11 Mar 2015 Shell Springboard national finalists 2015 – meet the new wave of low-carbon innovators
Six enterprises are now in the running to receive additional funding of £110,000 to further develop their low-carbon technologies in the national final of the Shell Springboard 2015 programme.
Over the past two weeks six winners have been named at the Shell Springboard regional finals: Deciwatt, Bactest, Yomp, WITT Energy, Econic Technologies and Oxsensis. Each secured £40,000 having impressed expert judging panels with the commercial viability, innovation and carbon savings shown through their business ideas. The overall national winner will have their funding award topped up to a total of £150,000 to further develop and grow their low-carbon business.
The six finalists plan to scale up their businesses using Shell Springboard funding – either by strengthening their existing market position through targeting new contracts and sales, or by developing dynamic new applications for their innovations.
Deciwatt has secured a place in the national final for their inspirational product, GravityLight. Its technology harnesses the force of gravity to generate sustainable energy that makes light available to people living in off-grid areas. Using only a 12kg bag threaded through a patented electricity-gathering device to power a small light, GravityLight eliminates the significant carbon emissions created by the kerosene lamps it replaces, along with the danger of fire and smoke fumes. Applying low-carbon technologies to the developing world is a real boom area in the sector, and Deciwatt is at the forefront of the movement.
GravityLight is currently seeking to introduce its product to the emergency relief market and hopes that the additional funding and recognition from the national final of the Shell Springboard final in London will help them gain the profile and financial boost to secure new global contracts.
Bactest impressed the judges with Shepherd, a cutting-edge monitoring and management technology helping water companies to save energy. The system reduces the energy used by water companies on essential sludge aeration – the process of blowing air into treated sewage or ‘ activated sludge’ to keep the bacteria healthy. It does this by providing near real-time data that informs water companies how the blower controls used for aeration should be managed.
Access to more accurate data saves water companies from wasting energy through over-aeration of sludge; Shepherd could save 16,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum should it be implemented across the UK’s 135 water plants. Bactest’s CEO Professor Annie Brooking plans to use Shell Springboard funding to accelerate commercialisation of the product, boosting Shepherd sales in the UK and enabling the start-up to commence its search for international distributors.
Yomp shone through at the regional finals with their software which encourages workers to take up low-carbon travel options for their commute, such as walking, running, cycling and car sharing. The company has developed a gamified, B2B online platform and mobile app that rewards users for their transport and lifestyle decisions, incentivising them to make more sustainable choices with a unique rewards system that has already been rolled out by one corporate client in 45 offices across 10 countries. It’s a great example of the recent trend for data-based approaches to lowering carbon emissions, as it encourages individuals to reduce their personal carbon-intensity by using a software solution.
With the LSE suggesting that a 20% increase in the number of people running, walking and cycling to work could save the economy £71m by lowering pollution levels, Yomp’s Shell Springboard funding will help the company expand into international markets.
WITT Energy inspired the judges with their low-carbon technology – a device that captures wave energy from all six degrees of motion (up and down, side to side and diagonally). WITT produces pioneering technology that collects energy from water, wind or any other type of movement with no impact on the environment. With substantial variation in size and weight, WITT can be applied to buoys and small vessels, removing the need for an external generator to reduce carbon emissions.
With the support of Shell Springboard funding, the company now holds ambitious plans for future applications such as grid scale tidal energy production using a large-scale WITT device. The team is also looking at the possibility of modifying WITT to its smallest size yet, so that it would charge your mobile phone simply by collecting the energy from your daily movements.
Econic Technologies has developed cutting-edge, patented technology that can transform CO2 into plastic and other polymers. Chemically, plastic is made up of lots of very long chains, called polymers, consisting of mainly carbon. Imagine such a polymer chain as a string of beads, each bead made from petrochemical oil. Now imagine replacing every second bead with captured CO2. The catalyst that allows manufacturers to do this is Econic’s innovation – for every tonne of plastic created, more than a tonne of CO2 is saved.
Econic plans to use Shell Springboard funding to scale up activity in its primary market, applying the catalyst innovation to everyday plastics found in insulation and shoe soles. They will also target new applications in higher value engineering materials such as the plastics used for stadium roofs and car headlights.
Oxsensis impressed the judges with their ground breaking sensors which allow engines to run on less fuel. Their optical sensor technology works in high pressure, high temperature engine environments of up to 1000 degrees Centigrade, providing data to optimise engines to run more efficiently and cut carbon emissions.
Oxsensis hopes to introduce its innovation into the marine sector, where implementation of the technology could save 30,000,000 tons of carbon each year.
The national final of Shell Springboard 2015 will be held on 24 March in London and will mark the tenth anniversary of the programme.
The inaugural Shell Enterprise Conference will also take place on 24 March, and will offer entrepreneurs in the low-carbon sector the opportunity to network, exchange ideas and discuss the challenges of starting-up and scaling-up in the UK.
Low-carbon entrepreneurs at the Cambridge regional final. The cover photo shows the Edinburgh regional final.
Shell Springboard is a UK-wide programme supporting entrepreneurs with breakthrough ideas in low-carbon innovation. The programme is part of Shell’s strategy to support the UK’s transition to a lower carbon economy while helping to create jobs and growth among UK small businesses.
Since its launch 10 years ago, Shell Springboard has awarded approximately £3 million to 80 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) at the cutting-edge of the low-carbon economy. To date, these businesses have created over 250 new jobs in the UK and have an annual combined turnover of £60 million.