The 30 UK tech scaleups tackling climate change to watch
Tech Nation has announced the 30 scaleups that have been selected to join the new Net Zero programme. Announced in Alok Sharma’s speech today at London Tech Week, the companies come from across the UK and across a range of sectors including construction, agriculture, and energy.
The cohort includes companies that are building electric vehicles, creating vertical farms and animal-free dairy products, measuring environmental footprints, and improving manufacturing and recycling supply chains. These companies represent the most promising UK scaleups contributing to the UK reaching its goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In a new report, published today, Tech Nation found that the UK leads Europe for the number of Net Zero companies, at 323 compared to 207 in France (35% less) and 150 in Germany (53% less). Furthermore, 37% of UK Net Zero companies are at an early stage of growth, showing an impressive pipeline for the sector. 26% of UK Net Zero companies are late-stage, highlighting the growth already happening to meet emission targets. In 2019, the UK also led Europe for VC investment into Net Zero companies at £336mn in VC investment, 55% more than France which received £216mn, and 18% more than Germany with £283mn. VC investment in Net Zero in the UK has grown by 28% from 2018 to 2019.
The government-backed initiative is the first of its kind, designed to accelerate the growth of the UK’s most promising Net Zero scaleups. Sessions will include quantifying sustainability, navigating the regulatory landscape, and how to internationalise a Net Zero business. The programme comes at a critical moment, with COVID-19 highlighting the key role played by technology in aiding a green recovery to the crisis and the importance of building a sustainable future.
The programme is supported by partners BNP Paribas, who bring their expertise to scaling up climate action. The partnership will support the collective mobilisation of clean tech solutions, which are a vital part of accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy. Companies selected to join were assessed through a rigorous judging process. The judging panel included Hayden Wood, CEO, Bulb, Pippa Gawley, Founder and Director, Zero Carbon Capital, Mark Hodgson, Chief Business Officer, Cervest, Tom Adeyoola, NED, Verco, Dr Ben Caldecott, Director of the Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme at the University of Oxford, Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group, Jeff Eneberi, Director, Sustainable Seaweed and Azeem Azhar, Founder, Exponential View.
In addition to the 30 companies joining the Net Zero cohort, four additional ‘Fellows’ will join the programme. The Fellows selected are net zero companies at a later stage of funding, or are alumni of Tech Nation growth programmes. The Fellows will have access to the Net Zero coaching sessions and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. The Fellows will also share their learnings and experience as net zero companies who already have experience scaling within this unique space.
Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said: “As part of our plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050, we are funding green startups and unleashing the talent and creativity of entrepreneurs across the country.
“Innovative companies like these will help us to create green jobs and build back better as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic.”
Gerard Grech, Chief Executive, Tech Nation, commented: “The UK's Net Zero sector already leads Europe for VC investment, at £336mn, and is home to 323 tech companies that are working hard to reduce carbon emissions globally. Scaling such businesses can be hard, which is why we are delighted to launch a new programme focused on businesses at this stage of growth from all over the UK, especially given the impact they will have on climate change and their drive towards a net zero economy.”
Zheela Qaiser, Programme Lead, Net Zero Programme, commented: “All 149 applications we received for the Net Zero programme were excellent, showcasing the richness of solutions that small teams of innovators are working on to help us make monumental changes to the way our human world and systems impact our planet. I’m so impressed with our final cohort, and am looking forward to helping them work through the unique challenges that net zero companies face.”
Anne Marie Verstraeten, UK Country Head, BNP Paribas, commented: “Supporting Net Zero in the UK requires collective mobilisation, and clean tech solutions are a vital part of accelerating the energy transition. As a bank supporting the transition to a low carbon economy, we have a responsibility to connect our ecosystem of clients and the innovative start-ups at the forefront of developing technologies that tackle environmental challenges. This partnership with Tech Nation highlights the power of coalitions that is essential to scaling up climate action and creating a fairer, greener and more resilient world.”
Mark Hodgson, Chief Business Officer, Cervest, Judge for the Net Zero programme, said: "I was hugely impressed by the high standard of submissions for Tech Nation's Net Zero Programme. These inspiring, growing companies are creating a more resilient economy and I look forward to working with them to drive the UK's Net Zero ambitions forward.”
Susannah McClintock, Investment Director, Sustainable Ventures, Judge for the Net Zero programme, said: “It is fantastic to see how these exciting UK companies are contributing to the enormous challenge of achieving net zero; the applications showed the depth of innovation and talent in startups and early stage working to address climate change through commercial solutions."
Revannth N Murugesan, Co-founder and CEO, Antonym said: “Having been through Tech Nation Rising Stars in 2019, we are very aware of the huge scope of opportunities that came our way through Tech Nation. As a company, our vision is to accelerate the UK's low carbon economy by decarbonising transportation, and we are sure by being part of the Net Zero programme, we'll be able to achieve this effectively with the support from Tech Nation.”
The Net Zero cohort
Airex , London - Buildings
Airex has a mission to end fuel poverty. Aiming to reduce home energy consumption, Airex is an IoT-enabled smart ventilation control that helps reduce heat demand in homes, whilst managing indoor air quality. The system's in-built smart sensors monitor and analyse environmental conditions, while its cloud based algorithms automatically regulate air flow. Airex is approved by UK energy regulator Ofgem to be adopted under the ECO (Energy Company Obligation) scheme.
Antonym, Leeds, Yorkshire - EV Ecosystem
The road freight market is worth £2.5 trillion, but it's a big culprit when it comes to carbon emissions. Antonym is tackling the issue with smarter, safer, cleaner and greener logistics. Using proprietary in-house EV technology and advanced manufacturing techniques like Metal 3D printing, Antonym offers a bolt-in plug and play solution to electrify existing diesel trucks to make them electric, zero-emissions, and noiseless.
Better Dairy, London - Agriculture and Food Systems
Dairy farming emits over 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year, more than five times the global aviation industry. Better Dairy is building the future of food by developing completely animal-free dairy products that are molecularly identical to traditional dairy, using a similar process to beer brewing. Removing animals from dairy production isn’t only great for animals and the environment, but gives consumers better food options and food manufacturers better ingredients.
Boxergy, Edinburgh, Scotland - Energy and Electricity
The best way to drive adoption of clean energy is to lower the cost. Boxergy’s mission is to provide home energy cheaper, greener and smarter by selling it, and the hardware required, as a service. Their Hero platform brings together existing low carbon technologies to maximise efficiency and integrates them with their smart tariff. This allows customers to buy energy when it's cheap and green, and use it when they want.
Circulor, London - Supply Chain
Manufacturing and recycling supply chains are complex, global and often involve dealing with human rights or environmental issues. Circulor empowers businesses to fully manage their supply chains and drive responsible sourcing and recycling. Circulor creates an immutable record of the chain of custody of materials, linking the end products to their source. This traceability data also enables organisations to make informed decisions to reduce their carbon footprint.
Connected Kerb, London - EV Ecosystem
Moving to electric vehicles en masse is impossible without the corresponding infrastructure. Connect Kerb’s EV charging and smart cities infrastructure champions sustainability, connectivity and flexibility. Connected Kerb are innovating and developing an entirely new, environmentally sensitive combined infrastructure that has the potential to enable everyone to transition to electric vehicles, while providing an interoperable platform for current and future technologies.
CupClub, London - Waste Management and Circularity
CupClub is a platform for brands and retailers to manage and track consumer reusable packaging for the Food and Beverage industry. On a mission to reduce single-use plastics from circulation, CupClub enables customers to halve CO2 consumption by switching to reusable packaging. CupClub manages its end-to-end reuse system by charging customers a flat per order fee to collect, sanitise and redistribute their packaging.
Earthly, London - Environmental Footprinting
Earthly is a tech platform giving businesses a new way to lead the fight against climate change. Focused on natural carbon removal, Earthly helps businesses invest in natural climate solutions that take them beyond carbon-neutrality to become climate-positive. Investments support projects that protect, restore and re-establish crucial ecosystems like forests, peatlands, mangroves and seabeds. Each project is vetted by an independent scientific board, monitored by satellite, and visualised on a shareable immersive platform.
Ecologi (formerly Offset Earth), Bristol, South West - Offsetting
Ecologi is a subscription service for your carbon consumption, kind of like Netflix for the planet. With the overarching aim to avoid 2/3rds of all carbon emissions, individuals and businesses can remove their carbon footprints by subscribing to grow their own forests or contribute to other carbon reducing activities. Customers have complete transparency to where their money goes each month, and can set themselves personalised eco goals.
Electron, London - Energy and Electricity
Current top-down energy management tools are unable to accommodate increasing renewable energy generation or distributed energy assets on the grid, resulting in costlier grid constraints and missed opportunities for consumers to use zero carbon power. Electron is creating a next generation market platform for low-carbon electricity systems and networks. It enables multiple market operators to interact with thousands of distributed energy resources and create incentives to use renewable generation and network capacity more efficiently.
Elmo, London - EV Ecosystem
elmo is a carbon neutral electric car subscription service providing flexible and affordable EV 'usership'. The platform offers fully-integrated, personal e-mobility, with insurance, maintenance, breakdown, road tax and a carbon offset donation included as standard. On top of this, elmo is the world’s first MaaS (Mobility-as-a-Service) platform to include a home charge point, discounted renewable energy and public charging access - all wrapped into a single monthly bill.
Ember Core, Edinburgh, Scotland - EV Ecosystem
Ember is the world's first 100% electric intercity bus operator and is building its own ultra rapid charging network. Ember's mission is to make a zero-carbon, zero-traffic world a reality. Its tech led approach delivers an integrated platform for managing vehicles, chargers, routes and drivers - allowing them to operate EVs at a higher utilisation than anyone else. Ember’s technology improves the passenger experience, supporting a modal shift away from cars and improving social inclusion.
ENSO TYRES, London - EV Ecosystem
Tyres are the automotive industry’s big dirty secret, contributing enormously to carbon-emissions, air-pollution and micro-plastic pollution. Despite Electric Vehicles (EVs) accelerating towards a carbon-neutral future, tyres have thus far been neglected. EVs are heavier and have higher torque, wearing tyres faster and creating more harmful tyre pollution than normal cars. ENSO addresses this problem by developing more efficient, durable and sustainable tyres for EVs.
Giki Social Enterprise, London - Environmental Footprinting
The average UK carbon footprint is 9 tonnes per person per year. To help people live more sustainably, Giki’s mobile app enables people to find more sustainable and healthy products in UK supermarkets. Giki Zero is an interactive, step by step guide to a sustainable life, which helps people to understand, track and reduce their environmental footprint, drive change through their own actions and set their own personal path towards net zero.
Hark, Leeds, Yorkshire - Energy and Electricity
How businesses and big buildings consume energy needs to change if we’re going to hit net zero in 2050. Hark is tackling this issue by helping enterprises increase efficiency, maximise yield and reduce waste. Hark provides energy analytics and industrial IoT for enterprises, allowing Energy Managers and Asset Operators to easily connect to, monitor and control their buildings, energy meters and industrial process assets.
LettUs Grow, Bristol, South West - Agriculture and Food Systems
LettUs Grow design the farms of the future. Their aeroponic farming technology and farm management software for indoor and vertical farms delivers higher crop yields, reduces the environmental impact of agriculture and makes farmers’ lives easier. The products also enable people to grow produce nearer to the point of consumption, which reduces the carbon footprint left by fresh produce.
Lixea, London - Waste Management and Circularity
Tackling the issue of unsustainable materials, Lixea’s BioFlex process takes any type of woody biomass that normally would be unrecyclable and separates the components to make them usable by converting them to products, such as high quality fine and bulk chemicals, bioplastics, renewable fibres and biofuels once again. It does this by using low cost, environmentally friendly solvents, called liquid salts or ionic liquids.
Naked Energy, London - Energy and Electricity
Naked Energy is redefining solar energy solutions and tackling the global challenge of decarbonising heating and cooling. Their product ‘Virtu’ is 44% more efficient than existing solutions and takes up 40% less space. Virtu combines solar heat and power, saves the customer money and saves the planet - all within a single elegant product that is easy to install and maintain.
Petalite, Birmingham, Midlands - EV Ecosystem
Petalite wants to reinvent the electric vehicle industry by creating a charging technology that’s cost efficient and more reliable. Their patented SDC charging technology lowers charger costs, increases reliability and lengthens lifetime - all whilst keeping similar efficiency to existing competition. Petalite’s goal is to be a key player in the adoption of electric vehicles over the next five years.
Pivot Energy, Poole, South West - Buildings
Pivot has created a living building energy model designed to attract more development for eco-friendly houses in the UK’s social housing sector. The platform uses machine learning and AI to generate an energy efficiency projection that is 90% + accurate. Once a project is designed, Pivot’s industry-leading performance insurance guarantees the results, de-risking investment decisions.
Reath, Edinburgh, Scotland - Waste Management and Circularity
The true extent of the environmental and climatic impact of our throwaway culture is becoming worryingly clear. Reath enables businesses to break the pattern and transition away from single-use, by applying track and trace technology to solve the data problems inherent in reuse models. They are currently developing the world's first global Open Data Standard for reusable packaging.
Route Konnect, Cardiff, Wales - Smart Cities
Route Konnect makes traffic more predictable and more eco-friendly by making smarter junctions and predicting the amount of vehicles and people. By using real time automated insights from their combined camera and LiDAR traffic sensors, they’re able to produce a dashboard giving the ability to see the road network at any time during the day, enabling people to make smarter choices that avoids traffic jams and causes unnecessary pollution and burning of fossil fuels.
Sero, Cardiff, Wales - Buildings
Changing the focus of the housing industry to decarbonisation, Sero supports housing providers and their residents to reach net zero by sitting at the intersection of home comfort, construction and energy. Sero develops homes that complement changing energy systems using their energy platform, expertise, optimised design, construction and the new commissioning process of new and existing homes. This saves residents money, effort and it’s more planet-friendly.
Small Robot Company, Salisbury, South West - Agriculture and Food Systems
Small Robot Company is reimagining farming to make food production sustainable. By using robotics and artificial intelligence to maximise the yield from crops, they offer a brand new model for sustainable, efficient and profitable farming called Per Plant Farming. It involves their farmbots individually caring and farming each plant. This increases yields, soil quality, biodiversity, and reduces carbon emissions and chemicals by up to 90%.
Spark EV Technology, Cambridge, East of England - EV Ecosystem
Spark EV Technology develops and supplies personalised journey prediction and map display software for electric vehicles of all sizes. By combining data (such as vehicle size, driver experience, weather predictions) with Machine Learning algorithms, it significantly improves journey prediction accuracy compared to existing vehicle systems. Their goal is to accelerate EV adoption by providing their automotive customers a trusted on board system to remove range and time anxiety for drivers.
Surple, Newport, Wales - Energy and Electricity
Surple helps businesses make smarter energy decisions through their energy management software. They pull data from buildings into their cloud-based software, which runs analytics to provide actionable insights to their users, helping them to reduce energy use, carbon emissions and ultimately their costs. Businesses in the UK have an opportunity to collectively save £6bn through energy efficiency and Surple is making this process easier to manage.
Tepeo, Maidenhead, South East - Energy and Electricity
Tepeo tackles the UK’s biggest challenge to achieving it’s Net Zero target: rapid and low cost decarbonisation of domestic heating. Their product combines electric resistive heating with ultra-high density dry core thermal storage (40kWh) to deliver the performance of a fossil fuel boiler without the associated emissions. In parallel, the enormous amount of flexibility it provides supports self-consumption of renewables and supports balancing of the electricity grid.
Topolytics, Edinburgh, Scotland - Waste Management and Circularity
Topolytics analyses waste at scale and generates invaluable insights for the recycling industry and waste management sector, preventing more materials from ending up in landfills or seeping out into nature. By using data science, they make the world’s waste visible, verifiable and valuable. Analysing data on commercial, industrial and post-consumer waste from multiple sources and systems, they use machine learning and mapping to make sense of this complex combination of materials.
Wondrwall, Manchester, North West – Buildings
Creating intelligent homes for a sustainable future, Wondrwall is a technology company dedicated to changing the way we live and how we use energy. Combining intelligent AI powered home automation with clean energy production and super efficient heating systems, Wondrwall helps the world's homes save money, time and the environment.
Zeigo, London - Energy and Electricity
Zeigo uses machine learning to reduce the complexity surrounding renewable energy procurement, making it easier for corporations, renewable energy developers and suppliers to switch to, or offer, renewable energy solutions. It’s a one-stop-shop for stakeholders to transition to clean energy through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and short-term contracts. Zeigo uses data insights to increase market transparency.
Artemis Technologies, Lisburn, Northern Ireland - Maritime
Artemis Technologies is an applied technologies spin-off from the successful America’s Cup team, Artemis Racing. The company provides design and engineering services to both high performance and commercial clients, as well as developing unique hardware and software products. They are leading a Belfast based consortium developing new hydrofoil high-speed vessels and propulsion systems.
Greyparrot, London - Waste Management and Circularity
Waste composition information is key to increase recycling/recovery rates, give quality guarantee to buyers, mitigate against risks and waste crime, and understand the carbon footprint of the products and waste we generate end-to-end. Greyparrot provides AI-powered computer vision software to increase transparency and automation in recycling. Their 'Automated Waste Monitoring System' is currently deployed on moving conveyor belts in recycling facilities to analyse large waste flows.
OLIO, London - Agriculture and Food Systems
OLIO is an app that connects neighbours to give away surplus food and other household items, for free. Via their Food Waste Heroes Programme they also connect over 8,500 volunteers with local shops to collect and redistribute their unsold food at the end of the day. There are currently 2 million OLIOers who have together shared over 5 million portions of food.
Project Etopia, London - Buildings
Project Etopia combines energy, construction and intelligent technologies (Ecitech) to build the homes of the future, pioneering Eco-MMC (Modern Methods of Construction). MMC no longer refers solely to the construction method used, it is the thought process and harmonising of these three key industries that ensures the end product is not only modern today but for years to come, whilst also satisfying as many UN Sustainable Development Goals as possible to help build the Smart Eco Net Zero Cities of the Future.