Our mission is to catalyse systemic change through collaborative innovation

Our generation faces the challenge of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero in the next 15 to 20 years by changing almost every aspect of the way we live together on this planet.


What is EIT Climate-KIC? 

EIT Climate-KIC is a ‘knowledge and innovation community’ (KIC) established by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) in 2010 to tackle climate change through innovation. 

In 2015 the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals set the world an epic innovation challenge, underlined again in 2018 by the IPCC’s Special Report. EIT Climate-KIC responded with a ‘theory of change’ to help us maximise our community’s impact in this new and urgent phase of climate action. We asked ourselves, “Where can innovation make the biggest difference?”, “What kind of innovation is needed today?” 

Our mission

We bring together innovative people in business, research, education and the public sector for ‘collaborative systems change’.

Today we focus our efforts on innovation at the level of whole systems to achieve the structural and exponential change called for by the IPCC. 

Our mission is to catalyse systemic change in areas of human activity that have a critical impact on greenhouse gas emissions and to build climate-resilient communities, using systems innovation as our key tool. 

We are Europe’s largest public-private innovation partnership with this purpose.

Why systems innovation?

Across major industries in Europe, the ‘easier stuff’ on the path to net-zero has already been done, mostly through cleaner energy supply and efficiency.

What remains is structural, exponential and more difficult.

The specific innovation challenge facing our generation is to catalyse exponential increases in decarbonisation and resilience through whole systems transitions in land-use, industry, finance and cities; what the IPCC Special Report calls, “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

What comes after ‘innovation-as-usual’?

Continuing to invest in gradual, incremental improvements and single-point technological innovation is not delivering change anywhere near the pace and, scale required. Instead, we need a broad-based innovation model that can deliver rapid, system-wide solutions.

It seems that ‘innovation as usual’ is unfit for the purpose of delivering the system change we so urgently need.

What is systems innovation?

Innovation for systemic change is not limited to technological improvements. It takes in whole value chains and co-ordinates all ‘levers of change’ to help break through lock-in and resistance – including:

  • policy and regulation
  • finance
  • communications and citizen engagement
  • perception and behaviour
  • technology
  • business models
  • creative arts
  • governance
  • skills and education

It calls for innovators from all parts of society. It delivers change in places (districts, cities, regions and countries) and whole industry sectors. And it creates opportunities for people to create leverage points and influence change in areas they care about most.

Our theory of change is focused on empowering people to change systems – through exploration, experimentation and demonstration – to enable viable alternatives at scale.

You can find out more about our theory of change and systems innovation approach to tackling climate change in our strategy document for 2019 – 2022, ‘Transformation, in Time’.

Transformation in Time

Deep demonstrations of systems transitions

The EIT Climate-KIC community is committed to ‘deep demonstrations’ of what is possible at the level of whole systems transitions.

We are building a portfolio of coordinated systems interventions in cities, regions and industry sectors, and along whole value chains. We aim to attract new partners and funders into our mission, to help shape and scale these efforts. Read our background document on ‘Deep Demonstrations of a Net Zero Emissions, Resilient Future’.

Deep Demonstrations

Our pan-European innovation community 

Our innovation community brings together large and small companies, scientific institutions and universities, city authorities, national governments and other public bodies, start-ups, and students.

Today our community is made up of: 

  • Over 365 formal organisational partners from across 28 countries, who together have developed 367 climate-positive products, services and approaches, leveraging over €2.7bn in climate funding
  • A start-up network of over 1400 climate-positive companies who have raised over €930 million in investment since 2012
  • An alumni network of 17,000 participants in climate leadership, education and professional training courses, including 3100 graduates
  • A network of affiliates and advisors which includes authors of local regional and global roadmaps for decarbonisation and resilience
  • Strategic allies who amplify our influence, including Drawdown, Mission Innovation, EAT, Solar Impulse Foundation, WWF, C40 Cities and the Adaptation Fund.

Visit our Community pages to see who is in our partnership and wider community.

EIT Climate-KIC Community

Ecosystem orchestration

 EIT Climate-KIC is a delivery vehicle for systems innovation.

Over the past decade, we have built up solid assets that enable our community to harness and influence the many factors that cause change within systems. We combine and tailor these interventions with the deliberate intention of catalysing systemic change:

  • Community-building: We bring together the most effective groups to create innovation that can lead to systemic change. Our community is made up of formal partners, education alumni, advisors, start-ups, funders, investors and other allies and collaborators, spanning the worlds of business, academia, and the public and non-profit sectors.
  • Innovation Calls and grants: We use our Calls for Proposals to create and fund innovation with partners, including large-scale ‘deep demonstrations’ of whole systems transitions. We  channel public and private investment into our systems innovation portfolio.
  • Education and training: We run a range of inspirational programmes and courses in our city clusters and online, for students, postgraduates and professionals. These programmes can be tailored to support specific place-based and sector-level systems transitions.
  • Early-stage support: We catalyse and nurture innovative thinking from beyond the mainstream through initiatives like Climathon our 24-hour hackathon for cities and citizens, or our cleantech ideas competition Climate Launchpad. Our incubator programme, the EIT Climate-KIC Start-up Accelerator, gives seed funding and assistance to start-ups and SMEs. We support innovation in established organisations through our Partner Pathfinder, Accelerator, Demonstrator and Scaler. 
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