Impact tags (Sustainable Development Goals)

We use the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to define the impact that companies are making for a more promising future.


For a breakdown of the 17 goals, scroll down to the Keywords table.


What is an impact startup?

For the Impact & Innovation database, we consider an impact startup to be a company that is addressing one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)[1]. So far we have manually classified over 9,000+ startups using this framework.

How do you label impact startups?

We employed a set of keywords to filter dealroom’s startups for affinity with the SDGs[2]. Then, we reviewed startups’ public disclosed information, such as business model, mission statement, and case studies to assess their SDGs focus.

Are climate tech and clean tech startups part of your taxonomy?

We share PwC’s definition of climate tech as “a broad set of sectors which tackle the challenge of decarbonizing the global economy”[3]. As a result, climate tech companies can be found in this query. On the other hand, we understand clean tech as synonymous with clean energy startups.

How do you tackle greenwashing?

We are aware of the constraints of the above-mentioned approach. In fact, there are clear limitations on the quantity and quality of publicly available information of often small and private companies. Therefore, this impact categorization is an ongoing process and a company’s taxonomy might be subject to change.

What do Core and Side mean?

Additionally, we differentiate between impact startups that have impact at the ‘core’ of their business model and the ones that have it as a ‘side’ or peripheral focus[4]. The aim of this distinction is to make it easier for the user to identify and distinguish between companies that are purely mission-driven e.g. The Ocean Cleanup and others, like Tier Mobility, that creates positive externalities in an indirect way. Core-focused companies are not necessarily creating more impact compared to side-focus companies. This would depend on a variety of factors, such as their market sizes and reach.

Can a company tackle multiple SDGs at the same time?

Yes, a company can address more than one SDG at the same time e.g. Affordable and Clean Energy (#7) and Industry, Innovation and infrastructure (#9). 

Is impact the same as tech for good, social impact and purpose-driven tech?

Purpose-driven startups, responsible tech, social impact, tech for good are other terms[5] that are also used to describe the space where a company is aiming to create a positive impact beyond just financial returns.

What about Environmental Social Governance (ESG) criteria?

Environmental Social Governance (ESG) criteria are a set of non-financial standards used to evaluate companies according to metrics like CO2 emissions, employee relations, and conflicts of interest.[6] Impact startups go a step further compared to ESG companies, not only they do not operate in industries like tobacco, weapons but they try to create a positive impact on the planet and its people.

What is an Impact VC?

Here, Impact VCs have been selected through a mix of criteria that include: the self-reported mission statement of the investor; an investor having a dedicated fund for impact or diversity; the investor having a specific focus on underrepresented founders. However, as impact investments now make up a significant proportion of all investments, the line between impact and non-impact VCs is blurring. Impact VCs now frequently co-invest with established VC funds, making more capital and expertise available to impact startups than ever before.


[2] All the keywords are listed in the appendix.

[3] See p6,

[4]  A similar approach was employed in the 2019 State of European Tech

[5]  For example, see

[6]  For a more comprehensive overview see:

Keywords table

No Poverty #1

  • Description: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Extreme poverty, unbanked, disaster prevention, microlending

Zero Hunger #2

  • Description: End hunger, achieve food security, and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Food security, vertical farming, poor nutrition, permaculture

Good Health and Well-being #3

  • Description: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Prenatal care, road safety, telemedicine, contraception, antimicrobial resistance, elderly care

Quality Education #4

  • Description: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Universal primary education, equal education

Gender Equality #5

  • Description: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: AI measuring bias, reproductive rights, female health, non-binary

Clean Water and Sanitation #6

  • Description: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Safe water, wastewater treatment, water-saving, desalination

Affordable and Clean Energy #7

  • Description: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Solar energy, wind energy, tidal power, hydrogen, off-grid

Decent work and economic growth #8

  • Description: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Gender pay gap, equal pay, inclusive employment, fair trade

Industry, Innovation and infrastructure #9

  • Description: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Sustainable industrialization, universal access to technology, inclusive industrialization

Reduced inequalities #10

  • Description: Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Safe migration, refugees integration, racial discrimination

Sustainable Cities and communities #11

  • Description: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Air quality measurement, urban waste reduction, affordable housing

Responsible consumption and Production #12

  • Description: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Food waste, sustainable fashion, circular, sustainable materials

Climate Action #13

  • Description: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Carbon capture, carbon offset, climate tech, alternative protein

Life below Water #14

  • Description: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Marine conservation, seafood substitutes, overfishing, plastic pollution

Life on Land #15

  • Description: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Forestry, biodiversity, wildfires

Peace, justice and strong institutions #16

  • Description: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: Govtech, digital democracy, corruption prevention

Partnerships #17

  • Description: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
  • Selected dealroom's keywords: SDG partnership, impact partnership