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Not Raising a VC Round? Financing Alternatives for Climate Tech in 2023

startup competition
Image credit: Canva

To carry on the mighty task of transforming the worldʼs largest markets with innovative sustainable alternatives, climate tech companies require capital. Startup investment in the climate sector is at an all-time high, as more companies prove that sustainability and profitability are not mutually exclusive. At the beginning of the journey, however, especially when starting from an emerging market, founders may need additional support before they roll on their sleeves and ask for the big bucks from investors. Here is where startups programs such as incubators and accelerators kick in.

Continue reading to find out which are the startup programs offering funding opportunities for climate tech startups, including eligibility criteria, the type of financing available, and registration deadlines.


Startup programs with funding opportunities for climate techs in Europe or overall CEE

The EIC Accelerator

Organizer: European Innovation Council, part of Horizon Europe

Type: Grant funding (non-dilutive) of up €2.5m; investments (direct equity investments or quasi-equity such as convertible loans) of up to €15M

About the program: The EIC Accelerator offers funding support or co-invests next to private investors. Funds are intended for development, demonstration, prototyping, R&D and testing, marketing approval, as well as scaling up.

Eligibility: Individual small and medium  enterprises (SMEs), in particular startups and spinout companies to develop and scale up game-changing innovation.

Funding amount: €0.5 -15M

Registration deadline: Short applications: no deadline – continuous; full applications: 7 June 2023, 4 October 2023

Funding in CEE: Ventures Thrive, a CEE venture building studio


EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator

Organizer: EU, partner organizations

Type: Investments, Grant funding

About the program: Runs theme- and place-specific ClimAccelerators in local contexts around the world. Once startups successfully complete the program, EIT Climate-KIC invests in the climate tech companies that demonstrate the highest impact potential.

Eligibility: Depends by program, but generally, early-stage startups building scalable solutions that fight global sustainability challenges such as climate change

Funding amount: Depends on the program

Registration deadline: North Macedonia – open (led by Youth Entrepreneurial Service Foundation); Bulgaria and Romania – complete (led by Impact Hub Romania)

Funding in CEE: See a list of regional startups awarded at the BlackSea ClimAccelerator 2022

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Organizer: EUREKA

Type: Grant funding

About the program: Provides co-financing for R&D activities and projects of SMEs, together with national governments and other project partners.

Eligibility: small and medium-sized R&D companies

Funding amount: €0.5 -1.5M

Registration deadline: Depends on the local program – check here


Future Makers 2023

Organizer: Global Shapers Bucharest Hub, Social Innovation Solutions

Type: Competition with cash prizes, pitches to investors

About the program: Future Makers is a digital incubator for early-stage startups, running three verticals: Sustainability, Health, and Open innovation.

Eligibility: Businesses from Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, and Serbia, having launched maximum 2 years prior.

Funding amount: prizes totalling €45,000

Registration deadline: July-Sep. for the Sustainability vertical, register here

Funding in CEE: PolyMore, GreCup


Startup programs with funding opportunities for climate techs in Romania

Empowering Women in Agrifood 2023

Organizer: Impact Hub Bucharest, EIT Food

Type: Competition with cash prizes

About the program: It is open to female entrepreneurs building projects in the agri-food field. The program offers training, mentoring, and networking opportunities, as well as a pitching competition.

Eligibility: Women-led projects tackling areas such as children’s physical and emotional health, education, nutrition and food, safety, children’s rights    

Funding amount: In 2022, prizes totalled €15,000

Registration deadline: You can pre-register here

Funding in CEE: Eugenia Ana Bucur – Innovati Foods; Annamaria Kiss – Anna’s Urban Garden


TRANSFORMATOR, 3rd edition

Organizer: Social Innovation Solutions

Type: Pitching competition to investors

About the program: TRANSFORMATOR aims to help SMEs and NGOs in their journey to become more sustainable, whether it concerns their socio-environmental or financial impact. It offers access to courses, mentors, and investors, and sessions tailored to companies’ needs.

Eligibility: SMEs and NGOs looking to scale

Funding amount: N/A

Registration deadline: July – August 2023, you can pre-register here


Commons Accel, Cohort #9

Organizer: Matei Dumitrescu | Commons Accel

Type: Consulting for accessing funds, Pitching competitions with prizes

About the program: Commons Accel is an independent and equity-free accelerator, aiming to connect smart and sustainable projects with top mentors and industry experts.

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Eligibility: Startups with solutions in one of three key verticals: education, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible business.

Funding amount: N/A

Registration deadline: Pre-registrations open for Cohort #9 starting in September 2023

Funding in CEE: Re-Collections 


Startup programs with funding opportunities for climate techs in Bulgaria

Innovation Starter Accelerator, Cohort #7

Organizer: Innovation Starter

Type: Pitching competition with cash prizes and equity investments

About the program: A 3-month educational acceleration program helping startups transform high-priority sectors by scaling them into innovation leaders.

Eligibility: pre-seed startups in sectors such as Eco-innovation, Food industry, Healthcare, Education, Care for the elderly, among others; startups should shave a well-defined strategy and validate approach

Funding amount: N/A

Registration deadline: Registrations open until May 2023

Funding in CEE: SatGeo, CW Engineering


Beyond Pre-Accelerator

Organizer: Junior Achievement Bulgaria

Type: Competition with cash prizes, Pitching to investors

About the program: In the Beyond pre-accelerator, members get access to resources to build an MVP, mentorship, connectings with investors, and lecturers from MIT, Stanford, or Berkeley. 

Eligibility: Young entrepreneurs, scientists, and young professionals aiming to work on building a tech startup; preferred industries include smart cities and urban mobility

Funding amount: €5K 

Registration deadline: Check registration here

Funding in CEE:


Startup programs with funding opportunities for climate techs in Western Balkans

Green Future Startup Challenge

Geography: Croatia

Organizer: Green Future Conference

Type: Competition with cash prize

About the program: The challenge is organized within the Green Future Conference organized in Split, where startups can present their ideas to a board of experts and industry leaders.

Eligibility: N/A

Funding amount: €10,000 for the best startup selected by the judges

Registration deadline: Register here by May 1, 2023

Funding in CEE: Climatig


ZICER Accelerator

Geography: Croatia

Organizer: Zagreb Innovation Center

Type: Competition with cash prizes, Pitching to investors

About the program: The program consists of a 3-day boot camp including workshops, mentoring, networking, and a Demo Day in front of investors.

Eligibility: Startups registered less than 1 year prior, with solutions in areas such as energy and environmental sustainability, food and bioeconomics, and health and quality of life, among others

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Funding amount: Cash prizes totalling €100,000 offered in 2021

Registration deadline: Keep an eye on the next call for applications

Funding in CEE: Just H2O, Go Green Ozonator


RISE project

Geography: Western Balkans

Organizer: Yunus Social Business Balkans

Type: Business development grant

About the program: The program aims to support regional changemakers in solving problems in their local communities. The RISE Journey consists of two phases: ideation, where startups go from idea to solid projects and pitch it during Demo Day, and an Incubation Chapter, where startups test and validate their social business model.

Eligibility: Groups of young people (of a minimum of 2 persons/group) from 18 to 35 years old, from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, aiming to develop a concrete idea with social impact.

Funding amount: N/A

Registration deadline: Keep an eye on the next call for applications

Funding in CEE: Yes for Less


Startup Studio

Geography: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Organizer: Mozaik Foundation

Type: Investments, Preferential loans

About the program: The program aims to help entrepreneurs wanting to build a SaaS company or another business in the technology sector with funding, business support, coworking spaces, and professional training.

Eligibility: Individuals who have an idea and need support for starting a business, but also small and medium-sized enterprises that need support for further business growth and development.

Funding amount: €~51,000 per startup offered in 2022

Registration deadline: Keep an eye on the next call for applications


Startup programs with funding opportunities for climate techs in Greece

Egg accelerator

Geography: Greece

Organizer: Eurobank, Corallia

Type: Preferential loans, microfinancing, co-financed programs, access to investors, consulting

About the program: egg runs business incubation and acceleration programs, serving both founders with innovative ideas looking to start up, and new businesses looking to scale up.

Eligibility: startups and scaleups, with particular interest in companies with innovations in areas such as AI, biotechnology, agricultural technology, environmental technology, energy, among others

Funding amount: N/A

Registration deadline: Register here by May 3, 2023


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Antoanela is a Sustainability Communications Specialist and Deputy Editor at The Recursive media. From these roles, she is helping organizations communicate their latest sustainability goals, strategies, and technologies. She writes about climate tech, ESG, impact investment, sustainability regulation, and related topics.