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Clean technology for sustainable recovery in Ukraine

22 November 2023 Eric Bishel

A screenshot of the Agrieye software

UNIDO has been working in Ukraine for many years and has a long history of cooperation with public and private sector partners. One such initiative is the Global Environment Facility (GEF)-supported Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP), which has been active in Ukraine since 2019.

GCIP Ukraine is part of the global GCIP network, which currently includes 16 partner countries. GCIP addresses climate change and environmental challenges by promoting clean technology (cleantech) innovation and entrepreneurship, recognizing the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable economic development.

Through GCIP Ukraine, UNIDO has established a national cleantech platform (“Business Academy”) to build the capacity of national entrepreneurs. Through the Business Academy, UNIDO facilitated six waves of an entrepreneurship acceleration programme, supporting more than 130 entrepreneurs. GCIP Ukraine also helped to establish five regional accelerator centres throughout the country, in partnership with national universities, and implemented two acceleration programmes.

With the Cleantech Startup Competitions, Business Academies and Mentoring Programmes, GCIP Ukraine has helped innovators develop robust business models, facilitate investor connections, find potential partners (Ukrainian and international) and enter the market.

The ongoing war in Ukraine has underscored the crucial role that cleantech and innovative enterprises play in driving progress towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to  Viktoria Kuvshynnikova, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ukraine to International Organizations in Vienna, “In a world where security and environmental concerns are more critical than ever, UNIDO stands at the forefront of sustainable innovation.”

Cleantech Days 2023

On 1 November 2023, as part of UNIDO Cleantech Days 2023 led by the GCIP and the Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN), representatives of the GCIP Ukraine regional centres and entrepreneurs supported by GCIP and PFAN came to Vienna to present their work. They highlighted the impact of climate and cleantech solutions in Ukraine and led discussions of the current challenges faced by green entrepreneurs in Ukraine, as well as the needs and opportunities for the cleantech industry development in the country.

An image of the three attendees of Cleantech Days, with the logos of UNIDO, GCIP, and GEF
From left to right: Andrii Sevriukov, the co-founder and CEO of Agrieye; Tetiana Shulyk, Coordinator of the GCIP Regional Accelerator Centre for Innovation, Technology and Innovative Startups in Donetsk; Victoriia Chubur, representative of the GCIP Regional Accelerator Centre in Sumy.

Two representatives of regional acceleration centres in Ukraine highlighted the role of UNIDO support and expertise in organizing their activities and providing practical advice to both trainers and participants. Tetiana Shulyk, Coordinator of the GCIP Regional Accelerator Centre for Innovation, Technology and Innovative Startups in Donetsk, spoke about the way these accelerators fostered broader understanding of the possibilities of Cleantech in the region.

“Donetsk is an old industrial region…However, the first round of applications for our competition only had 12 applicants,” said Shulyk. “By the second round, people in the region learned more [about GCIP Ukraine], and the applications doubled.”

The regional centrewas able to provide information on grants and financing opportunities, as well as support a successful patent application for one of the start-ups. While the ongoing war has forced the accelerator to temporarily relocate to a different region, it is still providing support.

“We really appreciated UNIDO introducing the GCIP programme in Donetsk,” stated Shulyk.

Victoriia Chubur, who represented the GCIP Regional Accelerator Centre in Sumy, echoed those words. “We have new challenges now, and we need new solutions,” she said, while talking about plans to hold new trainings on post-war recovery. “We need to focus on areas where we did not work before, like soil and water remediation.” She is confident of the resiliency of GCIP Ukraine; with innovative technology comes innovative thinkers.

Innovative technology for agricultural surveying

One of these thinkers was on hand to talk about his business, which was supported by GCIP Ukraine. Andrii Sevriukov, the co-founder and CEO of Agrieye, spoke about the work his company is doing with satellite surveying for farmers.

“By 2050, there will be a shortage of one billion hectares of agricultural land – we need to help farmers become climate smart.”

Through satellite spectral analysis of fields, Agrieye delivers detailed analysis that helps with fertilizer usage and increased farm sustainability. Agrieye has partnered with financial institutions to help identify the productive value of farmland to ease in the provision of small loans. This technology makes it possible to remove the asymmetry of information that hinders the innovative development of agribusiness and has attracted over 100,000 customers since it won the "Global impact on world development" nomination in the third wave of the GCIP Ukraine 2021 acceleration cycle.

While Agrieye’s technology has mostly been used in Africa, the war in Ukraine has opened new uses for their solution. “We can also use [our innovation] to scan for environmental damage and soil contamination, contributing to a better understanding of the damage the war has brought,” said  Sevriukov.

Given the current inability to access many parts of Ukraine, as well as the dangers of mines and unexploded ordinance, “this technology is particularly useful because the scanning is done remotely, without the need for on-the-ground access”.

With over 600 entrepreneurs supported and around eight million euros in investment raised in Ukraine, GCIP Ukraine has greatly contributed to resilience and the development of cleantech industry in the country.

Preparations are underway for the new phase of GCIP Ukraine, to further support cleantech entrepreneurs, as well as to work with national institutions on capacity building and enabling policy frameworks. With the support of UNIDO, cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship will be a key part of the green industrial recovery of Ukraine.

Group photo of attendees of the UNIDO Cleantech Days Ukraine consultation
Representatives of the GCIP Ukraine regional centre, entrepreneurs supported by GCIP and PFAN, staff from the Permanent Mission of Ukraine, private sector representatives, and UNIDO staff who attended the presentation on cleantech in Ukraine.