It was only five days after crossing the finish line of a dramatic 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which made him Formula One World Champion, when Nico Rosberg surprisingly announced the end of his active driving career. Ever since, the Monaco-based German has embarked on an inspiring career as a sustainability entrepreneur and investor. Still young at the age of 36, he continues to climb podiums, but this time for a higher purpose – to accelerate positive change.
When you have spent your life striving to be the best in driving some of the world’s fastest cars, it is easy to believe that one would slow down at some point. But after two decades in the pit lane, Rosberg carries on with the same pace and dedication outside of the racetrack. Consequently, it’s not a surprise that he was awarded with the ‘2021 European Culture Award for the Environment’, just five years after he decided to use his power for a more sustainable world. Although his new path seems to be the antithesis of what he did before, Nico already imagined his life on a different track while he was still active in F1. He promised himself to do something meaningful and found his calling in sustainability.
Celebrating change at the Greentech Festival in Berlin
In 2018, alongside two co-founders, Rosberg launched the annual Greentech Festival, now a leading platform for green technologies, ideas and products. The objective is to showcase some of the most forward-thinking sustainable innovations and create a global community of change-makers and innovators. The inaugural festival was held in Berlin in 2019 and has grown into one of the biggest green tech related knowledge transfer platforms around the world. In 2021, the Greentech Festival has even been expanded to further markets such as the UK, showing the global acceptance and relevance of the festival. The event has also been serving as a stage for illustrious speakers like the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Google CEO, Sundar Pichai.
The Greentech Festival is one of our lighthouse projects. We want to showcase the best of the best that's out there in the hope to accelerate positive change.
Making an impact as an investor
The former race car driver’s career as a sustainability entrepreneur is not only limited to promoting green technology at his festival. He also invests in startups and companies that create sustainable innovations. In his role as Julius Baer’s global ambassador, he stands for the Bank’s commitments and initiatives in the areas of sustainability, sustainable investing and future trends. While many of his investments revolve around the future of mobility, others relate to different sectors of a green economy.
For instance, one of the startups on the German version of ‘Shark Tank’ that Nico decided to invest in is a brand that produces pasta made from 15 percent cricket flour. While insect flour is not yet widely accepted in the western world, there are approximately 2 billion people who already incorporate insects into their weekly nutrition. The benefits of consuming insects are remarkable – fewer emissions, less space consumption, cost-efficiency, and water savings, among others.
To Rosberg, success as a sustainability entrepreneur is building a legacy that positively impacts the world. He places great importance on investing in products and technologies that are not detrimental to society or harmful to the environment. Although environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards have been set in place, there is still a long way to go in establishing global checks and balances that monitor the actions of businessmen and investors. Therefore, he strongly believes that investors must go a step further and pay close attention to potential projects before providing financial support. Furthermore, one of his investment principles is to only invest in products and business ideas that he also fully comprehends.
The electric revolution
Rosberg is also one of the earliest investors in Formula E, an all-electric car racing series launched in 2014. In 2020, it became the second single-seater car racing series to be accorded the FIA world championship status, the first being Formula One. The most distinctive feature about this racing series is the seamless introduction of sustainable innovation to motorsport; thus showing that sustainability does not necessarily mean less fun.
Formula E’s technology is already widely being transformed into electric road cars. With race cars, any millisecond can be the difference between victory and defeat. Given the hyper competitive nature of racing, motorsport has always been a test bed for new technologies. The rear-view mirror and anti-lock braking system had their start mainly on the racetrack and the Formula E race cars are pushing the boundaries when it comes to EV driving under prolonged and strenuous driving conditions. They create valuable learning opportunities that will then feed into the design of millions of production cars down the road.
There's such an opportunity out there now in the mobility sector to disrupt everything and create everything in a much more sustainable way.
Furthermore, Formula E shows people how capable and exciting electric vehicles are, thereby acting also as public information campaign for the future of mobility. The share of plug-in care sales in core European markets has gone from roughly 2 percent to nearly 10 percent in the last four years. By some estimates, electric vehicles will make up more than 4 out of 5 cars sold by 2030.
It’s a family thing
Nico’s passion for sustainable technology and his vision of a community of people and businesses striving for a more sustainable world is not just limited to his career. He and his family have for example also educated themselves about pollutants and other factors that could be damaging to the environment. As a father who wants to raise his two daughters to be goal-oriented and passionate about caring for others, he tries to make fighting against climate change fun, easy to understand, and a part of everyday life. The Monaco-based family has succeeded in eliminating plastic from their home and also owns an electric car and e-bikes.
Furthermore, he explains that after watching the documentary ‘Cowspiracy’, they rethought their eating habits. The family reduced their meat and fish consumption and switched to a more plant-based diet as a way of supporting animal rights, reducing emissions, and keeping the oceans clean.
“The path to sustainable development is one that every individual should embrace. There is an incredible amount of information on sustainability and the steps that we can take towards making the earth cleaner and safer. It all starts with awareness and discovering small but creative steps to make sustainability a part of our lives,” concludes Rosberg.