Green start ups can contribute greatly to an environmental, but also social, cultural and economic transition of our European societies. GTL has established local support structures in Andalusia in Slovakia, in Crete and in Piraeus, which motivate young people to start green businesses in the local environment and then accompany them on their start-up “journey”. The goal is to support climate protection-related innovations primarily in regions that are considered structurally weak or hostile to transition and where young, future- and sustainability-oriented people tend to migrate.
What happened in 2021?
In all local GTLs, the startups’ “journey” begins with bootcamps and pitches in front of an international jury. From the first round last year, 6 startups emerged in Greece, 5 in Andalusia and 7 in Slovakia, developing ideas in different green sectors (organic agriculture, circular economy, marine biology, sustainable tourism, energy efficiency). These start-ups are accompanied by special trainings on their start-up journey.
The trainings include several modules and focus on topics such as: entrepreneurial skills in the broadest sense, alternative forms of business and finance, climate-related services and technical innovations. BMCs are developed and then, in a second step, technical but also business coaching takes place via the mentors. There have been three initial start-up launches so far.
Networking is a central GTL element, for example, sponsorship by the Heinrich Böll Foundation enabled a study visit to Germany last year. Cretan startups were connected with German enterprises that perform green innovations and who agreed to further support the startups.
In the virtual GTL, a broad transfer-oriented knowledge database has now been created in the form of the Knowledge Pills, which is not only intended to motivate start-ups to act in an innovation- and sustainability-related way, but also to provide exciting topics for the cooperating schools. (https://greenteclab.org/category/gtl-knowledge-pill/ )
Through the exchange of GTL partners, 4 spin-off project applications directly related to GTL have emerged.
What is planned for 2022?
In two regions, the focus at the moment is on collaboration with vocational education institutions. In Piraeus, the local GTL is working directly with VET institutions to develop new ideas for new green businesses with students in the area of sustainable ports.
In Andalusia, 4 vocational schools for agriculture are implementing the GTL program. There will be pitches here in March and in April. In Cadiz, mainly environmental organizations are involved.
In Slovakia, the new round with the cooperation partner Nitra focuses on services especially in the field of food sharing and changed supply chains in the food sector.
What are the challenges and what solutions have been found?
In the monitoring of the startups, it has become clear that the startups encounter barriers in the local, structurally weak environments that strongly influence the potential of their ideas and the impact. These include:
- young people here do not have sufficient access to innovative climate change-related knowledge. Technological as well as social innovation often remains limited to metropolitan areas.
- traditional economic and financial structures prevent alternative forms of organization and financing.
- civil society in structurally weak regions is often more critical of innovations than in metropolitan areas.
- educational offers are often not future-oriented.
The project has made it clear that measures are needed in the regions to generate an eco-system in which new, green ideas can take root and develop. The project team has developed an approach that sensitizes start-ups and supports them in addressing these barriers in a targeted manner. In addition, based on the experience gained, a project proposal was developed to help improve the framework conditions in structurally weak regions so that innovation-friendly, green eco-systems can emerge.