A new alliance has formed to fast track the incubation of and market delivery of products and services that can tackle climate change.
The alliance, the Australian Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community, or Climate-KIC Australia brings together governments, academia and business. It’s based on a similar initiative in Europe that has seen 170 start-ups raise a collective $198 million Euros in external funding for projects and innovations between 2012 and 2015.
The European Climate-KIC was established in 2010 by an EU body, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
Founding partners of the Australian public-private partnership include the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage; the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources; the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning; Suncorp Group; South Pole Group; EnergyLab; WWF Australia; the University of Adelaide; Curtin University; the University of Melbourne and the University of Technology Sydney.
Christopher Lee, most recently manager impacts and adaptation for NSW OEH, has been appointed chief executive of the organisation.
“No single company, government, university or entrepreneur can solve climate change by themselves,” Mr Lee said.
“The partners have helped to establish Climate-KIC Australia since they believe that it allows us and others to come together in a pre-competitive space to co-create innovative solutions, which will have a positive impact on the people in the communities we serve.”
He said the Climate-KIC will form a key part of a “structured, cohesive and effective response to climate change in Australia – bringing together the best to enable climate innovation to form the foundation of the future Australian economy.”
The first initiative to get up and running in Australia is a pilot of cleantech accelerator activities in NSW. The aim is to have this roll out nationally in 2018.
Projects of the European Climate-KIC to date range from the micro, such as scaling e-bikes for public transport; to the macro, for example, developing tools to support the transition of European cities to sustainable energy.
Building technologies has also been a focus. The BTA Living Labs project, for example, involves six real homes where participants in the research use new technologies or systems to generate data across three focus areas – low carbon materials and circular economy; user oriented energy management and scalable refurbishment solutions.
The labs are located across a diversity of climate and topographic zones in the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain.
South Pole Group has already worked with the parent organisation on major projects in the fields of climate adaptation and mitigation, including the Low Carbon City Lab and green finance.
Thomas Schroeder, director of marketing communications for the company, said the firm is looking forward to leveraging this experience and driving the next generation of innovative climate change solutions “down under”.
He said the success of the European initiative is proving that “public-private partnerships can tackle climate change through a market-led and impact-driven approach.”