whether that’s batteries or steel, energy generation or carbon capture must do so at a price that’s competitive or lower than incumbent players.

The two days were well spent and as always some of the most interesting conversations were had around coffee machines and corridors. But for me, the most startling observation was that at a time when you can scarcely have a conversation or read an article that doesn’t include AI, there was barely a whisper of it. And why? Because AI and ML is still perceived to be centred around mimicking human behaviour, to be as human-like in its output as possible. It would appear that business is yet to grasp the real power behind this incredible technology, which is to far surpass what humans can do and make a real impact on sustainable business and climate change.

PS: and if you are curious to find out what I talked about from the main stage, click here to read my blog

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