Imperial College London

Entrepreneurs pitch their green business ideas in the UK Climate Launchpad final

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Raul posing with the first place certificate. Behind him a screen projector features other people

ClimateLaunchpad participants and judges

Three successful startups will represent the UK in a European competition, including two teams from Imperial College London.

Fabric dyes made from food waste, slow-release fertilizer for drought-parched soil, and a green solution for household cleaning products were among the winning UK entries of a global innovation competition that took place at Imperial College London. 

On 9 September, Imperial's Centre for Climate Change Innovation hosted the UK National final of ClimateLaunchpad at its South Kensington Campus. Three startups, run by new entrepreneurs, were selected as winners and will represent the UK on 28 September in the European Regional final, with an opportunity to compete against other teams to make it through to the global final. 

Ten teams started the day presenting their green business ideas to a panel of judges with experience in business, industry and investment, who assessed them on business and market potential, social impact, innovation potential, climate impact, quality of the pitch and the managerial strength of the team.  

Naveed Chaudhry, Co-Founder and Head of The Greenhouse at the Centre for Climate Change Innovation at Imperial College London, said: "Innovation is hugely important to address the climate crisis. Their pitches were very inspiring, we hope all teams continue to develop their ideas and become successful businesses. We wish the best of luck to the three winning teams representing the UK in the European final."

Ecosaf

The first place went to Ecosaf, who designed new technology that can deliver a green solution for the chemical sector, specifically for surfactants - a key substance used in cleaning products. 

Ecosaf, which is composed of a team of Imperial postgraduate students and staff, aims to break the fossil fuel dependency of commodity products. The project follows the main principles of green chemistry and the circular economy by reducing the carbon footprint and using waste materials for the design of new innovative materials. 

“This is our first pitch ever! This recognition means a lot, it shows our business has potential and that we are also going to have an impact on climate change,” said Raul Aravena Contreras, postgraduate research student at Imperial and one of the Ecosaf team members. 

RYO 

RYO apply biotechnology to develop a novel micro-algae soil amendment. Soil amendments are materials you add to the soil to improve its physical or chemical properties. Their soil amendment increases soil fertility and resilience and makes it more efficient by reducing fertilizer requirements. Their water-retention and slow-release functionality also help the agricultural system to adapt to adverse weather conditions caused by climate change. 

RYO was co-founded by two Imperial postgraduate students. They aim to help farmers make more profit without damaging the environment. 

“ClimateLaunchpad made a big impact on us. This competition is slightly different from other ones because the support is very focused on making a viable business and having a real impact,” said Juncheng Wen, MSc in Global Innovation Design alumni from Imperial and CEO of RYO. 

Sages 

Sages is limiting environmental impact and resource waste while improving efficiency in the fashion industry. They take food waste and turn this into natural dyes that can be used at home by customers, or within the fashion industry. The dyes are 100% sustainable, vegan and environmentally friendly, being made using food waste from local supermarkets, food delivery services and fruit and vegetable markets.  

This all-female startup has experience in the fashion industry and aims to become the leading supplier of natural dyes. 

“We are ecstatic. We weren’t expecting this recognition as the standard of all pitches were so high. It’s really exciting, it will help us to push our business forward and be able to continue with our journey of attracting more funding and investment,” said Emily Taylor from Sages.  

Innovations for a green future 

ClimateLaunchpad’s mission is to address the negative impacts of climate change by ways of innovation, invention and entrepreneurship. 

The competition supports aspiring and promising cleantech entrepreneurs with training, coaching and networking opportunities. ClimateLaunchpad operates on a global scale, currently in over 55 countries.  

ClimateLaunchpad was established in 2014 and is part of the entrepreneurship offerings of EIT Climate-KIC, one of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) established in 2010 by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EU body that creates sustainable economic growth in Europe, tackling today’s global challenges. The innovation team at the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment played an essential role in setting up Climate-KIC. 

The following teams competed in the UK National Final: 

  • Chargebreak: their digital solution simplifies the process of transitioning to an electric vehicle fleet - free, simple and at the click of a button.  
  • Ecosaf: a new technology that can deliver a green solution for the chemical sector, specifically for surfactants, a key component of household cleaning products. 
  • Honeycomb Network: aims to develop, install and then operate a network of smart charging e-scooter lockers across the UK.  
  • Lava: a product that helps students wash their laundry using less water than a normal washing machine. 
  • Orbio: a tool that uses satellite analytics and data fusion for accurate, trustable and decision-useful reduction data for methane. 
  • Plastalyst: a green, safe and small-scale catalyst making local recycling financially attractive. 
  • RYO: apply biotechnology to develop a novel soil amendment that improves soil health and helps farmers increase profit without damaging the environment.  
  • Sages: take food waste and turn this into natural dyes which can be used at home by customers, or within the fashion industry.  
  • SettleUp Earth: a platform that enables individuals and businesses to calculate their carbon footprint, understand it and offset it, all through an easy-to-use subscription model for less than the price of a coffee per week.  
  • SubR Technologies: developing a bold, new portable energy source that provides carbon-free electricity to communities affected by severe blackouts and loss of generating capacity. 

The panel of judges included: Sarah Williamson Atkins (Venture Verte), Jim Totty (Viridis Capital), Pippa Gawley (Zero Carbon Capital), Chris Lindeque (Bank of America), and Dr. Elena Dieckmann (AEROPOWDER). 

Reporter

Rosa Salazar Benazar

Rosa Salazar Benazar
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change

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Student-entrepreneurship, Imperial-Innovations, Climate-change, Entrepreneurship
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