By Poly Pantelides
A DIVERSE team which includes lawyers, academics, consultants and entrepreneurs is due to start providing free workshops and mentoring with a view to helping those who have green development ideas secure funding to launch them.
Chrysalis LEAP is an accelerator programme aiming to guide Cyprus-based people towards creating fully-fledged business plans on sustainable or clean technology projects and help them meet investors willing to fund them.
Applications open on Monday for a two-week period and are open to anyone with an idea in the relevant sectors. At that stage, nothing more than an idea is necessary. The rest, including fleshing it out can take place afterwards. The application process is simple, involving completing and submitting an online application form.
The top 50 qualifying teams will be able to participate in two weekend workshops in September where professionals will cover aspects of what it takes to start a business and how to promote ideas in Cyprus and abroad.
At the end of the two workshops, the teams will be expected to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts who will select a maximum of five who will be mentored by Chrysalis LEAP and outside experts from Cyprus and abroad. The working language will be English for all events, which will be limited to up to three persons per team to keep events interactive and useful to everyone involved.
Among others, those teams will be coached on how to secure funding, how to network with stakeholders, and will be helped out as technical issues arise. Thoughout the mentoring phase, meetings will take place twice a month until roughly mid-December when teams will get an opportunity to pitch their plans to industry players and investors at a final event. The hope is that by then, ideas have been nurtured into viable business plans that investors will be happy to sponsor.
The Chrysalis LEAP people are offering their services for free, drawing on their own networks and experience to help teams grow. The whole service is pro bono, and Chrysalis LEAP will only profit if and when ideas become profitable, and will not directly profit from sponsorship.
For Chrysalis LEAP founder Alexandros Charalambides, “green development is the only way forward. We have the people, we have the connections and we can develop the technologies here (in Cyprus),” he said.
But part of the rationale behind creating an accelerator was the observation that – at least in the case of Cyprus – business competitions tend be tied in academia with no connection between the idea itself and high level funding, Charalambides said. A lecturer at the department of environmental science and technology at the Cyprus University of Technology, Charalambides sought people interested in promoting sustainable development with Chrysalis LEAP.
Charalambides is one of the two Chrysalis LEAP people who have won an EU-wide competition on start-ups, successfully pitching for ENERMAP, an online map displaying buildings’ energy consumption. The ENERMAP team includes Paris Thomas, a communication consultant and Chrysalis LEAP co-founder who is also a director of Open Box Communication.
It also includes entrepreneur Marina Theodotou, who has been passionately promoting entrepreneurship in Cyprus, authoring a study on how Cyprus can create its own entrepreneurial ecosystem, and hosting the popular TEDxNicosia.
Other Chrysalis LEAP members include Eloiza Savvidou, who specialises in corporate, commercial, start-up and intellectual property law, and Stylianos Yiatros, a structural engineering lecturer at the Cyprus University of Technology. Affiliates include the EU Youth Job Creation Network, the Paris-based Descartes incubator that supports start-up founders, while mentors include experts in the environmental sectors, marketing and information technologies.
Everything you need to know is available online at www.chrysalisleap.com including a video presentation that sums it all up.