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Shell Unveils Onward, A Rebranded Venture for Climate Technology Innovation

Shell-supported energy innovation entity Onward has unveiled a significant rebranding and formed a new advisory board boasting leadership figures from renowned organizations such as Nike, XPRIZE, and Innovation Corridor. This strategic move aims to propel Onward into the forefront of pioneering technology development within the energy sector.

The advisory board, comprising five distinguished members, is set to guide Onward in fostering collaborative advancements in energy and climate technology. They will provide strategic counsel to Onward's executive team on strategy formulation, research initiatives, and the execution of projects. The board's lineup includes notable figures such as Nike's Chief Sustainability Officer Noel Kinder, Eric Drummond, the CEO and Founder of Innovation Corridor, Tina Sharkey from the University of Southern California's Iovine and Young Academy, along with angel investor and strategic advisor Nils Mellquist. Additionally, the board features Anousheh Ansari, CEO of the nonprofit XPRIZE Foundation. She is also recognized for her roles on the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council and as a UNESCO goodwill ambassador.

Originating from Shell's initiative in 2020 to amalgamate internal and external expertise, resources, and talent within the energy domain, Onward—formerly known as Studio X—aims to be a crucible for innovation. It seeks to link innovators to address the pressing challenges of energy and climate while also managing a startup accelerator program to foster the development of groundbreaking "moonshot" energy ventures through its in-house Innovation Lab. Beyond facilitating innovation, Onward can provide capital investment for emerging technologies and support projects through crowdsourcing.

Jeff Allyn, Onward's chief executive, said the firm eagerly looked forward to using its platform to deliver previously unattainable energy solutions for clients.

"The new identity is inherent to the mission itself: to move Onward toward novel energy solutions and net zero goals," he said. "With the insight and expertise of our new advisory board, these solutions will only become more accessible, expeditious, and impactful. We warmly welcome each member to the Onward team."

This announcement trails Shell's disclosure of its substantial profits exceeding £22 billion for 2023, marking its second-largest earnings since 2011. Shell reported that of its $24.4 billion total capital expenditure last year, $5.6 billion, just over 23%, was allocated to its low-carbon ventures. Despite this investment in sustainable energy, Shell faced criticism for pausing its commitment to cut oil and gas production annually by 1-2%.

Chief executive Wael Sawan said new oil and gas projects would enable Shell to "continue providing the energy security that the world needs while delivering cash flow longevity into the future".

Last month, Shell encountered backlash from a coalition of 27 prominent investors, managing assets worth over €3.9 trillion, who supported a shareholder resolution demanding Shell align its climate objectives with the Paris Agreement. A Shell spokesperson reaffirmed the company's dedication to engaging constructively with shareholders, maintaining that its climate targets are in harmony with the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement.


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