Last week, experts from around the world gathered in Bonn to identify how key UN bodies can provide technological support and finance to developing country entrepreneurs in order help combat climate change.
Incubators and accelerators are important parts of national innovation "ecosystems" - they reduce the risk that entrepreneurs face in developing new climate technologies by helping them build partnerships, develop business models and access funding.
The dialogue was held at the UN in Bonn under the title "Boosting climate technology incubators and accelerators in developing countries" and was organized by the UNFCCC Technology Executive Committee (TEC), the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) .
The dialogue identified key issues related to supporting such efforts. It also contributed to informing the secretariat of the Green Climate Fund as it develops a request for proposals on climate technology incubators and accelerators, which the Board of the Green Climate Fund will consider later in 2018.
Concrete Examples to Boost Innovation Discussed in Bonn
National strategies and plans, regulations, and supporting policies provide the necessary conditions for an incubator to flourish.
This can include, for example, efforts to promote entrepreneurship, provide specific training, providing tax credits, and incentivizing public-private partnerships. Strategic financing can also play a key role in unlocking further investment for such institutions. For instance, the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre recently established a climate fund which provides tailored and targeted financial support to innovative early stage climate tech businesses. The fund recently provided support to an African entrepreneur developing a sustainable soil-less farming technology.
In this context, Ms. Carolina Fuentes of the GCF mentioned that the fund is currently supporting projects which accelerate tech innovation, including a project in Kenya and Rwanda for small renewable energy companies. They are now exploring how to build on this experience working with incubators, including in the area of adaptation to climate change, on how to strengthen private sector involvement, and on how such efforts can catalyse low-emission transformation in developing countries.
A number of experts with experience on the ground participated, including representatives and entrepreneurs from Chile, Ghana, India, Thailand, the World Bank Group, and the EU. Ms. Rukayatu Sanusi, CEO of the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre, expressed the need to make entrepreneurship inclusive and successful, for example being flexible with mothers that participate as fellow entrepreneurs in incubation programmes. Mr. Harish Hande, entrepreneur and cofounder of the Indian solar energy company SELCO, shared that he would like to see incubators and accelerators reduce inequality, while also achieving benefits for the climate. "How can the poor be innovators themselves?", he asked, as entrepreneurship is often risky, technical and expensive and therefore not an affordable option for many.
The beginning of a new collaboration
The joint event by these bodies highlights a new level of collaboration and linkage between the Technology Mechanism and the Financial Mechanism. Such enhanced collaboration will play a key role in supporting developing countries to implement their nationally determined contributions for achieving the Paris Agreement. The TEC and the CTCN, as technology experts, are helping to inform the GCF on key technology issues as the GCF explores how to support countries with financing to address these issues.
Why support Incubators and Accelerators?
Incubators and accelerators are "innovation labs" that support startups and entrepreneurs in developing new innovative technologies. They are more than just co-working spaces to test ideas, as they have mentors helping entrepreneurs to develop their inventions to greater maturity by providing them with training, guidance and networking. They thus play an important role in supporting new low-emission and climate-resilient technologies to be used through-out the world.
This event was held in conjunction with the UNFCCC Technology Executive Committee's 16th Meeting, taking place on 13-16 March. The committee is part of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism, which consists of the two complementary bodies. The Technology Executive Committee is the policy arm and addresses policies issues to support countries to enhance climate technology development and transfer. The Climate Technology Centre Network is the implementation arm and responds to developing country requests for technical assistance on climate technology issues.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. The GCF helps developing countries limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. It was set up in 2010, as part of the UNFCCC Financial Mechanism. It aims to deliver equal amounts of funding to mitigation and adaptation, while being guided by the UNFCCC's principles and provisions.