Cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship for climate action
Climate change is a global challenge requiring urgent action. At the same time, the demand for energy and resources keeps increasing, especially in emerging markets and developing economies. Achieving the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C over the century requires significant reductions in GHG emissions by 2030. This calls for, among others, rapid development, deployment and adoption of innovative cleantech solutions at a scale and pace that will bring about transformational change without compromising economic and industrial development.
Innovative cleantech entrepreneurship plays a key role in climate action by supporting the transition towards sustainable economies while also creating green jobs. Being the engines for growth and innovation, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can lead this transition by developing cutting-edge technologies, products and services.
Understanding the potential of innovation and entrepreneurship, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has established the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP) to promote cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship to address urgent environmental challenges. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a key partner for GCIP, as well as the Green Climate Fund and other bilateral partners.
Bridging ‘the valley of death’
While cleantech SMEs have limitless potential for new innovative ideas, they often find it difficult to bring their solutions to market. They encounter serious barriers to business and technology development, referred to as “valley of death”, that they have to cross to ensure traction, growth and scale-up.
To bridge the “valley of death”, GCIP brings about transformative change through two main interventions: (1) direct support to emerging SMEs offering innovative cleantech solutions and (2) development and strengthening of cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems (CIEEs).
Bringing transformative cleantech solutions to market
GCIP nurtures early-stage SMEs developing cleantech through a comprehensive end-to-end solution of progressive business acceleration services, including (1) pre-accelerator, (2) national and global accelerators, (3) advanced accelerator and (4) post-accelerator support. SMEs are equipped with the necessary skillset to develop and validate robust business models. At the same time, cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship experts (trainers, mentors and judges) are trained to support entrepreneurs along their journey.
GCIP facilitates SMEs financing opportunities by connecting investment-ready businesses to relevant financing partners, nationally and globally. Through collaboration with GCIP, investors gain exclusive access to credible cleantech solutions with high-impact potential.
Strengthening and connecting cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems
To ensure the long-term functioning and sustainability of its interventions, GCIP builds, strengthens and connects CIEEs in participating countries. Under this component, GCIP offers national institutions (government entities, R&D organizations, industry associations, business platforms, gender-focused organizations, etc.) capacity-building training and disseminates guidance on global best practices for the strengthening of policy and regulatory frameworks. The programme also enables knowledge creation and exchange to promote collaboration and synergies across CIEEs.
Global Cleantech Innovation Index
The Global Cleantech Innovation Index is a publication of the programme to share knowledge on the innovation ecosystems in the GCIP countries. Innovation indices are tailored to the GCIP programme, taking into account its priorities. Global Cleantech Innovation Index is a policy tool for the GCIP partner country governments that provides benchmarked data and insights into best practices for robust CIEEs.
GCIP provides a coordination platform to ensure effective collaboration and guide decision-making processes around innovative cleantech solutions. As an integral part of programme connectivity, GCIP organizes an annual Global Forum to enhance networking among cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship stakeholders by giving them opportunities for the exchange of best practices and lessons learned.
Applying gender-focused approach
Climate change disproportionately affects women, particularly in emerging markets and developing economies. The guiding principle of GCIP is that of equal opportunities for women and men to lead, participate in and benefit from all GCIP interventions both at managerial and technical levels. GCIP strives to empower women entrepreneurs to develop businesses and products that support a greener future. GCIP promotes greater involvement of women entrepreneurs in its accelerator programmes not only as direct acceleration beneficiaries but also as mentors, coaches and judges.
GCIP has already demonstrated higher levels of women’s participation than other accelerator programmes worldwide during its first phase, with approximately 25% of the more than 1,000 alumni being women-led entrepreneurs. Through targeted efforts and updated mainstreaming strategies, GCIP will continue to promote gender equality during its second phase of implementation (2022-2026).
Building GCIP community
GCIP comprises a wide network of more than 15 countries including Cambodia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Viet Nam. The total programme budget amounts to more than USD 27 million. By 2025, GCIP is expected to expand further to at least 25 participating countries.
GCIP fosters investment-ready and scalable cleantech solutions, selected for their economic viability, environmental sustainability as well as social and gender-specific impacts. The acceleration is directly linked to the country regulatory and policy support and capacity-building interventions, uniquely placing the programme among other similar initiatives because of its normative component.
GCIP has well-established expertise in the cleantech sector and understands well industry-specific circumstances. The programme is uniquely designed to support cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship in emerging and developing economies. GCIP services are tailored to meet the needs of cleantech SMEs and governments and to subsequently lead to a steady socio-economic growth, along with environmental benefits.
GCIP creates fast-growing and dynamic networks of entrepreneurs, policymakers and regulators, R&D experts, NGOs, industry leaders and investors. These networks continue their activity after the GCIP intervention finishes, being independent and bearing a considerable potential for further growth.
GCIP aims to support at least 1,250 SMEs until 2025, of which 35-40% are women-led. As a result, GCIP expects to cumulatively mitigate direct GHG emissions of at least 2,225,000 CO2e and indirect emissions of at least 11,275,000 CO2e. GCIP’s mission is to contribute to climate change mitigation and deliver environmental and socio-economic co-benefits, including job creation, gender and youth mainstreaming and economic growth by harnessing the catalytic transformative potential of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Follow GCIP on Twitter (@GCIPsmes).
Visit the GCIP website.
For more information, please, contact:
Olga Rataj, GCIP Programme Manager
Gerswynn Mckuur, GCIP Global Coordinator
Alois Posekufa Mhlanga, Climate Technology and Innovation Division Chief