Making Innovation count: Workshop for cleantech SMEs in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: WWF-India, in partnership with CII, organized a regional workshop on “Climate Solver+: Fostering Cleantech Innovation in SME sector in India” in Bengaluru on 15 March 2017. This is second among the series of regional workshops, reaching out to cleantech entrepreneurs working on sustainable energy solutions. The workshop included key representation from government, venture capitalists, incubation centres, SMEs, universities, financial institutions, industry associations and other stakeholders from the southern region.

WWF’s Climate Solver platform recognizes Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), whose innovative technologies significantly reduce carbon-dioxide emissions or provide improved energy access to rural or urban poor. Over the last four years, the India chapter of this platform has recognized 15 promising innovators and conferred the Climate Solver award to them. Some of these winning companies have also been listed in the top 100 innovators listed in Sustainia100 – an annual guide that identifies projects, initiatives and technologies that are at the forefront of sustainable innovation from around the world, based on a review of more than 1500 projects and businesses from six continents.

In its fifth year, WWF-India has expanded this platform to the “Climate Solver +” platform, and through this intends to strengthen the cleantech innovation ecosystem in the country by enhancing networking amongst SMEs and other relevant stakeholders such as the finance community, incubation centres/accelerators, and government bodies. SMEs in India, especially at grassroot/regional level, still encounter barriers that hold them back from scaling up. This initiative therefore seeks to address these barriers by building on the successes of the Climate Solver initiative in India to scale climate innovation among SMEs by growing the pool of clean energy innovators, providing a select group of innovators with business and financial planning, and building a community of clean energy innovation practice.

Mr Kamal Bali, Chairman, CII Kanataka State Council & MD, Volvo India remarked, “Opportunities are available both at the national and global to comeout with innovative technologies through local and national incubation centers, national and global research centers, and business platforms. Small and medium enterprises, being a major consumer of energy, have a lot of potential to use methods and technology that is not only energy efficient but also reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. SMEs in India, especially at grassroot /regional level, still encounter barriers that prevent them from having the significant impact on energy access and carbon reductions. This project therefore seeks to address these barriers by building on the successes of the Climate Solver initiative in India to scale climate innovation among SMEs by growing the pool of clean energy innovators, providing a select group of innovators with business and financial planning, and building a community of clean energy innovation practice.”

Holistically analysing the clean technology innovation landscape in India, Dr T.S.Panwar, Director, Climate Change & Energy, WWF-India, emphasized on the need to reach out to different regions in order to have a deeper understanding of the ecosystem, and strengthen linkages of the SMEs with the various orchestrators in the innovation space.

Mr Sanjeev Sharma, Vice Chairman, CII Karnataka State Council said, “WWF, CII & Government have come together for Making Clean and Green energy products for sustainable future. Radical innovation is the key to reducing emissions over the medium and long term, but it will not stop climate change from getting worse in the meantime. This is where the realism comes in: many people will have to adapt to a hotter Earth, and some of them will need help.  Pragmatism should replace green theology. The climate is changing because of extraordinary inventions like the steam turbine and the internal combustion engine. The best way to cope is to keep inventing. Keep innovating new ways to produce energy. Perhaps, we could be inspired by Nature’s way of sustaining life. Coal now supplies 41% of the world’s electricity and 29% of the world’s energy—the bigger share than at any time in at least four decades. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is 40% higher than it was at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Public subsidy, of about $800bn since 2008, has distorted the market. It came about for noble reasons: to counter climate change and prime the pump for new, costly technologies, including wind turbines and solar panels. But subsidies hit just as electricity consumption in the rich world was stagnating because of growing energy efficiency and the financial crisis. The result was a glut of power-generating capacity that has slashed the revenues utilities earn from wholesale power markets and hence deterred investment.”

About CII

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) works to create and sustain an environment conducive to the development of India, partnering industry, Government, and civil society, through advisory and consultative processes. CII charts change by working closely with Government on policy issues, interfacing with thought leaders, and enhancing efficiency, competitiveness and business opportunities for industry through a range of specialized services and strategic global linkages. It also provides a platform for consensus-building and networking on key issues. Extending its agenda beyond business, CII assists industry to identify and execute corporate citizenship programmes. Partnerships with civil society organizations carry forward corporate initiatives for integrated and inclusive development across diverse domains including affirmative action, healthcare, education, livelihood, diversity management, skill development, empowerment of women, and water, to name a few. 


To know more, contact:
Divya Joy


Confederation of Indian Industry

A new dawn for start-ups in India may impact us all

Already in the opening remarks of the Climate Solver event in India Ravi Singh (Secretary General & CEO, WWF- India) highlighted that India has one of the biggest small and medium sized enterprise sectors in the world and their potential is now being looked at in a major way. There is a big impact potential in this, if that effort is also canalized towards achieving societal goals.

Presentations and discussions over the day revealed undoubtedly that there has been an overall positive change and mind-shift in the Indian government attitude in India towards the promotion of start-ups. It is clear from the launch of “Start-Up India” that the needs of start-ups now have a fora where they are put central stage. Prime Minister Modi’s visit with Indian start-ups, incl Climate Solver honored entrepreneur GIBSS - Green India Building Systems and Services, to pitch in Silicon Valley last year has also changed the dynamic around start-ups in India today. And this may have big effects not only in India but also to the world outside. 

India Climate Innovation System Panel

This was reinforced in real cases during the event with comments from for example Mudit Narain that introduced Bharat Innovations a new $150 million start-up fund that will partly invest in scaling cleantech innovation in close collaboration with incubators such as the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship at IIM Ahmedabad. This represents six times more funding for sustainable ventures if you compare to the previously available funds from Infuse Ventures. We also heard Piyush Mathur, CFO for Climate Solver Simpa Network, witness that they were inspired by Make in India to manufacture their solar energy access products locally. Present from the Climate Solver India jury were Mr. Nitin Desai (Former Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, UN), Mr V. Subramanian (Former Secretary, MNRE), Mr Krishan Dhawan (CEO, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation) and  Dr Arunabha Ghosh (CEO, CEEW). The jury raised that it is important to celebrate the fact that innovation is key to us in order to reach the agreed sustainable development goals but having an ecosystem that takes these innovations to scale is more important. And do we really have that? That is the real issue.

The jury raised that the technologies and business models winning awards such as Climate Solvers may not be glamorous but have actually developed something that is making a difference. And indeed two Climate Solver entrepreneurs from last year were present to report back on their journey. Simpa started operations in 2011 and, reached over 10,000 customers in the state of Uttar Pradesh alone last year and now witnessed how their customer base has tripled over the last year partly thanks to being honored as Climate Solver. Mr. Mainak Chakraborty, Founder-Director of GPS Renewables highlighted that Credibilility and Visibility are very important for start-ups that do not hold the budgets of larger corporations. Therefore, the recognition from Climate Solver has already meant a great deal to their expansion to reach 35 projects, all remotely controlled from Delhi, and the 30 000 tonnes of GHG emissions avoided today as well as their recent expansion to the US market through a California pilot.  So we witness some growth from credibility and visibility but there was rightly a call from Dr Arunabha Ghosh for a lot more private equity as well as debt finance, such as green bonds, to reach these kinds of Climate Solver innovations rather than more business as usual technologies. We need to go from case studies at scale to implementation at scale. There was also a jury request to WWF to assess how the WWF Climate Solver portfolio of now more than 80 entrepreneurs have developed after they have been honured. A request we have also heard from other countries and will do as part of the work going forward. 

The stars of the day were our newest additions of two innovations the jury selected this year as really walking the talk on climate innovation in India. They are:

-          Radiant cooling solution for building sector by Oorja Energy Engineering Services

-          Prepaid DC micro grid with USB stick based recharge by Boond Engineering & Development   

The expert panel on strengthening the Indian Climate Innovation Ecosystem were Dr. Nakul Gupta (Assistant Professor and Coordinator, Entrepreneurship and Incubation Centre,  MDI, Gurgaon) Mr. Pankaj Sindwani (Vice President, Tata Cleantech Capital) Mr. Pradeep Sharma (AGM,  Consultancy Services Cell, SBI) and previously mentioned Mr. Mudit Narain (‎Vice President,  CIIE, IIM Ahmedabad and Bharat Fund) and Mr. Piyush Mathur (CFO, Simpa Network) with undersigned as moderator.

In the panel there were expressed wishes and ideas to for ex

-          Initiate a dialogue between innovation companies and financial institutions in India as well as speeding up cross-border migration of the large range of innovations outside, eg as annually portrayed in Climate Solver, Sustainia 100 and other sustainable innovation initiatives. The challenge is partly linguistic where companies need to take time to develop financial literacy, and banks on the other hand should make efforts to understand the technical and commercial aspects. For banks financing is not a problem but it is important for business to have scale and right kind of business models for banks to have an incentive to lend

-          Get debt finance institutions (for ex bond issuers) more actively looking at new technologies which could make a big difference in sustainability impact, not least decentralised energy access projects.

-          Engage mainstream lending institutions in India to better understand the businesses where there is a risk of distributed customers/cash flows.

-          Devote more time to new ideas by mainstream lending institutions

-          Change behaviour in the way we see business. The next wave of innovations (after the IT revolution) is in sectors such as cleantech and healthcare.

-          Use ‘Growth hacking’ as a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business. It’s working in the ICT sector so is it applicable to climate innovation too?

From the entrepreneur side an obstacle was raised that there is a ‘dark middle’ of raising capital between 5 and 15 million US dollars where entrepreneurs have nowhere to turn. So the journey for the best innovation companies to raise capital in different stages of equity and debt finance in order to employ people, reduce emissions and draw people out of poverty continues in India, as it does elsewhere. Pankaj Sindwani from Tata Capital drew a comparison to mature cleantech by reminding us all that a few years ago no capital wanted to touch solar PV but now everyone’s there and wants to be there due to the scale of it. Looking forward we must open up many more such innovation opportunities also beyond solar PV and wind power. 

There is a new dawn for start-ups in India supported by Government as well as the private sector. There are still problems to be resolved but there are also tremendous opportunities when actors like incubation centres, entrepreneurs, public/private finance and NGOs, that were respresented in our panel, start to pull in the same direction on climate innovation and mind the gaps that stop many innovations from growing large at speed today. Initiatives like Start-Up India putting the entrepreneurial challenges at the core is taking this a step in the right direction and with appropriate integration of sustainability this is not only good news for India, but also for the world outside this brewing innovation economy. And there is growing confidence from these actors in India that the ecosystem of innovation is coming into place and that it’s a good place to be for entrepreneurs looking for growth opportunities at this very moment. Increasing the flow of start-ups from as well as to India thereby carries hope for large markets, rapid business growth as well as carbon reductions and energy access at scale in the years to come. 

And thanks to new funding the reach of the Climate Solver programme in India is now being expanded to different regions of the country to capture larger number of local initiatives and entrepreneurs as well as to strengthen the interface and networking amongst different stakeholders. 

For further reading please find the press release here

Blog by Stefan Henningsson, Senior Adviser Climate Innovation, WWF Climate & Energy Practice 


South Africa celebrates entrepreneurial innovations

On Wednesday evening 25 May, WWF South Africa celebrated three entrepreneurs for their innovative ventures that address carbon emission reductions and access to energy using clean technologies.

The awards ceremony was preceded by an interactive and robust panel discussion on Bridging the gap: The role of Enablers in South Africa featuring industry thought leaders. Gerswynn McKuur (Technology Innovation Agency, TIA); Albert Botha (Ashburton Investments); Mike Mulcahy (GreenCape); Tanner Methvin (Impact Amplifier); Helmut Hertzog (South Africa Renewable Energy Business Incubator, SAREBI) and Brandon Paschal (Launchlab, University of Stellenbosch) shared their experiences and thoughts on scaling innovation in South Africa. This included the need to cut red tape, break down silos, corporates needing to improve in becoming first adopters as well as the need to work together to help small climate entrepreneurs scale and find investors.

The three Climate Solvers are Heliolab, a revolutionary heliostat concentrated solar power collector system, Futran, an autonomous haulage test system and Miser, a hydraulic hybrid transition.

The story of Heliolab is the story of a team (above) of highly capable individuals from diverse engineering backgrounds brought together by their combined interest in solar thermal energy through the Stellenbosch Thermal Energy Research Group.Heliolab plonkable, low cost, small scale, flexible, scalable heliostat system enhances the benefits of concentrated solar power (CSP). It does this by removing the hurdles typically faced by this power source such as inflexibility and large scale requirements along with requiring significant site preparation and civil works, and having a definite limit to cost reduction potential. In addition, it has a smart control system that dynamically compensates for reduced precision. The objective of Helio100 as a technology demonstrator has certainly been met with a radical departure from traditional CSP design approaches to allow significant cost reduction for a small scale Heliostat system. The team has in consultation with a number of industry participants including its technology partners concluded that the next project will be aroughly 800m2 concentrator system to deliver heat and/or power to an industry client via a proper off-take agreement. The Helio800 project will be kicking off in June 2016 and completed in 12-18 months.

As a Fractional Rapid Transit (FRT) system, the Futran system is designed to transport a range of pod types to take loads as light as a few hundred kilograms and as heavy as 20 tonnes using the same track type and the same motorised units. The flexibility and scalability of the system is unique and enables it to address a range of needs in a variety of conditions. The system uses a light weight, super strong, elevated track network, and can be deployed on road and railway reserves, over obstacles and sensitive areas such as wetlands and rivers. It is high enough to enable animal and people migrations, and small enough not to be visually disturbing.When compared to trucks at a mine, the Futran System saves cost by up to 50% and reduces CO2 emissions by 70% or more.The first Futran public transportation systems will be deployed over the next two to three years, with long distance haulage systems deployed within three to four years. Cross-continental long distance haulage lines will be deployed across Africa in the longer term. Milotek (Pty) Ltd, creators of the Futran public transportation system is owned by Imperial Holdings, Andries Louw and Minorities.

MISER technology is a hydraulic hybrid transmission system designed for all vehicles to recover and store the kinetic energy typically lost while braking. The energy is then sent back to the wheels at the optimum time so that you can drive from the hydraulic system, rather than the engine. With an estimated 300 million freight vehicles on the road worldwide causing significant carbon emissions, retrofitting this technology offers significant future carbon emission reductions. Ducere Holdings (Pty) Ltd was established in March 2004, although the idea and preliminary work on the MISER concept started long before that. The company is based in Johannesburg, South Africa but many resources are contracted from outside of the country. MISER plans to have the first two fitment centres for MISER Retrofit in South Africa operational nine months after starting on the next phase being the first production cycle. The plan is to then follow that up by introducing two more a month for the next four months. Once these ten fitment centres are online, operational and profitable, will we further investigate the potential of adding more fitment centres.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Evan Rice, Business Development Manager of TESLA SA, encouraged all climate innovators to understand the problem they are trying to solve, to figure at the scale at which they need to have impact and to partner with the right people.

Louise Scholtz, WWF South Africa manager of the Climate Solver programme: “WWF is proud to honour three winners that demonstrate the depth of technical ability and innovation in South Africa.  The technologies offer cutting edge solutions to addressing the pressing issue of carbon emission reductions in South Africa and beyond, and Heliostat, in addition, also addresses access to clean energy that emits zero carbon”.

Thanks also to Swedish Postcode Lottery and Dustin for making this years Climate Solver South Africa possible. 

Blog written by Louise Scholtz, WWF in South Africa  

(Louise with Climate Solver Partners in top left image below. Recording by Saliem Fakir, WWF South Africa top right. Morne Du Plessis, WWF South Africa bottom left. The ceremony was followed by a mingle bottom right)



Amazing Nordic entrepreneurship at display in Malmö

Climate Solver Nordic Honorees gathered with well-deserved diplomas

Cleantech Capital Day in Malmö gathered the perfect combination of large corporates, government agencies, international investors, civil society and most importantly a very large number of ground-breaking entrepreneurs. The energy that went into these two days of co-creation in the form of pitching, bilaterals, trilaterals, professional speed-dating between different stakeholders for the creation of a more healthy planet is hard to describe. The entrepreneurs gathered had gone through nine months of scrutiny from professional jury members so were all top notch of sustainable innovation from the Nordic region. If a helicopter with money, corporate buy-in and policy empowerment would have dumped it over High Court in Malmö these days the Nordics would be well under way to be the Silicon Valley of Sustainable Innovation and reaping great financial rewards in the process. Lots of new investments and solutions growth will undoubtedly come from this explosion of creativity. Politicians were largely not present in this solutions conference and a stark increase of urgency to combat climate change was reported this week by Carbon Brief. The gathering of entrepreneurs, agencies, investors, corporates agreed on the fact that revenue creation prospects are good but there are many regulatory barriers in the way to unleash the force of scaling the many solutions fast enough towards a much needed circular economy and full renewable energy transition. 

The 12 Climate Solver Nordic were celebrated and honored before the 200 (wherof 60 were investors and 60 were innovation companies) distinguished participants from many parts of the world such as China, North America, Arab region as well as Europe ofcourse. The session with them presenting gathered a jam packed room and another 100 following on distance through Periscope. Accenture, IKEA, Cleantech Invest, Swedish Incubators & Science Parks (SISP), Swedish Postcode Lottery and Clean Motion all added very good value to this session. So do have a look at the 12 entrepreneurs if you have not already done so. Also if you have missed it, do check the press releases below. There was also the exciting final of Nordic Cleantech Open where we advise you to look at all Top 25, the three voted winners by the panels and audience were Fresh.Land, TRINE and SBT Aquatec.    

Press releases here in Nordic press/languages 

In Swedish

In Finish

In Norwegian

In Danish

So congratulations to all winners, honorees, organisers and participants. Together we can be an unstoppable force of positive change for people and planet that also generates profits.    

Next week on Wednesday Climate Solver hits Cape Town for more ground-breaking entrepreneurship joining a growing global family. 


Stefan Henningsson 


Sneak peek at the 12 Nordic entrepreneurs that will be honoured in Malmö on Wednesday

If you have doubts about Nordic countries having the potential to become a Silicon Valley for sustainable innovations, maybe you should check out these 12 new Nordic innovations on the Climate Solver site that will come to Malmö 18 May at Cleantech Capital Day and be honoured by WWF and partners:   

Energy generation: Converting low temperature heat to electricity by Climeon 

Converting arid land into fertile soil by Desert Control

100 percent emission-free car and ridesharing by EkoRent 

Making hot water storage more efficient by EyeCular Technologies 

Digitizing the food supply chain by Fresh.Land 

Creating new ways to produce cellulose fibers by Infinited Fiber Company 

Smart urban mobility solutions by Meshcrafts 

Creating a new paradigm in daily water and energy usage by Orbital Systems 

Offering solar energy below grid parity  by Solnet Green Energy 

WWFs calculations on these 12 innovations from Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway show they have the potential to avoid 247 milion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually and pull 48 million people out of energy poverty by year 2026. So the potential annual emission reductions in ten years time is about as high as the annual domestic emissions coming from the same Nordic countries in 2010. What can you do to help a climate entrepreneur? Get in contact with the entrepreneurs and/or us at WWF om