Regional visions on the global climate challenge

 A deep dive into the cleantech trends in four ClimateLaunchpad regions

Our mission is to fix climate change by unlocking the world’s cleantech ideas.

This year, our local partners in 59 countries around the world trained the most promising early-stage entrepreneurs by helping them perfect their green business idea. The top 3 teams from each country are chosen to compete at one of four Regional Finals that will take place this September.

The beauty of a Regional Final is that it is an opportunity to showcase the solutions and ideas that are generated by and for the individuals who live there and are affected by the effects of climate change specific to the region or country.

We selected 4 of our National Lead organisations to spearhead the hosting of the Regional Final in their region – these organisations have a strong network and are leaders in their field. We asked them to tap into their expertise and share their vision on the trends, the challenges, and most importantly, the opportunities within their specific cleantech ecosystem.

Africa Regional Final on 21 & 22 September – Host organisation: youthinkgreen Egypt

AbdelRahman Fahmy (Chairman, Executive Director) & Sherine El-Wattar:
The key climate concerns in the African region are continental-wide desertification and the shifting of the climate map – meaning unpredictable and different seasons, which directly affects farmers. As a response, there is a growth in opportunities for businesses that address agricultural and water resilience, and climate mitigation such as wind and solar energy (for example in North Africa) and electric mobility. There is also a growth in the new and renewable materials industry, such as innovations that replace fossil fuel products.

“If cleantech businesses can create a crossover, they will shift the current paradigm

Apart from climate challenges, access to climate finance is also a big concern for entrepreneurs. At the moment there is more attention for fintech and agritech, so if cleantech businesses can find a way to combine aspects such as logistics, technology, and create a crossover, they will really be able to shift the current paradigm. Moreover, with the arrival of COP27 to Egypt, the landscape is changing. This opportunity for youthinkgreen Egypt to host the African Regional Final is a chance to showcase the region’s success stories to the world, and to select and support this year’s top teams all the way to the global stage.

What is unique about start-ups in Africa is the fact that they not only incorporate a climate aspect to their business but also tend to include a social aspect, for example financial inclusivity or access to energy for underprivileged communities.

Americas Regional Final on 29 & 30 September – Host organisations: Climate Ventures (Brazil) and Circular Influence (Argentina-Bolivia-Paraguay-Peru)

Lucas Helfenstein Nieto (Project manager, Climate Ventures) & Juliette Coca (President, Circular Influence):
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges faced by global society in the 21st century. It can generate devastating impacts on the development trajectories of countries and the lives of the people living in them.

Particularly in our region, we see entrepreneurs in Latin America directing their businesses towards the main environmental challenges of the region, which are: farming; forests; industry; mobility; energy; water and sanitation; and waste management.

Bioeconomy is still incredibly under-explored but offers so many possibilities for the industry

Across those categories, there are four trends that show up. Product traceability and the integration of sustainability indicators is gaining traction, the challenge here is how a start-up can show that they’re a better alternative to an international competitor. Bioeconomy is still incredibly under-explored but offers so many possibilities for the industry to incorporate renewable biological resources into their production processes. Regenerative businesses have business models that increasingly and better combine profitability and the regeneration of degraded ecosystems – at the end of the day, this begs a rethinking of the relationship between economic growth and environmental sustainability. And lastly we see a growth in markets for environmental assets, mainly this is for forest-based conservation ventures.

The venture investment ecosystem here is really exciting – in 2020, for the 2nd consecutive year, venture investment surpassed USD 4 billion! Fintech, logistics and distribution, and e-commerce have experienced the most growth. If there is one region that is experiencing a tipping point in its start-up ecosystem, it is Latin America.

Asia & Pacific region Regional Final on 22 September – Host organisation: Climate Collective (India)

Pratap Raju (Founding Partner, Climate Collective):
We are experiencing the consequences of climate change across the region (Asia & Pacific) – for example heat waves, cyclones/hurricanes, and flooding. Some of these things we have always had, but are increasing in frequency and intensity, and some are completely new natural phenomena.

In Asia, there is not much speculative capital – the mobility and agritech space get the lion’s share of funding because they have easy to understand and powerful cases. Here, the big question is “what can you solve to generate cash?”

When businesses innovate here, they innovate for large sectors with large potential for growth”

The climate-tech ecosystem is driven by B2B, but B2C is gaining traction. In itself, B2B is a big enough market because businesses need to improve on sustainability targets. On the funding side, there are huge opportunities to innovate, particularly as there are still countries that have emerging climate-tech industries. For example, when we (Climate Collective) started in 2016, we estimated there were only 100 climate start-ups in India, now 6 years later there are over 2500 start-ups!

The most exciting aspect of Asia & Pacific is that use cases that are developed here have access to large economies and efficiency gains. When businesses innovate here, they innovate for large sectors with large potential for growth – that’s the strength of our region.

Europe – Regional Final on 27 September – Host organisation: Innovation & Impact Centre, TU Delft (Netherlands)

Robert van Roijen (Programme manager VPDelta, TU Delft):
Here in the European region, we are feeling the effects of extreme weather – meaning the heat waves are getting hotter and drought periods are getting longer, and when it rains, it rains harder.  The problems caused by droughts and flooding can be solved with a good, balanced, water management system and climate adaptation solutions. The sense of urgency is building, and we see governments (local and national) try to get their heads around the issue.

The opportunities are everywhere, but innovation is a tough market because it can be more expensive than the status quo. A start-up’s business model needs to be very clear on: who is benefitting from what; where they can make money from it; and how long it will take. The key is foresight – good entrepreneurs see what’s going to happen, then it takes the market several years to follow suit. And if you have a government body as a customer, then perhaps even longer.

Talk to your customers, make sure that your client also sees the problem that you see”

The challenge is to find a way to scale up a business within the current systems, particularly when it comes to key resources such as water. Big opportunities can come when people move out of their silos and start combining their solutions, for example an idea that facilitates the energy transition and climate adaptation.

To some customers, innovation can be scary – a good innovation maintains (or improves) their customer’s (perceived) comfort level while giving them a sense of control. Talk to your customers, make sure that your client also sees the problem that you see, because you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Watch the action unfold
The scene has been set by the Regional Hosts. The next step is to join the Regional Final events and witness how entrepreneurs have seized the opportunities to create a cleantech business to tackle the climate challenges of the region.

Visit the ClimateLaunchpad Regional Final website to learn more about each Regional Final and to watch the events.


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