In Liège, Belgium, VentureLab has been organising Climathon for the last four years. They started out looking for a platform where they could gather aspiring entrepreneurs and citizens to discuss local challenges and develop ideas that could lead to a bigger impact of Climate Action in the region. Finding Climathon, it was the perfect fit.
“We have found that Climathon is a great way for us to build our ecosystem and reach more people with our supporting activities”, says Amandine Sanfratello from VentureLab. “To support participants of Climathon we host post event meet ups, offer entrepreneurial coaching, trainings and access to co-working spaces. If we are not able to help them directly, we will reach out to our network to introduce the participants to someone who can” says Amandine.
Organising a Climathon is hard work and finding funding to cover your costs might be the most difficult. However, with the support of the Municipality and local companies, Amandine and her team makes it work. “Our cost is roughly 65.000 euro and without support from our partners, e.g. by offering us a venue at a very good price or promoting Climathon all over the city, we did not have the opportunity to organise.”
So far some of the teams from Climathon Liège have gone on to become start-ups, but Amandine and her team have yet to see anyone make it to a full-scale company. “Two of the teams from last year show good potential. The founders are full time on the project. One of them is an engineer and another one is an architect, so they have plenty of opportunities, but they decided to be 100% invested in the project”, says Amandine. “We do see teams struggling keeping their momentum going, especially with people dropping off after Climathon, but we try to support them the best we can for them to succeed”.
Amandine and her team are also inspiring others to join Climathon. Last year they succeeded in getting three other cities to join the Climathon. “We developed a toolkit for the other organisers in Belgium to make their Climathon journey easier”, says Amandine.
A great example of how Climathon can also change the minds of your partners, is from a few years ago when a big Belgian company supported Climathon Liège. They got inspired from being part of the Climathon, stating that they were currently not doing anything for the climate. And now in 2022, they are progressing and using Amandine and her team as a resource to move forward.
“The Climathon is about having fun, meeting people, being excited and learning. That is the easy part. But it is also about creating real projects, and that is the difficult part”, says Amandine.