Egypt has unveiled a global ClimaTech Run competition for start-ups and digital artists to address the most pressing climate challenges on the road to Cop27 and beyond.
The initiative is led by the Ministry of International Co-operation, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Ministry of Environment, as the Egyptian government ramps up preparations to host the UN climate change conference in Sharm El Sheikh in November.
Its partners include the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the African Export-Import Bank, the World Food Programme, Google, the UN Population Fund, General Motors, Egyptian multinational conglomerate Mansour Group, the UN Industrial Development Organisation, the UNDP Accelerator Lab and Microsoft, as well as others from the entrepreneurial community.
Start-up finalists will have the chance to pitch their ideas at Cop27 and win monetary prizes of up to $100,000 on offer. They will also participate in a mentorship and capacity-building programme.
The winning digital artists will win up to $5,000 and have their work showcased at Cop27.
“This event sends a powerful message that through innovation and start-ups, we can better our environment and our lives for ourselves and for the future generations as well,” said Amr Talaat, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, at the ClimaTech Run launch event in Cairo on Monday.
“This ecosystem that we are trying to forge that is conducive to intellect and innovation — the new way of thinking out of the box — is definitely the way forward,” he said.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and other government figures have emphasised in recent months that Cop27 would be the “Cop for action”, moving from commitments to implementation. They have also stressed the importance of engaging young people.
“There has been so much interest in partnering to see a Cop which is different,” said Rania Al Mashat, Minister of International Co-operation, at the event on Monday.
“That is why we wanted to make sure that the youth from all over the world are able to actually connect.”
Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad said it was the “power of youth” that would materialise ambitions and result in action on the ground.
“It is the start-ups and the entrepreneurs that can bring climate innovation and technology to the forefront,” Ms Fouad said.
Nicole Shampaine, charge d’affaires of the US embassy in Cairo, echoed the importance of supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs to “address the world’s most pressing challenges”.
The US government has provided more than $30 billion in assistance to Egypt and, over the past decade, has supported more than 10,000 Egyptian start-ups through USAID.
ClimaTech is part of USAID’s Business Egypt programme worth about $35 million.
The USAID-funded Youth Entrepreneurs Network will also assist in running the competition’s online platform, which will become a “permanent virtual space to share climate solutions”, Ms Shampaine said.
ClimaTech applications are open on the website at https://climatechrun.com until September 22.
Ten shortlisted climate technology start-ups will be announced on October 5 and invited to pitch at Cop27 during Youth Day on November 10.
The eligibility criteria include being a registered start-up operating for more than two years or one with a proven track record, having a team with at least two members and an average age of below 40, and being a sustainably driven business that is supported by at least one emerging technology.
Examples of emerging technology are artificial intelligence, electric vehicles, e-waste management and information and communications technology applications in green and renewable energy.
With the slogan “Outrun Climate Change via Technology”, ClimaTech invites start-ups seeking to make a difference in the areas of energy, food security and agriculture, water management, industry, urban sustainability, mobility and transport.
The grand prize is $100,000 while second prize is $50,000 and third is $25,000.
There is also a separate special prize that will be given to African start-ups. The top five African start-ups will be invited to pitch their ideas during the global event. First prize is $50,000 and second prize is $25,000.
Additional ClimaTech partners include AfriLabs, a pan-African network of more than 300 innovation centres; the International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges, an Austria-based UN-accredited civil society organisation; and Falak Startups, a seed-stage accelerator powered by the Egyptian Ministry of International Co-operation.
“We want to see which projects can actually be scaled,” Ms Al Mashat said. “ClimaTech 2022 does not end in November 2022. On the contrary, it just begins.”
ClimaTech is also calling for artists and visual storytellers “who can inspire hope around climate action and express the link between us and our planet”.
Judges will evaluate digital art pieces and public voting will take place from September 25 to October 5 to select the three best artistic expressions from the shortlist.
First place will be awarded $5,000, second place $3,000 and third place $2,000.