Organised by oneof Europe’s leading climate change innovation initiatives, Climate-KIC, the ‘Journey’ summer school programme has been the most successful to date.
More than 300 students took part in the course, including 41 from British universities, developing more than 50 innovative business ideas to reduce the world’s carbon footprint.
Visiting 18 locations across Europe, Climate-KIC’s ‘Journey’ combined an education in climate change with entrepreneurial skills and hands-on experience.
The students visited the UK in August, learning about innovations in photovoltaic solar power technology at the University of Warwick and meeting residents at Poplar Harca, an eco-friendly housing estate in east London.
After five weeks of intense learning sessions and interactive workshops, students teamed up to develop commercially viable solutions to climate change. Proposals explored innovation in various areas including food waste, green IT, ecological packaging and textile recycling.
One project developed was RE:sources, a computer software to analyse and connect industrial material flows across Europe and Essential Green Roofs, maximising urban roof space to cultivate herbs for essential oil extraction.
One of three winning business plans was Caffeink, a plan to derive ecological printing ink from waste coffee grounds. Ink production is currently highly unsustainable, and with just three cups of coffee required to produce pigments for a standard ballpoint pen, Caffeink aims to create a staple product in a newly sustainable way.
Tabor Smeets, member of the expert jury for the Journey finals in Bologna and Manager Corporate Finance at Schiphol Airport Group, commented on his role as a mentor during the Summer School: “I was very inspired by the sheer enthusiasm and creativity the students brought to the table when it came to developing original ideas. It was important that the students got an early appreciation of the fact that becoming successful in business entails more than creating a great product or service though, it’s about seeing and understanding the bigger picture.
As well as nurturing the next generation of green entrepreneurs through programmes like the Journey summer school, Climate-KIC also supports green start-ups as they secure funding and take ideas to market through the Climate-KIC Accelerator programme.
Ebrahim Mohamed, Director of Education at Climate-KIC, commented: “Education and entrepreneurship have a central role to play in the global efforts to mitigate and adapt to the changing climate. It is Climate-KIC’s mission to create a generation of climate innovators and entrepreneurs dedicated to tackling this global challenge. “After the success of this year’s Summer School we look forward to helping our latest alumni get the most out of the Climate-KIC partner network and bring their innovative ideas to fruition.”