How the day started…
Early morning 29 October, the Palacio de Cogresos was in full CleanLaunchpad prep! I would even say we almost invaded this grand palace. “Room bosses” Naomi, Marjan, Irina, Diana and Catherine briefed their start-ups in their 5 different semi-final rooms. Start-ups and jury members who arrived early were volunteering to help with set up. Start-ups and judges were folding jury name signs together, putting up schedules and rolling up banners in the rooms. The photographer and videographer team lurking in the background was wondering what the fuss was all about. Down stairs the Master of Ceremonies was given a run through of the semi-final Introductions. Jury members poured in from everywhere to get their briefing of the jury procedures and score table.
A warm welcome
Everyone was dressed in his or her own CleanLaunchpad outfit. Branded T-shirts, blouses, key cords, bow ties, scarfs, eco-bags and stickers had been picked up at the Welcome Cocktail the evening before as a part of everyone’s welcome-kit. During the whole CleanLaunchpad journey this had been the only event without any agenda. The evening had been for start-ups, jury members and organizers (total 100 pax) to get a chance to meet each other, do some networking, have a good time and hopefully calm some nerves.
A loud wave of cheering and clapping from downs stairs made everyone wonder what was happening; just the Jury Team warming up the stoke for the day. At 09.50 sharp: 54 participants (30 start ups), 23 jury members, 6 Room bosses and 5 Master of Ceremonies all found themselves in Auditorium 2. None knew exactly what to expect. Air was filled with a mixture of nervosity and excitement. Frans Nauta, Deputy Director Entrepreneurship Climate-KIC, created a start pistol shot of the day in the only way it was intended. The sound of 90 persons cheering, clapping and shouting in this small room put a smile on my face. Spirit was on top. Doors flung open and everyone rushed into their assigned rooms to start the sessions. The Games had begun.
5 parallel sessions of semi finals
Simultaneously in all 5 Semi Final rooms Masters of Ceremonies Emilio, Paris, Andreas, Matthijs and Ron welcomed the crowd and officially announced the start of the competition. White numbers on a black computer screen were ticking down the 5 minutes towards zero. Pitching time was 5 minutes, no mercy! Exactly like we had practiced with the start-ups during the entire CleanLaunchpad journey. Fifteen minutes of “tough love” to every team followed every pitch during the jury’s Q&A.
Having collected the top best start-ups from 11 countries in the CleanLaunchpad EU final, it seems needless to say that the jury had a tough time selecting only one winner out of the six semi finalists in each session. Jury discussions were running way over time. I was getting nervous we were running late in the schedule. Start-ups were passing time chatting in the hallway. Not too impatient yet- pew! CleanLaunchpad branded cookies and cupcakes comforted nerves and boosted blood sugar levels even higher.
The 7 finalists
Finally, the jury opened up the doors for the Winner Announcement of the 7 Grand Finalists. One by one, the Master of Ceremony/Head Jury of each room came up on stage to announce the winning start up of their session. The audience was warm and supportive. For every announced finalist, people were shouting, clapping and cheering. Winning starts were embraced with hugs and high fives. Team Desolenator, Cambond, Greener than Grass, OR-KESS and Adaptavate were named winners of their Semi Final sessions. As there were 7 places available in the Grand EU Final, two “wild cards” (out of the 5 parallel sessions) were given out to the runners up. Team Wavetube and Swedish Algae Factory were the lucky start-ups who won the last two tickets to pitch in the Grand EU Final.
Pitching & scoring
After lunch, the 7 Grand EU Final start-ups were ready for their second pitch round of the day. CleanLaunchpad videos were played in the back ground to set the tone while waiting for the session to start. Master of Ceremony, Frans Nauta, kick started the competition and set the energy bar as high as it could get. Amongst the audience other CleanLauchpad Semi finalists sat benched to show their support for the Grand Finalists. Everyone was curious to see the pitches of the 7 start ups that had been selected to be the very best out of the initial 30 competing start-ups of the day. Everyone was keen to find out what was going to happen next. This time the jury team consisted of members from the Climate-KIC Entrepreneurship Team: Hero Prins, Aaron Best, Bianca Dragomir, Jakob Steen Jensen and Andrew Burford. The audience were all given identical score cards in order to involve them in making their own scoring and getting the opportunity of awarding one of the start-ups the Prize Title of “Audience favorite”.
… and waiting again
The wait for the Grand EU Final Winner Announcement during the jury discussions was made less unbearable by starting the celebrations in advance. While the jury deliberated, the EU finalists were getting tapas, drinks and of course numerous of pats on the backs from both judges, coaches, CleanLaunchpad organizers, other start-ups and outside audience.
An unexpected moment
First announcement was for the Marketing competition within the CleanLaunchpad Team itself. Team Spain won a giant Climate-KIC cookie for “Highest number of applications”. Team Cyprus & Greece was rewarded for “Best marketing efforts”.
Head of the Grand EU Jury Mr. Hero Prins, Director Entrepreneurship Climate-KIC, took over the announcement. Without a doubt best surprise of the day was the decision from the Climate-KIC Entrepreneurship Team that not only the top 3, but in fact all 7 EU finalists were rewarded the prize of getting accepted into Climate-KIC Accelerator! The Entrepreneurship Team had been positively impressed by the quality of the CleanLaunchpad start-ups and was happy to show their support.
Winners CleanLaunchpad 2014
Flower bouquets, CleanLaunchpad Trophees and Big cheques were stuffed in the arms up the lucky Top 3 winners Wavetube (1st Prize Winner), Desolenator (2nd), Cambond (3rd) and the Audience Favorite Or-Kess. The Cava bottle was popped to officially salute the winners and take pictures with the winning team. The rest three start-ups were celebrating their access to the Climate-KIC Accelerator. The best Prize a cleantech start-up can win ☺.
Author: Sara Schützer, Project Manager CleanLaunchpad