Article by Belinda Whelan, Director of Strategic Projects, Climate-KIC Australia
Things do not change, we change!
(Henry David Thoreau)
Investment is being made across the innovation pipeline, but it is not at the scale required to shift our economy on a sustainable path. Australia’s first Clean Energy Seed Fund, managed by Artesian, was established in early 2017 attracting $26 million in finance.The Clean Energy Innovation Fund is a $200 million program to support the growth of innovative clean energy technologies and businesses has passed the research phase. Despite the success of these funds which are helping to build the clean energy ecosystem, the market is still embryotic. In particular green businesses focused on mitigation outside of clean energy and adaptation struggle to access finance. We need pragmatic and viable solutions to dramatically grow the sustainable finance market in Australia.
Climate-KIC Australia is a catalyst to deliver systemic change towards a sustainable Australia. We provide greater ‘agency’ to financiers, to allow them to invest in zero-carbon, circular economy or climate resilient ventures (e.g. projects or assets) at a scale that is consistent with Australia’s mitigation and adaptation needs.
As the energy market matures, investment into and profit from the cleantech and energy start-up community grows. Climate-KIC Australia sees a clear need to support early incubation to create a stronger pipeline of investment ready opportunities and to continue to diversify the sources of capital available to these businesses.
There is a shortage of entrepreneurs focused in this area and there is a lack of knowledge about the industry transformation that’s occurring. To overcome this challenge, Climate-KIC Australia prepares future entrepreneurs and sustainability leaders through its education program (The Journey) and through its global green business competition (ClimateLaunchpad) and the annual global climate hackathon (Climathon). As more businesses enter this space and as they scale, there will be a need to connect them with different types of capital which suit their needs.
Climate-KIC’s partner, EnergyLab, also runs initiatives that build the pipeline of future entrepreneurs. These include hackathons, springboards and an Australia-wide accelerator program supported by Climate-KIC Australia which bring together innovators, mentors and funders.
At a systemic scale, Climate-KIC is seeking to connect different capital providers to enable projects to shift from ideation to maturity. Climate-KIC‘s systemic program convenes large scale projects with cross-sectoral partners and operates in the ‘pre-investment’ space. These projects bring together many actors – not for profits, corporates, philanthropic, government and traditional investors – to support innovation. This enhances the innovation ecosystem, develops new professional connections and grows the number of investable
opportunities for impact investors, who are interested in investing in proven mitigation and adaptation projects.
Through fostering innovation, educating future leaders and convening novel coalitions of partners to solve complex challenges, Climate-KIC Australia aims to connect with different financiers to dramatically increase the flow of sustainable investment in Australia.