How we lived in 2023 and even had fun. 365 days of the Greencubator team

If the Greencubator team were to choose a word for 2023, it would be “Pride”

We are proud of the Ukrainian Defense Forces, which allow us to continue our work. 

We are proud of Ukraine and its people, who have proved every day in 2023 that they can withstand and thrive against all odds. 

We are proud of the Ukrainian green startups that have grown incredibly in front of our eyes, entering new markets and attracting millions of investments. 

We are proud of each member of our team who contributed their best to the projects and always supported each other. 

With this pride in our hearts, we would like to summarize how the Greencubator team went through this sometimes challenging but inspiring journey of 365 days in 2023.

But first, five key numbers about us in 2023:

  • 232 Ukrainian cleantech companies applied for Greencubator programs.
  • 73 online and offline events organized.
  • More than 60 hours of expert advice provided by our team to Ukrainian entrepreneurs.
  • Over $5 million raised in investments and grants by graduates of our programs in 2023.
  • Over UAH 5 million of donations raised to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine, both by our team individually and in cooperation with Group 35 and other partners.

This resulted from the Greencubator team’s work in several areas: grants for green innovators, educational projects for entrepreneurs, international business idea competitions, event participation, and charity. Here’s a recap of our life and inspirations in 2023.

#1: Grants from Climate Innovation Vouchers for Green Innovators

About the project: 

Climate Innovation Vouchers is one of the largest grant programs in Ukraine for innovators in green and climate-friendly technologies. It was initiated by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and funded by the European Union. Greencubator implements the program in Ukraine. 

The program provides support to Ukrainian small and medium-sized businesses. Startups can receive grants up to EUR 50 thousand, covering 75% of the costs of the approved services, but participants are obliged to pay at least 25% of the cost out of their funds.

In 2023, the Greencubator team held Ukraine’s eighth wave of Climate Innovation Vouchers. The call for participants lasted from July 20 to September 30. During this time, almost 150 Ukrainian companies in the field of green innovations were interested in participating in the project. Over 60 innovators submitted applications for the grant competition; 37 passed the qualification process and were shortlisted for expert evaluation. 

Greencubator co-founder Roman Zinchenko and Climate Innovation Vouchers project manager Olha Zubchyk conducted consultations for applicants and organized two online webinars, “GreenBusinessTalk.” 

The most frequent services Ukrainian companies applied for were the following:

  • IT services.
  • Marketing and branding.
  • Industrial design.
  • Intellectual property protection.

In early 2024, we are preparing to announce the following winners of the Climate Innovation Vouchers. In the meantime, we are tracking how the finalists of the previous wave are completing their projects, receiving funds, and raising investments.

#2. Ukrainian innovators at the international ClimateLaunchpad competition

About the project: 

ClimateLaunchpad (CLP) is the world’s largest green innovation competition. Its goal is to unlock the global potential of clean technologies designed to combat global warming. 

For entrepreneurs, participation in this competition is an opportunity to boost their business from idea to product launch, gain international experience and meet cleantech professionals across the globe. Moreover, the winners of the global final receive prizes.

In 2023, ClimateLaunchpad celebrated its 10th anniversary, and the Greencubator team has been organizing the competition’s national round in Ukraine for eight years. 

Our team has a great affection for ClimateLaunchpad. It often welcomes very young startup teams, who grow before our eyes and receive their first clients and investments thanks to our experts’ intensive training, mentoring, and support. 

In 2023, we opened the application process for the program on May 2. Out of more than 30 applicants, 12 were shortlisted. The selected teams attended BootCamp, a hands-on training session with the incredible Ron Bloemers. Also, they joined a dozen online events during the project, coached by Maryna Chyzh, Valeria Mosienko, Roman Zotov, Ilya Kichuk, Roman Zinchenko, and other experts.

In August, nine finalist teams presented their startup ideas to the jury. Three of them won and got a chance to represent Ukraine at the regional semifinals of the ClimateLaunchpad competition. The winners of the national selection were: 

  • TomorrowPack is a reusable eco-box for online order delivery;
  • Mycelia Tech is a new alternative material made from mushroom mycelium and agricultural waste;
  • WildFiresUA (Yourairtest) is a web app for collecting, processing, analyzing and visualisation an air quality data.

#3. Educational courses for green innovators at Greencubator.Academy

About the project: 

Greencubator.Academy is an online educational platform that helps Ukrainian eco-innovators unleash their entrepreneurial talents and turn ideas into sustainable businesses. Academy graduates receive more than just knowledge; they also get personalized task feedback. Moreover, the most successful companies get access to a network of investors, potential business partners, and grant programs worldwide. 

In 2023, we graduated another group of students from Greencubator.Academy. The program ended on August 12 in Kyiv at Green Pitch Day, where teams at the pre-seed and seed-round stages pitched their climate-friendly business ideas. The expert jury scored the presentations and announced the finalists. The winners of Greencubator.Academy were Rekava, SOLAR PLEX, and FlushWave.

All participants of Green Pitch Day had a chance to find partners, investors, and customers. Moreover, they became part of the entire ecosystem of green startups supported by Greencubator.

#4. Mini-grants for sustainable social entrepreneurship

In 2023, Greencubator launched a new grant program for green startups.

Mini-grants from €3,000 to €10,000 are available for companies that have graduated from Greencubator programs, even if they are at early stages of their development.

Here are the first teams awarded with mini-grants under the new program: 

  • Rekava, which produces biodegradable products from coffee grounds. 
  • WormNet, a company that uses worms to process bio-waste into organic vermicompost. 
  • FlushWave, that radically reduces water consumption by reusing water from sinks, filters, and washing machines. 

This grant program from Greencubator is implemented with the financial support of our partners – The Possible.

The Possible is an alliance of 14 different organisations that believe in the power of impact-driven entrepreneurs to be at the forefront of the long-term renewal of Ukraine.

#5. Ukrainian cleantech in the international arena

Ukrainian green innovators continue to impress and inspire. They create world-revolutionary solutions in the industry, such as biodegradable packaging from S.Lab, wireless EV chargers from Meredot, or paper made of fallen leaves from Releaf Paper. At the same time, their technologies work for Ukraine’s benefit, helping to clear agricultural fields from mines or become energy independent.

The Greencubator team keeps talking about the achievements of its alumni at numerous discussion platforms both in Ukraine and worldwide. 

For instance, we talked about the Ukrainian cleantech industry in Germany at the Set Tech Festival and Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, in Warsaw at the Rebuild Ukraine Powered By Energy conference, and in Lithuania at the Ukraine Green Recovery Conference. We also attended numerous events in the country, fostering a dialogue on supporting small and medium-sized green businesses.

#6. Volunteering for Ukraine’s armed forces

From the first days of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Greencubator’s team has been volunteering and supporting the Ukrainian military, defending the country from the enemy. In the spring of 2022, we helped launch the operational core of the Group 35 charity fund, with which we implemented large-scale projects. We continue volunteering for air defence units, the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine, and many others. 

Some of our friends call our co-founder Roman Zinchenko the “Air Defense SMM,” while Andriy Zinchenko collects aid mainly for units that must not be named but perform vital work at the front. 

In 2023, the team members raised funds for vehicles, communications equipment, thermal kits, optics, active and passive network equipment, drones, and power systems for the military. 

On our own and in cooperation with our partners, we delivered almost UAH 5 million worth of aid to Ukraine’s armed forces. We thank everyone for supporting us and making this possible!

And even more news! We have updated our charter and can now assist the army directly! That is, the NGO Grinkubator now also works like a charitable foundation.

#7. We are proud of our green startup ecosystem

The Ukrainian ecosystem of green startups is about more than just companies or grants. It’s about the idea of making our lives more planet-friendly. This combination of creativity, mutual support, and entrepreneurial spirit inspires us to build and develop this community. 

So today, we thank everyone who contributed towards creating a greener future for Ukraine and our planet. 

We are thankful to the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the opportunity to continue our work! We are honoured to support you! 

We are thankful to all our partners whose collaboration has given birth to impactful projects and initiatives.

We are thankful to the companies and teams that have participated in our programs and co-crafted them alongside us.

We are thankful to the organization’s friends who have stood by us through thick and thin over the years, providing unwavering support.

To the entire green community, we say thank you! We look forward to seeing you in 2024 with new, inspiring ideas and achievements.