The Climate Innovation Exchange (CLIX), a global marketplace that connects capital with transformational climate change concepts and solutions has attracted a year one intention to invest pledge for 16 projects worth USD 17.5 million (AED 64 million) at the World Future Energy Summit 2018, as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, hosted by Masdar.

Investors confirmed plans to invest the sum in more than half of the 27 finalists at CLIX, pending the completion of full due diligence assessments, which are expected to take between six and 12 months. The intended investment figure has the potential to grow to USD 45.5 million (AED 167 million) over a three-year period and is a significant portion of the USD 118 million (AED 433.5 million) that participants initially sought in seed, angel and venture capital funding during their presentations to prospective investors.

Local investors have also registered interest in providing both funding and land to be used as a test bed for some of the projects.

His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said that all 27 ideas presented at CLIX showed a high level of creativity.

“Young innovators lived up to the challenge and were able to present truly creative and inspiring ideas pertaining to environmental sustainability and natural resources conservation. Investors were very impressed with these ideas, which incited them to express an intent to invest not less than USD 45.5 million within a period of 3 years. Several young entrepreneurs stand to benefit from the intended investments, and we hope to see them turn their ideas into a tangible reality soon. CLIX obviously succeeded in fulfilling its goal of bridging the gap between young entrepreneurs and investors, creating investment opportunities that generate financial returns as well as a positive impact,” he said.

“The productive networking seen between investors and entrepreneurs and the look of satisfaction on the faces of all CLIX visitors urge us to expand the upcoming edition and include more participants. This will help more young innovators realize their goals and secure funds for their ideas,” Mr Al Zeyoudi added.

Ara Fernezian, Group Managing Director for the Middle East at Reed Exhibitions, said the event exceeded the expectations of everyone involved, including the startups who participated in CLIX.

“The event format and environment were created to elevate the representation of the innovations and this was, in my opinion, one of the success reasons. “It is not the conventional expo you see in most exhibitions. CLIX’ mandate is to create a market place and provide an immersive experience for both entrepreneurs and investors, where business matchmaking and learning are key. It is now up to the investors and entrepreneurs to go through due diligence and their internal legal and technical processes to make the intended investment a reality,” added Mr. Fernezian.

His Excellency Mohammed Sahoo Al Suwaidi, CEO (Acting) at Nawah Energy Services Company said the company was proud to be a Premium Sponsor of the Climate Innovations Exchange initiative.

“Nawah understands the importance of innovation and has been aligned with the UAE’s ongoing interest in innovation since its National Innovation Strategy was launched in October 2014. The strategy aims to position the UAE as one of the most pioneering nations in the world, by stimulating innovation in sectors where it is key to excellence,” added Mr Al Suwiadi.

Judges selected 27 of the entrants to compete in the event final to pitch for funding from 12 investors coming from seed, angel, family offices, high net worth individuals and a prominent venture capital, some of whom travelled from as far as China, United Kingdom, Lebanon and California’s Silicon Valley to explore the projects.

Investors selected their favourite projects in each of the three categories at the World Future Energy Summit on Thursday, January 18.

Load-Me, a UAE-based business which has produced online tool that allows you to track available trucks and loads in the Middle East’s transport marketplace won the air pollution category, while Flyability, a Swiss-based company which makes collision tolerant drones to navigate complex and confined places was named the investors’ favourite idea in the clean mobility category.

Telofarm, a South Korean-based company which develops sensors to monitor plants, won the innovation in agriculture category for its precision irrigation solution.

“Using the sensors, we know exactly how much water a plant is taking up and we provide just enough water at the right time so that all the water we provide is consumed by it. There is no waste at all,” said Junghoon Lee, Chief Executive Officer and President at Telofarm, who is also a professor at Seoul National University.

The audience choice award was won by FlyNano, a Finnish aircraft manufacturer which produces luxury single seat seaplanes.

Dr. Hoda AlKhzaimi, Research Assistant Professor, Director of Center for Cyber Security, who acted as an emcee at the event, was particularly impressed by the young Emirati finalists, who submitted a range of ideas across the categories.

They included a group of four female students at the United Arab Emirates University – Noura Salem Al Ahbabi, Nila Zarai Nabi Jan, Maryam Islamail Alblooshi and Sara Salem Alrashdi – who developed a solution to remove oil from the soil using bacteria.

Oil leakage from pipes is a problem that negatively affects the environment in many areas around the globe, said Ms Al Ahbabi. “One way to remediate this problem is to take the contaminated soil and put it in another place but this was not a solution. It just made the problem worse. So we needed a better solution,” she said.

“What we did was we selected some bacteria which had the ability to degrade the oil. And then we tested its ability to remediate the soil that is contaminated with oil.”

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