Case Study

Climeworks (A): A visionary business to help stop climate change

6 pages
December 2019
Reference: IMD-7-2083

Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher founded Zurich-based start-up Climeworks in 2009 based on technology they had developed, which they claimed would help slow the massive challenge of climate change by capturing CO2 directly from the air. Several hurdles still stood in their way, but Gebald and Wurzbacher had an entrepreneurial mindset and ambitious plans for their business and its potential impact on humanity. The pair put all their efforts into developing the robust technology, reducing costs of production and building a viable business model to directly capture and sell carbon dioxide – a market yet to be developed. Climeworks aimed to remove 1% of global CO2 emissions from the Earth’s atmosphere by 2025. The vision was bold and could only be achieved through massive growth, including 250,000 installations the size of Climeworks’ flagship plant in Switzerland. One main issues Climeworks needed to address was reducing the uncertainty around the desirability of the solution, meaning identifying and leveraging market demand. Once the prototype had been developed, the company needed to find markets for its end product, carbon dioxide. Which industries would be good targets? Could Climeworks create completely new markets for the solution?

Learning Objective
  • To recognize the key traits of entrepreneurs.
  • To recognize the dilemmas of businesses integrating purpose into the core of their strategy as they balance long and short-term goals.
  • To employ the business model canvas tool to evaluate opportunities for value creation and market development.
  • To analyze and recommend the best market entry strategy based on design thinking concepts of feasibility, desirability, and viability.
Responsible Leadership, Corporate Responsibility, Leading Change, Vision, Business Model, Business Model Change, Design Thinking, Start-up, Purpose
Europe, Switzerland
Field Research
© 2019
Available Languages
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Teaching note
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