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Climate-entrepreneurship entails coming up with innovations that tackle climate change but are economically viable at the same time. This is the approach that a group of young students around Europe are taking with the aid of the Climate-KIC initiative: an organisation that aims to create a Knowledge and Innovation Community that tackles climate change by bringing together young innovators and supporting them in the creation of new and sustainable businesses models.

Climate-KIC’s 7th series of Summer Schools or Journey’s, which took place across several technology hubs in Europe last summer, prepared a new generation of climate-entrepreneurs to take the stage.

Climate-Entrepreneurship and climate change

Dominic Müller (Switzerland); Sofia Tsaliki (Greece); Eveline Kantor (the Netherlands)

“Fashion is a fickle thing. And clothes are surprisingly damaging for the environment as well: the fashion industry is the 2nd most polluting industry in the world. In a society where a certain piece of clothing is hip one day, and discarded the next, there is still a need for sustainable and creative solutions as an answer to our urge to consume. With our Start-Up Dom’s Angels, we are providing a new model for special-occasion clothes that can be rented out instead of bought. It’s time to start building a share-economy in the clothing sector, in the same way it already exists for other goods or services.”

Ahmad Alshaghel (Syria)

“Hi I’m Ahmad from Syria. I currently study in Portugal. I’m interested in driving Climate Innovation, both in Europe and my country of origin, because I think it’s no longer a luxury for us to think ahead. Climate change is a problem that everyone has to deal with. The real fight of the 21st century. And although my country has many other issues to deal with at the moment, I’d like to think that, when we start rebuilding our country, we might as well do it right.”

Sean Anayah (United States)

“I’ve given myself the challenge to try and innovate the way we use energy. The current problem with our energy system is that there are peak hours during which everybody wants to use electricity. During these peaks, power plants have to purchase extra energy from producers to meet the demand, and they’re purchasing it at a loss. By facilitating a better communication and exchange of information between utility companies and consumers, our start-up aims to reduce both the energy use at the consumer-end and the energy storage at the production-end, saving both parties money and reducing CO2. Creating more awareness on both our consumption and creation of energy is a key to make the whole chain more sustainable.”

Animesh Behera (India)

“I am tackling a very global issue that we are all facing: the issue of waste. We all produce so much of it! The issue here is that we are used to using materials in a linear way. So 99% of the stuff that we produce is being wasted within 6 months and our waste landfills are growing every year. This is taking massive proportions in my own country, but happens throughout the world, and 70% of all waste is from cities only. The linear use of products needs to be altered to a circular system, not only in terms of waste and recycling but also in terms of waste re-evaluation.”

Lili Balogh (Hungary)

“The great thing about climate innovation, and the KIC Journey I am currently on in particular, is that it brings people with different backgrounds together, bringing their own perspectives in trying to solve complex issues. It’s these fresh perspectives that most often offer a relatively straightforward response to a problem. For instance, in our current project we are trying to find a way to use by-products from food-processing, such as olive pits or the shells of sunflower seeds, and turn them into food packaging. It would be used in food delivery or take-away food. It’s a really simple concept, but nobody has ever thought about it. That’s why innovation is really important, especially in times when resources are getting scares.”

Hugues Delattre (France)

“Your individual behaviour does make a difference when it comes to tackling climate change. All the different technologies to make your household more energy efficient are already on the market, but we’ve noticed that, for many people, the largest barrier to actually applying these technologies in their own house is a lack of information and the inconvenience of finding out how to use these technologies. Together with my team, we are developing an easy-to-use retrofitting toolkit to tweak your household to become more energy efficient. Instead of creating something new, we’re enabling people to use the innovations that are already out there.”

Josephine Strandgaard (Denmark)

“I am doing a master’s in innovation at the Danish Technical University. They teach us to constantly question the conventional way people do things, and to ask questions like ‘Is there not an easier way to do this?’ or ‘What is bothering me about this process?’. With some students I already optimised the water purification system in the city of Copenhagen last year, and during this KIC Journey we are developing modular toys for children that can be rebuild to change function and grow with the child during their whole childhood. Tackling Climate Change can be done in very indirect ways.”

Kiran Raj (India)

“During the KIC journey, we were stimulated to come up with great ideas for innovation, and were allowed to dream big. There comes a time, however, that your process has to be scaled down to something that is realistic and feasible. Anyone can have an idea, but making sure your great idea is actually feasible often proves to be difficult. This Journey has taught me that climate innovation is as much about dreaming as it is about being realistic.”

Arthur Wyns

About Arthur Wyns

Arthur Wyns is a tropical biologist and science journalist who writes about climate change, environment and migration. He manages Programs and Partnerships for Climate Tracker since 2017.