06 July 2020

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A climate-neutral competition for a sustainable future

15 finalists from around the world pitch pioneering solutions that tackle climate change

As the Green for Growth Fund (GGF) sent out a call for applicants to this year’s clim@ competition, Finance in Motion Director Lloyd Stevens was looking forward to seeing a wide range of entrepreneurial ideas for protecting the climate and environment.

clim@ is a global pitching contest sponsored by the GGF and organized by Finance in Motion to showcase and foster pioneering business solutions that address environmental challenges, especially climate change. After the success of the first-ever clim@ competition in 2018, the Finance in Motion crew was eager to meet the next wave of candidates. The next four months of careful expert analysis and pitching would identify the most innovative and impactful ideas to win valuable prizes.

What they didn’t expect was how much innovation would need to come from the organizers themselves! 

By mid-February, over 200 applicants from 60 countries had submitted their environmentally friendly business models for review by the clim@ committee. By mid-March, the most promising candidates were preparing to pitch onstage to other likeminded climate enthusiasts at the clim@ event in June, and the top five winners would then present their business models the next day at the Sustainable Future Forum, the international convention hosted by the GGF.

Except that suddenly there would be no stage. Ten weeks before the big event, all venues in Germany and much of the world shut down in an effort to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus. 

“We had to pivot, and quickly,” says Lloyd. “We knew right away that we were taking the competition online. But we also knew that one of the benefits of clim@ is its high-profile nature: The competition provides visibility not only for the potential of green innovations as a whole, but also for the entrepreneurs themselves to connect to the climate finance community. At both the clim@ competition and the Sustainable Future Forum in 2018, we had environmental protection leaders, impact investors, and innovators all together in one room. Featuring the top five clim@ winners, the events had given the audience and the competitors a chance to learn about each other, ask questions, and plant the seeds for potential collaboration. Without an in-person venue, we did not want this important aspect of clim@ to be lost.”

Fortunately, Lloyd’s team was up for the challenge. The change was swiftly communicated, and the finalists began refining their pitches. A digital platform was selected and thoroughly tested. Guests began registering to participate from their computers and devices. It was the first major online event organized by Finance in Motion staff, and an important focus was to ensure that the dynamic and exciting sense of the clim@ competition was successfully transported through the new medium. Would an online venue have the same outreach?

The big day arrived: June 2, 2020. The audience was ready to watch the pitches. The candidates were in suspense to hear the judges’ verdicts. And as Lloyd’s opening address began, he glanced over at the number of viewers. Over 300!

The two-hour event flew by. Under the motto “compete for a sustainable future,” clim@ 2020 showcased 15 innovative entrepreneurial ideas for protecting the climate and environment. In three-minute videos, the teams each presented their business model and how their novel solution helps to combat climate change. The five technology and climate finance experts on the jury probed each finalist on details of their concept and future strategies. Then they had the difficult task of choosing five winners.

The top prize of EUR 15,000 went to Beyond Leather Materials from Denmark for their novel approach to producing a vegan and eco-friendly leather alternative made from apple waste. In second place was ColdHubs from Nigeria, awarded EUR 10,000 to grow their business that designs, installs, and operates 100% solar-powered walk-in cold rooms for outdoor markets and farm clusters to preserve perishable food. Whole Surplus from Turkey, coming in third place, was awarded EUR 5,000 for their technology-based solutions to recover the best possible value out of surplus food. Manyfolds from Germany, designer of an intelligent platform system for digital shipping packaging creation, and Biodisel Misr from Egypt, which produce biodiesel from used cooking oil, came in fourth and fifth place respectively and were awarded EUR 2,500 each.

There was one clear advantage to the new platform. “Normally this would have been held in Frankfurt,” Lloyd said to the guests. “But given the COVID crisis, we are using the chance to hold a relatively carbon-neutral event – very much in line with the mission and spirit of the Green for Growth Fund.”

For more information about the competition and the finalists – as well as to watch a recording of the online event – visit: ggf-climat.com.