Innovate4climate: 30 Climate Solutions Initiated

Bringing together ideas and social entrepreneurs to develop solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation

How did the collaboration begin?

Climate KIC, Impact Hub and WWF joined forces in 2013 to create new ways of supporting and developing entrepreneurial ideas addressing climate change. Supported by EU funding as well as knowledge from the WWF and Impact Hub social entrepreneur communities, the Innovate4Climate (I4C) accelerator aims to foster new ideas and support startups that focus on climate protection.

What was the program’s approach?

In total seven challenges were hosted that supported more than 30 ventures over the course of 2013-2015. The participants of the accelerator where selected through an online challenge open to Impact Hub communities and the wider public. I4C comprised of a variety of interventions, including networking events, coaching, master classes, access to talent, and a three-stage accelerator program with workshops. The three stages were:

  • Stage 1: about entrepreneurial spirit. Potential entrepreneurs entered with a business idea and left with an initial business model. This stage lasted three months (400 hours time investment). Grant: 10,000 Swiss Francs
  • Stage 2: verifying assumptions, meeting prospects, and getting to know customers. This stage typically lasted for six months (800 hours time investment). Grant: 25,000 Swiss Francs
  • Stage 3: closing and delivering the first deal with a paying customer. Stage 3 typically lasted for six months (800 hours time investment). Grant: 55,000 Swiss Francs

What role did WWF and Impact Hub play?

  • WWF brought the knowledge of conservation management and how to build an online challenge platform to the table.
  • Impact Hub contributed their experience on building communities as well as their diverse network of social ventures.
  • Climate-KIC added their specific skill set and funded the entire program.

At the start of the program, the WWF did not have any experience in running accelerator programs and Impact Hub had little expertise on climate issues. However, our shared a passion for social entrepreneurship as a way to solve the planet’s problems brought our complimentary skill sets together.

What was the resulting impact?

Around 30 initiatives were started through the I4C program, a number of which registered their businesses. ImagineCargo is one example from the long list of participants. Founder Nick Blake took part in the I4C online challenge in January 2014 and completed all three stages. ImagineCargo is a sustainable alternative for cargo transportation offering a variety of services that reduce traffic and cut CO2 emissions by up to 99%:

  • Bike-Train-Bike delivers packages between cities through a combination of cycle couriers and rail transport
  • City Logistics delivers emission- and congestion-free small and large consignments

ImagineCargo used Impact Hub to scale from Switzerland to Germany and benefited from their various other support programs to grow their venture and tackle climate change.

In September 2016 Differencelab was founded by WWF to continue the work with social ventures when I4C ended. The focus of the lab is on sustainable funding models and a community of change makers who want to make a difference by founding a social business.

“The support of impact-driven entrepreneurs has a huge strategic potential for WWF. Without the collaboration with Impact Hub, WWF would not have been able to move into this new field. “

Holger Hoffmann-Riem, Difference Lab

“The Innovate4Climate programme was a very significant transition element in the development of ImagineCargo. I4C’s constant focus on climate impact as well as business potential made a big difference to the way we built our business. We’re in contact and doing business with other ventures from the program and have a network that we might not have been able to build without I4C.”

Nick Blake, ImagineCargo

Partnership Toolkit

Both WWF and Impact Hub are locally-rooted global networks and our partnership is locally driven as well. We’ve compiled this toolkit to make it easier to start collaborations in your country. We hope it serves as a good source of inspiration and encourage you to build a local partnership with Impact Hub that works best in your context.

More Tools

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