About the Programme

Global Cleantech Innovation Programme for SMMEs in South Africa (GCIP-SA) is part of a global initiative that aims to address the most pressing energy, environmental and economic challenges of our time through promoting clean technology innovation and supporting Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups. Specific areas of focus are energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste beneficiation (including e-waste), water efficiency and green buildings, green transportation and environmental protection (air, sea & land).

Each year the GCIP-SA combines an annual competition and a business accelerator programme where SMEs and start-ups are continuously trained, mentored and assessed on their business models, investor pitches, communication and financial skills for the development of a more marketable and investor-attractive product and business.

The programme culminates in the annual gala and awards event, where the winner and two runners-up are announced. Winners are also announced in the following categories:

In addition to a cash prize and business support, the winning SMME or start-up also gets an opportunity participate in the Cleantech Open Global Forum in California, USA to join a network of investors and potential partners and compete with winners from other GCIP countries.

The GCIP-SA was incorporated into the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) as from January 2018, after four years as a donor-funded project. The programme launched in South Africa in 2014 and has been jointly implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Technology Agency (TIA), with funding by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). US based Cleantech Open was the main knowledge partner of the global programme. The GCIP-SA was followed by the introduction of sister projects in seven other developing countries. Since its inception, the South African programme has worked with entrepreneurial teams from all nine provinces, with 102 cleantech entrepreneurs directly supported through the Business Accelerator process.


About the Technology Innovation Agency and Key Stakeholders

The Technology Innovation Agency  (TIA) is an agency of the Department of Science and Technology. It was established in terms of Act No. 26 of 2008, with the objective of stimulating and intensifying technological innovation in order to improve economic growth and the quality of life of all South Africans by developing and exploiting technological innovations. TIA’s core business objective is to support the development and commercialisation of competitive technology-based services and products. The Agency primarily uses South Africa’s science and technology base to develop new industries, create sustainable jobs and help diversify the economy. It invests in the following technology sectors: Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture, Industrial Biotechnology, Health, Mining, Energy and ICT.

United Nations Industrial Development Oorganisation (UNIDO) is the specialised agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability. UNIDO’s mandate is to promote and accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development in developing countries and economies in transition (2013 Lima Declaration: Towards inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID)), enhancing its role in the global development agenda. The Organization draws on four mutually reinforcing categories of services: technical cooperation, analytical and policy advisory services, standard setting and compliance, and a convening function for knowledge transfer and networking. UNIDO’s vision is a world where economic development is inclusive and sustainable and economic progress is equitable. The Organization focuses on three main thematic areas, namely Poverty reduction through productive activities; Trade capacity-building, and Energy and environment.

The Global Environment Facility  (GEF) is a partnership for international cooperation where 183 countries work together with international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector, to address global environmental issues. Since 1991, the GEF has provided over $17 billion in grants and leveraged an aditional $88 billion in co-financing for 4 425 projects in more than 170 developing countries. For 25 years, developed and developing countries alike have provided these funds to support activities related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, and chemicals and waste in the context of development projects and programmes. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP) the GEF has made more than 20,000 grants to civil society and community based organizations for a total of $1 billion. Among the major results of these and other investments, the GEF has set up protected areas around the world equal larger than the area of Brazil; reduced carbon emissions by 2.7 billion tonnes; eliminated the use of ozone depleting substances in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia; transformed the management of 33 major river basins and one-third of the world’s large marine ecosystems; slowed the advance of desertification in Africa by improving agricultural practices—and all this while contributing to better the livelihood and food security of millions of people.

The Cleantech Open (CTO) is a not-for-profit organization that runs the world’s largest accelerator for clean technology start-ups. CTOs mission is to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges. Since its founding in 2005 by leaders in Silicon Valley and Boston, the organization has established itself as the leading force for accelerating clean technology entrepreneurs. Of the more than 1 000 companies they have worked with in the United States alone, nearly half have gone on to raise external capital now totalling over $1 billion.