This Earth Day’s focus is ‘Invest in Our Planet’ in recognition of the new dawn of economic opportunity worldwide. The University of Edinburgh is making a difference in turning the tide against the climate crisis in many different ways, including investing in support networks and opportunities for a new generation of entrepreneurs, innovators, and disruptors.

The Inspire Launch Grow team

EDINBURGH, UK - 9th June 2022: Winners are announced at the Inspire Launch Grow Awards 2022 during a ceremony at Potterow Dome in Edinburgh. The awards are an annual showcase event to celebrate entrepreneurship at the University of Edinburgh. (Photograph: MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY)

Celebrated every year on April 22, Earth Day unites people across the world in support of the environment, reminding us to act now towards improving and preserving the future of our planet.

This Earth Day’s focus is ‘Invest in Our Planet’ in recognition of the new dawn of economic opportunity around the world. EARTHDAY.ORG, the hosts of this year’s Earth Day, in their press release, said: “By engaging governments, businesses, institutions, and the more than 1 billion people who participate in Earth Day annually, we can solve the world’s greatest problem: climate change.”

Businesses becoming more sustainable, climate-conscious and environmentally considerate is no longer seen as a burden or taxing on transformation but are driving lucrative longevity. In fact, new sectors spawning around climate tech are transforming the industry and our economy for the better.

The University of Edinburgh is making a difference in turning the tide against the climate crisis in many different ways, including investing in support networks and opportunities for a new generation of entrepreneurs, innovators, and disruptors.

If you’re at the very earliest moment of formulating ideas; if you’ve done some market testing or developed an MVP; if you’re ready to launch your company; if you’re ready to start scaling the business – then the University of Edinburgh is here to support you.

The University is the best place in Scotland for student enterprise. Last year 105 student start-ups were formed, and student enterprises received a record investment of £30.5m. In this article, we want to spotlight the programmes and initiatives making climate entrepreneurship happen right now at the University of Edinburgh.


A.I. Accelerator

The AI Accelerator gives AI-driven scale-ups the opportunity to develop their business and bring about transformative change. One of the three cohorts for the A.I. Accelerator is focused on climate innovation.

Successful applicants win a stipend worth 9000 and the support of a dedicated programme team. The Accelerator is open to companies from around the world and not just students from the University of Edinburgh.

Participants in this year’s A.I. for Climate Cohort include Danu Robotics, who came runner-up in the AI accelerator this year and won a further £2,000.00. Danu Robotics has developed technology that automates the waste sorting and contaminants removal process with greater speed and accuracy. Their success in the AI Accelerator built upon their previous success in the 2021 Startup Summer Accelerator, where they placed first on Demo Day, receiving £4,000. Founder and CEO of Danu, Xiaoyan Ma, is an alumnus of the University’s High-Performance Computing with Data Science MSc.

Note: The AI Accelerator is currently open for registrations, and you can apply here or contact to find out more.


Sustainable Business Ideas Competition

Run once per semester, this competition supports student entrepreneurs at the earliest stage in developing climate-related business ideas. Our competition supports unique ideas from the University of Edinburgh students from undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD candidates alike.

Winners receive £1,000.00 and dedicated specialist support to advance the development of the idea.

Previous winners include Respect Musiyiwa, whose idea ‘Africa Farm Start-up Academy: An Agribusiness Innovation and Incubation Hub’ aimed to advance the prospects and opportunities available for youth and women farmer incubation, training, and capacity building in Africa.

One of this semester’s winners was Engineering student Sebastiaan Schalkwijk. Sebastiaan submitted a concept for shallow water solar panels, which aim to address the inefficiency of current solar panels and boost the transition towards green and clean energy.

 Note: This competition is currently closed but will reopen. You can still get things moving by contacting to discuss your business idea or register your interest by emailing


Startup Summer Accelerator

The Startup Summer Accelerator is a 12-week programme for student entrepreneurs to help their businesses become investment ready.

Participants receive £3,000.00 in funding, as well as weekly mentorship, master classes, and workshops. This year’s accelerator is focused on supporting sustainable and climate-centric student start-ups.

Last year, Myriad Wind Energy Systems took part in the accelerator and came second on the final pitching day, winning an additional £3,000.00. The team at Myriad Wind Energy Systems are developing multi-rotor wind turbines made of sustainable materials to disrupt the monopoly of huge blade turbines and improve the renewable energy industry. With the funding they were awarded from the accelerator, they were able to file their first patent.

 Note: The accelerator is currently closed for applications. You can still get things moving by reaching out to or register your interest by emailing


Inspire Launch Grow

The Inspire Launch Grow Awards is an annual celebration of entrepreneurship at the University of Edinburgh. The awards include categories for businesses that benefit communities and the environment and have seen a growing number of entries from climate-focused start-ups.

Student businesses have the chance to win part of a £20,000.00 prize fund for their businesses.

Last year, PhD student Jonathan Feldstein won £5,000.00 for his company Bennu.AI.

Bennu.AI has developed a smart bin that sorts waste automatically to increase recycling efficiency and lower waste management costs.

Note: This competition is currently closed. You can find out about future competitions by registering for the student enterprise newsletter here


Venture Builder Incubator

The Venture Builder Incubator supports data-driven entrepreneurship and businesses from various sectors, including ClimateTech. The incubator provides funding, mentorship, and workshops to help PhD Students and early career researchers maximise the impact of their research.

Successful applicants receive £2,000.00 as well as one-to-one support, mentorship opportunities, and a programme of investor engagement.

 CarbonGlance, led by founders Victor Perez Prieto and Manolis Kotzampasakis, took part in the most recent cohort of the Venture Builder Incubator. This built on their success from winning the Earth Enterprise Ideas Competition (now Sustainable Business Ideas Competition) in 2022. CarbonGlance are building an easy-to-use data integration platform that centralises all the information companies and investors need to measure and disclose their exposure to the risk of carbon pricing.

Note: Applications for the next VBI will open soon; register your interest to receive news about this here or contact to find out more.


The University of Edinburgh is proud to be ranked 4th globally by QS World University Rankings for sustainability and ranked 4th in the UK’s Research Excellence Framework for Research Power IE for the combined breadth and quality of our research.

We know we already have an excellent platform for investing in climate entrepreneurship and are ready to do even more. We will need to keep working with students, staff and partners worldwide if we will deliver radical innovations and make the transformational changes our earth needs. We believe economic prosperity and tackling the climate crisis are two sides of the same coin. The climate crisis presents us with one of the greatest opportunities for innovation that the world has ever seen.

Get involved at the University of Edinburgh and become part of the transition to a better, more sustainable world for us all.