climate challenge header image

Climate Challenge 2023: Climate Entrepreneurship Competition – Just Decarbonisation

Have you got ideas for climate solutions? Are you interested in innovation to solve global problems? Do you want a just transition? 

The Climate Challenge is a climate-focussed entrepreneurship competition for postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers. Participants will have the opportunity to devise a new intervention that addresses the climate crisis through the lens of a just transition. Participants will have the opportunity to attend training sessions, covering topics from intellectual property rights to pitching ideas. Participants are then given the opportunity to form small teams and develop their own scalable solutions which help tackle the climate crisis and drive positive change.  

Cambridge Zero has partnered with Cambridge Enterprise, Carbon13, the Maxwell Centre, CISL and Energy IRC, sponsored by Moda Living, to deliver this year’s Climate Challenge. 


Interested? Fill out this form to express your interest and receive emails about key events:  


Who is the Climate Challenge for? 

  • Postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers.  

  • You do not need to be a seasoned entrepreneur! This is an opportunity to give entrepreneurship a go and build relevant skills. You do not need to have done any entrepreneurship before.  

  • You don’t need to be a scientist or engineer to participate! We are also interested in ideas related to economic, societal and behavioural change that could lead to reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.  

  • Concept notes should be submitted in small teams of 2 or 3 people. You do not need to already have a team to join the competition – you can meet others and form teams through initial sessions like the Ideas Jam or Pub Trip.  

What does the Climate Challenge involve? 

  • The Climate Challenge is a learning opportunity in entrepreneurship, with the potential to translate into a business opportunity.  

  • We are interested in ideas in their initial conceptual stages rather than fully formed projects or products.  

This year’s theme: Just Decarbonisation 

The theme of this year’s Climate Challenge is ‘just decarbonisation’. We are encouraging participants to find solutions that either reduce green-house gas emissions, or enable climate adaptation, in a manner that is inclusive or generates other social benefits. Proposals should consider the idea of a just transition, contemplating the social implications of decarbonisation, particularly on vulnerable populations. Examples could include reducing household energy consumption or climate change adaptations and mitigations in the Global South. 

What is a ‘just transition’? 

In order to tackle the climate emergency, significant societal changes will be necessary. However, many people’s livelihoods are dependent on unsustainable industries and practices. Ensuring a just transition means moving towards a more sustainable economy in a way that is fair and inclusive to everyone.   

A common example of a just transition is ensuring that people currently working in fossil fuel industries are guaranteed employment in a new green economy. The concept can also be applied outside of the context of workforces, though, to encompass all social benefits brought by the transition to a green economy. 


Key Dates

  • Launch Event 
    • 20 January, 7-9pm
    • Auditorium, Entopia Building
  • Ideas Jam
    • 25 January, 5-6:30pm
    • S1 Alison Richard Building
  • Pub Trip
    • 26 January, 7pm
    • Location TBC
  • Concept Note Training with Nicky Dee from Carbon13
    • 1 February, 5-6:30pm
    • S1 Alison Richard Building
  • Intellectual Property Rights Masterclass with Chris Gibbs from Cambridge Enterprise
    • 8 February, 5-6:30pm
    • S1 Alison Richard Building
  • Ask Me Anything with Nicky Dee from Carbon13
    • 9 February, 5-6pm
    • Online
  • Concept Note Deadline
    • 13 February
  • Shortlisting Period
    • 13-24 February
  • Pitch Training Session with Chris Coleridge from Carbon13
    • 22 February, 5-6:30pm
    • S1 Alison Richard Building
  • Shortlisting Results Announced
    • 24 February
  • Public Speaking Training Session
    • 1 March, 5-6:30pm
    • S1 Alison Richard Building
  • Final Pitching and Judging
    • 8 March, 2-7pm
    • Auditorium, Entopia Building



Monetary prizes will be awarded for those in first place (£1,500), and two runners-up (£750). Prizes will be shared evenly between all team members. For exceptionally tractable proposals, there may be opportunities to engage further with Carbon13 and their Venture Builder or for ideas to be implemented in the University itself as a pilot study. Other recognition awards may be given out at the final pitching and judging event.  



Fill out this form to express your interest and receive emails about the Climate Challenge: 

Register to attend the Launch Event in the Entopia Building here: 

Register to attend the Final Pitching and Judging Event in the Entopia Building here: