by Rosa Salazar Benazar
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.”
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 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 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.
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:
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).
Article text (excluding photos or graphics) © Imperial College London.
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Rosa Salazar Benazar
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change
Student-entrepreneurship, Imperial-Innovations, Climate-change, Entrepreneurship
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by Rosa Salazar Benazar