PFAN at the International Vienna Energy & Climate Forum (IVECF) 2023

The International Vienna Energy and Climate Forum (IVECF) 2023 showcased bold, scalable and transformative solutions to inspire and drive actions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. The Forum gathered senior decision-makers, international experts, and other stakeholders on 2 and 3 November 2023 at the Hofburg Conference Centre in Vienna, Austria.

The Cleantech Days, held within the IVECF Solutions Week 2023 from 30 October to 3 November, provided a platform for knowledge sharing among the key players in the climate space. It introduced participants to key global trends, innovative technologies, and interdisciplinary solutions in the field of energy, climate change, and sustainable development and shared lessons learned and best practices.

This year, Cleantech Days is jointly organised by two UNIDO programmes – the Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN) and the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP), bringing together cleantech start-ups and SMEs to share their successes and connect with potential investors and partners from the cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The Cleantech Days kicked off on 30 October 2023, with the opening session moderated by Rana Ghoneim, Chief and Officer in Charge of the Division of Decarbonization and Sustainable Energy at UNIDO, featuring notable participants:

  • Ciyong ZOU, Deputy Director General & Managing Director, UNIDO
  • H.E. Viktoria Kuvshynnikova, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ukraine
  • Filippo Berardi, Senior Climate Change Specialist, Global Environment Facility
  • Patrick Krappie, Acting CEO, Technology Innovation Agency
  • Alois Posekufa MHLANGA, Chief, Climate Technologies Innovation Unit, UNIDO
  • Olga Rataj, Associate Industrial Development Officer, GCIP Programme Lead, UNIDO

Rana highlighted the importance of fostering international cooperation on various levels. Amid the engaging discussions, Aaron Esumeh, CEO of Greenage Nigeria and a PFAN alumnus, delivered an inspiring speech emphasising the transformative power of clean energy initiatives and the immense potential for sustainable development in Africa. Adding to the richness of the discourse, Sandiswa Qayi, Managing Director of AET AFRICA and a distinguished GCIP Alumna, addressed the critical role of entrepreneurial innovation in driving impactful climate action across the African continent.

As part of the Cleantech Days, entrepreneurs supported by PFAN attended a comprehensive two-day training at Siemens City, allowing them to share experiences and ideas and learn from other peer entrepreneurs. A gender sensitisation session led by Silvia Emili, PhD, Value for Women gender expert, was held to highlight the economic value added to balanced gender representations and effective communication practices. Participants also had the privilege of engaging in one-on-one discussions with field experts invited by Siemens.

On the second day, participants actively put into practice the insights acquired on the first day by engaging in the Sustainability Games, led by Siemens experts. This experience challenged them to translate acquired knowledge into practical business models tailored to mobility, agriculture, construction and energy sectors. The day concluded with a pitch competition where entrepreneurs showcased their innovative business models for sustainable solutions.

On the third day, the focus shifted to refining the pitching skills of entrepreneurs. Tailored training sessions allowed them to practice and improve their pitching and presentation skills. This training led to a dynamic pitching session, where the judging panel evaluated the entrepreneurs. Following this, the winners across various categories were selected:
🏆 Best youth-led pitch: Shah Talha Sohail, Mode Mobility (PFAN supported)
🏆 Best women-led pitch: Rita Idehai, The Ecobarter Company (GCIP supported)
🏆 OVERALL WINNER: Neha J., Zerocircle (GCIP supported)

On 4 November, PFAN and GCIP successfully hosted the IVECF event, ‘Connecting the Dots to Empower Cleantech Innovations and Climate Solutions’, where we gathered key experts from 16 countries that are working to accelerate cleantech innovations and climate solutions from idea to market. Discussions encompassed challenges, gaps, successes and failures in strengthening the ecosystem supporting the commercialisation of cleantech and climate-focused SMEs.

Over 100 individuals attended the session, with diverse perspectives from key players in cleantech finance, including entrepreneurs, investors, development finance institutions, corporations, governments, donors and civil society. Akash Agarwal, CEO of the PFAN supported company New Leaf Dynamic Technologies, Rabia Bukhari, Program Management Specialist, Energy, at PFAN donor USAID Pakistan, Silvia Emili, gender expert from Value for Women and Jussi Viding, the Fund Manager for EEP Africa at NDF, were among the speakers and contributors.

Next, we held the ‘Investor Connect’ session, with the aim to bring together entrepreneurs at Cleantech Days with investors in the climate and cleantech space, fostering a two-way connection. The casual get-together provided insights into current investment trends and investors’ perspectives on cleantech innovation.

The event started with the Cleantech Group (CTG) sharing their knowledge about the cleantech investment landscape, followed by selected investors presenting investor insights and concluded with investor introductions. Investors connected with vetted cleantech and climate projects, met inspiring entrepreneurs from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America and gained insights into the latest trends in the clean technology and climate sector. The investors include Xiaomin Mou (IFC – International Finance Corporation), Lucy Chatburn (Cleantech Group), Andreas Kohler (Voltares), Christopher Emmott (Acumen), Iris Jensen (BayWa r.e. Energy Ventures), Xiaomin Mou (IFC), Nikolaus Wrabetz (Voltares). The session provided a unique opportunity for businesses to learn about the profiles, selection criteria and decision-making process of climate and cleantech investors. It enabled entrepreneurs to improve their pitching skills to increase the success rate of raising funding.

Among the attendees were PFAN-supported projects, such as New Leaf Dynamic Technologies (India), Greenage Technologies Power Systems (Nigeria), Koolboks (Nigeria), Mode Mobility (Pakistan) and Perfekt Pak (Ukraine).

The concluding day of the International Vienna Energy and Climate Forum and Cleantech Days, on 3 November, was highlighted by insightful Solution Sessions and the UNIDO Climate Awards Ceremony. The session featured presentations by PFAN-supported entrepreneurs, including Akash Agarwal, CEO of New Leaf Dynamic Technologies Private Limited and Aaron Esumeh, CEO of Greenage Technologies Power Systems.

In the final session, we hosted the esteemed UNIDO Climate Awards, honouring remarkable accomplishments in sustainable entrepreneurship across different regions and sectors.

The PFAN Inspiring Climate Solution Award was presented based on regional representation. The following PFAN-supported projects were announced champions at the UNIDO Climate Awards:

Most inspiring solutions from PFAN (by region):
🏆 Sub-Saharan Africa: Aaron Esumeh, Greenage Technologies Power Systems, Nigeria
🏆 Eastern Europe & Central Asia: Sergii Telishevskiy, Perfect Pak, Ukraine
🏆 Asia: Akash Agarwal, New Leaf Dynamic Technologies, India

Winner of the Cleantech Days Pitching Competition:
🏆 Best youth-led pitch: Shah Talha Sohail, Mode Mobility, Pakistan, a project supported by the Pakistan Private Sector Energy Project (PPSE).
🏆 Best women-led pitch: Rita Idehai, The Ecobarter Companyy (GCIP-supported)
🏆 OVERALL WINNER: Neha J., Zerocircle (GCIP-supported)

GCIP Legacy & Impact Award: Ramaness Parasuraman, Free the Seed (GCIP-supported)

These awards symbolise a commitment to fostering sustainable solutions and acknowledging the exemplary efforts of entrepreneurs worldwide. The entrepreneurs received the well-deserved awards from the Managing Director of UNIDO, Ciyong Zou and PFAN’s Partnership Manager, Marko van Waveren Hogervost.

Congratulations to all the winners of the UNIDO Climate Awards!