Making Sustainable Cities a Reality – Climate-KIC

Published by Will Needham on

Sustainable Cities play a vital part if we are to meet the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to no more than 2 °C.

Why? Well, let’s start with some facts:

Therefore, it’s vital we develop solutions that drastically impact emissions in cities, and fast.

That’s why I visited Bjarke Kovshøj whilst I was in Copenhagen. Bjarke works for Climate-KIC, the European organisation with the mission of accelerating our path towards Sustainable Cities.

Sustainable Cities Hacking with Bjarke

Listen to my interview with Bjarke here!

We talked about the route to Sustainable Cities, citizens taking climate action and the Climathon!

After meeting Bjarke, I was inspired to learn more about the great work that Climate-KIC are doing. This article brings together this research and what I learnt from Bjarke.

Although their contribution is well known in some circles, I hope to broaden that reach and inspire you to engage with their work on this incredibly important mission.

Who are Climate-KIC?

Climate-KIC are a European organisation partly funded by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT).

The ‘KIC’ in Climate-KIC stands for Knowledge & Innovation Community. Put simply, their goal is to support innovation that accelerates the path to sustainable cities.

I found this mission inspiring and very well aligned with the mission of Future Distributed.

With over 550 employees operating across Europe, Climate-KIC partner with Higher Education, Business, Research organisations and Cities themselves.

Climate-KIC partners working on sustainable cities around Europe and globally.
Climate-KIC partners across Europe from their website.

Their core focus is in Europe, but recognising that climate change is a global issue, their initiatives also reach outside of Europe to nearly every continent.

So that’s a brief overview of the organisation, but what do they do?

Climathon – the Sustainable Cities hackathon

Climate-KIC host Global Climathon Day which happens once a year (typically in October). But the impact generated from this event lasts all year round.

Introdcution to the Climathon 2019 (from Climate-KIC YouTube channel)

On Climathon Day, teams from over 100 cities work on climate-related challenges which are highly relevant to the societal challenges that each city is facing.

2019 challenge examples from Sustainable Cities:

Tackling these challenges are teams formed specifically for the event. These teams are made up of people from a wide variety of backgrounds, but they share a common purpose. A common desire. A desire to make an impact and let their voice be heard when it comes to climate action.

Then, over a 24-hour period, this is when the magic happens. Teams collaborate, ideate, develop, strategise, code, plan, discuss, visualise & present their ideas.

Climathon teams working towards sustainable cities ideas in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
Climathon participants in Mendrisio, Switzerland (image credit: here)

Then what?

So lots of passionate people have come up with some really creative solutions over a caffeinated 24-hour sprint. Then what?

Do we throw the Post-It’s in the bin and leave the GitHub Repos abandoned to gather dust until they are delete some months later?

No. And this is where Climate-KIC really shines in my opinion.

5 ways to get real-world IMPACT from a Hackathon


If you read my previous article about getting real-world impact from a Hackathon, you’ll know I’m passionate about hackathons that provide a legitimate route to scale up innovations into things that make a difference in the world.

Climate-KIC does exactly this via ClimateLaunchpad.

ClimateLaunchpad – scaling your Sustainable Cities idea

Climate-Launchpad is the vehicle to scale innovations from idea to impact. The winning ideas from the annual Climathon automatically qualify for the Climate Launchpad (if a program exists in that City).

You can read more information about the ClimateLaunchpad here.

The final pitch at a ClimateLaunchpad event

Climate-KIC Accelerator

For fully-formed businesses, the EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator gives fully-formed businesses coaching and support through a dedicated 18-month program.

How Climate-KIC can help you

So that’s a whistlestop tour of Climate-KIC and a small selection of the some of their initiatives. But if you thinking, ‘how can Climate-KIC help me?’, this section is for you.

As they work with partner with a broad range of stakeholders, I’ve broken this section down to give targeted advice, depending on who you are.

If you are:

  • a business/ academic institution looking to partner with Climate-KIC? Check out the Partnerships page on the Climate-KIC website.
  • looking to invest in Climate-Related startups? A good place to start is the Climate-KIC Marketplace. Here they list all the startups in the Climate-KIC ecosystem and filter by technology readiness level (TRL) and other parameters. You can sign up for free!
  • a citizen looking to take Climate Action? I recommend you sign up for the next Global Climathon Day! They take place in over 100 cities around the world, and if your city is not represented yet, why not register to set up your own event? All the support and infrastructure is provided by the Climate-KIC team, you just need a venue and some enthusiastic people!
  • an individual or small team with a good idea already? Apply for the ClimateLaunchpad competition! The 2019 competition has now closed, but you can bookmark the Competition Calendar which will be updated with all the important dates for next year.
  • a climate-related startup looking for support and/or funding? I recommend you look at the EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator.

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Will Needham

I believe in a future built environment that is safe, sustainable, healthy, efficient & productive. Actually, I believe pockets of excellence in each of these things already exist; they are just distributed geographically in different parts of the world. My mission is to go out there and find these pockets of excellence and tell the stories of the people, projects, policies that are responsible for such positive steps.

1 Comment

Climate Action in Cities - Climate-KIC - Future Distributed · 9th February 2020 at 1:53 pm

[…] can citizens and experts take Climate Action to revolutionise our […]

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