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  • What is the Clean Cities ClimAccelerator about?
    Clean Cities ClimAcceleratoris a demand-led Accelerator Programme focused on climate impact in urban areas by cleantech commercialisation. The accelerator is run by Impact Hub Vienna and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. The cities and partners involved, as problem owners, bring in their respectives portfolios. Startups will receive up to €24k of financial support, business coaching and mentoring, access to demand owners, investor matchmaking, events and training. The program aims to help you to scale your clean-tech business, accelerating you to enter the European market successfully and lever investment.
  • Who is behind this program?
    The accelerator is run by Impact Hub Vienna and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in partnership with EIT Climate KIC. Both institutions are specialized in high added value services for entrepreneurs and are well connected with the municipalities of their respective cities. The cities and other partners involved, as problem owners, bring in their respectives portfolios.
  • Grant money in Stage 1 of the program with no strings attached?
    NO equity is taken in stage 1 of the program. If you are eligible to apply and succeed in convincing us that you have the best technology solution to tackle a climate problem, you can access this financial support as well as all other benefits on offer. Stage 1: € 4k.
  • What is the grant money in Stage 2 attached to and what is Climate-SAFE?
    The grant money of Stage 2 is up to € 20k and will be attached to the Climate-SAFE investment agreement. For more information, please go to the Climate-SAFE investment section.
  • How long is the program?
    The programme consists of three fixed term phases, after which you leave the programme and become alumni. If you apply for and are successful in completing each stage, we will have supported you for a period of about 9 months.
  • What are the three stages?
    We understand that startups move at different paces and that some products take longer to build than others. Nevertheless we have a rough idea what the focus would be per stage. You are more than welcome to move faster. In these stages, different objectives and type of support are given: Stage 1 – EXPLORE This stage focuses on diagnostic, training and networking. This stage will be two months long with a funding grant of up to EUR 5.000. You will have the opportunity to participate at the Smart City Summit (May 30-31), Impact Days ‘22 (CEs leading conference on impact investment - June 2-3), ViennaUP ’22 and the South Summit (June 8-10) in Madrid. At these events you will have the opportunity to get connected with other ventures, city representatives and investors. Please keep in mind to block these dates when applying for this stage! Stage 2 – VALIDATE & COLLABORATE This second stage focuses on the collaboration between startups with matching potential partners(challenge owners) in order to validate their solution-problem fit. . The aim is to develop a proof of concept work plan by focusing on solving a real problem presented by one of the challenge owners. Ideally this collaboration will continue beyond Stage 2 and this Program. This stage will be about five months long with a funding grant of up to EUR 20.000.​ Stage 3 – SCALE In the third and final stage the selected start-ups will be supported individually in their approach to get in touch with investors and new markets. Therefore we will give access to our network of investors and municipalities as well as to the EIT Climate-KIC Investment Program and Investor Marketplace. The start-ups will get the opportunity to pitch and discuss their business cases with key stakeholders within our network.
  • What is EIT Climate-KIC?
    EIT Climate-KIC is a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC), working to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon, climate-resilient society. Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, they identify and support innovation that helps society mitigate and adapt to climate change. They bring together partners in the worlds of business, academia, and the public and non-profit sectors to create networks of expertise, through which innovative products, services and systems can be developed, brought to market and scaled-up for impact.
  • What are Healthy, Clean Cities?
    Cities face an enormous challenge in becoming resilient, healthy places to live while reaching net-zero-emissions in just a few short years. EIT Climate-KIC is working with 15 of the most ambitious mayors, municipalities and city communities in Europe to design portfolios of joined-up innovations capable of unlocking wholesale transformation across all city systems – from mobility to waste, from energy to health, and the built environment. The first cohort of partners includes Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Kraków, Križevci, Leuven, Madrid, Malmö, Maribor, Milan, Niš, Orléans, Sarajevo, Skopje and Vienna. Read more here.
  • Who can apply to this open call?
    Clean Cities ClimAccelerator is open to SMEs (legal persons) participating on their own or SMEs in the process of incorporation (remember that if your project is selected to enter stage 1, at the end of the period the company must be legally incorporated). SMEs from all over the world may apply, but only SMEs legally established in any of the Member States of the European Union will be eligible for the Clean, Cities ClimAccelerator Non EU SMEs may apply but in case they become a beneficiary of Clean Cities ClimAccelerator they have to establish in one of the Eligible Countries (EU27). Moreover, to be eligible, your proposals have to fully comply with the eligibility criteria indicated in this website.
  • How many start-ups will be selected each year?
    We will have 3 selection phases over the 9 month of the acceleration program. We will select min. about up to 30 startups in order to start in our acceleration program. This number of companies will receive stage 1 activities and grants and they will develop their business model. In stage 2, we will select up to 15 startups in order to validate their innovation and collaborate with challenge-owners. Our strategy is to concentrate on this small number of meticulously selected startups because it's necessary to work together with cities councils, corporations, etc. We will also do our best to help startups gaining visibility to engage early adopter customers in these pilot tests or trials. Additionally, this number of startups will receive other stage 2 activities and grants. Finally, in stage 3 we will select about 5 startups in order to scale-up and prepare for investment. This number of startups will receive added-value activities. These activities will begin at the start of 2023 and will continue to be developed until the end of February/start of March of 2023.
  • What type of projects is the Clean Cities ClimAccelerator looking for?
    The ideal project type would be high growth projects with an already existing market footprint and a complementary, solid and committed team. They will have to show market traction expressed in terms of users, potential customers or real clients (sales) as well as some pre-seed investment already raised from private or public investors. The ideal target projects are looking for additional support for scaling their business globally, looking to develop their business model in the next 12 months and, overall, with an important social impact. All these elements are desirable and recommended, but in any case they are mandatory. The more closely the projects match these criteria, the more likely they will be selected.
  • I am not totally sure that my startup fits in any of the topics/challenges of the acceleration programme. Can I apply in this case? What should I do?
    If in doubt, we recommend applying to the programme. Application takes some time to fill a form, but a) that is a good investment considering the benefits of being admitted to the program and b) that is a good exercise to expose your potential and business model to an international jury of experts. In any case, we guarantee your application will go through a very thorough, professional and respectful internal evaluation process.
  • Is it important to show project maturity?
    The maturity level of the startup is considered in the selection process. This is an accelerator programme, so we believe we can better help startups that are ideally 1-2 years in the market and away from having recurring customers. We want to support startups in earlier stages, with contacts, networking, training and mentoring and an approach to corporates, cities, public institutions, investors, etc. Startups that already have recurring customers and have access to second round investment will normally be too mature for stage 1 of this accelerator programme but might fit well in stage 2 (focused on PoC) and stage 3 (focused on investment readiness).
  • Can I apply if I don't have a company?
    It would be recommended to apply as SMEs or as SMEs in the constitution process at this acceleration program because only SMEs participating on their own are eligible to receive grants. So if the startup has been incorporated and it´s pending the registration number, you can apply as an SME. We will ask you for the documentation to prove that you are an SME and to receive the grant at the end of stage 1 (only for selected startups). In any case, although you can apply as SME in the constitution process, if you are selected for stage 1, we will ask you to be incorporated as an SME before the end of stage 1.
  • Can one company submit two or more project ideas?
    There is no limit to the number of applications you can submit. If you are working in two or more technologies or business models, you may consider submitting an application for each one of them. Please do not forget to fit with one of the exposed verticals/challenges.
  • If I am admitted to the program, will Clean Cities ClimAccelerator acquire any rights over my startup?
    Clean Cities ClimAccelerator, their accelerator managers, public or private partners or EIT Climate-KIC as financial supporters do no not get any equity - in stage 1 - or any rights over the intellectual property of the startups in exchange of being admitted to the acceleration program. Regarding stage 2 please see Climate-SAFE investment section!
  • Will you protect my intellectual property?
    There is no need to because our application process does not require you to provide disclosed information or details of your proprietary technology. We will, however, ask for information that demonstrates your business progress, funding status, and market opportunity. This information is critical to help us evaluate your fit for the program.
  • What are the selection eligibility for startups?
    We differentiate three main eligibility areas: About the team: The start-up is composed by a motivated team and the leadership team is already in place. A dedicated team of minimum 2 persons is recommended. Motivation and commitment to fully participate in the programme activities. Fit with the EIT Climate-KIC programme: team will be asked to elaborate how they will engage and contribute to the Accelerator programme. The team is capable of working in an English-speaking environment. About the product: The product stage is ready for demonstration, initiating PoCs/Alpha/Beta/pilot customers/paying customers. A clear, scalable business idea Have the potential to positively impact the environment through measurable indicators. About the start-up: Have a breakthrough project related to new technology or service with substantial climate impact for urban areas. A business model is already defined. The start-up has already a legal entity not older than 5 years / Your company must be incorporated before entering the programm Clear desire to globally scale the startup over the next 12 months. Based in the European Union Projects will have to show their potential to build new industrial value link-chains, as well as any partnership or commitment with a corporate or equivalent strategic partner.
  • What are the criteria for selecting the start-ups in order to participate in each stage?
    The Clean Cities ClimAccelerator program selection process has been designed to be fair, fun and interesting for the startups. Projects will be presented through the online application form. After completing it, those who meet the eligibility criteria will be evaluated by the jury. The specific criteria: Alignment with EIT Climate-KIC new strategy and Impact Goals Innovativeness: implementation of the proposed solution includes a new technology, a new application of technology, a new business model or a new process for resolving the issue Viability: implementation of the proposed solution is feasible and there is a financial plan for financial sustainability. Team: team skills (based on the “more and more varied skills, the best”), founders’ dedication to the project (based on “the more committed dedication, the best”). Climate Benefit Technology and potential impact: the implementation of the proposed solution has the potential for a positive impact on its environment that can be clearly measured. Scalability: implementation of the proposed solution can be scaled to benefit the lives of a greater number of people/companies. Based on the proven experience in the target market. Traction in terms of stage of product development (based on “the more developed, the best”) Long term perspective Programme fit with exposed challenges/verticals: clear explanation about how implementation of the proposed solution will benefit one or more challenges.
  • Does the country of origin of the startup matter in the selection process?
    No, we do not give any preference to startups from any particular country in the European Union.
  • Who will evaluate the applications?
    The pool of jury members who will evaluate the applications includes: Public and private entities that are partners of this accelerator consortium. Entrepreneurs who have founded and scaled up innovative enterprises at European or global level in the sustainability areas. Investors (including those affiliated with banks, venture capitalists, business angels, crowd-funders etc.). Experts involved in the innovation ecosystem (universities, innovation hubs, etc.).
  • What are the steps in the selection process for the accelerator program?
    Written applications are reviewed by evaluators based on a standardized set of criteria. As a first result, a pre-selected start-up will pitch in front of a dedicated selection committee: at least, 5 minutes pitch and 5 minutes Q&A. Online pitches will be reviewed by this jury (odd number of participants) and they will select the startups for entering in the accelerator program. These steps will be replicated for each stage of the accelerator. That is, to start stage 1, this process will be followed, as well as to select the startups that will move from stage 1 to 2 or from stage 2 to 3.
  • Does Clean Cities ClimAccelerator guarantee the confidentiality of the information provided in the application process?
    We require not to submit any confidential or commercially sensitive information in the application process. In the final selection process, and in some specific cases, it may be necessary to share more information for a better understanding of the potential of a startup. In these cases, we will suggest signing a confidentiality agreement. On a different note, your personal data are protected by Clean Cities ClimAccelerator Privacy Policy in compliance with the current EU legislation on personal data protection.
  • When do the selected startups receive the grants?
    Startups selected will receive the grants at the end of each stage of the acceleration program (only for stages 1 and 2). The payment will be done in one instalment, subject to achievement of certain milestones. Startups must sign an agreement at the beginning of each stage so in order to receive the payment they must comply with the milestones that were set up. The dates might change depending on receiving the financing from EIT Climate-KIC (as financial supporter of this acceleration program).
  • Are there any restrictions when and on what the grant funding can be used for?
    To receive the grants in each stage, startups have to sign an agreement document which specifies the use of those funding. Personnel costs, expert services and other direct costs (travel, goods and services) can be included. Additionally, funds can be used as a travel budget to attend some accelerator activities (training, workshops, networking events, demo days and general business development activities). The timeframe to spend the money from grants is restricted by the Accelerator programme duration of the respective batch (exceptions may apply).
  • If I need funding for my startup and not training or mentoring, is this call adequate for me?
    We believe we can better help startups that not only need funds but also need to consolidate their business model, good quality mentoring and training and proof of concept/pilot trials to demonstrate their innovations and potential. If you believe you are not in need of any coaching, training, developing prototypes with cities, you may rather look to other financial support schemes or to venture capital investors for your business project. In that case, we encourage you to do so!
  • What kind of services will Clean Cities ClimAccelerator offer to startups?
    Participate in ClimAccelerator programme is not just for the money! You would be able to participate in a 9-month programme, led by key world class professionals and entrepreneurs, which will include: Connect with the European ecosystem of public institutions and private entities that are committed to clean, healthy cities. Specialized training in business models and sectorized in the field of cities. Mentoring and coaching by entities and institutions specialized in entrepreneurship and sustainability, providing continued support throughout the whole process. Possibility of pilot trials, prototypes, proof of concept with ecosystem organizations. Financial support: Up to 25.000 euros per selected start-up. Each start-up will receive as part of the training the Climate Impact Framework process. Networking events oriented to help selected startups in expanding their business and potential contacts. Be part of the EIT Climate-KIC network, the Europe's largest public-private innovation partnership focused on impact and cleantech ventures with more than 300 public and private partners, startups, entrepreneurs, alumni and investors in cities, climate change and sustainability. Visibility in channels and social networks / Global exposure. And much more! Therefore, if you want to learn from and work with the most recognized professionals within your sector, with first class mentoring support and interesting real financial support, ClimAccelerator Clean Cities is your program.
  • How will the Clean Cities ClimAccelerator monitor the progress of the startups?
    In order to properly monitor the startups’ performance at each stage, an individual mentoring plan per startup will be defined at the beginning of the Program, together with the assigned mentor, establishing the KPIs to be evaluated in the different milestones and depending on the maturity of each selected startup.
  • My startup has already received funding from another source and/or we have submitted other requests for public/private support. Can we apply in this case?
    Yes. We do not impose any kind of restrictions in that respect as long as the Working Plan and milestones for each stage are not negatively affected and you can attend all the acceleration programme activities.
  • Summary
    The ClimAccelerator operates under a three-stage process. Companies that are selected to progress to Stage 2 will receive investment from EIT Climate-KIC in the form of our Climate-SAFE. The Climate-SAFE has been designed as a founder-friendly, and efficient means for Climate-KIC to invest in Europe’s most exciting Climate-tech companies. The Climate-SAFE is a simple agreement for future equity - a convertible investment. The key terms of the Climate-SAFE are: €50,000 value 24 month long-stop date No valuation cap - we don’t want to limit the valuation of any future funding rounds! 20% discount rate No most-favoured nation clause The Climate-SAFE is structured as a cash + services investment and grants access to the following package of support: Access to ClimAccelerator Stage 2 (including €25,000 funding) Carbon Impact Forecasting, Modelling and Validation Access to ClimateHIVE community Fundraising support & connections to Climate-KIC investor network Commercialisation Opportunities EU Policy & Affairs support A dedicated portfolio manager If you have any questions about this please contact the Climate-KIC Investment team on
  • Process
    Q. Will Stage 2 startups still receive Climate-KIC support via the Climate-SAFE investment, even if they do not proceed to Stage 3? A. Yes, Climate-KIC will invest in and support all startups that proceed from Stage 1 to Stage 2 and receive the larger grant funding package. They do not have to enter Stage 3 should they not wish to. Q. Will Stage 3 startups still receive support from Climate-KIC even if they were not in Stage 2, and therefore did not receive investment by Climate-KIC? A. No, Climate-KIC only invests in companies that enter Stage 2 and therefore receive the grant funding from the ClimAccelerator Q. What happens if a startup refuses to sign the Climate-SAFE? A. We have designed the Climate-SAFE to be as founder-friendly as possible and with an offering in line with other accelerator programmes across Europe. If a startup does not wish to sign the Climate-SAFE then they can not proceed through the programme. Q. What is the expected length of negotiations with startups on the Climate-SAFE? A. We have designed the Climate-SAFE to be as founder-friendly as possible. Therefore there is no requirement for negotiations around the investment agreement. Q. Who is responsible for monitoring the portfolio and engaging with startups should the longstop date be reached? A. Climate-KIC will be fully responsible for monitoring the portfolio, we will have regular communication with the startups and will manage any conversion process
  • Key Terms & Definitions
    Q. What is the ‘long-stop date’? A. The long-stop date is an agreed timeframe, starting from when the agreement is signed, where the company will go out and raise further funding that will trigger the conversion of the Climate-SAFE. If the long-stop date is reached and there has been no further funding then Climate-KIC, along with the Company shall determine a fair valuation for the conversion with an external valuator. Q. What is a ‘valuation cap’? A. A valuation cap is a key feature of most convertible investments. It is an upper limit on the valuation at which a convertible investment will convert. Climate-KIC chose not to include a valuation cap in our Climate-SAFE, this way, we do not limit the valuation of the companies we invest into. Example 1. With a €5m valuation cap Investor A invests €50,000 into Company Company raises €2m investment at €10m pre-money valuation Investor A receives 0.83% equity Example 2. With no valuation cap Climate-KIC invests €50,000 into Company Company raises €2m investment at €10m pre-money valuation Climate-KIC receives 0.42%
  • How much equity will Climate-KIC take from the startup?
    As with all convertible investments, this is entirely dependent on the valuation that the company raises at in their subsequent funding round. We do not have a valuation cap, and so will follow whatever valuation is agreed with the later stage investor (typically investors would put a cap in to ensure they take a minimum amount of equity, like 7-10%) Example 1. Company raises at a valuation of €5m Climate-KIC ownership = 50,000/5,000,000 = 1% Example 2. Company raises at a valuation of €10m Climate-KIC ownership = 50,000/10,000,000 = 0.5%
  • What does the startup get?
    Q. How is the support package structured? A. As part of the investment, the startup will receive access to the ClimAccelerator and the €25,000 grant funding. Further to this, Climate-KIC will provide additional services as outlined in the Climate-SAFE deck Q. Is there a limit to how many additional services a startup can use? A. No, there is no limit, Climate-KIC is incentivised to support the startups growth Q. Is there a price list for the services? A. No, there is no limit, Climate-KIC is incentivised to support the startups growth Q. How long will startups have access to the services that Climate-KIC is providing to portfolio companies? A. Climate-KIC will provide the additional services for the duration of time that we’re shareholders in the business - in most cases through to an exit scenario. Q. What happens if the startup winds up before the longstop date and without raising a qualifying round? A. If there are any proceeds from the company winding up (sale of assets) then this will be distributed amongst shareholders including Climate-KIC as per ownership.
  • Are all activities included in the acceleration program compulsory?
    Yes, all activities included in the acceleration program are compulsory. You can only miss an activity as long as there is an important justification. This justification must prevent any member of the startup from attending the event/training/activity.
  • Are all start-ups/projects required to attend the training activities?
    Yes, your startup/project is unique and so are your training needs. The ClimAccelerator team and mentors will help identify your needs and those of your team, providing the necessary tools, guidance, contacts and training that will ensure the experience is of maximum benefit to your project.
  • If my startup is admitted to the acceleration programme, will I have to sign a formal agreement with EIT Climate-KIC? What is the content of that agreement?
    Yes, if your startup is admitted to the acceleration programme, you will have to sign an EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator Grant Award Letter. This document includes the details of the acceleration programme: duration, project description, authorized purposes to which costs may be allocated, grant payment periods, key deliverables, etc. Additionally, it includes terms and conditions related to reporting, intellectual property, confidentiality and data protection, branding and publicity, etc. This document will be sent only to the startups selected in each of the stages. If you will be selected for stage 2, in order to accept your nomination, you also have to sign the Climate-SAFE investment agreement - for more information on that, please see the specific section in here!
  • Who are the mentors? How are the mentors assigned?
    Mentoring and coaching is one important feature of our accelerator programme. These people have been in charge of entrepreneurial and business projects, so they have wide experience and contacts. They may be available for the startup on request. They can provide technology support and market information and insights and, when possible, they would help startups to start a pilot or proof of concept with city councils. Mentors are appointed by Clean Cities ClimAccelerator considering the needs of the startup business project. If the relationship with the mentors does not work, we kindly ask entrepreneurs to inform us and we would take care of it. We also encourage mentors to let us know if this situation occurs. In our program, mentoring must be a fulfilling experience for mentors and a valuable resource for startups.
  • What can I expect from a mentor?
    Our mentors are experts in their field. They have wide experience, knowledge and interesting contacts for your startup. They will do their best to guide and advise you on how to develop your business and make your expansion and growth most successful. They will evaluate your business concept, product-market-fit, customer approach, team, financial and economic issues and they will challenge your project but always help you look at things from different angles. Thanks to the mentors, you will learn in a practical way and it will allow you to develop your project quickly. Our tip: spend as much time as possible with the mentors and coaches.
  • Will the mentors introduce us to potential clients and investors in their network?
    Our global network consists of many different people including researchers for R+D+I developments, city councils, international corporations, potential partners, clients, and European investors. Based on your individual needs and the current situation of your startup, mentors will introduce you to their contacts. They will evaluate if your company is ready to start these business conversations in the market. Likewise, they can provide help with your fundraising strategy or customer approach.
  • If my startup is admitted to the acceleration program, will I be requested to move to another country?
    Given the current health situation, stage 1 activities will be run in an online format but we expect you to attend the events where we will invite you to (e.g. Impact Days in Vienna, South Summit in Madrid) - you will receive more information if you are selected. Same for the rest of stage 2 and 3 activities, it could only be required to attend some event or meeting. In this case, travel and accommodation expenses may be included as an eligible cost in the startup grants.
  • Are all activities included in the acceleration process covered by the Clean Cities ClimAccelerator?
    Yes, all the activities included in the acceleration program are free of charge for selected startups. You will only have to pay travel and accommodation costs related to some in-situ events (you will be informed on time). In this case, these are eligible costs under justification/invoices and it will be covered as part of the grant.
  • Where will the Clean Cities ClimAccelerator results be published?
    The results for applicants of the Clean Cities ClimAccelerator will be notified by email. A list of startups will be made available on the Clean Cities ClimAccelerator call page too.
  • How is the programme structured in case travels are not allowed in order to participate in face to face events due to the current Covid-19 situation?
    We will be offering fully digital, virtual workshops, networking events and demo days that can be joined via video-calls and networking tools. For stage 1 (two months), we currently plan with in-person events (e.g. Impact Days in Vienna, South Summit in Madrid) and 100% remote accessibility for all input sessions and workshops.
  • Can I stay in touch with Clean Cities ClimAccelerator even after the program has ended?
    Of course!!!! After the program, you will become part of our ClimAccelerator Alumni Network and the EIT Climate-KIC Community. We will support each other with ongoing knowledge, networking, open events and info exchange. Your fellow startups, mentors and the ClimAccelerator team will remain close to you and your company. We will keep promoting your development and successes. We love keeping our alumni close and hearing from them.
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