#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
Bridging the climate adaptation investment gap

Financing climate adaptation took centre-stage at Day 2 of...

Bridging the climate adaptation investment gap
In Detail
Techno-economic assessment and life cycle assessment guidelines for CO2 util...

CO2 utilisation technologies, also known as carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) or CO2 re-use, capture CO2 and convert it into new products or services....

Techno-economic assessment and life cycle assessment guidelines for CO2 utilisation
In The News
Re-Industrialise launches at the European Week of Cities and Regions

EIT Climate-KIC and partners recently launched the Re-Industrialise programme,...

Re-Industrialise launches at the European Week of Cities and Regions
In Detail
Reframing our current approach to urban transformations

EIT Climate-KIC gathered the outputs and lessons-learned from an urban transformations community workshop in Malaga, which saw more than 100 city leaders and teams...

Reframing our current approach to urban transformations
Opinion
Reframing perspectives on climate change
Reframing perspectives on climate change
Opinion
Only 20 companies in the world provide 100 per cent greenhouse gas emissions disclosure – Are ...
Only 20 companies in the world provide 100 per cent greenhouse gas emissions disclosure – Are investors in the dark on climate risks?
In The News
Gaining a better understanding of climate risk

The roadblocks that stand in the way of companies...

Gaining a better understanding of climate risk
In The News
The power of persuasion: Great Debate changes audience’s mind on self-re...

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

The power of persuasion: Great Debate changes audience’s mind on self-reporting
In The News
Climate Innovation Summit: a masterclass on climate-related financial disclosu...

If we want to keep on track with the...

Climate Innovation Summit: a masterclass on climate-related financial disclosure
In The News
Transforming financial sector’s core value system may be essential to 1.5C

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

Transforming financial sector’s core value system may be essential to 1.5C
In The News
Curbing carbon emissions in company value chains

Most of the world’s largest companies account and report...

Curbing carbon emissions in company value chains
In The News
One hundred 1.5C compatible investments by 2030

New investor framework launched today at European Climate Innovation...

One hundred 1.5C compatible investments by 2030
In The News
‘Fearless Girl’ appears at EIT Climate-KIC’s Climate Innovation Summit

Fearless Girl—the famous bronze statue erected in Lower Manhattan...

‘Fearless Girl’ appears at EIT Climate-KIC’s Climate Innovation Summit
In our community
Interview with Leeor Groen, Venture Manager, Blockchain Valley Ventures
Interview with Leeor Groen, Venture Manager, Blockchain Valley Ventures
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC partners with South Pole for Climate Innovation Summit carbon ...

EIT Climate-KIC’s Climate Innovation Summit (CIS) will feature a...

EIT Climate-KIC partners with South Pole for Climate Innovation Summit carbon offsetting programme
In The News
Financing tomorrow’s new normal today

First published in Environmental Finance as part of a joint...

Financing tomorrow’s new normal today
In The News
Climathon 2018 will be the biggest global climate hackathon in history

Over 100 cities from around the world will join...

Climathon 2018 will be the biggest global climate hackathon in history
Opinion
How can we mainstream major climate risks into financial reporting?
Hanna Värttö Senior Consultant, South Pole Group
How can we mainstream major climate risks into financial reporting?
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC emphasises need for climate focus in cohesion policy at Europe...

EIT Climate-KIC was among the urban planners, municipalities, policy...

EIT Climate-KIC emphasises need for climate focus in cohesion policy at European Week of Cities and Regions
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC’s secrets for successfully running accelerators revealed...

EIT Climate-KIC has been featured in “Accelerate This!”, a...

EIT Climate-KIC’s secrets for successfully running accelerators revealed in “Accelerate This!”
Opinion
Harvesting the intelligence of photosynthetic microalgae to de-carbonise future cities
Marco Poletto Co-founder and Director, ecoLogicStudio
Harvesting the intelligence of photosynthetic microalgae to de-carbonise future cities
In our community
Interview with Mariana Mazzucato, Professor, Economics of Innovation and Pub...
Interview with Mariana Mazzucato, Professor, Economics of Innovation and Public Value, UCL
In The News
Why we invest in sustainable start-ups

A growing number of investors recognise the value in...

Why we invest in sustainable start-ups
In Detail
EIT Climate-KIC position paper: EU long-term GHG emissions reduction strateg...

As an active member of the community working to solve challenges presented by climate change, EIT Climate-KIC has published a position paper on the...

EIT Climate-KIC position paper: EU long-term GHG emissions reduction strategy
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC to partner Project X pilot to boost sustainability in global f...

EIT Climate-KIC is co-funding a pilot project, Feed-X, which...

EIT Climate-KIC to partner Project X pilot to boost sustainability in global feed production
Opinion
Learning out loud
Kirsten Dunlop Chief Executive Officer, EIT Climate-KIC
Learning out loud
In The News
No more excuses: Financing 1.5C

First published in Environmental Finance as part of a series covering...

No more excuses: Financing 1.5C
Opinion
Do we need an IPCC special report for humans?
Scott Williams Director of Decision Metrics and Finance
Do we need an IPCC special report for humans?
Opinion
Investor framework launched for 1.5C-compatible investments
Dennis Pamlin Entrepreneur and Founder of 21st Century Frontiers
Investor framework launched for 1.5C-compatible investments
In The News
Teams announced for final stage of Reinventing Cities competition

The teams selected to go through to the final...

Teams announced for final stage of Reinventing Cities competition