Two low-carbon start-ups have been crowned national winners of Shell’s Enterprise Development awards, announced this morning at Shell’s Energy Summit. Farm-Hand has won the Shell Springboard final, bringing their total equity-free funding to £150,000. Charlie Guy has been awarded the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, receiving a total of £30,000 to help scale his business, LettUs Grow.
Following a day of pitches from the finalists, the winners were announced this morning at the Energy Summit by Julia King, Baroness Brown of Cambridge (Chair of The Carbon Trust) and Sinead Lynch (Chair of Shell UK).
Sinead Lynch, Chair of Shell UK, said: “The UK is a global leader in innovation, producing game changing solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. At Shell, we recognise the pivotal role UK innovators will play in a successful energy transition, and we are committed to supporting entrepreneurs in commercialising and scaling their technologies. I have been greatly impressed by the calibre of the finalists and their ideas to accelerate the energy transition.”
The judging panel for the Shell Springboard national final comprised Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Chair of The Carbon Trust; Suki Fuller, Co-Founder and CEO of Salaam Ventures; Professor David Cardwell, Professor of Superconducting Engineering and Co-Director of the KACST-Cambridge Research Centre, University of Cambridge; and Mark Jenkinson, City Director London, Siemens AG. In making their decision, the panel considered three key criteria: the carbon-saving potential of the businesses, their commercial viability, and the scale of innovation. The winner, Farm-Hand, has developed a new way of irrigating crops. The Farm Hand is a method of pump control that reduces over-irrigation and improves crop yield, with a two-year payback that has been developed with farmers.
On the decision to choose Farm-Hand as the national Shell Springboard winner 2019, Baroness Brown of Cambridge commented: “It was a unanimous decision to declare Farm-Hand the winner. The judges were impressed by the work the company had undertaken in using free resources in the form of local weather forecasts, combined with boots-on-the-ground intelligence to enable the business to develop effective, bespoke products for farmers working in challenging conditions. Farm-Hand’s business model addresses a number of issues; not only does its proprietary technology dramatically reduce water waste in areas where water is scarce, but it also cuts down on electricity use and offers real, tangible social benefit for families relying on the agricultural sector as their main source of income. It’ll be exciting to see how the funding from Shell Springboard can further their work, and I look forward to supporting the business as its growth journey accelerates.”
The judges of the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award included Ana Avaliani, Head of Enterprise Hub at the Royal Academy of Engineering; Oliver Rosevear, Head of Environment at Costa Coffee; Alex Betts, Managing Director of Adaxia Capital Partners; Julie Devonshire OBE, Director of Entrepreneurship at King’s College London and last year’s winner Douglas Martin, Managing Director of MiAlgae. The winner, Charlie Guy of LettUs Grow, has developed technology to grow vegetables using 95 percent less water than traditional agriculture methods.
Discussing why they chose Charlie Guy as this year’s winner, Ana Avaliani said: “Despite working in the increasingly popular sector of vertical farming, Charlie impressed the judges with LettUs Grow’s truly innovative patent pending technology with a unique farm management software for indoor vertical farms. Charlie himself has all of the makings of an entrepreneur: his vision for the company – to grow the world’s leading vertical farming business – was evident in every aspect of the presentation, and his passion to feed people in a more sustainable way was clear. I’m excited to watch the business scale and expand into markets outside the UK, deliver on its mission to reduce the waste and carbon footprint of fresh produce and see how Shell’s funding can support this growth.”
This afternoon, all the finalists, together with alumni from the Springboard and Shell LiveWIRE programmes, have been invited to attend Start-Up Connect, a Shell event for low-carbon start-ups looking to scale. The afternoon is hosted by Oli Barrett, founder of Start-Up Britain, and will connect 100 low-carbon entrepreneurs with over 300 senior executives and bright minds to help them succeed. It will feature talks and panel sessions from experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and advisers on capitalising on failures, winning hearts and minds with innovation, fitness to scale, and funding opportunities.
In addition to Shell’s enterprise development programmes, Shell also supports sustainable innovation through Shell GameChanger, Shell Ventures and Shell TechWorks, to help speed up developments in areas such as natural gas, biofuels, solar power, water treatment, CO2 management and energy efficiency.