UK-based supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has announced an initiative to support sustainable technology start-up businesses.

Over the next four years, the retailer will invest a minimum of £5m in small businesses working to commercialise sustainable technologies that aim to lower carbon emission and water usage.

Sainsbury’s will make the investment through Sainsbury’s Innovation Investments, a venture launched as part of its ongoing partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE).

Under this initiative, WAE will search for opportunities and invest in early-stage firms across various sectors.

The venture will invest in start-up companies with ‘proof of concept’ technologies such as refrigeration and ventilation across Sainsbury’s operations, as well as the wider sector.

The first investment is expected to be announced before the end of this year.

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In addition to investing, Sainsbury’s will help start-ups and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in developing, testing and deploying transformational technology.

The scheme aims to expedite the retailer’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions across its operations by 2035.

Sainsbury’s property and procurement director Patrick Dunne said: “We are committed to reaching our net-zero target of 2035 and are proud to be doing our part in leading the way to create solutions that will reduce carbon emissions and water usage not just in our stores, but across the entire sector.

“We know that reducing emissions and water use is a critical part of tackling the climate crisis and to achieve this, we understand the importance of investing in pioneering technologies that can be adopted by all retailers.

“Tackling an issue of this scale requires collaboration and we’re really excited to not only invest in these businesses, but also provide a pathway to in-store use, working towards a more sustainable future for everyone.”

The announcement comes after Sainsbury’s launched a free 16-week incubator programme for Black-led start-up businesses last week.