Eight EIT Climate-KIC innovators in prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe List 2019

In the last four years, the EIT Community has had over 43 ventures or entrepreneurs featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe List. Choosing from the fields of Manufacturing & Industry, Retail & Ecommerce, Science & Healthcare, and Finance, disrupters supported by EIT Climate-KIC were selected by the Forbes team and high-level experts.

Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport and the Commissioner responsible for the EIT, said: “Congratulations to all EIT Community entrepreneurs recognised by Forbes 30 Under 30! I am proud of all the amazing young people we have been supporting with the EIT. We need to create more opportunities to train young innovators and equip them with the entrepreneurial skills they need to succeed. The EIT’s unique innovation model shows time and time again: talent, creativity and a supporting network are key to enable young innovators to turn their best ideas into products and services that can help us build a resilient, cohesive Europe.”

EIT Climate-KIC supported the various innovators below via its Accelerator programme, and other activities, by providing seed funding for their start-ups, training and bespoke coaching tailored to individual needs and access to wide-ranging networks.

Manufacturing & Industry

JiaJun Cen invented the Blue Battery that stores electricity solely using water and table salt. With his company AquaBattery, he wants to revolutionise the energy storage world and foster the growth of renewable energy around the globe. AquaBattery has successfully completed EIT Climate-KIC’s Accelerator programme in the Netherlands. The company participated in Stages 1 and 2 and received about €25,000 support in total.

AquaBattery co-founder Cen, who is currently the Chief Financial Officer, referred to the peer-to-peer sessions, workshops and coaching provided by EIT Climate-KIC as having “helped me shape my business model. To me this was invaluable.” He also declared that “The Climate-KIC accelerator programme helped me to silence the voice of the engineer within me and taught me to think like an entrepreneur.”

In emerging countries, one billion people do not have access to electricity and spend up to 30 per cent of their wages to light up and charge their phones. The start-up hiLyte, develops an iron-consumable-based battery that enables people to get light and charge a phone. The venture participated in EIT Climate-KIC’s 2018 edition of the ClimateLaunchpad contest.

CEO and co-founder of hiLyte, Briac Barthes, stated that “Climate Launchpad enabled us to meet with a community of people who want to change the world, and don’t hesitate to move forward and try new ideas. This community is not only motivating but also provided significant and ongoing support.”

Converting CO2 from a waste stream into a resource, Shubham Sandeep’s start-up Skytree (formerly Giaura) directly removes CO2 from the Earth’s atmosphere, providing a technological solution to climate change. Skytree received support through EIT Climate-KIC’s Accelerator programme.

Shubham Sandeep, Chief Commercial Officer of the Amsterdam based Skytree, said that he was “extremely honoured, humbled and excited to be recognised by Forbes”. SkyTree had been participants in Stages 1 and 2 of the EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator programme and received €50.000 in grants as well as being given access to workshops hosted by prominent trainers on various topics including sales & fundraising. A personal start-up coach also provided guidance. As Sandeep acknowledges, “the programme was invaluable to developing our business case and technology. Without it, we would not be here today, and we are extremely grateful for the support provided.”

Retail & Ecommerce

Kilian Kaminski and Peter Windischhofer founded Refurbed, an online marketplace for refurbished electronics. Refurbed successfully completed EIT Climate-KIC’s Accelerator programme in Austria and was featured in EIT Climate-KIC’s top 30 cleantech start-ups.

Refurbed participated in the accelerator programme in 2017 and are currently in Stage 3 having received €90.000. Killian Kaminski, founder and CEO at Refurbed, noted that the “programme, and subsequent contact with ERGO and MunichRE, was extremely valuable. The financial support was significant as was access to supportive mentors and experts and the wider EIT Climate-KIC network.” Kaminski continued, “this helped us to grow our business and to sign contracts with partners. When we started in EIT Climate-KIC’s accelerator programme we were a team of five people. Now, 1.5 years on, we are 27 people and have increased our sales fifty-fold.”

Science & Healthcare

AgroSustain, Dr. Olga Dubey’s start-up, aims to develop and bring efficient organic treatments against broad ranges of plant fungal pathogens to the market. AgroSustain was a finalist in the 2018 EIT Food Accelerator Network, engaging with industry experts and receiving mentoring. The company was also part of the EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator programme in Switzerland.

CEO Dr. Olga Dubey stated “support from EIT Climate-KIC meant that AgroSustain gained access to a large network of start-ups and investors. This led to positive collaboration and ideas on a variety of sustainable topics, all geared towards finding sustainable solutions to reduce emissions. EIT Climate-KIC also provided extremely useful advice and guidance to my staff.”

Etienne Jeoffroy is the founder of FenX, a start-up that turns abandoned mineral waste into high-quality insulation foams. The foam is a non-flammable thermal insulation produced from non-toxic materials and has zero CO2 emission during production. FenX won the Swiss final of EIT Climate-KIC’s 2018 Climate Launchpad. During the Grand Final, it was awarded the Circular Economy Award, which recognises breakthrough ideas that challenge the current model of ‘take-make-dispose’.

Jeoffroy referred to his scientific background which meant “the support Climate-KIC provided us was ideal as we gained new skills and focused on the target of becoming impact-driven entrepreneurs.”

He highlighted their participation in last year’s Swiss final of EIT Climate KIC’s Climate Launchpad which helped them “to define their identity as a sustainable cleantech company through newly acquired Circular Economy concepts. These concepts were passed on through the insights of the highly experienced and inspiring mentors we had the opportunity to meet. A clear leap forward!”

Gnanli Landrou’s start-up Oxara transforms construction waste into sustainable concrete, enabling the access to safe, affordable housing and building a sustainable future. In 2018 Oxara was selected for the EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator programme. They are now completing the first stage of the programme.

Landrou, Oxara’s founder, found that EIT Climate-KIC’s Accelerator programme gave the company “the confidence to have the support and belief in our business idea, as well as the opportunity, through coaches, to strengthen our business case.” Financial support of CHF 20,000 significantly improved the organisation’s technology and, he stated, “the connection with EIT Climate-KIC provided us with climate “credibility” and a platform to share our vision.”


Niels Fibaek-Jensen is the CEO and co-founder of Matter (previously Penstable), offering sustainable pension plans for individuals and companies. Matter was part of EIT Climate-KIC’s Accelerator and was featured in EIT Climate-KIC’s top 30 cleantech start-ups.

Fibaek-Jensen referred to EIT Climate-KIC’s support as being “instrumental in helping us create and launch Matter, and build a sustainable pension offering in Denmark. EIT Climate-KIC’s accelerator program helped us with mentoring, network, support, and helped us go from a promising idea to the Danish market and international recognition.”


This article was originally published on 18 March 2019.