The last few months have been extremely challenging for the global economy and whilst the cleantech sector is not immune to these trends, it is becoming increasingly clear that innovative cleantech products and services are part of the solution to the climate crisis. At Cambridge Cleantech, we are supporting climate-positive businesses in this difficult period through online support programmes on topics such as access to finance, new grant funding schemes and contract opportunities with corporates.
We are also creating opportunities for our members in this new virtual world through the launch of Cleantech Venture Week, a fully-digital pitching and investment event for climate-positive companies taking place in the third week of November. Apply today to be one of the 24 pitching companies.
We are also currently scouting for a range of solutions from innovative companies through our Meet the Buyer programme and running a series of workshops around the Green New Deal this fall.
This July, we put together a showcase of climate-positive businesses which was aired at Tech Days Munich, and continue to look for networking and collaboration opportunities for our members, who are spearheading the challenge to reach net zero carbon emissions.
We invited some of our members to tell us what they have been up to during this time, and the stories ranged from successfully raising investment during the pandemic to creating a brand new technology that detects the COVID-19 virus in water. Read more about them here, and listen on to our interview on Cambridge Zero Climate Talks.
Jessica Ocampos, CEO of Camnexus
When COVID happened, IoT and water technologies specialist Camnexus saw an opportunity to play a role in the fight against coronavirus. The company developed a new technology that can be used to detect coronavirus in water.
Camnexus was recently selected as one of the pioneering European startups shaping the post-pandemic world by the Financial Times-backed digital publication Sifted.
"Camnexus was originally started with the goal to bring clean water and the latest innovations to Latin American cities. I am proud of my team for being able to bring out a viable solution to support the fight against COVID-19 in such a short span of time," said Jessica Ocampos.
Julie Chen, Co-founder, Cheeky Panda
One of the biggest challenges for The Cheeky Panda during the pandemic was the huge demand on tissue products. We saw orders increase on lines that were doing £10k to over £100k and we were all working from home. We had to navigate a massive increase in demand and manage our supply chain remotely, we had to hire in extra people to cope with the demand.
In order to manage this we ran daily meetings in Microsoft Teams and created sub groups for operations, finance and sales. During COVID-19 our sales grew 400% and it put a lot of pressure on the team to keep up with the pace, for us it made the team feel closer together and the culture is really strong despite the crisis. I think it is important to lead by example by doing a lot of the tough jobs yourself, and I am very proud of what the team achieved despite the uncertainty.
Tony Wells, MD, Merit Holdings
Merit, a Founder Member of Cambridge Cleantech, has seen a surge in interest in their offering since the pandemic struck. Merit has moved quickly since the onset of the crisis to develop designs for mobile Covid-19 testing laboratories, vaccine manufacturing facilities and biocontainment suites that can be constructed in a matter of weeks.
Using offsite techniques and advanced manufacturing processes, the majority of these facilities are built in a factory environment – with up to 80% built offsite. This improves quality and certainty of delivery whilst delivering zero carbon emissions solutions. As a result of the increased uptake in these unique technologies, Merit has expanded its factory near Newcastle to 270,000ft2 from 97,000ft2.
“The expansion of our factory is part of our continued investment in a strategy that puts us at the forefront of innovation in construction. We are not constrained by traditional construction models which gives us the agility required to adapt quickly to client needs, which has allowed us to develop a range of solutions to meet the challenges of the current pandemic. Our design team applies new and existing technologies intelligently to create zero carbon emissions in industrial environments, helping clients address the challenges of climate change.”
Alex Newman, Director of Innovation, Propelair
One of our latest members, Propelair, raised £1.15 million through crowdfunding in just three weeks during the pandemic. The decision to crowdfund during the global pandemic is a shining example of their Propelair’s continued focus on innovation and accelerated product development.
Propelair’s unique toilet system uses just 1.5 litres of water, while standard toilets use 9 litres. Its unique design enables Propelair to reduce water and energy use by 80% or more, and eliminates up to 95% of airborne germs.
Propelair believes sustainability and hygiene will go hand-in-hand in future.
“Hygiene has jumped to the top of the list now,” said Alex Newman, Director of Innovation, Propelair. The current version of the toilet has an anti-microbial latch, but his team is now working on removing contact with the toilet completely. “We’re already the most hygienic toilet. We want to reinforce that perception with the addition of automatic open/close lids.”
Another key development is turning Propelair into a smart toilet using IoT technology to improve washroom maintenance.
As you can see from the examples above, while the world may have paused to take stock, our enterprising members continue to strive onwards and upwards. If you would like to support climate-positive businesses working towards a more sustainable future, consider becoming a member or join us for one of our upcoming events.
Cambridge Cleantech is now inviting applications from climate-positive businesses to apply to pitch at Cleantech Venture Day. Apply to pitch today.