UN climate summit: Young cleantech innovators from 6 continents meet in Paris

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UN climate summit: Young cleantech innovators from 6 continents meet in Paris

4 December 2015, COP21, Paris – With the UN climate change summit under way, a dozen teams of young innovators hailing from six continents will meet in Paris today (4 December). The students and budding entrepreneurs all have promising ideas to counter climate change with disruptive technological and social inventions. Should there be a deal at the COP21 summit next week, it will take exactly these kinds of transformative new innovations and business models to implement it.

The young innovators, from countries as diverse as Australia, China and Ethiopia, have been invited by the EU’s main climate innovation initiative, Climate-KIC, and are set to learn and exchange effective ways to pitch their cleantech ideas to investors at a special boot camp in central Paris.

Ideas are the oxygen of growth in the zero carbon economy, and following today’s training the young innovators will present their radical ideas to an audience of business leaders and investors at the Grand Palais tomorrow (5 December) — to see if they can turn their ideas into reality. The events in Paris are the first opportunity for the participants to meet in person since they met online during Climate-KIC’s 2015 Climathon, a global 24-hour event to seek out some of the best new cleantech ideas.

Hunger to succeed

“There’s a real hunger to succeed and a desire to have impact that we have so far seen with the Climathon contestants. This really highlights the unprecedented opportunity we have to create a prosperous zero carbon future, driven by innovation, jobs, and investment,” says Ebrahim Mohamed, Climate-KIC’s education director. The participating teams have all won the national editions of Climate-KIC’s Climathon, which was held in June, and have since started to turn their concepts into real startup companies.

“Climate-KIC is seizing the zero carbon opportunity for Europe, but we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re reaching out to innovators around the world. We need to feed organisations around the world with disruptive, scalable, commercially-viable ideas to address climate change,” he said.

24-hour global event

Twenty major cities from six continents including national capitals such as Beijing, Washington DC, New Delhi, Addis Ababa and London came together for 24 hours on 18 June. Entrepreneurs, students and policy makers worked together — collaborating online — to find new solutions to their local, city-level, climate change problems ranging from sea-level rise to the conservation of biodiversity.

The focus in each city was predefined by local climate change challenges, ranging from finding ways to counter threats posed by sea-level rise in Boston, USA, to developing the best solutions to find ways to empower the citizens of São Paulo, Brazil, to improve the conservation of its biodiversity.

Building a zero carbon economy

Climate-KIC is the EU’s largest public private partnership addressing climate change through innovation to build a zero carbon economy. The organisation addresses climate change across four priority themes: urban areas, land use, production systems, decision metrics and finance. Education is at the heart of these themes to inspire and empower the next generation of climate leaders.

Climate-KIC runs programmes for students, start-ups and innovators across Europe via centres in major cities, convening a community of the best people and organisations. Climate-KIC is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union.

The twelve global winning teams attending the events in Paris come from Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Beijing (China), Boston (USA), Canberra (Australia), Copenhagen (Denmark), Frankfurt (Germany), London (UK), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Wellington (New Zealand), Walbrzych (Poland), Washington (USA) and Winterthur (Switzerland).




Raw Food Rescue from Washington DC, USA

Challenge set by the city: How can public-private partnerships reduce food waste or loss generated by the District of Columbia’s residential or commercial sectors?

Solution: The Raw Food Rescue team proposes a logistics management private-public partnership devoted to rescuing and redistributing wasted food from commercial to residential sectors in the US capital. They offer same-day food recovery by crowdsourcing volunteer food rescuers close to commercial donors, such as restaurants and grocers, and offer incentives for regular and continual participation.

Media contact: Hiatt, Kurtis K., Assoc Director Media Relations, External Relations, 2121 I Street NW, Rice Hall, Washington, DC 20037, ph. (202) 994-1849, kkhiatt@gwu.edu

EvacuME from Boston, USA

Challenge set by the city: How can we Increase climate change resilience in the city of Boston?

Solution: The EvacuMe team wants to increase the resilience of Boston and other municipalities to emergencies by improving evacuation coordination. They have developed an emergency response app that integrates a mapping component that calculates custom evacuation routes with a communication component that consists of a two-way communication system between users and authorities.

Media contact: Theresa Silver, Program Coordinator, Water Diplomacy, Tufts Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, Tufts University, Theresa.silver@tufts.edu, +1 617 627 5522

Garbage Collector (GACO) from Sao Paulo, Brazil

Challenge set by the city: Climate change is accelerating the rate of biodiversity loss in the city of São Paulo. Which solutions can be developed and applied to assist the citizens of São Paulo to improve biodiversity conservation in the city?

Solution: The Garbage Collector (GACO) team focuses on waste collection and the reduction of environmental impact stemming from residues, as well as improvement of working conditions at the partner cooperatives though four main approaches: (i) The creation of a web application platform to open new channels of communication between collection centres and the population; (ii) Mapping of requests of needs to compound a heat map; (iii) Flow control; (iv) Data analysis.

Media contact: Daniel Dias, USP Innovation Agency, ddias@usp.br, +55 11 3091 2932, +55 11 98284 5812

WAT Green Business Company from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Challenge set by the city: How can local business contribute to more sustainable, climate-smart urban water management?

Solution: The WAT Green Business Company team specialises in designing and implementing a creative, conscientious, and cost-effective means of rivers or streams reclamation and buffer zone development and protection, while enhancing their ecological and recreational property value.

Media contact: Sara Groenendijk, Ethiopia Innovation Centre, sarag@ethiopiacic.org, +251 9859 6861

Enet Finance Corporation Limited (ENetF) from Beijing, China

Challenge set by city: How to encourage citizens to install distributed photovoltaic (solar) panels?

Solution: The team that forms the China Enet Finance Corporation Limited (ENetF) is developing an internet based renewable energy financing platform. Taking Clean Power Finance (CPF), HASI (Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital Inc.) and SolarCity as references, the main business areas of ENetF are investing, asset management and consulting in the clean energy market. 

Media contact: Changhua Wu, Climate Group, CWu@climategroup.org

Certified Renewable from Canberra, Australia

Challenge set by city: How can we help mitigate or adapt Canberra to the challenges of climate change and help it meets its climate change targets, in a fun, super-charged environment?

Solution: The Certified Renewable team offers accreditation based on a robust, clear methodology to businesses that use 100% renewable energy to power their enterprises. Certified Renewable will maximise brand potential of renewable energy investment by providing certified clients with a clear, consistent, versatile icon that is instantly recognisable and trusted: a promotional eco-label. Certified Renewable will market clients by listing them in an easily accessible online directory.

Media contact: Julia Talbot-Jones, The Australian National University, julia.talbot-jones@anu.edu.au

Po0ol from Wellington, New Zealand

Challenge set by city: What should urban New Zealand be doing to mitigate and adapt to Climate Change? How can we extend and amplify the work being done on Climate Change in New Zealand? What experiments can we design and run to further challenge thinking and connect new dots to current initiatives?

Solution: The Po0ol team is developing an e-commerce marketplace where suppliers of sustainable products and services offer their products at a reduced price. The Po0ol website benefits urban transport logistics by aggregating the deliveries of multiple companies. Hence, the more customers buying one product at the same time, the lower the price and the transport footprint.

Media contact: Anthony Cabraal, Victoria University of Wellington, Anthony.cabraal@enspiral.com, +6422 0766 169

Fly to Work from Winterthur, Switzerland

Challenge set by city: How can the growing city of Winterthur create eco-efficient mobility?

Solution: The team behind Fly to Work offers a ropeway as the perfect supplement for traffic systems. It’s eco-friendly, fast, easy and quick to build, cheap, flexible with the capacity, reliable, save and tested. Car parks would be built where commuters can leave their cars and from there can take a ropeway straight into the city centre.

Media contact: Melanie Müller, Climate-KIC Communications Officer Switzerland, Melanie.muller@climate-kic.org, +41 44 633 93 41, +41 (0) 79 401 0401

Electric Buses from Walbrych, Poland

Challenge set by city: How to increase residents’ engagement in the use of renewable energy sources? What actions are needed to engage all citizens and partners in prosumer actions in order to limit low emission in Wałbrzych?

Solution: This team’s goal is to reduce by 50 per cent the use of conventional exhaust buses in the fleet of Wałbrzych’s public Transportation sytem. They would be replaced with electric buses by 2020. Electric buses are already in the Polish streets, but they are only on the streets of large cities, for example Warsaw. We will be the first city of less than 100,000 inhabitants, to put only new electric buses on its roads.

Media contact: Sebastian Puculek, Climate-KIC Education Manager Lower Silesia, Poland, Sebastian.puculek@climate-kic.org, +48 71 734 7008, +48 727 660 226

Freapp from Frankfurt, Germany

Challenge set by city: What innovative real-time solutions could Frankfurt provide to increase green energy services for the city?

Solution: This team has developed the Freapp app, which allows users to save energy through gamification. Users can monitor their energy use and compete with other households. The app is connected with Frankfurt’s existing platforms for Energy efficiency.

Media contact: Christoph Auch, Education Lead Climate-KIC Regional Implementation Centres, christoph.auch@climate-kic.org, +49 69 305 25746, +49 163 257 49 76

The Cycle Boks from Copenhagen, Denmark

Challenge set by city: How will Copenhagen motivate behavioural change in our citizens’ to be climate smart?

Solution: The Cycle Boks team offers a movable, flexible and on demand bike parking for urban events. The Cycle Boks is designed so the customer can opt for a basic version in the form of a container with the racks, or if preferred can opt for add-ons in the form of minimal rack, functional rack or micro architecture which encompass solar panels, smart locks, lounge areas, etc.

Media contact: Penny Schmith, Communications Officer Climate-KIC Nordic, penny.schmith@climate-kic.org, +45 4525 1257

AirPublic from London, UK

Challenge set by city: How can London collect better air quality data from various travel and transport modes? How can we reduce the impact that poor air quality has in London – making the invisible, visible – through creating maps to enable people to plan low pollution routes through the city? How can we link open spaces to community groups wanting to grow food in a sustainable London?

Solution: The AirPublic team seeks to build networks of mobile sensors producing organic, reliable, real-time information on air quality that reflects the movements and lives of everyday people. Their mission is to provide cities and citizens with more dynamic, granular and representative data of air pollution than is currently available. This data will be produced by pollution sensors attached to mobile moving units (for example, hire bike schemes or bike couriers), and published as open data.

Media contact: Catherine Oriel, Climate-KIC Communications Officer UK, Catherine.oriel@climate-kic.org, +44 20 7594 58 55


Climate-KIC is the EU’s largest public private partnership addressing climate change through innovation to build a zero carbon economy.

We address climate change across four priority themes: urban areas, land use, production systems, climate metrics and finance. Education is at the heart of these themes to inspire and empower the next generation of climate leaders.

We run programmes for students, start-ups and innovators across Europe via centres in major cities, convening a community of the best people and organisations.

Our approach starts with improving the way people live in cities. Our focus on industry creates the products required for a better living environment, and we look to optimise land use to produce the food people need.

Climate-KIC is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union.



Angela Howarth
European Head of Communications, Climate-KIC
+44 (0) 7872 850 084

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