Launch of Climate Accelerator inspires with tech solutions to save the planet

Allia Future Business Centre | Climate Accelerator

Like a bright sunrise in January, the Climate Accelerator launch day lit Allia’s hopes for a great year ahead. Last week, the conference room at the British Antarctic Survey was filled with greetings as the Climate Accelerator cohort members gathered to pitch their ideas to each other, sharing their plans for a greener future.

Dr Rob Mulvaney, a glaciologist and paleoclimatologist at the British Antarctic Survey who has spent decades explaining the science to business leaders, passed around chunks of 70 thousand-year-old ice and explained the need to slow the rate of climate change. Innovative businesses will need to both reduce emissions and work with mechanisms to remove them from the atmosphere. ‘’You can do that at any scale!’’ Dr Mulvaney says, ‘’But in the end the big industries will need to change.’’ Perhaps Allia’s Climate Accelerator will produce future leaders in this greening process.

Among the audience hearing Dr Mulvaney’s keynote speech and discussion were Allia’s fourteen programme participants, who will take on the Climate Accelerator journey over the next 6 months. I was delighted to speak to four of the businesses – Seed360, Digital Daylight, Sourcery and PyroGenesys – and was truly wowed by their business acumen and initiative!

Seed360’s innovation can help agriculture steer away from further use of dangerous pesticides and micro-plastics in food production, while improving crop resistance to pests

Co-founder of Seed360, Oli Scott, and Business Development Managers, Tara LeBlanc and Nick Finch, are all starting out with one of their first business ownership engagements. Happily, the team at Seed360 is led by serial entrepreneur and Chief of Operations, Xiaobin Zhao, who galvanises green technology in China and the United Kingdom.

Seed360 is an agriculture technology company developing a seed-coating that protects oil seed rape (OSR) and brassica vegetables from crop damage caused by the Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle. Their technology responds to a recent ban on the pesticides that have historically been used in the production of OSR and certain vegetables. Seed360’s innovation can help agriculture steer away from further use of dangerous pesticides and micro-plastics in food production, while improving crop resistance to pests.

Seed360 came together to address the United Kingdom’s £70M loss in crops to the Flea Beetle — a figure that corresponds to only one year of farming of brassica vegetables and OSR. Already, the team has begun sales with Garden Organic, a company that provides seeds to around 10K small scale farmers. With pitch practice, the team hopes to acquire more business customers across the UK. They also look forward to learning more about the role of social impact and climate mitigation in business modelling and financial planning.

Digital Daylight’s unique window coating tech reduces buildings’ use of air conditioning and artificial lighting

Where Seed360 faces a learning curve in business modelling, Digital Daylight is ‘all hands on-deck’ to scale up, build brand, and market to a larger audience. The company’s Marketing Director, Tim Hill, is experienced and ready for the task. He says Digital Daylight is actively looking for contacts who can recommend the company’s services to National Health Service (NHS) trusts around the United Kingdom.

For background, Digital Daylight exploits a unique technology that was first installed commercially by the company in 2009. The proprietary digital window coating reflects 80% of the sun’s heat and enhances internal levels of illumination. Digital Daylight thereby reduces buildings’ use of air conditioning and artificial lighting.

Tim’s noble goal to enhance partnerships with hospitals and other building complexes entails the development of a new website within three months, the increasing of brand awareness nationwide and a good many pitches for the sought NHS contracts. Allia’s team knows Tim Hill and his team can accomplish this goal.

Sourcery‘s wholesale platform for sustainable British products helps small retailers discover and source from eco-friendly brands

Zoe Law has brought her business, Sourcery, to success in under six months since launch. As one of the earlier-stage founders participating in Allia’s Climate Accelerator, she shows exceptional promise and a strong grasp of iteration. Today, her wholesale platform for sustainable British products helps small retailers discover and source from pre-vetting eco-friendly brands, which saves these retailers time and effort, and prevents greenwashing. Her 120 business customers, of which half are zero-waste stores, may access Sourcery’s cleaning products, toiletries and other sundries at the click of a button.

As part of her founding and scaling process, Zoe will refine her proposition, stretch her impact, and prepare for the next big steps and collaborations. In fact, she mentions networking opportunities as the main reason she joined Allia’s Climate Accelerator. ‘’As a solo founder,’’ she says, ‘’the idea of being in a cohort is exciting.’’ She wants to ‘’get outside the bubble’’ and ‘’see how things really are.’’ Previously, Zoe notes, there has been a ‘’gap’’ between helpful business advice and ‘’the underground experience,’’ but Zoe expects the Climate Accelerator can close this gap with its robust cohort, alumni and mentoring networks. With Zoe’s ten years of experience helping big corporates and start-ups in a freelance capacity, Allia thinks Sourcery truly can benefit from these networking opportunities, building fast as the Accelerator progresses.

PyroGenesys‘ patented carbon removal system converts organic waste into renewable electricity and liquid biofuels

Last, and certainly not least, meet PyroGenesys, led by Simon Ighofose and Dr Joseph Eke. PyroGenesys uses their patented pyrolysis-based system to convert organic waste into renewable electricity, process heat, biochar and liquid biofuels. The CEO, Simon Ighofose, and fellow co-founder, Dr Joseph Eke, discovered their passion for the field through their studies, but also through travel to and work conducted in Nigeria and surrounding states. What started as an energy access solution for Nigeria is now ready for scale up as a carbon removal solution to the UK and other reaches of Europe.

Years ago, Simon read an article in Nigeria that showed how cassava peel can be converted into diesel fuel. Now that Simon and Joseph have teamed up, they are turning more than just cassava into bio oil; their machine converts a variety of waste forms, including factory waste. This bio oil can in fact be upgraded to diesel and jet fuel!

With an exciting business on the build, the pair cast enterprising projections for the coming years. Within one year, they will have identified a pipeline of projects, but within a few more, they will have reduced carbon emissions by millions of tons. In fact, PyroGenesys is a competitor in Elon Musk’s Carbon Removal XPrize, a programme with a $100M prize. The competition pushes PyroGenesys to focus its resources on global gigaton-scale carbon removal.

Admirable goals aside, PyroGenesys is a strong company because of the networking acumen of its founders. ‘’We’ve already made some interesting links today,’’ says Simon. ‘’There are potentially three companies here that we can collaborate with straight away.’’ Cambridge is a great ecosystem, and Simon is sure to find a number of companies in need of the PyroGenesys solution.

The ten other businesses – Bio SepSnowballNeutreenoFLIT, KubosCreastReuse2GoTarget NulaRe-24Cambridge Electric Transport and Taisan Motors – joining the Accelerator each arrive with novel and innovative solutions to the climate crisis, and throughout the six-month programme, Allia will be supporting their work and showcasing their successes.

So, looking ahead into 2022, if you personally can’t invent the next big advancement in green tech, you can get behind Allia’s latest movers and shakers. Consider attending an event with us, applying to mentor a founder by sharing your unique experience, or engaging in a future corporate partnership. Come Demo Day, you may even wish to make an investment both for your future and the planet’s.

Our programmes in Cambridge are part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.