The final evening of the second year of the Climate Challenge program was a showcase of triumphs and fruitful eco-innovations. The main prize went to the Facts about Climate project from the category of science communication, but all six finalists were awarded, but not only financially. The Ecoschool project won the Audience Award for an engaging presentation on the education of the youngest generations.
The Czech Republic certainly doesn’t lack ideas and teams to address climate change and environmental protection. The problem is the actual implementation, and luckily that can be most easily solved by acceleration and mentoring. Martin Špaňhel, who won last year with his Forsage project, stated that after acceleration, thanks to all the new things he learned, it was easy to establish a limited liability company and a registered association, and reach paying customers. Kristýna Farkašová, the founder of EBUU, at one point during the acceleration wanted to end her project, but then built a new business model, thanks to which she achieved a 700% increase and opened her own store.
The Ekoschool, which received the most votes from spectators last year, had a similar experience. “We have been coordinating the international program in the Czech Republic for 15 years. Originally, we didn’t even want to participate in the accelerator, but doing so turned out to be a great decision. The program showed us, in a pretty rough way, how closed we are in our internal bubble. However, the goal of “just” finding a way to new financial partners eventually became an organization-wide change affecting hundreds of our schools. We have gained the belief that we can make this world better.” said the project manager Honza Smrčka. And he adds with one breath: “Don’t be fooled. Acceleration is a lot of hard work. It requires a strong team that can withstand a lot and be able to discuss “difficult topics”. But it’s definitely worth it.”
The Ecoschool educates children on a sustainable way of life and environmental protection. Currently, there are 420 schools, 2,000 teachers and 60,000 children involved, but by 2025 it would like to reach up to four times, i.e., 20% of Czech Education System. “Because when you change 20% of the system, you already have the power to change it completely,” adds Honza Smrčka enthusiastically.
Changing the system and thinking of people is also the goal of the second winner, the Climate Facts project, and they aim to do so through appropriate data communication. The founder Ondráš Přibyla showed how it works with practical examples. “When you see the historical development of CO2 emissions, can you imagine what emissions will or should look like in the coming decades? In order to properly understand the whole and the facts, it is necessary to show not only the historical development, but also possible future scenarios or comparisons with other countries,” he explains. They set up a website, an ammunition depot of clearly processed data, as they call it. It offers clearly visualized and presented data in-context. And the proof that it all works? Their visualizations serve as groundwork not only for scientists, but also schools, media, and individuals.
How did one of the partners and jurors evaluate the whole year? “Combining Veolia with the Climate Challenge makes a lot of sense from the beginning. Our activities in the field of water management, energy and waste management are inextricably linked to the environment and its quality. We want to financially and professionally support start-up’s that have the potential to contribute to solving climate issues. This year’s projects were very inspiring, and they all managed to do a lot of work during the acceleration.” concluded Ondřej Beneš, Veolia Group’s sales and technical director for water treatment.