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Connecting for Development – Innovating for Impact: second regional conference and Cleantech Days

07 June 2024

Cleantech Days cover

Vienna, 3-7 June 2024 – The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) successfully convened the joint event of the second regional conference for new development partners in the European Union and the Cleantech Days 2024 from 3 to 7 June 2024. Under the theme "Connecting for Development – Innovating for Impact," the event served as a unique and conducive platform to discuss the innovative potential of UNIDO Member States, present novel cleantech and sustainability solutions offered by cutting-edge local businesses, learn from each other’s experiences, provide networking opportunities with corporates and investors, as well as establish meaningful and long-lasting connections between the European business sector and the global start-up community.

Delivering welcoming remarks, UNIDO Director General Gerd Müller said: “With the regional conference and Cleantech Days, we have established important platforms for dialogue between UNIDO and our development partners across the world. Now, we have combined the two events to create new connections and partnerships for innovative solutions and sustainable industrialization. It is a unique opportunity to bring together the political, technical and entrepreneurial levels and showcase that these countries have expertise ready for the world stage.”

Cleantech Days 1
Cleantech Days 2

During various formats and sessions, successful partnership and business support models, including the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP), were showcased and discussed. Some of the sessions and activities took place in collaboration with the Vienna Business Agency’s ViennaUP entrepreneurship festival. Participants had a chance to present concrete innovations developed by start-ups and companies or introduced by countries for sustainable industrial development in the areas of energy systems and circular economy. Discussions further focused on best practices in the development of climate-neutral industrial policies and result-oriented public-private development partnerships.

The Innovation Salon, a unique format conducted in collaboration with the World Summit Awards, offered a platform to identify common challenges faced by companies and start-ups in realizing their full innovative potential for the attainment of the 2030 Agenda and to engage in solution co-creation. Participants emphasized how UNIDO can play the role of a neutral broker and business supporter vis-à-vis the industrial policymaking process and international development cooperation efforts. UNIDO’s capacity-building power, strengthening the knowledge and skills of entrepreneurs, including youth and women, was underlined as a key value addition. 

The second regional conference concluded on 4 June with a discussion on how to effectively advance cooperation with Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia in a mutually reinforcing manner. Participants reflected on the event’s outcomes and identified concrete follow-up actions to implement new models involving the region’s dynamic business sector.

The Cleantech Days continued through the week focusing on capacity-building and networking sessions for cleantech enterprises and members of the GCIP national project teams. The key highlight of the Cleantech Days 2024 was the pitching competition for the GCIP-invited start-ups from Cambodia, Lesotho, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Nigeria, Republic of Moldova, South Africa and Türkiye. A total of 22 companies entered the competition and the following winners were selected by the judges:

  • Honourable mentions for the most gender-inclusive teams: Green Coffee from South Africa and FabriThread-Cycle Initiative from Nigeria
  • Honourable mention for the climate mitigation impact: E-Sam Energy Solutions Ltd from Nigeria
  • Second runner-up: Microhobist from Türkiye
  • First runner-up: Ozen-M from Kazakhstan
  • Most promising business: Smartview Technology from South Africa

The Cleantech Awards Ceremony for winners took place on 6 June as part of the Impact Days event of the Impact Hub Vienna. Participants also discussed investment de-risking approaches while the UNIDO Facility for Low-Carbon Technology Deployment (FLCTD) inspiring innovators were showcased. Cleantech start-ups had opportunities to connect with investors and business partners.

UNIDO further engaged in the session on gender-inclusive investment organized together with Gender and Energy Compact partners – Sustainable Energy for All and Global Women's Network for the Energy Transition.

The week wrapped up on Friday with another angle of innovation – a side eventClimate Tech Investment Briefing: Global Trends” within the SDG Metaverse of 1MillionStartups. Event participants navigated through different virtual rooms and attended a virtual exhibition space.

As the next steps, UNIDO will collect key takeaways and recommendations for the productive engagement of the private sector in the implementation of the Organization’s mandate, which will inform new joint initiatives with partner countries, building on their innovative business ecosystems and supporting the start-up community around the globe.

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