The UK is on a mission to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, after becoming the world’s first major economy to legislate to do so in 2019.
The tech sector has a vital role to play in tackling the climate crisis. In doing our part, we launched the Net Zero growth programme for ambitious digital tech, hardware and biotech companies who are paving the way to establishing global temperatures and reaching the UK’s net-zero target.
If you are a company operating across sectors including electricity & energy; transport and mobility; agriculture; food systems; manufacturing or building technology; check out our programme criteria and submit an application.
Companies helping to create a more sustainable future can be exciting too. And to prove it, we’ve highlighted the ones below, which are doing everything from using human energy to re-charge gym equipment to helping consumers monitor and reduce their carbon footprint.
You’ve heard of ‘sweat equity’ – but not this kind. Birmingham-based Energym is on a mission to help gyms reduce their energy costs and become self-sustainable to achieve zero carbon status. How? By retrofitting existing (or providing new) equipment fitted with its patented battery and charging tech, which allows the energy generated by humans to be re-used. One spin class of 30 people, for example, could power a home for 24 hours. The company is complementing its innovative tech with a smartphone app called Gymcoin that monitors gym-goers’ individual fitness levels and provides accurate workout data, rewarding members for clean energy generation in the process.
Oxwash has developed a clever kind of low-impact ‘space-age’ tech (their words, not ours) that washes your clothes with net-zero carbon emissions. The company sends out a fleet of cargo bikes and dedicated riders, Deliveroo-style, to collect items from a business or residential property before washing and returning them. The company uses Ozone, a high-tech technology used to sterilise surgical equipment in hospitals that makes it efficient at eliminating the Covid-19 virus. Based in Oxford having expanded to Cambridge, the laundry wizards are set to launch in London this year.
Electric Vehicles (EVs) are the future, but today they feature quirks that hold consumers back from purchasing them. According to Spark EV, a major concern for prospective buyers is their inability to accurately measure range based on remaining charge – especially when the car is moving between urban and motorway environments, or congestion and free-flowing traffic. The company has developed AI-powered software for EVs that uses live data to help automotive brands and their suppliers differentiate themselves, build driver trust and ensure greater sales through a more personalised in-vehicle experience. Founded in 2017, the company won an Innovate UK grant two years later and is now looking to secure a chunk of the £1.1bn automotive EV prediction solutions market opportunity.
Following the international publication of a research paper by its founder and CEO Jonathan Edwards in 2014, Temporal Computing was founded in the North East of England to kickstart a radical new approach to computation for the AI era, one that could accelerate computation and increase processing capacity while reducing energy consumption. The aim? To accelerate computation and increase processing capacity without being constrained by the complex energy demands that are currently holding back today’s most sophisticated computer processors.
Hailing from Newport, Wales, Surple helps businesses monitor and reduce their energy consumption. Aimed at teams of energy managers and consultants, it provides a complete picture of all electricity, gas, water and generation data on one system. The SaaS platform also saves time by automating repetitive tasks such as sending reports or importing data. What’s more, Surple utilises machine learning to get smarter over time and generate insights that can be quickly shared using its handy collaboration tools and inbuilt messaging system.
Operating across the whole of Ireland, renewable energy supplier Bright was founded when two family businesses – Evermore Energy and The Maxol Group – joined to create a new brand. Ciaran and Stephen Devine, the brothers behind it, are on a mission to simplify energy for customers who will be able to check their usage and payments through a smartphone app that connects to smart meters. And the best bit? Bright is set to supply energy from green sources, making it an environmentally-conscious option.
One Big Circle
What if trains could see? That’s the premise behind One Big Circle’s AIVA (Automated Intelligence Video Review), a small hardware box that can be installed into any vehicle or system to capture data on the journey. This allows problems encountered along the way to be addressed more effectively; on a train that’s anything from livestock on the track to unmanaged vegetation, trespassers or graffiti. Video is transmitted live, allowing departments to react to issues in real-time, and machine learning algorithms mean that AIVA becomes more accurate over time. It gives another meaning to ‘smart transport’.
Running out of hot water in the home is always an inconvenience, forcing you to wait until the entire tank has been heated. Mixergy has developed a more efficient option in its Mixergy Tank, a premium stainless steel cylinder that is more convenient for people and better for the planet. It connects to a smartphone app which shows how much hot water is available, and if more is needed then the tank can be topped up five times faster than a conventional model. It’s even possible to set schedules based on how much hot water is needed throughout the week, which is a great way to plan ahead and reduce your energy bill.
Can you put a price on industrial and commercial waste? If you’re a Topolytics user, you can. The Edinburgh-based company’s interactive live data platform – called WasteMap – maps the generation, movement and ultimate fate of waste, allowing waste producers and recycling companies to both save money and help the environment. It has been trialled by organisations such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, which used it to track waste travelling from its Gogarburn HQ – including paper; card; plastics; food; metals and packaging – to its end destination where it was eventually sold.
Tackling climate change is a responsibility shared by everyone, but few know how to get started. Edinburgh-based Pawprint has raised £580,000 from angel investors to help people fight climate change through its gamified web platform that’s set to launch this summer. It sets users personalised challenges and provides tips on how to make lifestyle changes to lower carbon emissions. After answering a series of initial questions, users will be able to compare their ‘Pawprint’ (or carbon footprint) and compete against others in challenges.
The Sheffield City Region boasts strong expertise in the areas of advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0, and it’s down to companies like Tribosonics that are based there. Experts in developing sensing technologies, the company generates smart data using embedded ultrasonic measurement technologies to transform sectors including transportation, power generation and manufacturing. Tribosonics won a £50,000 grant from Innovate UK, the maximum available in the ‘Business-led innovation in response to global disruption’ competition, as part of a programme to drive forward new technological advances in response to Covid-19.
Manchester-based Dsposal is developing tools for waste producers and managers to understand their legal obligations and make better decisions about where their rubbish ends up. That could include businesses in a range of sectors – including construction; manufacturing; facilities management; infrastructure; education and retail. Or, it could be a homeowner with too much junk for the council to collect. Dsposal – which runs on smartphones, tablets and computers – takes care of the paperwork side by sending automatic emails in the event of compliance issues. The company is even offering a free version of its solution so that every person, company and organisation has access to find the right place for their waste.
Autonomous vehicles require power, and Birmingham-based Petalite is leading the charge. The company reckons that today’s electric vehicle (EV) chargers are too expensive, don’t last long enough and run on hardware limited by ubiquitous patents. Its own “revolutionary” charging architecture, on the other hand, is being developed to supply an EV with enough juice to travel for around 350 miles – in just 15 minutes. Petalite’s chargers are modular in design, allowing for more powerful ones to be stacked if necessary. The company is currently looking for charger hardware manufacturers to integrate its powerful charging tech.
Vertical Future is developing the future of food production through technology. The London-based company, which was established in 2016, allows crops to be grown vertically in addition to horizontally. Its system adopts a combinational approach, combining adaptable lighting, nutrient delivery, effective space utilisation, automation, and control over all key growth parameters. Basically, it can provide the optimal conditions for growing crops whatever the weather – quite literally, as it’s done indoors. The system isn’t fully automated, requiring “limited human interaction” to mitigate the possibility of contamination, which is aided through software.
Media campaigns and legislation around carrier bags in recent years has raised awareness of the harmful effects of single-use plastic. Cambridge-based Xampla develops natural alternatives to single-use plastic and has created the world’s first plant protein material for commercial use, which performs like synthetic polymers while decomposing naturally and fully, without harming the environment. The company’s ultimate aim is to replace the everyday single-use plastics – from bags and sachets to flexible packaging films. That’s in addition to less obvious ones, such as micro plastics within liquids and lotions.
Route Konnect is on a mission to improve emergency responses times and connect autonomous vehicles using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to detect and process real-time traffic information. The company was founded by Cardiff University student Mohamed Binesmael, who in 2018 applied to several pitch competitions and business accelerators while undertaking a PhD. He was successful, landing a place on an accelerator in Dubai, which led to Route Konnect working with the Dubai Police to improve their emergency response times through sensor products.