Climate Launchpad European Finals – Small Farms – Éire Smith

Over the course of our engagement with Blackstone LaunchPad and then LaunchBox this summer, Johnathon and I took part in Climate Launchpad, Europe’s largest cleantech business idea competition, with our startup Small Farms.

Climate Launchpad aims to help kick-start businesses that address the issue of climate change in an innovative way. The programme consisted of a two-day ‘bootcamp’ in May, and weekly training sessions throughout the summer to mentor participants on developing their value proposition, business model and pitch. Our mentor was Ron Immink, entrepreneur-in-residence of Sustainable Nation Ireland, a non-profit organisation whose aim is to support and develop business ideas that will successfully transition Ireland to a low-carbon economy.

Participating in Blackstone LaunchPad and then LaunchBox meant that we were constantly practicing and improving our pitch, while continually refining our idea. Our hard work lead us to the national finals, where three teams would be chosen to represent Ireland at the Climate Launchpad European Finals in Tallinn, Estonia. Our pitch took place in front of a panel of judges, with 5 minutes given for the pitch and 3 minutes of questions. We were successful at the national finals and won a place on the trip to Estonia!

 

The European finals took place over two days in Tallinn, where ninety different teams from thirty countries across Europe had the chance to pitch their ideas to a wider audience. A number of talks also took place across the two days on subjects relating to carbon emissions, startup formation and business plan development. Although we didn’t make it into the grande finale, I was delighted to be able to compete against other high-quality startups in the cleantech area. Some of the winning startups included Gleather, who produce a gelatin-based leather-like material to replace traditional toxin-intensive leather production; and Sponge, a product that can be used to prevent oil spills and absorb contaminants from the ocean. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the cleantech sector and to discover other startups in the area. The top startups at the finals each won a place on the first stage of Climate KIC’s accelerator programme in their respective regions. Climate KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) is an initiative by the European Union which aims to create sustainable economic growth in Europe.

Overall, Climate Launchpad was an excellent programme to take part in and complemented nicely all that we learned at Blackstone LaunchPad at Trinity. Our pitching improved thanks to all the guidance and coaching we received, and discussing Small Farms with others in the cleantech sector was an invaluable opportunity.