Journalist Simone Okkels here describes how Climate-KIC was a key partner at this year’s Slush—organising several events and bringing along 30 passionate startups.
“My purpose of being here is not just to inform and entertain but to recruit you to be part of the solution of the global climate crisis!” The words of Al Gore boomed from the Founder Stage at the opening of Slush 2017, resonating with the approximate 20,000 attendees, startups, investors, and journalists. Slush 2017 was all about a call for change makers. And among the issues facing us today, climate change is the most pressing one.
Not far from the Founder Stage, key partner of Slush, Climate-KIC, presented 30 startups during the two-day event, all with the potential to become leaders in addressing climate change issues.
Ten of these were selected for the Climate Impact Battle that filled up the Warehouse Stage on the first night, drawing the attention of startups, investors, and journalists alike. They competed for the first prize of €50,000, knowing that in the audience their first—or next—investor might be listening. While the judges left to vote, Andrew Burford, Head of Entrepreneurship, Grantham Institute for Climate Change, went onstage to reveal Climate-KIC’s new Investor Marketplace. The platform connects investors with climate changing startups across Europe. As the severity of the climate crisis dawns upon people, more investors are looking to not only make a quick profit but also to make the world a better place.
Eight Climate-KIC alumni in Slush 100
People want change. They not only want it, but they also want to help create it. So told Pierre-Yves Thoulon, Co-founder and COO of cleantech startup Crosslux, who was talking to Ruben Hallali, CEO of HD Rain, at the Climate-KIC stand.
“It’s obvious in most presentations, and you can feel it in the Slush 100 pitches. They were all in that state of mind,” said Thoulon, mentioning the grand pitching competition Slush 100 showcasing the top 100 early-stage founders of Slush 2017.
Among thousands of applicants, several were in the business of green or cleantech, and out of the 100 selected to pitch at Slush, there were eight from the Climate-KIC accelerator.
One of the eight was Danish cleantech startup SmartWrapr, which creates a fabric cover for wooden pallets to reduce the need for plastic shrink wrap and for more reuse. SmartWrapr got into Climate-KIC only three weeks ago, tells CEO and Co-founder, Kevin Lee.
“Being here yesterday and hearing how all the companies pitch is very inspiring to me. Some of these companies are raising hundreds of thousands or millions of euros, much more than we’re at right now! But to know that that is possible and to see that they have moved from stage one to two and three in the Climate-KIC programme and that is the potential road for us too is very inspiring,” he said.
A climate community
Unfortunately, SmartWrapr didn’t make it to the semifinals. But another Climate-KIC startup did: Aeropowder, a startup that creates novel materials from waste feathers. The Climate-KIC startups formed a community of their own at Slush. Even the ones not selected for the Impact Battle or the Slush 100 semifinals were cheering for the ones that moved on in the competition, sending pictures and praise in a Climate-KIC WhatsApp group created for Slush.
Inspiration was one of the keywords most of the startups used when they talked about the Slush experience. That, and networking. Slush is a unique opportunity to get in touch with like-minded people and people from other sectors. It’s hectic but it’s rewarding.
“Thank you for all the inspiration, laughs and great work you all are doing. See you next time,” wrote Jean Pieter Versluijs from Solar Monkey to the startups in the WhatsApp group.
After Slush came to a close, the Climate-KIC startups headed back to work to change the world, one step at a time.