As extreme weather was wreaking havoc across the world this winter, the European Union's main climate innovation initiative Climate-KIC stepped up its efforts to leverage the combined strength of Europe's top businesses, scientists and policy makers to manage the impact of global warming and stop further climate change.
The public-private partnership is partially funded by the European Commission through its European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) - which has confirmed an initial €63 million grant for 2014 - and receives financial and in-kind support from over 200 businesses, blue-chip corporations, universities and public bodies across Europe.
"More than ever climate change is high on the agenda and by securing this funding, we will continue to work across Europe with climate experts and innovative entrepreneurs to address climate change mitigation and adaptation - and shape the world's next economy," says Mary Ritter, Climate-KIC Chief Executive Officer.
Climate-KIC has launched new innovative projects in the construction and sustainable city sectors this year with corporate and academic partners across Europe, while admitting more entrepreneurs into its start-up accelerator - which is now the world's largest climate-specific accelerator.
The EU climate innovation effort offers more courses for professionals in 2014 in addition to its existing programmes for Master and PhD students - and is scaling up its presence across Europe by opening new centres and strengthening its links with regional partners.
The initiative is also set to increase its ties with global partners, connecting Europe with major developing markets in key carbon-producing nations such as China and Brazil. Climate-KIC is expected to represent Europe's climate innovation community on the international stage throughout the year.
Greening cities, one district at a time
As part of its new flagship Building Technologies Accelerator project, Climate-KIC is bringing together multidisciplinary 'living lab' teams across Europe to addresses the climate impact of new building technologies. By the end of 2014, a range of new prototype technologies will be ready to be launched across Europe's building sector.
Smart Sustainable Districts, another one of Climate-KIC's new flagship projects, will help turn some of Europe's highest profile district-level developments in cities into model projects and test beds for replication of smart, sustainable city systems in other urban areas world-wide.
Initially, Climate-KIC is starting work in four districts, offering them the best innovations from across its network.
The world's largest climate-specific accelerator
The Climate-KIC Accelerator - the largest of its kind globally - helps climate entrepreneurs take their innovative ideas to market. In 2014, over 100 European start-ups are set to pass through the start-up accelerator which supports entrepreneurs with grants up to €90.000, mentoring and business support.
For the first time, Scandinavia-based entrepreneurs will access the accelerator through Climate-KIC's new Nordic centre in Denmark. Through the EU's regional innovation scheme, start-ups from Slovenia to Ireland will also see their businesses accelerated through Climate-KIC.
The Climate-KIC Accelerator stimulates world-wide knowledge and best practice exchange by inviting globally recognised speakers for its masterclasses, and will be sending selected start-ups to Silicon Valley and Israel's clean-tech cluster to take part in pitching sessions and networking events.
Training and educating climate innovators
For this first time, 2014 will see a significant group of graduates from Climate-KIC's Master and PhD programmes stepping into the business world - ready to enable change on all levels.
Climate-KIC's PhD and Master programmes provide added value to degree courses run by Climate-KIC partner universities across Europe and focus on climate science and entrepreneurship.
The organisation has launched a series of new education programmes this year including summer schools for PhD candidates focused on key climate change challenges, workshops to help scientists bridge the gap between science and business and new courses for professionals and executives.
Around 400 participants are expected to take part in Climate-KIC's new business school programmes, with eleven professional courses and three executive courses planned across Europe for 2014.
More students than ever are taking part in Climate-KIC's graduate education programmes this year, including 80 PhD candidates, 130 Master students and over 200 participants in Climate-KIC's summer school.
In February, Climate-KIC opened a new Nordic centre in Denmark. The new location is set to bring expertise from across Scandinavia into the Climate-KIC community, complementing existing centres in France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK.
Climate-KIC is strengthening its ties with regional partners through centres in Valencia, Central Hungary, Emilia Romagna, Lower Silesia, Hessen and the West Midlands, which provide access to programmes offered by Climate-KIC centres operating on a national level to local students, researchers and entrepreneurs.
Climate-KIC's regional centres are scaling up their activities in 2014. The representations will deliver a coordinated programme of professional education, business support and city-led innovation projects. Climate-KIC's annual Innovation Festival, which sees climate innovators from across Europe discuss the latest advancements in climate science and business, will be held in the city of Valencia, Spain, this autumn.
As part of the European Commission's Regional Innovation Scheme, Climate-KIC will also be working with regions in Slovenia, Ireland, Finland, Portugal and Romania.
Europe's main climate innovation effort
Climate-KIC is the EU's main climate innovation initiative. It is Europe's largest public-private innovation partnership focused on mitigating and adapting to climate change. Climate-KIC consists of companies, academic institutions and the public sector.
The organisation has its headquarters in London, UK, and leverages its centres across Europe to support start-up companies, to bring together partners on innovation projects and to educate students to bring about a connected, creative transformation of knowledge and ideas into products and services that help mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Climate-KIC is one of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) created in 2010 by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EU body tasked with creating sustainable European growth while dealing with the global challenges of our time.