The summer months are our quietest at Impact Hub Westminster, as many of our hubbers are taking a well-deserved break. Yet last Friday the space was anything but, with a flurry of international graduates from the 2016 Climate-KIC Summer School joining us as part of their intensive five-week programme called “The Journey”. With a branding clinic delivered by Miho Aishima and an intimate presentation about impact investment from Mike Momphi of Clearly So, the students had a chance to engage with the issues and be inspired for their future.

Climate-KIC is supported by the EIT, a body of the European Union. The EIT was set up in 2008 to spur innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe, and to overcome some of its greatest challenges. It brings together leading higher education institutions, research labs and companies to form dynamic cross-border partnerships – Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) – that develop innovative products and services, start new companies, and train a new generation of entrepreneurs.

This year a group of around 40 students from places such as The Netherlands, Egypt, Denmark, Lebanon, Russia and Germany are on a journey, taking them far and wide across landscapes of both geography and knowledge. Kicking off with two weeks in Hamburg, they visited innovative sites such as the Energy Bunker, launching a process of ideation that runs throughout the programme. In London they visited the Grow Up urban farms in Stratford, looked at sustainable architecture in central London and visited FabLab to look at digital fabrication tools. Split into eight teams, the students were tasked with creating ideas for businesses that will drive innovation in climate change. The packed programme exposes them to a smorgasbord of information, focusing on climate science, key entrepreneurship principles and innovation/ideation.

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We were fortunate to meet with these bright young minds and to learn about their experiences of the programme. In spite of the packed schedule, the students were energised rather than exhausted, fizzing with new ideas and motivation. With access to the newest innovations and prototypes, leading academics, climate entrepreneurs and policymakers; they have equipped their tool kits with important contacts and knowledge for their ventures ahead.

Business coaching is an integral part of the programme with two coaches joining the students for the last three weeks. The coaches go everywhere with the students, even staying on campus with them at Imperial College London. One student said that his best coaching session was outside a bar at 4 am, a testament to the value of an immersed experience – and perhaps a drink or three!

The most important thing the students feel they will come away with is a network of people from many different cultures and backgrounds who have a shared concern for climate change and innovation. This resource could prove priceless over the years as they each drive their vision for the future forward.

The passion and enthusiasm was evident at our Skive@5 drinks, where the students mixed with hubbers for the talk by Mike Momphi, and asked a stream of insightful questions.

The eight teams will continue to work on their ideas, culminating in a Dragon’s Den style event at Warwick University in the last week of the programme. Experts will judge their ideas, splitting the scores between the quality of their live pitch and their business plan. This ensures that no team falls down due to nerves in the pitching process and that the full substance of the idea is taken into account.

Climate-KIC operates through creative partnerships between the private, public and academic sectors. On this journey the participating partners are University of Hamburg, Imperial College London and University of Warwick. If you’d like to find out more, click here. You can also follow their adventures on Twitter on the following hashtags: #journey6 #climatejourney16 #climatekic #imperialcollegelondon

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Katrine Carstens

Katrine Carstens

Community Journalist