European Cleantech Challenge’s International Investor Roadshow : Who Are The Investors ?

         Many thanks to all of those who have taken their time to submit their entry ! We have received some great submissions so far and it will surely be a tough task for the judging panel to select a shortlist. Let us remind you that, if you haven’t done so already, the NEW submission deadline is next Sunday, August 26th at midnight GMT.

Today, we would like to give you some details about the International Investor Roadshow. For those of you who have already registered and/or submitted ideas, you might be wondering : Who am I going to meet in this International Roadshow ? Who are these “top investors” I will get the chance to pitch to in Arena Meetings ?

         Well, here are some names of Venture Capital firms and Business Angels who participated in last year’s editions of the European Cleantech Challenge.  We hope this non-exhaustive list will reassure those who have registered to the challenge and will encourage those who haven’t done it yet !


European Cleantech Challenge : What happened to previous participants ?

Are you still hesitating on whether you should participate in the European Cleantech Challenge or not ? Sure, meeting business angels and VCs in an International Roadshow sounds like a great idea. However, is it worth the travel time and cost spent for all these Arena Meetings? Well, let’s take a look at what happened to Agroils Technology, a renewable energy company who participated in the Cleantech Challenge. Last March, we were glad to report that the Italian start-up, based in Florence, Italy had raised about $1.5 Million (€1.1 M) in the venture financing round. The investment was provided by X-Capital S.p.A. ($1.2 M/ €0.9 M) and Italian Angels ($0.27 M / €0.2 M) – Source: Biofuels International, Italy.

Agroils Technologies focuses on innovative processes enabling the production of superior quality biofuels, animal feed and molecules of pharmaceutical interest from no-food Jatropha energy crop. The Italian company intends to use the proceeds from the financing to develop its technology to produce biofuel, protein biomass for animal feed and Jatropha. Their solution has already helped many Jatropha farmers to optimize their production in Senegal, Nigeria and Dominican Republic.

This is only one of many success stories of start-ups that have successfully closed their funding round following the program. Give yourself a chance to succeed as well : ! Please note that registration and submission deadline is August 24th.

The Power of Open Innovation

GC Illumination is an Italian company specialised in the design, production and distribution of fixtures for exterior lighting. GC supplies utilities, municipalities and installation companies in Italy and internationally. The company has been operating from its Milan headquarters since the early 60s.

The extremely tough economic environment in Italy as well as the growing competition from Chinese manufacturers are putting a lot of pressure on the company to stay ahead of the curve, maintain its market leadership and keep expanding its business in Italy and internationally. When GC’s CEO Enrico Conti approached us to discuss the main challenges he was facing as a business, we immediately saw an opportunity to help him with some very tangible support.

GC has an in-house R&D team that works to continuously come up with new and innovative designs for its exterior lighting products. This work is critical as it helps the company to keep driving its revenues and to expand its market share. As a result of their continuous effort, they recently introduced a new LED-based product line that was an instant success. Unfortunately, GC could not fully unleash this product line to areas such as motorways, some urban locations, sports installations and other public spaces due to the illumination coefficients that the lighting fittings are required to have in these areas. This represented a significant lost revenue opportunity for Mr Conti and his company.

With a tight R&D budget and a small team operating from its Milan offices, Mr Conti asked SkipsoLabs whether we could come up with a solution. We illustrated our Crowdsourcing in a Box product and we explained how the dedicated platform, combined with our established global innovation ecosystem and targeted outreach could offer him, in a very short period of time, some real tangible benefit at a fraction of the cost of what it would cost him to develop the solution in-house or to fly around the world seeking technical partners to develop the product.

After having captured all of GC’s technical requirements, we launched The Green Lighting Challenge. This was a two-month Open Innovation and outreach campaign to help GC identify the most innovative products available on the global market to help them expand their LED-product line and capture new market share. Leveraging our dedicated platform, our existing Cleantech ecosystem and our ongoing outreach support throughout the process, the project was a success. In a short period of time GC received over 60 qualified submissions from experts, scientists and companies in over 20 countries. They short listed three proposals that included one from a scientist in Palo Alto, another great technology developed by a start-up in the UK and a solution from a growing company in Canada. Ultimately, they selected the UK start-up and have since started discussions to sign a commercial partnership and join venture. All this process happened with Mr Conti sitting in his comfortable office just outside Milan!

We believe this is an extremely powerful model that will reshape the way many companies, large and small, do business. Companies that will understand the power of open innovation and crowdsourcing, the ones that will be early adopters in the space, the ones that will adapt their organization to embed these practices within their internal processes, will be the winners in this increasingly competitive (and flat) world.

Cleantech Competitions: Driving Open Innovation

With the number of cleantech companies growing, and the need for innovative thinking and creative cleantech ideas increasing, cleantech competitions are becoming a key component in delivering fresh minds and new ideas.

Cleantech competitions are a key ingredient in the recipe for cleantech success.  These renewable energy focused competitions are bridging the gap between university students, cleantech start-up businesses, more established companies as well as investors.  For these three target groups of the growing cleantech world, it is a win-win-win-win situation.

For students, these competitions give them a chance to gain real-world experience by using what they are learning in school and creatively applying their knowledge to solve real cleantech problems.  Competitions offer a prize to the winning participant, creating an even greater incentive to participate.  There are also many competitions that target the minds of startup companies.  On the corporate side of things, these competitions give companies new ideas and project proposals from cleantech innovators, at no cost. Finally, investors can use competitions as an effective way to generate quality ideas tapping into entrepreneurial talent worldwide.

Perhaps the largest and most successful cleantech challenge is the CleanTech Open.  The National Grand Prize winner of this competition receives a $250,000 cash prize.  Receiving thousands of submissions to their competition, the CleanTech Open opens the door to a countless number of people to display their creative thinking and innovative ideas.  This open innovation is key to bringing success to the rising cleantech revolution.

The European Cleantech Challenge is another important challenge.  This competition is a yearly business plan competition managed by the leading Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo and aimed at startup companies in Europe. Another great European initiative is the  Cleantech Challenge a joint initiative by London Business School and UCL.  Cleantech Challenge Mexico is another example of a new competition that is growing in size and participation in a growing economy.

GE’s Ecomagination is another great example of how large companies are leveraging competitions and Open Innovation to drive Cleantech innovation. The initiative was a $200 million innovation experiment where businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators and students shared their best ideas on how to improve our energy future. The competition was also recently launched in China opening more doors for innovation by spreading to new countries.

These are just a few examples that show how cleantech competitions are taking off all over the world.

With this proliferation of competitions and open innovation challenges there is a problem of finding the right competitions to participate in. Our online cleantech platform and ecosystem on our website, is also a great place to find all the latest Cleantech competitions, awards and funding opportunities. We also run our own Open Innovation challenges.  Anyone from a CEO to a university student can find challenges and participate.

For organizations that would rather run a competition on their own dedicated platform, Skipso offers the perfect solution. Through a dedicated and fully customised whitelabel platform, we allow any organization to set up and manage its own competition in few simple steps. An example is the previously mentioned EuropeanCleantech Challenge.

By utilizing the tools that companies like Skipso have created, any organization can leverage open innovation and competitions to drive Cleantech innovation. In doing so, they will also contribute to successfully creating new ideas, connections and jobs globally.

Rwanda Rural Electrification Challenge – Winners Announced!

Dear members,

We would like to inform you that, after much consideration, the judging panel have made their decision and identified the winning solutions to the Rwanda Rural Electrification Challlenge. The excellent quality of these solutions has made selecting a winner a particularly challenging task.  However, we are pleased to announce that, on the basis of clarity of idea, technical and financial feasibility, local involvement and scalability, the top 3 solutions chosen by Mabawa were those submitted by:

  1. Emilio Simonet ($1,500 cash award)
  2. Christophe Parot ($500 cash award)
  3. Francis Hillman ($500 cash award)

These solutions were not just innovative in terms of the ideas and technology they described, but managed to reconcile scalability with financial feasibility (all were under $25 000).

In addition, a further 5 solutions have been shortlisted for a potential Phase 2 of the project:

  • Francois D’Assise Nezerwa
  • Eric Youngren
  • Bernardin Vsanase
  • Douglas Danley
  • Bridget Wandelt

It should be mentioned that Mabawa is currently trying to secure funding for onsite-implementation.  Should it succeed in this task, it may decide to invite all shortlisted participants to submit a more detailed solution based on Nyamyumba’s specific energy requirements.

We would like to thank all of those who have participated to this challenge and we look forward to seeing you again on Skipso soon!


The Green Lighting Challenge Launched Today!

The Skipso team is excited to annouce the launch of a new Cleantech innovation challenge today: The Green Lighting Challenge.

GC Illumination is an Italian company specialised in the design, production and distribution of fixtures for exterior lighting.

GC supplies utilities, municipalities and installation companies in Italy and internationally.GC is looking for innovative solutions and products to enhance the performance of its LED-based product line and extend its functional application to a wider range of fittings.

G.C.'s Wing-Sun Product

Win $10,000 cash award for submitting solutions that will allow GC to meet the required illumination coefficients and to expand its Green Lighting fittings to motorways, urban areas, sports installations and other public areas.

$10,000 Cash Award!

Submit your solution today or refer a friend and win $1,000 if they solve the challenge!