#ClimateTech—or the role of incubators and accelerators in delivering the Paris Agreement

At the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) Thematic Dialogue on 14 March 2018, experts from around the world gathered at the UN in Bonn to discuss how to drive forward climate action by accelerating support for entrepreneurs who develop innovative climate products and services.

Andrea Karpati, Head of Policy, EIT Climate-KIC, here argues that programmes which work in stages and provide clear roadmaps for start-ups are key in successfully bringing these technologies to market.

“Climate technology innovation is a foundation on which we can build solutions. Through innovation, we can reduce the cost of technologies, improve their performance, and build the global capacity and knowledge to bring new technologies from the research labs to the world,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, last year.

At EIT Climate-KIC, we believe start-up incubators and accelerators are ideal in facilitating this innovation and climate action.

At the TEC Thematic Dialogue, policy experts shared their insights with entrepreneurs whose businesses are in the start-up and early development stages, helping them develop their technologies to greater maturity. Open dialogue between these two groups induces a paradigm shift in how we do business and ultimately advances the transition to a zero-carbon economy and helps reach the goals of the Paris Agreement.

EIT Climate-KIC’s own experience with implementing start-up support programmes since 2017—supporting over 1,000 start-ups from all parts of Europe—provides valuable insight into what makes a good accelerator or incubator.

In the process of turning innovative ideas to marketable products and services, incubators and accelerators aim to minimise the so-called valley of death by providing support, advice, training, and networks to the start-ups. This often happens in a process of stages (typically broken down to three to five parts) which not only provides a clear roadmap for the start-ups, but helps to monitor progress. Some programmes put more emphasis on early-stage support for ideation and idea development (see our Climate Launchpad or Greenhouse), while others focus strongly on the networking aspect and access to investors.

Incubators and accelerators around the world are part of their respective national innovation systems, which are defined by e.g. the regulations of doing business, policy incentives for innovation, the national education system, the state of R&D, and the presence of venture funds. This would imply the challenges start-ups face with regards to support can vary wildly from country to country. While to some extent there is truth to that, the TEC dialogue revealed that the most critical issues are rather similar everywhere.

The discussion highlighted that market validation of innovative products and services is a critical step, especially for climate solutions, where new approaches to product delivery and scaling are built on new types of behaviours or business models. Checking in early with the relevant market segments seems to be the best practice, considering not only the customer need for the solution provided, but specific industry regulations and the financial capability of the target market. Incubators and accelerators can help with this part of the process on a case-by-case basis with skills training and coaching in order to find the right business model for the given product.

In the context of the global goals, start-up support programs also need to consider how to move away from traditional approaches, and support ideas for social innovation, which can’t be expected to become profitable. Similarly, programmes must provide a just approach for selecting the ideas and the entrepreneurs to be supported, and ensure that solutions benefiting—and developed by—women and vulnerable communities are an integral part of the programme.

 

Women for Results: Narrated by Fiza Farhan from Momentum for Change on Vimeo.

Start-up support programmes often provide support in different ways: Skills training, coaching, workspaces, and access to networks and potential funders. Funding may come in different forms as well: Grants, loans, guarantees, and equity. With this diversity in mind, individual programmes define success differently too. Traditionally, start-up support aims to find the next unicorn, but it’s unrealistic to expect a single technology or even a single company to solve the climate problem. Thus, the goal of a programme supporting climate start-ups would be the marketability and scale of more products and services with positive impacts on climate.

EIT Climate-KIC’s success stories are available here.

More materials related to the event:

 
Location
Germany
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC’s work in Slovenia

Last November, the Slovenian parliament passed a motion to...

EIT Climate-KIC’s work in Slovenia
In The News
Slovenia adopts EIT Climate-KIC Circular, Regenerative Economies Deep Demonstr...

The Slovenian parliament passed a motion to adopt an...

Slovenia adopts EIT Climate-KIC Circular, Regenerative Economies Deep Demonstration
In our community
Cities in a 1.5 degree world: What is there to learn from Leuven?
Cities in a 1.5 degree world: What is there to learn from Leuven?
In our community
Slovenia adopts EIT Climate-KIC circular economy proposal: Q&A with Kirs...
Slovenia adopts EIT Climate-KIC circular economy proposal: Q&A with Kirsten Dunlop
Innovation Spotlight
Elemental Water Makers’ solar desalination an asset as climate change ...

EIT Climate-KIC supported Elemental Water Makers is a water desalination scale-up that’s transforming water systems by enabling...

Elemental Water Makers’ solar desalination an asset as climate change threatens clean water
Innovation Spotlight
Zolar’s household solar kit is democratising the energy sector

Energy production and consumption are the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union, accounting for 80 per cent...

Zolar’s household solar kit is democratising the energy sector
In our community
Interview with policy and governance innovation experts at Madrid and Basque...
Interview with policy and governance innovation experts at Madrid and Basque Country Universities
In The News
COP25: Measurement and attribution of climate contribution to financiers

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, key...

COP25: Measurement and attribution of climate contribution to financiers
In The News
COP25: Madrid city side event

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, key...

COP25: Madrid city side event
In our community
Interview about Futures Literacy with Riel Miller, Head of Foresight at UNES...
Interview about Futures Literacy with Riel Miller, Head of Foresight at UNESCO
In The News
COP25: Climate leader insights

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, key...

COP25: Climate leader insights
In The News
OpenSurface land-use tracking platform launches at COP25

Pioneering AI, satellite and ground-sourced data technology drives more...

OpenSurface land-use tracking platform launches at COP25
In The News
COP25: Towards the systemic transformation

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, key...

COP25: Towards the systemic transformation
In The News
Helsinki launches Climate Watch to track city’s emission reductions

The City of Helsinki recently launched the ‘Climate Watch’,...

Helsinki launches Climate Watch to track city’s emission reductions
Opinion
Moments matter*
Michelle Zucker Director, Community Activation, EIT Climate-KIC
Moments matter*
In The News
Naked Energy secures €6.17 million in funding

Naked Energy, an EIT Climate-KIC supported solar energy startup...

Naked Energy secures €6.17 million in funding
In The News
First European cluster accelerator programme launched in Frankfurt

How to take clusters to the next level and...

First European cluster accelerator programme launched in Frankfurt
Innovation Spotlight
Ioncell’s fiber innovation could help drive the circular economy transitio...

The textile, garment and fashion industries generate tonnes of pollution each year and recycle very little, which...

Ioncell’s fiber innovation could help drive the circular economy transition
Opinion
The challenge of redesigning venture capital
Dominic Hofstetter Transformation Capital, EIT Climate-KIC
The challenge of redesigning venture capital
In Detail
Clean and Healthy Construction

Insights from the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen: Master Class and Market Dialogue for Clean and Healthy Construction. Why clean construction? Kevin Austin,...

Clean and Healthy Construction
Opinion
If we have figured out transformation, why is the world still in such a mess?
Susannah Fisher Research, EIT-Climate-KIC
If we have figured out transformation, why is the world still in such a mess?
Opinion
The tyranny of categorisation
Dominic Hofstetter Transformation Capital, EIT Climate-KIC
The tyranny of categorisation
Opinion
EIT Climate-KIC strengthens biodiversity through systems change
Felicity Spors Head of International Affairs, EIT Climate-KIC
EIT Climate-KIC strengthens biodiversity through systems change
Opinion
Why our cities must act as beacons for ambitious climate action
Tom Mitchell Chief Strategy Officer, EIT Climate-KIC
Why our cities must act as beacons for ambitious climate action
In The News
Biggest-ever global hackathon to tackle climate breakdown

Over 100 Climathon events around the world turn grassroots...

Biggest-ever global hackathon to tackle climate breakdown
In The News
Global call for transformative solutions to tackle the climate emergency

EIT Climate-KIC launches Climathon Global Awards and Healthy, Clean...

Global call for transformative solutions to tackle the climate emergency
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC supported crop insurance project acquired by world’s largest...

The insurance sector is well aware of the rising...

EIT Climate-KIC supported crop insurance project acquired by world’s largest re-insurer
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC innovators celebrated at 2019 EIT Awards

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

EIT Climate-KIC innovators celebrated at 2019 EIT Awards
Opinion
Part three: Climate action #NotinNewYork
Andy Kerr Director, UK & Ireland, EIT Climate-KIC
Part three: Climate action #NotinNewYork
In Detail
New EIT Climate-KIC supported report finds digital technologies can vastly a...

As part of the UN Climate Action Summit, the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and Deloitte launched a report today, supported by EIT Climate-KIC,...

New EIT Climate-KIC supported report finds digital technologies can vastly accelerate the SDGs