Climate-KIC main climate innovation initiative

Countries across Europe are increasingly becoming involved with Climate-KIC, one of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities created in 2010 by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. This is the European Union body tasked with creating sustainable European growth while dealing with the global challenges of our time.

Climate-KIC has its headquarters in London and operates through centres across Europe to support start-up companies, to bring together partners on innovation projects and to educate students to bring about a connected, creative transformation of knowledge and ideas into products and services that help mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The KIC has centres in France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom while a new Nordic centre opened in Denmark in February. It is also represented in the European regions of Valencia in Spain, Central Hungary, Emilia Romagna in Italy, Lower Silesia in Poland, Hessen in Germany and the West Midlands in the United Kingdom.

Through its regional outreach programme, Climate-KIC works with partners in Slovenia, Cork-Dublin in Ireland, Helsinki-Uusimaa in Finland, North Portugal and Lisbon, South Moravia in the Czech Republic and Timis in Romania.

The new Danish centre

The Denmark-based Climate-KIC will allow Nordic start-up entrepreneurs, businesses, climate professionals, students and government officials to join the European partnership to work on climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions.

It was opened on 7 February by European Union commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, and is located on the Technical University of Denmark’s Lyngby campus – 15 kilometres north of Copenhagen.

“This is a very important new initiative for Climate-KIC – enlarging our innovation base to include this key region of Europe,” said Mary Ritter*, chief executive of Climate-KIC.

“We are starting from a very strong base in Denmark and will progressively extend the partnership to build a truly Nordic centre. In this context, I’m delighted that we already have an excellent Swedish partner – Chalmers University of Technology – on board.”

Aside from the Technical University of Denmark, the University of Copenhagen and Chalmers University of Technology, two of Denmark’s largest manufacturing companies – Grundfos and VELUX Group – and the City of Copenhagen will collaborate through the centre to tackle climate change and create green jobs.

Copenhagen was recently named European Green Capital of 2014 by the European Commission, and has placed public-private partnerships at the core of its approach to eco-innovation and sustainable employment.

Ritter said Climate-KIC’s northern expansion would strengthen Europe’s leading position in the field of global climate change mitigation and adaptation by including Nordic clean-tech start-ups, corporations and students in its European projects and programmes.

“Scandinavian knowledge institutions and businesses have a long tradition of addressing the climate agenda,” said Henrik Wegener, provost of the Technical University of Denmark. “This tradition is now being given an additional boost with the creation of an extensive partnership across sectors and national borders.”

Thomas Bjørnholm, pro-rector for research and innovation at the University of Copenhagen, said the new centre represented a unique opportunity for Denmark:

“Our research and education environments have the chance to work with some of the best researchers in the world. We are able to generate opportunities for the creative transformation of knowledge and ideas into economically valuable products or services that can help meet the challenges of climate change."

Education, innovation and entrepreneurship

Ritter said Climate-KIC combined education with innovation and entrepreneurship, bringing together not just industry and academia but also, crucially, city and regional governments.

"Our young entrepreneurs are first class with many having already established their own start-up – a testament to our 'learning by doing' programmes," she said.

"As the latest IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report makes clear, we must address climate change mitigation and adaptation with urgency. Climate-KIC's students and alumni are key innovators and change agents in succeeding in this global challenge!"

Norway is not yet participating in any of the three KIC-networks. Anders Flodström, a professor at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, believes the country’s research institutions should be participating.

“Norway has a strong position within the marine sciences, in energy research and even in ICT, and the access to polar research from Norwegian research infrastructures is a great opportunity for Europe,” Flodström told University World News.

“Norway also has some extremely strong industrial partners, so if I was in Bergen or Trondheim I would be looking at partners that could complement the Norwegian research agenda, and I think that a Norwegian-KIC node for the extraction of raw materials through extraction of marine aquaculture would be exciting."

* Mary Ritter was awarded an Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in the New Year Honours list.