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Case #: 
A05-15-0007

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Abstract: 

Global Thermostat (GT) is a high technology start-up has developed proprietary technology to help stabilize the global climate and close the carbon cycle through direct capture of carbon dioxide from the air.  The case provides an opportunity to examine the impact of climate change on society, potential solutions to this complex challenge, and the growth of a start-up high technology company bringing disruptive technology to the marketplace. The case explores issues associated with disruptive technology-driven change in a large, highly successful industry with many powerful vested interests.  It concludes with questions surrounding trade-offs between corporate versus social responsibility when addressing climate change. The case discusses challenges associated with growing a start-up high technology company including proof of concept, financing, scaling and globalization are highlighted, as are challenges related to successful navigation of the "technology hype cycle" and commercialization of what promises to be disruptive technology. The case also provides an overview of the energy and the clean technology industries, and their regulatory contexts.  It discusses drivers and consequences of environmental degradation attributed to climate change. Motivations and objectives of the prominent co-founders; Graciela Chichilnisky, creator of the carbon market enshrined in the emissions treaty of the United Nations Kyoto Protocol; and Dr. Peter Eisenberger, a distinguished professor of Earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University with deep energy industry experience, and their executive team are explored.

Teaching: 
GT provides a vehicle for understanding and analyzing the energy industry's evolution, the complexity of the climate change, and challenges inherent in the start-up of a high technology company. It provides a platform for analyses from several of perspectives:• GT highlights growth challenges of high technology start-up firms. It provides an in-depth profile of the co-founders and their executive team, proof of concept, financing, marketing, and scaling challenges hence enabling students to explore business start-ups through the perspectives and experiences of the founders of this high technology company.• GT provides a platform for exploration of industry evolution and the role of disruptive technology in the revitalization of an industry threatened by climate change, and the rationale for resistance from industry incumbents and some stakeholders in the face of disruptive technology. • GT enables a discussion of the positive and negative impact that the political/regulatory, economic, social, technological, environmental (PESTE) contexts play in supporting and enabling the introduction of disruptive technology. The GT case is appropriate for use in Technology and Innovation courses to illustrate the commercialization process and Gartner's hype cycle dynamics; in Entrepreneurship courses to highlight the role of executive team leadership in starting and growing a business; in Technology Policy courses to highlight the role of governments and Intergovernmental organizations in addressing wicked problems like climate change; and in Environment or Sustainability courses to address the direct role that business and profit opportunities can play in contributing to climate change solutions.
Year: 
2015

Industry:

Setting: 
Global
Length: 
12 pages
Source: 
Private Field – Data secured directly from organization or individual

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