Week 1 Blog:

Sophie Power – Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy 

I decided to apply for the Climate-KIC Summer School 2017 in the interests of expanding my knowledge in the field of climate action. Climate KIC focuses on the business and innovation potential of Climate Change challenges, and coming from a research background this very much interested me. Following a competitive application and interview process, I was accepted to join Journey 4, going from The Netherlands to Trondheim and finishing in Helsinki in the first week of August. This means that I am currently working as part of a diverse team of students and early career professionals from over 19 nations in Europe and beyond combined by a common interest in climate action.

To give the Journey programme a broad overview would be to say that the course is based on the development of business and entrepreneurship skills among early career ‘climate champions’. However over the course of 5 weeks we can expect to cover vast amounts of information and work on several areas of personal development related to business and entrepreneurship.

For the first fortnight, we are based in Den Haag, Netherlands, and taking the opportunity to explore the vast range of climate and sustainability innovation taking place across the country. Week 1 of the Journey focused on fieldwork, ideation and problem-identification, as well as getting to know each other a in the context of team development, with the week culminating in the formation of teams that we will work in for the rest of the Journey with the aim of developing a climate-centred business idea, to be pitched to a panel of experts in Helsinki at the end of Week 5.

Locations visited during Week 1 of the journey included the Zandmotor, Den Haag, a pioneering coastal defence project focused on the use of soft engineering methods; Wageningen University to visit a start-up incubator and to sample some of the more unusual local delicacies… NIOO-KNAW (the Netherlands Institute for Ecology) where we examined the circular economy and the concept of closed system technology. We also had the opportunity to visit Europe’s largest rooftop farm, where aquaculture and agriculture are combined in an unlikely setting to pioneer a future of urban farming. A visit to Rotterdam allowed us to view a Resilient City in action, and to witness sustainable regeneration projects first hand.

As well as field work, a lot has been happening to push us out of our comfort zones and unlock the entrepreneurial mindset in all of us. From brainstorming to problem identification as well as providing us with the tools necessary to understand the impact of business and industry on climate (Climate Impact Assessment, Life Cycle Assessment).

The journey is a more than full time intensive programme of learning and development that requires time commitment well beyond the scheduled timetable to allow time for group work and problem development, and participants can expect to work 12+ hours a day. Although tiring, this method of work is immensely rewarding and it is hugely exciting to be involved with a group of people with a shared work ethic and passion for innovation and climate action.
For more information on the journey, please don’t hesitate to contact me on sophie.power@ucc.ie or follow me on Twitter @sophiepower28