UK greentech startups to watch

The Earth could be approaching an environmental tipping point that will suddenly leave catastrophic, irreversible ecological damage on the planet.

Ecological modernists argue that technology could be harnessed to avoid this point of return, and some of them are turning their ideas into startups.

Here's our pick of the best greentech startups in the UK.

Read next: Top tech projects for social good in the UK and beyond

Additional reporting from Christina Mercer

Bulb

Bulb

In a bid to tackle the soaring cost of energy from the big six providers, friends Hayden Wood and Amit Gudka founded Bulb - a low cost and renewable energy supplier - in 2014.

After working in the energy industry, the pair saw an opportunity for a digital-first energy provider. Bulb offers 100 percent renewable electricity and 10% green gas, with a portion of its gas coming from biomethane, produced from organic matter.

"There's this myth that renewable is inefficient and a lot more expensive, whereas actually, in the wholesale market, renewable is extremely cost-effective," Wood told Techworld. "I can't imagine starting an energy company today and it not being renewable."

Bulb aims to prove that renewable energy shouldn't be considered a premium product. Instead, it should be available to all consumers as standard.

Upside Energy
iStock

Upside Energy

Manchester-based Upside Energy harnesses the cloud to provide its commercial, industrial and domestic customers with insight into their energy usage, ultimately so they can make smarter, greener energy choices.

According to the firm, its cloud-based platform could eliminate 'hundreds of thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases'.

Upside Energy will connect to numerous energy emitting devices, including battery storage systems and heating and cooling systems, providing usage insights and advanced forecasting.

Customers include EDF Energy, Vertiv and BYD.

Mimica Lab

Mimica Lab

Mimicacreates freshness labels containing a gelatine-based gel that deteriorates at the same rate as the perishable products that it's attached to. When the food or pharmaceutical is no longer safe to eat, the label develops bumps warning consumers not to use it.

The company was founded in 2017 by Solveiga Pakštaitė, who came up with the idea while working on a final year project for her industrial design and technology degree at Brunel University London. She had initially been working on a product that would help the visually impaired to read dates in labels, but soon realised that the concept could be useful for everyone.

The technology has earned Pakštaitė's MIT Technology Review's Inventor of the Year award and a trial of her invention with Danish dairy giant Arla.

Demand Logic

Demand Logic

Energy efficiency startup Demand Logic has developed a data analytics system that is installed in commercial buildings to assess the performance of their boilers, chillers, fans and other systems. Building managers can then review the insights in an app that recommends how they can cut bills, reduce carbon footprints, and create more comfortable working environments.

Demand Logic chairman Sonny Masero told Techworld that the system was comparable to "a Fitbit that comes with a personal trainer that identifies how to improve the health of the property asset."

The London-based startup has largely grown through self-funding, grants from Innovate UK and recommendations from clients including Transport for London and 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the Walkie-Talkie.

Biokind

Biokind

Biokindproduces a natural, sustainable and traceable protein feed for fish farming aquaculture, livestock and pets. The non-GMO feed is produced via natural fermentation for a price that's competitive with existing sources of protein.

The biotechnology startup was founded in 2018 by Imperial College London alumni and staff members Chien Chua, Maxwell Swinscow-Hall and Rui Yan Lee.

In 2018, their company was one of 10 finalists selected from the 1,500 teams that entered the Climate Launchpad Grand Final competition, winning them a place on the EIT Climate-KIC accelerator, an 18-month programme with up to €95,000 of funding.

CupClub
© CupClub

CupClub

CupClubis a returnable packaging service for drinks that uses RFID technology to provide supply chain traceability and ensure cups are returned by charging the users who hold onto them.

Architect Safia Qureshi founded the company in 2015 as a response to the global plastics epidemic that cups have helped create. Cups are in the top 10 most polluting items in our cities, with consumption rates currently at 5 billion per year in the UK alone.

Her company has since raised £200,000 of seed funding from Henley Business Angels, won the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize and earned places on the accelerator programmes of both John Lewis and advertising agency R/GA.

MacRebur

MacRebur

MacReburuses waste plastics to build more durable roads that boost sustainability by using up the millions of tons of plastics sitting in landfills sites, while reducing production and maintenance costs by increasing the lifespan of roads.

The Scottish startup was founded in 2016 by engineer Toby McCartney, who drew his inspiration from a trip to Southern India, where he observed waste plastics being melted into potholes to fill them up. McCartney and his friends experimented with hundreds of blends of polymers to find a formula that mixed with regular asphalt to create a longer-lasting road.

Their solution earned McCartney the Best Startup Director prize at the Institute of Directors' (IoD) 2018 awards and total investment in his company of £4.5 million across two equity crowdfunding rounds.

Olio

Olio

Food sharing app Olio aims to reduce food waste by connecting people with their local shops and cafes so their surplus supplies can be shared instead of thrown away. Users upload a photo, description and pick-up details to a repository on the app that their neighbours can then browse and then collect.

The company was founded by Saasha Celestial-One and Tessa Cook, who got the idea when she was clearing up her apartment ahead of a move back to the UK and realised she had to throw all her food away. She spoke to Celestial-One, who had spent much of her childhood salvaging and reselling items that others had discarded, and the two worked together to turn their idea into a business.

The duo founded Olio in 2015 and have gone on to raise a total of $10.1 million, including $2.2 million from seed funding and £6 million from a Series A funding round led by Octopus Ventures.

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