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"Innovation competitions like ClimateLaunchpad are crucial at times of crisis."

With the deadline for applications to the ClimateLaunchpad green business competition approaching, we caught up with multi award-winning entrpreneur Dr Ifeyinwa Kanu, founder of IntelliDigest and ClimateLaunchpad alum, to hear about the motivation behind her innovative start-up and why the competition is needed now more than ever.

ECCI opened the ClimateLaunchpad green business competition – with cash prizes of up to €10,000 – for applications in Scotland last month. To enter the competition, budding inventors and entrepreneurs simply have to complete a short application form, submitting an idea or innovation that is tackling climate change by Tuesday 9 June 2020. The competition is running completely online in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Profile: Dr Ifeyinwa Kanu

Dr Ifeyinwa Kanu is the Founder/Director of IntelliDigest and is developing the world’s first autonomous, ultra-small scale organic waste digester. She has a PhD in Environmental Engineering involving the application of Artificial Intelligence and omics analysis to optimize anaerobic process. Dr Kanu took part in ClimateLaunchpad in 2016 and went on to win a place on ECCI's EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator programme in summer 2017.

She is winner of several awards, including Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship, Royal Society of Edinburgh SE Enterprise Fellowship, Investing Women AccelerateHer Award, Winner IET Innovation Award (Energy), 2017, Winner Edinburgh Climathon 2017, Finalist Pitch@Palace 8.0 (2017) and Finalist VIBES Award (2018).

What is your company and product all about, in a nutshell?

At IntelliDigest, we combine biotech and deep-tech software in developing the most user-friendly, odour free and profitable experience for our customers. Our novel and patented ID Box and IntelliTrade platforms convert food waste into climate friendly chemicals at home and in the work place.

ID Box is designed to be very easy to use, producing only climate-friendly chemicals that generate additional revenue for the user. The IntelliTrade platform enables them to sell it on, sending it through post to a buyer - a biodegradable packaging manufacturer.

Why did you apply for ClimateLaunchpad?

ClimateLaunchpad is a global platform that promotes very early stage low carbon solutions, giving them the opportunity to compete in the global market. I applied because I wanted to leverage that support.

What did you get out of the ClimateLaunchpad Boot Camp and training sessions?

They provided me with the insight and tools to calculate and compare the overall carbon reduction of my technology, in comparison to competitors. We found that our solution stood out from solutions available in the market due to the huge carbon reduction resulting from eliminating the need to transport food waste.

Why do you think innovation competitions like ClimateLaunchpad are important at times of crisis like COVID-19?

On top of good technology, networks and funding are essential building blocks to successful commercialisation. These elements are especially important in the low carbon sector as these ideas and technologies often require a longer time to get to market and reach profitability than say, Software as a Service (SaaS) start-ups.

Hence, innovation competitions like ClimateLaunchpad are crucial at times of crisis - they provide vital motivation and support to innovators developing low carbon solutions at a time when they are most needed.

Application process

Could you follow in Ife's footsteps and make Scotland proud again at #CLP20? If you’ve got an idea with positive climate impacts and the potential to go stratospheric, submit your idea by Tuesday 9 June.

To enter the competition, budding inventors and entrepreneurs simply have to submit an idea or innovation that is tacking climate change.

Those selected to join ClimateLaunchpad will get dedicated support to fast track their idea into a business, overcome challenges and secure funding.

After taking part in a Boot Camp online with ECCI and coaching sessions to develop their idea into a rock-solid business plan, participants will get the chance to pitch this idea during the National Final, also hosted online by ECCI, later this year.

The top three winners of each national competition will go on to compete in the worldwide Grand Final with prize money of up to €10,000 for the overall winner.