The Women4Climate Tech Challenge launched today at the C40 World Mayors Summit, showcasing the best innovative solutions to the climate crisis designed and led by women. This competition for women only is a joint initiative from the VELUX Group and C40 Cities.

Women have a central role to play in driving climate action to transform cities and communities into sustainable places to live. The solutions showcased by the international challenge, now in its second year, improve cities’ responsiveness to climate change.

The call for applications for the second year of the Women4Climate Tech Challenge officially opens today and runs until January 31, 2020. Four C40 cities – Lisbon, Los Angeles, Stockholm and Tel Aviv-Yafo – have committed to pilot one of the winning solutions in their cities. An expert jury will pick 10 finalists in February 2020, and the finalists will present their solutions to the participating C40 mayors and The VELUX Group at a direct, live pitch event which will determine the 4 winners.

Applications for the Women4Climate Tech Challenge can address 3 thematic areas:

  • Adaptation and risk cities response
  • Healthy public buildings and households
  • Green and healthier streets

The Mayor of Stockholm, Anne König Jerlmyr, says: “In order to reach the 1.5-degree target, cities must excel in all fields – and one thing is certain, we won’t make it if we don’t actively involve women entrepreneurs in the process of reinventing our cities. With their perspective, expertise and know-how, rest assured we can co-create climate solutions to bend the carbon emission curve. With the C40 Women4Climate Tech Challenge, we invite all participating cities to reach out to their start-up communities and step up their inclusive climate action.”  

The Tech Challenge supports diversity in technology and innovation, where women are largely underrepresented. According to C40:

  • Women only represent 17% of employees, 4% of software engineers and 1% of leadership positions in the combined science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sector
  • Only 3% of venture capital partners are women
  • Just 14% of start-up investors (or ‘Business Angels’) are women
  • Research shows that start-ups led by men receive over 16 times more funding than those led by women, and survey data suggests that this disparity is gender-based

These inequalities represent a significant barrier to developing inclusive climate responses, which need to be addressed with tailored actions and tools to support female entrepreneurship and break down the barriers women meet in venture capital and start-up creation. The Women4Climate Tech Challenge is one of these tools.

By sponsoring this challenge, The VELUX Group acknowledges the foresight of women in creating solutions for a sustainable future and the barriers they often face in bringing their ideas to the fore.

“Women are key contributors to the societies we live in and therefore need to be more involved in defining, developing and implementing solutions that will make our cities and communities sustainable for years to come,” says Tina Mayn, Senior Vice President for Products, VELUX Group. “Through our support of this challenge, we can help some women to ensure there is a more balanced approach and drive towards climate actions that change cities and communities for the better and ensure coming generations grow up in environments that are conducive to their learning, growth and development, and not least good health and well-being.”

“Lisbon is an open and inclusive living lab for the most groundbreaking solutions arising from the vibrant entrepreneurial community we call “Made of Lisboa”. And starting in 2020, Lisbon will also proudly begin its own edition of the C40 Women4Climate with a local mentorship programme,” says Mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina. “So it is with great anticipation that we join this movement and launch the Women4Climate Tech Challenge in Lisbon. The Women4Climate Tech Challenge is an important tool in our innovation and entrepreneurship strategy, and we look forward to learning about new city solutions that will help us lead the way in climate action.”

“The Women4Climate Tech Challenge addresses three issues that are high on our municipal agenda: the Environment; Women’s Entrepreneurship; and Promoting Innovation. Therefore, we are thrilled to be able to continue this successful programme that combines all three issues,” says Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Ron Huldai. “Tel Aviv-Yafo thrives to work in collaboration with additional cities that are tech ecosystem leaders in order to harness innovative solutions to solving the social and urban challenges of the future.”

“By empowering women to lead the fight against climate change, C40 Cities are helping to create the solutions today that will ensure a more equitable, prosperous, and livable planet for future generations,” said Mayor of Los Angeles and Chair-Elect of C40 Cities, Eric Garcetti. “When women aren’t included in positions of power and influence, we all suffer from lost ingenuity that can help save our planet.”

The first Women4Climate Tech Challenge was launched at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September 2018 and hosted by the cities of Paris and Tel Aviv-Yafo, which committed to piloting the winners’ solutions. The winners of the first edition, Elodie Grimoin, co-founder and CTO of Urban Canopee and Inna Braverman, co-founder of Eco Wave Power are still receiving assistance for the next experimentation phase of their innovations from the cities of Paris and Tel Aviv-Yafo respectively.

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