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26 February 2021

Banco Santander and the Oxentia Foundation launch the Santander X Environmental Challenge

Working with innovators for a greener future


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Published on February 24, 2021

Banco Santander and Oxentia Foundation have launched a new global competition for entrepreneurs working to create a low-carbon economy. 

The Santander X Environmental Challenge addresses two objectives: Be sustainable through green financing and investment, and Be mindful through products and services that raise awareness about our impact on the environment.  

The call is open to entrepreneurs from 11 selected countries with operating businesses. Information on the competition is available here.


Madrid, February 24 2021
Through Santander X and alongside the Oxentia Foundation, Banco Santander is launching the Santander X Environmental Challenge. The initiative aims to support environmentally committed entrepreneurs with innovative ideas that help build a more sustainable future and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, delivering our commitment to the Paris Accord on climate change.

The transition to a green economy will remain one of the major challenges facing global communities after COVID19. Our duty to implement a resilient, inclusive, low-carbon economy as a vector of economic recovery will be even more compelling in the post-pandemic era.

In the words of Ana Botín, Executive Chairman of the Banco Santander, “COVID-19 has brought about a global health crisis and a downturn in the world economy, but it has not slowed down climate change. By the end of the 21st century, the temperature of our planet will have risen by 3°C, well above the 1.5°C threshold laid down in the Paris Accord. If we do nothing to prevent this, the consequences for our planet will be dramatic. This challenge is a genuine opportunity for the green revolution, which requires massive investment in new technologies. For this to happen, we need innovation and entrepreneurs”.

The Santander X Environmental Challenge is open to businesses that are already up and running and actively selling at least one product or service with a yearly turnover of between EUR 200,000 and 5,000,000. The opportunity is open to entrepreneurs based in Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Poland, the UK, Uruguay, and the United States.

Applicants must provide clear sets of data demonstrating the positive impact of their innovations.  Applications must show relevance towards one of the two competition categories, which encompass multiple challenges related to climate change:

  • Be sustainable: solutions promoting green investment and financing.
  • Be mindful: projects helping to raise awareness of the importance of reducing our environmental impact.

Startups wishing to take part in the competition can register at until 8 April 2021.

A group of international experts will assess participants and their solutions, and will select twenty finalists. These will be invited to present their projects to an international panel of leading experts in sustainability, entrepreneurship, and global investment on 26 April 2021. Six winners, three in each category, will receive EUR 20,000 to develop their projects further, tailored mentoring from experts in the Oxentia Foundation’s network, as well as maximum visibility in Santander’s channels and social media.

The Santander X Environmental Challenge is the second global entrepreneurship challenge launched by Santander X, the Banco Santander’s global entrepreneurship network. It is yet another example of the bank’s commitment to the entrepreneurial community as one of the main drivers of economic recovery and employment. In 2020 alone, the bank contributed to the realisation of sustainability initiatives supporting over 32,700 entrepreneurs.

Steve Cleverley, CEO of Oxentia said: “The Oxentia Foundation is delighted to be partnering with Santander X on the Environmental Challenge. Our mission is to empower the most talented people to create large-scale impact through social, economic, and environmental sustainable development. In collaboration with Santander X, we look forward to supporting delivery of the vision of our world’s greatest entrepreneurial talent addressing our planets’ most urgent challenge.”


About Banco Santander and its commitment to sustainability
Banco Santander continues to take strides in its commitment to inclusive and sustainable growth and in combating climate change. The entity has already achieved carbon neutrality in its own business and this week announced its ambition to achieve zero net carbon emissions across the group by 2050; setting its first decarbonisation targets to facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy. In 2030, its electricity generation portfolio will be aligned with the Paris Agreement it will stop financing electric power generation customers whose income is more than 10% dependent on thermal coal and will eliminate its exposure to thermal coal mining worldwide.

In the meantime, it will continue to take steps to reduce its own footprint and accompany its customers in their transition to a green economy.

About the Oxentia Foundation and its commitment to innovation and global entrepreneurship
The Oxentia Foundation was created to support Oxentia’s goal to address global inequalities through innovation and entrepreneurship activities. Globally, Oxentia designs, develops, and runs awards, competitions and programmes supporting early-stage innovators and entrepreneurs to promote commercialisation of science- and technology-based innovation projects impacting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Oxentia developed out of the University of Oxford’s technology transfer company, Oxford University Innovation, with the aim to deliver specialist innovation management services to clients in the public and private sector all over the world.  Its approach is grounded in a strong Oxford heritage based on over 30 years’ experience in supporting academic innovation and entrepreneurship in Oxford, and globally in over 70 countries.

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