26 early-stage low carbon business have been accepted onto the €225,000 Climate-KIC Accelerator programme, delivered by Innovation Birmingham. In addition to receiving a structured programme of support, two thirds of the start-ups will each receive up to €20,000 of grant funding to assist with taking their product to market.
16 of the low carbon business are Midlands-based, with a further 10 based in the Republic of Ireland, which is the established outreach location for the project. The focus and specialisms of the young companies includes retrofitting, water management, hybrid renewable energy, efficient fuel cells, sensor networks for buildings and farming crop data analysis.
During stage one of the nine-month Climate-KIC Accelerator, the entrepreneurs will benefit from expert coaching and mentoring, as well as access to the co-working facilities and events at the Innovation Birmingham Campus.
Stage two, which starts in September, is branded as the Open Innovation Lab and will be delivered in partnership with Birmingham City University. It will commence with a one-day International Innovation Conference for entrepreneurs, addressing new technologies and open source platforms. A series of workshops will follow, enabling the early stage companies on the Accelerator to work alongside international experts in the arts, science and technology fields to consider the scope to disrupt services through the enhancement of climate change credentials.
The third stage of the Accelerator is branded as the Influence Lab. Two-thirds of the original cohort of businesses will be eligible to further develop their products and plans in the ‘engagement and influence labs’. The most promising businesses will also receive a business support grant, worth between €1,000 and €20,000.
Catherine Shelley, Innovation Birmingham’s Development and Delivery Officer for Climate-KIC said: “We are really pleased with the quality and variety of this year’s cohort. One of our main objectives this year was to expand the Accelerator to more early-stage low carbon businesses in the West Midlands, and the strong interest and quality of the applicants has helped us to achieve that. We are confident that the programme will enable many of these businesses to scale-up in an efficient, sustainable way. We are genuinely excited to be helping them on their journey.”
The nine month programme will help early stage businesses located in the West Midlands to develop their low carbon business idea from the proof of concept stage to becoming commercially viable. Business planning and development of financial models, customer research, expert masterclasses, sector-specific networking opportunities, as well as peer-to-peer mentoring, are some of the benefits of the unique programme, which is designed to accelerate the growth of low carbon start-ups. The culmination of the programme is Climate-KIC’s annual Innovation Festival, which will be held at Birmingham’s ICC in October. The event attracts over 500 climate change practitioners from across Europe.
In 2014, Innovation Birmingham awarded over £100,000 across the best nine companies on the Climate-KIC Accelerator. It is one of four main programmes being delivered by Innovation Birmingham’s Climate-KIC team. A total of €2 million has been allocated to the West Midlands this year by Europe’s largest public-private partnership focused on tackling climate change.
The West Midlands is one of six regions across Europe that is working to develop the low carbon economy within their areas. The other Regional Innovation Centres are located in; Valencia (Spain); Emilia Romagna (Italy); Hessen (Germany); Lower Silesia (Poland) and Central Hungary. The Centres are supported through the Climate Knowledge Innovation Community (KIC) project, which receives funding from the European Commission through the European Institute for Innovation and Technology. www.climate-kic.org