Stepping up to the challenge of net zero in Latin America

This project seeks to promote business-led research & innovation partnerships between the UK and Latin American countries to create joint solutions for the most pressing net-zero challenges in the UK, Latin America and beyond.

Working with – the State of Sao Paulo Innovation Hub – Connected Places Catapult will select up to 15 UK SMEs with highly innovative solutions to tackle challenges identified by the State of Sao Paulo in line with their Climate Action Plan and the recent announcement of the membership to the Race to Zero campaign.

The selected UK SMEs will engage in a series of curated matchmaking and capacity building activities with a cohort of 20 Latin American companies that will be selected by IdeaGov to take part in their Impact Acceleration Programme with the view of establishing equitable innovation partnerships.

The SMEs will also benefit from activities organised as part of the CiviTech Alliance COP-26 Global Scale-Up Programme, which is being implemented in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, the World Resources Institute and Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc.

As part of the project, Connected Places Catapult will also work with the City of Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Panama City to identify these city’s most critical challenges preventing decarbonisation and identify UK and local solutions that can help the cities to meet their climate-related targets.

Latin America Net Zero Challenges will run until March 2022, and it is funded by the UK Science & Innovation Network. Applications are open from 16th August to 19th September 2021.

If you want to learn more about the Programme, please contact Guilherme Johnston, Head of Partnerships, Global Business Growth, guilherme.johnston@cp.catapult.org.uk.

To Apply

Applications are now closed for this opportunity.

The Challenges

In line with the upcoming State of Sao Paulo Climate Action Plan 2050, the following target challenges have been identified:

Challenge 1: Reduction of Emissions

The implementation of actions that can promote the restoration of vegetation cover will enable areas of cover to be expanded from 23% to 29% in 2050 in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Thus, by 2050, vegetation restoration may reach 86% of the 133 municipalities that today have less than 10% of native vegetation. If this threshold is reached, these municipalities will become non-degraded. In that same year, at least 235 municipalities (36% of the state’s total), currently with rates between 10% and 30% of native vegetation, may have their coverage increased to at least 30%. These municipalities will become considered suitable for forest physiognomies, that is, with a balance in the landscape between its aspects of conservation and economic use.

How can we:

  1. Capture, store, use or remove carbon from the atmosphere, especially in urban and industrial centres?
  2. Reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in urban and industrial centres by adopting new equipment and products with greater energy efficiency?

Challenge 2: Changing the Energy Matrix

The world energy matrix is changing rapidly. On the supply side, new renewable energy sources – mainly solar, wind and biomass – offer cleaner solutions when compared to fossil fuels. These sources provide opportunities for innovation and competitive advantage for organisations that develop and export these solutions. On the demand side, transport and buildings are undergoing a real revolution. Electricity and connectivity improve the efficiency of products and services such as mobility, cooling, cooking, lighting and communications.

How can we:

  1. Promote the use of new renewable energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, etc.) that are economically attractive?
  2. Promote access to low-cost energy for the most vulnerable populations?

Challenge 3: Mobility and Sustainable Fuels

Advanced vehicles – especially electric ones – are, in most cases, more efficient in their use. Zero-emission technologies – especially electric vehicles, hybrid ethanol and green hydrogen-based vehicles (including hydrotreated vegetable oils and on-board ethanol reformers) – can create jobs, strengthen the industry in São Paulo, reduce emissions and change commuting habits.

How can we:

  1. Stimulate the supply chain of advanced vehicles (electric and others) and their components as well as less polluting solutions for individual and collective transport?
  2. Accelerate the transition to sustainable fuels and means of transport for passengers and logistics?

Challenge 4: Resilient Cities

The climate-resilient territory is characterised by low environmental and social vulnerability, attention to and prevention of risks and impacts, and preparedness to act in response to disasters and calamities. Adapting and better protecting communities, infrastructure, and ecosystems from the already visible effects of climate change, investing in defenses against floods and landslides through resilient infrastructure and nature-based solutions, is one of the strategic goals of the Sao Paulo Climate Change Action Plan.

How can we:

  1. Use of smart technologies that prevent or provide warnings to environmental changes, disasters and/or calamities?
  2. Identify resilient infrastructure solutions to preemptively respond to potential disasters and protect communities?

Benefit / Business Opportunities

We are looking for UK SMEs who have the potential to create new innovative solutions with partners that can tackle the Net Zero Challenge as outlined above. This project will provide the opportunity for SMEs to:

Partner with international businesses

Selected UK SMEs will have a chance to meet Latin American businesses to exchange project ideas for business collaboration that can tackle Net Zero Challenges. This will be delivered via a number of curated activities including a match-making networking session and a masterclass, led by CPC and Ideiagov. Furthermore, links with other international businesses, stakeholders and investors can be facilitated by IdeiaGov.

Gain insights into the Brazilian market

With mentoring and capacity building masterclasses, CPC and Ideiagov will bring in experts to help your business break down barriers in entering the Brazilian market market.

SMEs who are selected for this programme will also be invited to join a series of events in an immersion week, led by Ideiagov, designed to open opportunities for UK SMEs to enter the Brazilian market. More information will follow.

Showcase during COP-26

Expand partnership opportunities by gaining exposure to a wide range of stakeholder groups who are working in the Net Zero space. Selected companies will have the opportunity to showcase their solutions and promote their businesses.

Further CPC and Ideiagov offers for the selected cohort:

Potential to present at CPC’s Connections Café

Connection Cafés are monthly networking events where SMEs are invited to showcase and connect with other stakeholder groups, which will be a mix of local government, academics, large corporates, and many others. SMEs who are selected for this project will have a chance to present at a Connections Café in Q3/Q4 on their work in tackling Net Zero Challenges in Brazil. (this is subject to availability)

Potential to access to our wider SME services from CPC

We also offer other bespoke services, including, masterclasses, Industry days, Investor days – SMEs are selected based on individual needs or relevance to the subject matter.

Access to Innovate UK EDGE

Innovate UK EDGE is a partner of CPC, who provides a wide range of business and innovation support for UK companies. Part of this is a potential access to the Innovate UK EDGE RTO fund

Exposure to wider commercial/commercial R&D opportunities in Latin America

The selected cohort will receive up-to-date information on further opportunities in Latin America.


Companies applying will need to be based in, or have an office in the UK.

To qualify, you must be an SME with fewer than 250 employees. We are looking for SMEs who have a post-Minimal Viable Product (MVP) stage solution.

You can be either a service-based or a technology-based company, but you must be able to demonstrate novel solutions that match the challenges identified, and how such challenges can be tackled using your solution.


LW: Insert timeline

Open Call launch: 16th August

Open Call closes: 26th September

Shortlisting & Interviews: w/c 27th September

Selection of finalists: w/c 4th October

Signed agreements (if selected): w/c 4th October

Kick-off, with networking & match-making: 18th October

Scale-Up Safari bootcamp week (as part of the CiviTech Alliance COP-26 Global Scale-Up Programme): From 19th – 22nd October

COP-26 and Partnership Masterclass: 28th October

COP-26 Showcase date(s): 5th November

Evaluation Criteria

In addition to adhering to the Eligibility criteria, CPC and Ideiagov will be conducting the evaluations based on the following:

  • Your understanding of the Net Zero Challenges.
  • The degree to which your solution has been demonstrated in this and/or other similar market segment(s)
  • You should be able to showcase how your solution meets the challenge statements
  • Demonstrable market research for your solution
  • Demonstrable evidence on potential social impact of your solution in the State of Sao Paulo
  • Demonstrable innovation of your solution which differentiates from competitors
  • A high level business plan for how you might operate in the Brazilian market
  • A robust plan for sustainable business development (assessing on current costs, and plans for income generation)
  • The degree to which your team has diversity in terms of skill set.
  • The extent to which you comply with current regulations and other legal legislations.

Link to Latin America Net Zero Challenge Privacy Notice here

Net Zero Framework for Indonesian Provinces