Start-ups help close gap in cities’ race to net zero

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Fifteen start-ups focused on transforming city systems have entered Stage 2 of the Clean Cities ClimAccelerator. The selected entrepreneurs are bringing their climate-positive business models to real customers and city stakeholders, accelerating the transition to net zero.

European cities face the enormous challenge of becoming resilient, healthy places to live while reaching net-zero emissions in less than 10 years. But start-ups are playing a vital role in changing our cities for the better, using innovative ideas and approaches to tackle challenges from mobility and waste, to energy and health. 

The Clean Cities ClimAccelerator is supporting start-ups in decarbonising cities by commericialsing their clean technology solutions. From building retrofitting to sustainable infrastructure, the EU-wide accelerator programme focuses on system-level innovations that address the impact of climate change in urban environments. 

The latest cohort of entrepreneurs recently completed Stage 1 of the programme which included a funding grant of up to 5,000€ to help start-ups develop and refine their unique selling points and business models. The solutions range from vertical farms for community gardening to bicycle racks designed for small city spaces. 

Entering Stage 2, these 15 inspiring ventures are now ready to take their business models to real customers. During this four-month phase, start-ups will engage with Challenge Owners via a Deep Demonstration with support from experts and mentors, and additional funding of up to 20,000€.  

Meet the start-ups 

1. Citrus pressed at juice bars amounts to tons of waste in discarded peels. A Piece of Lemon Cake reuses the solid waste of citrus from the juicing industry to develop a new and planet-friendly alternative to standard insulation materials.

2. Another sign of our changing climate is prolonged dry spells, causing our trees to become increasingly stressed. Treesense’s sensor technology indicates the well-being of trees and offers automated relief through a predictive maintenance and irrigation system.  

3. Plantika makes it possible to “green” sheet metal and tiled roofs of any slope with its innovative green roof modules. 

4. Upfarming is putting food production centres in the heart of cities. Vertical and rotating farms allow communities to grow their own food in tiny spaces, with the lowest possible carbon footprint. 

5. A breath of fresh air is the ambition of PurCity. This patented, sustainable and highly efficient self-cleaning air purification system turns buildings into large-scale carbon capture and air purification systems.  

6. A new standard in building management will be cloud-connected hardware for real-time monitoring of energy, water and indoor climate systems. Linc is developing edge-computing hardware for advanced monitoring of all building types, grid assets (transformers), or distributed energy resources (renewables, storage).  

7. Transporting cargo in the city will be more green and fun with BAQME, a platform for shared electric cargo bikes. 

8. Another great solution for cycling enthusiasts comes with the all-inclusive bike subscription of EDDI Bike, which includes a bicycle, service and repairs for citizens of Vienna.

9. Velovio’s sleek, super-functional bike racks blend into the city surroundings, taking up less space than traditional racks. 

10. Mooevo aims to change the mobility experience for people and cargo by providing disruptive electric mobility solutions. 

11. Say good-bye to congested streets with Hoop Carpool, an application that connects people who live and work close by to share their daily commute.  

12. commonsun strives to build community PV systems, providing a platform to ensure that the technology can easily be applied to multi-party buildings, so everyone can profit from the sun.  

13. Lumio’s goal is to decentralise renewable consumption by providing an electricity peer-to-peer market. This enables city dwellers to directly buy, exchange and consume solar energy without the need of having a personal solar installation.  

14. The innovative tech start-up Peafowl Solar Power developed transparent, self-powered solar cells for connected devices such as indoor sensors, wearables and displays.  

15. With CarbonLaces, a new results-based climate finance marketplace is on the rise, creating new services to fight climate change.   


The Clean Cities ClimAccelerator, is run by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Impact Hub Vienna and is backed by EIT Climate-KIC,  along with an international consortium of partners such as City Council of Madrid, Ferrovial, Distrito Castellana Norte and Zubilabs & La Pinada in the Spanish ecosystem; and Wien Energie, City Council of Vienna, Vienna Business Agency, Wiener Linien, Wiener Lokalbahnen, Wiener Wohnen and Austria Wirtschafts Service in the Austrian ecosystem. In addition to EnBW as a recent partner in the German environment. 

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