Naveed Chaudhry, Accelerator Lead at the Centre for Climate Change Innovation (Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment), introduces Climate Launchpad, the world’s biggest green ideas competition, and some of the world-changing ideas that could transform humanity’s relationship with the planet.
Pollution, waste, climate change and environmental destruction are facts of today’s established businesses and product supply chains. From cleaning up the air to making fashion more sustainable, there are lots of budding innovations and inventions that can have a big impact on our planet, and brilliant people eager to make a difference. But, how do you go from a lightbulb moment of inspiration, to a concrete business idea that can become a reality and successfully challenge current market leaders?
The EIT Climate-KIC Climate Launchpad Programme supports inventors and entrepreneurs on their journey to turn great ideas into world-changing businesses that address the negative impacts of climate change. The programme, which takes place in 56 countries around the world, combines bootcamps, intensive training and coaching, and networking opportunities, leading to a competition that provides a stage for their ideas.
We have ten fantastic teams participating in the UK-England competition this year, all hoping to make a success out of their zero-carbon, environmentally friendly or green business ideas.
Meet some of our 2020 participants
It may not be obvious at first glance, but vehicle tyres are a major environmental pollutant, with tyre wear creating 500,000 tons of tiny particles (mostly comprised of synthetic materials & chemicals, including plastic) a year in Europe alone. This makes them the second-largest microplastic pollutant in our environment after single-use plastics. The Tyre Collective team have created a device that captures the particles as they are created, stopping them from entering our environment using patent-pending electrostatic technology. They envisage their device becoming as common as the catalytic converter, and a new environmental standard for vehicles.
Where do the beautiful colours in our clothes come from? They are often the result of synthetic dyes, which can deplete our most precious resources, including water. To help tackle this, Dye Recycle has come up with the first chemical process that recycles synthetic dyes from textile waste. In doing so, it reduces the amount of water used in dyeing textiles by up to 60% compared with conventional water-based dyeing. It also cuts the carbon footprint associated with the manufacturing and transportation of dyes, saving an estimated 0.95 tonnes of carbon dioxide per tonne of dyed textiles.
Fish farming, or aquaculture, is seen as a more sustainable way of satisfying our demand for seafood – an essential source of dietary protein for at least 1 billion people worldwide. However, did you know that a third of all fish taken from the ocean are used to feed farmed fish, due to the essential Omega-3 oils they contain? Synthesea have developed a novel way of using synthetic biology to convert sustainable plant oils into Omega-3 to feed to farmed fish. This process is up to 88% cheaper than current methods, and helps to prevent overfishing from the oceans.
Chemicals in sunscreen can have a damaging impact on coral and other marine life – something that sunscreen manufacturers are aware of. A more marine-friendly alternative to these chemicals is zinc oxide, already used by some companies. However, this is usually developed using an energy-intensive thermal process requiring temperatures of 1,400oC. Nanomox have developed a process to fabricate metal-based particles like zinc oxide at much lower temperatures (20oC – 120oC), using 97% less energy and saving 350 tonnes of carbon-dioxide-equivalent per tonne of zinc oxide. As a result, it is also significantly cheaper than conventional methods.
The first step on the ladder
For these start-ups, Climate Launchpad is one of the first steps on the way to becoming a ‘real’ business. Indeed, many of our previous participants have gone on to become very successful, impactful businesses, including Desolenator, Biokind, Adaptavate, and WASE. This transition can often happen very quickly, as shown by 2019’s UK-England winners, Multus Media, who have already gone on to raise $250,000 of pre-seed investment and are looking to launch their first product later this year.
The National Final
Our 2020 teams have been hard at work over the summer. To kick-off the competition, they undertook a three-day bootcamp where they learned about the fundamentals of successfully starting a cleantech business. Since then, they have been undergoing further intensive coaching, with a focus on learning more about their markets and potential customers.
The teams are now preparing for the UK-England National Final on 20 August. Each team will present their idea and learnings from the summer in a five-minute pitch, before a Q&A with five specially invited judges. The judges will then select the top three teams, assessing factors such as commercial potential, strength of the idea and technology, and its potential impact on the climate.
The successful teams will then compete at the Europe Regional Finals against 42 other top teams from across the continent. Those that make it through this stage will progress to the Global Grand Finals, a three-day flagship event with a range of speakers, workshops, and fantastic networking opportunities. They will have the opportunity to compete against the best teams in the world for prizes of up to €10,000, as well the chance to secure a place in next year’s Climate-KIC ClimateLaunchpad Accelerator.
We wish the teams all the best with their pitches in the National Final!
** Update ** Congratulations to the winners, Synthesea, Nanomox and Nuspec Oil, who will progress to the European Regional Final on 10 September.
The other teams Involved in Climate Launchpad 2020 are:
- eClouds – advanced control software allowing for energy supply and demand to work together dynamically leading to increased savings and lower carbon emissions
- Emporsand – aims to lengthen the useful life of waste textiles by repurposing them into sanitary pads at a competitive market price
- Economyz – building a ‘carbon-fitness tracker’ that automatically converts your spending into a personal carbon footprint using PSD2 (payment regulatory API toolset), and helps you manage your personal carbon ‘budget’
- Integrals Power – an affordable, non-toxic, fast charging battery cell that can charge 35% of its overall capacity in just 1 minute, 55% in 2 minutes, and 80% in 10 minutes
- Kompod – a small and easy-to-use kitchen appliance that transforms food waste into compost quickly and without hassle
- Nuspec Oil – focused on developing the next-generation of base oils for marine and industrial applications, replacing mineral lubricants that cause huge environmental pollution.
For the latest news, views and events from the Grantham Institute, sign up to our weekly update newsletter.