Andy Creak is a keen cyclist. Such was his love of riding through London, that he was inspired to launch Hedkayse – a cycle helmet company in 2013. But this was not the end. Cycling continued to lead Andy to unexpected places. When he decided to reduce emissions throughout his Hedkayse’s supply chain, Andy learned more about carbon markets. In his search for UK-based carbon projects, he realised something was missing. There was no central hub where he could find information on project developers and their credentials. Spying an opportunity for climate action, Andy’s idea for Kana was born.
Can you introduce yourself and explain why you founded Kana?
The idea for Kana was born when I decided to make my cycle helmet business carbon neutral. We calculated our emissions, reduced where we could, and the final step was to counterbalance our residual emissions with carbon credits.
As a British business with a UK-based manufacturing facility, we wanted to invest in nature close to home. However, I soon realised how difficult this would be. Not only was it a challenge to find UK-based carbon credits for sale, but that there was no central place to source information about the carbon projects, the developers or their credentials.
After an arduous search, I found myself on a hill in the north of Scotland. Here, I met with a peatland project developer, examined their site and discussed the potential impacts of my investment. I found this experience was invaluable, but the effort to get there got me thinking – I was sure there must be an easier way.
Throughout my search, I naturally learned more about carbon markets. Having founded multiple technology businesses in the asset management sector, I began to see parallels between carbon markets and the financial markets with which I was familiar. Soon, I saw a massive opportunity – a new, green asset class that could help the planet and deliver sustainable returns.
Could you say more on the problem you seek to solve?
The UN Environment Programme estimates that, by 2050, we must invest $8.1 trillion in nature if we are to tackle the interlinked crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation. A substantial percentage of this capital must come from the private sector, but right now the infrastructure and assurances are not in place to facilitate such large-scale investment.
At Kana, we conducted more than 150 workshops with market stakeholders to tap into their knowledge and insights. From these conversations, it became clear that nature markets are held back by multiple barriers, ranging from outdated systems to a serious, systemic lack of funding.
Although I became aware of parties creating scientific frameworks for natural capital or focused on market intelligence, I realised something was absent from the UK market. To scale, the UK market needed a platform to improve supply and streamline the demand, in essence bringing both sides of the equation together.
Enter Kana. Since 2021, we have made natural capital an accessible, efficient asset class and facilitated private investment in nature. Our purpose is to increase investment in nature’s recovery and would like to see natural capital become a staple asset class in every ESG and impact fund portfolio.
Let’s get technical: How does your product work?
To create the infrastructure to scale investment into nature-based solutions we have broken our product down into two parts: Kana Hub and Kana Seed. Kana Hub caters to the supply-side of the market while Kana Seed will serve the demand.
Kana Hub: Improving the supply of high-quality carbon and biodiversity projects
Kana Hub is a platform for project developers, landowners, validation and verification bodies (VVBs) and codes. Within Kana Hub, users can manage their work and collaborate on the project development lifecycle. Here, processes that were traditionally completed in endless email chains and complex spreadsheets are fully-digitised. Because this massively improves efficiency and reduces overheads, it means more projects can get off the ground quicker.
What’s more, Kana Hub makes a project’s life cycle fully-auditable, offering buyers greater assurance of quality and integrity. We have also built a directory which invites project developers and landowners to publicly showcase the quality and integrity of their schemes. This window into the market will make it easier for buyers to find projects, while giving them a snapshot of the real-life impact their investment can make.
Kana Seed: Streamlining and facilitating demand
Kana Seed is a tool for asset managers, businesses and sustainability consultancies. With our product, they can gain advanced oversight of their natural capital portfolios and manage their projects and investments. Whether developing their own project or investing in one already in existence, our platform will allow users to track the performance of their assets over time, analyse risk and trade units with advanced modelling and targets.
Kana Seed will have exclusive access to the auditable project data on Kana Hub. This symbiotic relationship between Seed and Hub will help rapidly accelerate capital flows to nature-based solutions.
Could you share a story of success?
Since we launched Kana Hub one year ago, we have onboarded 44 percent of woodland and peatland carbon projects in the UK. Today, of our 2,251 projects, 997 are in the categories of UK-based woodland and peatland.
We are proud to have worked with top project developers to tailor our product and build new functionality to improve our Kana’s efficiency. For instance, we recently launched a new function allowing users to carry out on-platform project activities. This means that project validations, verifications, loss events or disputes can now be completed digitally on Kana Hub. All compliance documentation can be generated at the click of a button.
Although some of these processes only take place every 5 to 10 years, they can use huge amounts of resources to complete and take months to complete. Since we launched this new function, project developers have started at least 20 project activities on Kana Hub.
And finally, what’s next for Kana?
For the last year and a half, we’ve been working on Kana Hub and improving the supply of carbon and biodiversity projects. Since launching to market we’ve had great traction and are proud to be continuously onboarding new projects. Now, we’re kicking off initiatives to drive traffic to the public project directory and to put the UK natural capital market on the map.
In terms of our product, we’re well into the process of building Kana Seed and have already developed the baseline functionality that will form the foundation of the platform. We’re currently working alongside a number of pioneering asset managers to build out their requirements and enable them to launch natural capital funds. This will be ready by the end of Q1 2024. Within a rapidly evolving market landscape, our business is accelerating. We’re excited to see what the next year holds.