Global Cleantech Innovation Programme

The Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement are the world’s commitment to safeguarding the global commons. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), with its unique mandate to support inclusive and sustainable industrial development, has partnered with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to address the most pressing global environmental challenges of our time. Through fostering innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems, UNIDO and GEF seek to promote affordable and scalable solutions enabling our partner countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.

Innovation Ecosystem

The GCIP promotes an innovation and entrepreneur ecosystem by identifying and nurturing cleantech innovators and entrepreneurs; by building capacity within national institutions and partner organizations for the sustainable implementation of the cleantech ecosystem and accelerator approach; and by supporting and working with national policy makers to strengthen the supportive policy framework for SMEs and entrepreneurs.

Through this cleantech ecosystem and accelerator approach, the GCIP catalyzes investment to support and accelerate startup entrepreneurs towards the development and commercialization of their innovative ideas.

Partnerships and close collaboration with all national stakeholders are critical to maximize synergies and share knowledge and best practices that can help in enhancing the contribution of cleantech startups towards climate change mitigation, while increasing productivity and generating growth and wealth.

The GCIP Accelerator

A key component of the GCIP is the annual competition-based Accelerator, which identifies the most promising innovators and entrepreneurs across a country. A selected number of startups in a GCIP country participate in a rigorous, competitive national acceleration programme that trains, mentors, promotes, and connects them to potential investors, customers and partners. As the best cleantech companies progress, they are continuously developed and assessed.  

The Accelerator consists of an Official Launch, Investor Connect, National Academy, Business Clinic, and Mock Judging. In addition, the selected startups are continuously mentored and trained and access to capital and showcasing opportunities are facilitated on a regular basis in order to enhance their business skills and to connect them to potential business partners, financiers and investors.  

A tailored mentoring programme is provided through an elite group of general and specialist mentors and trainers drawn from industries, universities, and professional institutions, as well as business leaders from within the country and abroad.

Technology Solutions

The GCIP started with four technology categories namely Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Waste Beneficiation, and Water Efficiency; in 2016, the Green Building category was added to expand the scope of environmental challenges addressed. The 2017 Accelerator has expanded to include two new categories, Transportation as well as Advanced Materials and Chemicals.

GCIP is planning a transition to an impact-focused accelerator in order to leverage innovation and entrepreneurship to provide solutions to protect our global commons. Existing technology categories will evolve in to impact categories to accelerate transformative clean technology solutions and integrated approaches for energy systems, sustainable cities, healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries, food systems, and landscape restoration.

GCIP also supports identification and development of demand-driven solutions that can address the most pressing environmental challenges at the national levels. Through National Innovation Challenges, innovators are invited to propose technology innovations that can address a particular problem with high-impact potential. This approach allows direct market access for the technologies, ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in impact scaling.

GCIP Global Forum & Cleantech Week

The national winners are invited to the annual GCIP Global Forum & Cleantech Week, a confluence of the cleantech industry and the climate movement hosted by the Cleantech Open (CTO) in California, USA. It aims to create new business opportunities, highlight solutions, engage citizens, cultivate partnerships, and spur investment in clean technologies to address climate change.

The GCIP national winners gain exposure to the dynamic venture culture of Silicon Valley, and are connected with a community of cleantech innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world. The GCIP national winners also  meet  with  the  national  winners  of  the  other  GCIP countries, compete  for  the  Global  Prize.

The Impact

The GCIP has been transforming the way we address the most pressing environmental challenges of our time, and is now a global programme making an impact in 8 countries around the world.

Between 2014 and 2016, cumulatively the GCIP received almost 3000 applications in the 8 countries of operation, and over 580 startup companies were selected as semi-finalists and benefited from the Accelerator’s training and mentoring programme, as well as the exposure to investors and the media. In 2016, the GCIP was conducted in 7 countries with 1385 applications received, of which 235 startup ventures were selected as semi-finalists. The number of applications in 2015 increased by 62.5% compared to 2014, and again in 2016 a 33% increase in applications was recorded compared to 2015. This shows the growing visibility and interest in the GCIP.

In addition to contributing to greenhouse gas emissions reductions, the technology innovations fostered under GCIP also reap positive impacts for the environment including improved water efficiency, soil protection, and waste beneficiation. Through growth of the cleantech industry, employment opportunities are created, both leading to poverty reduction through income generation.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy Frameworks

An integral part of GCIP is the development of an enabling environment for cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship, and GCIP employs a cross-sectoral and multi-tiered approach with a view to building a sustainable “ecosystem” for innovative entrepreneurship in small businesses. This entails supporting national partners to strengthen the institutional capacities of government agencies focused on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) development, clean technology and innovation.

Global Cleantech Innovation Index

The Global Cleantech Innovation Index (GCII), a biennial index and report, was first created in 2012 to investigate the question: which countries currently have the greatest potential to produce entrepreneurial cleantech startup companies and which will commercialize clean technology innovations over the next 10 years?

UNIDO has partnered with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Cleantech Group (CTG) to produce the Country Profiles for the eight partner countries of the GCIP, as a special addendum to the 3rd edition of the GCII for 2017.

Under the policy component of the GCIP to enhance the enabling environment in partner countries, the GCII-GCIP Country Profiles aim to further strengthen the enabling environment through national policies that promote innovation in clean technologies, and to serve as a valuable policy tool to stimulate a broader economic action plan including strategic support for cleantech solution providers.

GCIP Report

Follow GCIP on Twitter here

For more information, please contact:

Alois Mhlanga


UNIDO Climate Technology and Innovations Division


Sunyoung Suh

UNIDO Sustainable Energy Expert


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