Catalysing a national response to climate change

Published 03 Apr 2017

By Chris Lee

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Innovation for climate change solutions will not happen unless we can design institutions that foster creative thinking and the development of new clean businesses. It is with this core ambition in mind that the Australian Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community (Climate-KIC Australia), a public-private innovation partnership, has been established. Climate-KIC Australia offers a new way to link businesses, entrepreneurs, research, investors, and government to address the challenges and harness the opportunities of climate change.

Climate-KIC Australia will create positive impact at scale by building networks, linking ideas, commercial know-how, and investment capital to bring to market innovative solutions and transform the way Australia responds to climate change. A distinctive selection of public and private entities have committed to be founding partners of Climate-KIC Australia. This includes 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, EnergyLab, South Pole Group, WWF Australia, the University of Adelaide, Curtin University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Technology Sydney. The partners have worked together to position Climate-KIC Australia as an organisation that can facilitate and create systemic change.

Christopher Lee, CEO of Climate-KIC Australia is excited: “No single company, government, university or entrepreneur can solve climate change by themselves. 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.”

Climate-KIC Australia is based on the successful European EIT Climate-KIC model, which was established six years ago by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. Christopher Lee, CEO of Climate-KIC Australia says: “Similar to its European counterpart, Climate-KIC Australia 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”.

“Climate-KIC Australia is an important part of building up our capacity for tackling climate change and the perfect complement to the initiatives already underway in Europe. We look forward to collaborating with Climate-KIC Australia to scale up climate innovation on both continents”, states Mary Ritter, former CEO and International Ambassador Climate-KIC Europe and Acting Chair Climate-KIC Australia.

Sem Fabrizi, the Ambassador of the European Union to Australia, today congratulated the launch of the innovative and committed team that have developed the Australian KIC initiative. Ambassador Fabrizi said “People, business, researchers, innovators and public authorities from all over Australia and the region can benefit from this important Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community initiative.”

What is unique about Climate-KIC’s model is its ability to both seed new ideas, but also bring in large research agencies and corporations to give the grunt needed to realise innovations. Climate innovation on the other hand can provide the foundation for the future prosperity of Australia, and the scale of opportunity is vast: New Climate Economy estimates that around US$90 trillion of investment in global infrastructure is required to achieve a broad-based, low-carbon economy by 2030.

Throughout 2017, Climate-KIC Australia will ramp up its operations. The organisation has been constituted as a decentralised not-for-profit organisation which will have operations in all major Australian cities by the end of 2017. Inspired by its European counterpart, Climate-KIC Australia is piloting cleantech accelerator activities in NSW which will roll-out nationally in 2018. The Climate LaunchPad tech competition will open in April 2017 – winning teams from Australia will participate in the Global finals in Europe in October 2017. Climate-KIC Australia  will also launch climate-related education programmes in the later part of 2017.

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