Introducing the 2023 Pioneers Competition for the world’s best climate-tech innovations

BloombergNEF’s annual Pioneers competition identifies game-changing technologies or innovations with the potential to accelerate global decarbonization. After more than a decade, we have recognized 129 companies as leading innovators in the fight against climate change.

The competition focuses on three specific challenges in the transition to a net-zero world. This year, BNEF is looking for innovations across hydrogen, metals and materials, and food production.

The 2023 program launches on October 11, 2022, receiving applications here.

2023 BNEF Pioneers program

For 2023, we will award the Pioneers prize to companies working on innovations that address the following challenges:

1. Accelerating the deployment of clean hydrogen

The potential of clean hydrogen is well established, with numerous studies showing it can be a cost-effective and scalable way to decarbonize several sectors of the global economy. Among its many uses, hydrogen can serve as a feedstock for fertilizers and chemicals, a source of heat for steel and aluminum production, or a fuel for heavy transport in the form of pure hydrogen or a derivative product like ammonia or methanol.

Accelerating the deployment of clean hydrogen

However, hydrogen and its derivatives currently play a small role in the global energy system and are rarely produced in a low-carbon manner. The clean hydrogen sector faces many challenges as it seeks to swiftly build out a new value chain while also reducing costs. Innovations in this area could include low-carbon production methods, new electrolyzer designs that improve efficiency or renewable-energy integration, better storage and transport equipment, or novel utilization technologies across buildings, industry, power and transport.

2. Sustainable metals and materials for an electrified future

The scale-up of clean energy, along with the electrification of heating, transport and industrial activities, will require a rapid escalation in the supply of key materials such as lithium, copper, cobalt, nickel and others. However, the extraction of such materials also needs to minimize the impact on biodiversity, and water and land use where possible. Innovations that could address these challenges include novel material extraction and recycling techniques, and technologies that reduce demand for materials by improving the efficiency of their use.

While lithium, copper, cobalt and nickel are mentioned as specific examples, BNEF is interested in solutions focused on any material relevant to clean energy and electrification.

Forecast growth in metals demand3. Building a net-zero food production system

The agriculture sector directly accounts for around 13% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the volume of emissions produced is projected to keep growing as the human population and income levels rise. A reduction in red meat consumption is one of the simplest ways to lower this environmental footprint.

However, food production systems will need to adopt new processes and technologies to get emissions down to zero. Innovations could include animal feed additives, chemical and biological modifications, alternative proteins and more that allow food to be produced with significantly lower emissions.

Global emissions by sector in 2016

The application process

Applications for the Pioneers competition will open on October 11, 2022, here, and close on November 18. The winners will be announced in early April 2023.

Contact us at for any questions about this year’s application process. We accept applications from early-stage companies, pilot projects and joint ventures: NGOs, laboratories and innovation communities.

About BloombergNEF

BloombergNEF (BNEF) is a strategic research provider covering global commodity markets and the disruptive technologies driving the transition to a low-carbon economy. Our expert coverage assesses pathways for the power, transport, industry, buildings and agriculture sectors to adapt to the energy transition. We help commodity trading, corporate strategy, finance and policy professionals navigate change and generate opportunities.
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