GEF-UNIDO partnership supports launch of the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme for SMEs in South Africa

The South African Cleantech Innovation Programme for SMEs was officially launched in Pretoria yesterday afternoon.

First implemented in South Africa in 2011, the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP) now has ongoing activities in Armenia, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey and South Africa, with projects already under development in a further 20 countries.

The launch marks the opening of the call for applications for the Cleantech Competition and Accelerator Programme in South Africa under the GEF-UNIDO Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP) for SMEs, jointly implemented with the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA). The Cleantech Open, the biggest cleantech accelerator in the United States of America, is the programme’s knowledge partner.

Building on the legacy of the successful 2011 Cleantech Competition, implemented under UNIDO’s Greening the COP17 project, TIA and the Government of South Africa, through the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), have joined UNIDO for the launch of the GCIP. All speakers reiterated the relevance of the GCIP initiative, which aims at tackling the planet’s most imminent environmental challenges, enabling small-business to play a pivotal role in finding local innovative solutions.

The programme will identify innovative clean technology entrepreneurs in the fields of energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste-to-energy, and water efficiency, and through the Accelerator programme will support entrepreneurs towards commercialisation. As the best cleantech start-ups progress through the GCIP, they will be continuously trained, mentored and assessed, and will be given the opportunity to connect with potential investors and partners. The Accelerator Programme will culminate in the National Award Event in October 2014 where finalists, category winners, and the National Winner will have the opportunity to showcase their innovations to a large audience. In addition, the National Winners from each country are then brought together at the Global Forum in Silicon Valley in November, having the opportunity to broaden their networks, benefitting from the global linkages of the programme.

As Dr Mthombeni, General Manager: Energy at TIA, stressed during the event, it is not only about the competition. GCIP couples the participating entrepreneurs with relevant experts in the start-up business and the Cleantech arena, which will volunteer to mentor the best entrepreneurs throughout the Programme, providing not only technical advice but also encouragement, inspiration and motivation to emerging enterprises.

Professor Kfir, TIA interim CEO, indicated that the Programme has a potential for TIA to deepen its role of a facilitator, connector and funder of technological innovation within the National System of Innovation by being an integral part of building this ecosystem.

“We have too many emerging enterprises that fail in their first 5 years and yet our hopes are on this sector to succeed and create a large percentage of much needed jobs,” says Ms. Jeanne Rose, Director of ECO2 Partnership SA, while sharing her outstanding Cleantech journey since receiving the award at COP17 as the winner of the 2011 Cleantech Competition. “I believe that it is a strategic choice to be part of building the future rather than be part of a

future built by others.” Ms. Rose, who is now part of the GCIP Alumni Programme, is very keen to, as she put it, “pay it forward” by assisting fellow entrepreneurs as a GCIP mentor.

Congratulating the South Africa team and the UNIDO Regional Office for the successful launch of the GCIP in South Africa, Dr. Pradeep Monga, Director of Energy and Climate Change, conveyed his excitement to join hands with such strong partners as the Technology Innovation Agency to engage with thousands of energy entrepreneurs and small businesses in South Africa for the promotion of clean technology innovations.

For more information on how to get involved with the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme in South Africa, visit our website, southafrica.cleantechopen.org or contact the team at cleantech@tia.org.za / 012 472 2904 / 012 472 2774

For more information on the Global Programme, visit the UNIDO-GEF publication, The GEF UNIDO Global Cleantech Programme for SMEs, here http://www.thegef.org/gef/pubs/gef-unido-global-cleantech-programme-smes