Going for growth: 6 Tech Nation Net Zero companies on their scaling challenges

Kane Fulton, November 9, 2021 6 min read

Helping the UK’s 323 (and counting) Net Zero companies to scale will be vital to hit Net Zero in 2050. Our Net Zero Report 2021 showed that 37% are at an early stage and will need to overcome challenges ranging from hiring to product development, supply chain management and raising investment to maximise their impact and realise their full potential.

Six companies from our Net Zero growth programme shared their experiences and thoughts on Net Zero-specific scaling challenges during our co-hosted ‘Forget 2050’ event at COP26 in Glasgow, held in partnership with Net Zero Now. We spoke with Sphera, Oxwash, Solivus, Tred, EAV, and Magway to discover the challenges they are overcoming and what action their sectors must take for the UK to hit its Net Zero target.


What they do: Sphera is simultaneously tackling climate change and plastic pollution by focusing on low carbon, next-generation construction material alternatives.

Q&A with Natasha Boulding, CEO and cofounder:

What is your biggest scaling challenge?

“One of the biggest scaling challenges is making sure the whole supply chain is integrated. In construction, everyone from developers to architects and contractors must be on the same page and trying to achieve the same thing. So the more that we can collaborate with people across the supply chain, the quicker we can achieve Net Zero.”

Do you think your sector is innovating enough to help the UK achieve its Net-Zero targets?

“Sustainability and reaching Net Zero is an absolute must for everyone, whether their targets are for 2030 or 2050. Innovating in areas where there’s potential for scale is important. We innovate in the construction sector because concrete is the second-most used material globally after water. So, if we can make an impact in this industry, then we can make an impact for the world.”


What they do: A tech company at heart, Oxwash offers sustainable, on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning services to both B2B and B2C market segments through scalable solutions that power laundry innovations.

Q&A with Tom de Wilton, Chief Sustainability Officer:

What is your biggest scaling challenge?

“I’ll start by naming the elephant in the room – the global pandemic. We lost 80% of our revenue overnight, with our business customers disappearing off the face of the Earth and hibernating for 12 months.

“In terms of our carbon cost, our biggest challenge by far is our use of natural gas. The question is: how do we drive large volumes of clothes – of textiles, towels and linen – without burning gas? Right now that’s commercially impossible because using electricity to do that is financial suicide; it costs far too much and takes far too long. That’s the big area Oxwash is trying to innovate: tech that can switch drying from electricity to gas. And we’re getting there.”

Do you think your sector is innovating enough to help the UK achieve its Net Zero targets?

“Heck no! Not. Yes, there are some great initiatives out there, but on a global commercial scale, commercial laundry is an archaic industry. Everything’s being washed hot – there’s no sense of innovation, but we’re here to shake that up and lead by example.

“Oxwash and a few other innovative tech platforms that are doing laundry. Having copycat initiatives out there is great, but we need large-scale systemic change in the industry – and that will only come from legislation. And that legislation will only come from shining a light on the problem, which is already what we consider to be laundry’s big dirty secret.”

“Is the commercial laundry sector innovating enough to hit the UK’s Net Zero targets? Heck no! Absolutely not. But we’re here to shake that up.”


What they do: Solivus enables mega-buildings, homes and communities to lower their carbon footprint and generate their own local green energy through a suite of solar solutions.

Q&A with Joanna Parker-Swift, CEO and founder:

What is your biggest scaling challenge?

“When you are developing hardware, you always need investment and cash. And in the UK, we have good tax incentives like EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme). If we didn’t have EIS, I don’t think we would have been able to raise the money to start the business, so that’s been great.

“We’ve had another massive growth spurt this year, doubled our team and moved product development forward. We now need to grow more and double our team again, so we’re going to need more investment. It’s the same old challenge that every startup has – as you grow, you must make sure that your cash flow and investment strategies are in the right place.”


What they do: Tred is a consumer fintech whose mission is to make money work for people and the planet. Its first product is the UK’s first green debit card that lets users track, reduce and offset their carbon footprint as they spend, and plants trees with profits.

Q&A with Will Smith, cofounder:

What is your biggest scaling challenge?

“Making an amazing product that customers absolutely love, one that’s competitive with everyone else but at the same cost, is a real challenge for us. But that’s the case across the industry. We must invest in different services and products to make sure that we are competitive for consumers – or people won’t use them.”

Do you think your sector is innovating enough to help the UK achieve its Net-Zero targets?

“Yes and no. Yes because tech businesses can measure their carbon footprint and offset the amount that their servers produce. Finance is unique in that everybody buys stuff daily, so the sector has a much bigger opportunity to help inform individuals on how to reduce their carbon footprint by giving them insight into how what they buy impacts the planet. Not only can they be a Net-Zero business, but they can also help all of their customers hit Net Zero too.”

EAV (Electric Assisted Vehicles Limited)

What they do: EAV is on a mission to move people and goods around using zero-emission, lightweight and efficient vehicles instead of diesel vans.

Q&A with Leo Bethell, Head of Partnerships:

What is your biggest scaling challenge?

“Our main challenge at the moment is finding the right staff. We are based in Bicester, which means that we don’t get the same recruitment levels as London, for example. Being in manufacturing at the moment is tough due to supply chain reliability. We are shipping in parts from across Europe and as a result, try and source locally and make as much as possible in-house.”

Do you think your sector is innovating enough to help the UK achieve its Net Zero targets?

“I think a lot of fleet managers at the moment could be a lot more proactive.  Many targets aim to hit zero emissions by 2030, but the solutions are already here – especially in cities – so we just need to encourage more adoption of them.”


What they do: Magway is an all-electric, zero-emissions, low-footprint, high-capacity delivery system. It can take up to 90% of online delivery vehicles off our roads, drastically reducing congestion, pollution and the carbon footprint of shopping online.

Q&A with Phillip Davies, cofounder and Commercial Director:

What is your biggest challenge?

“We share the same challenges as other entrepreneurial businesses – not just those in ClimateTech. People are at the core of what we do, so we need skilled resources and funding – and we also need to be ambitious. Without ambition and thinking big, we’re not going to crack Net-Zero.

Do you think your sector is innovating enough to help the UK achieve its Net-Zero targets?

“We know that we’re not a solution looking for a problem. There is a desperate need for sustainable and reliable deliveries, so the status quo is not an option – and the quicker we can do it, the better. We can do many things in the here and now, so we must do what we can and accelerate new technologies to bring them online as soon as possible.”