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Earth Day 2021: UK-based green tech startups doing their part to save the planet

Today, April 22 is Earth Day as you know! As soon as you come across this term, the first thing that might resonate in everyone’s mind is to restore the planet. Since the past year, the pandemic has changed the way we live and resulted in record low carbon emissions in 2020 as people were at home during the COVID-19 crisis.

As per a report by TechNation, in 2019, the Net Zero companies in the UK bagged £336 million in VC investment, which is ahead of France and Germany. In the previous year, it is estimated that the VC investment in Net Zero companies in the UK grew by 28%. With the surge in investment in sustainable tech, there has been a substantial increase in the number of sustainable ‘green’ companies in the UK. London is home to a majority of these Net Zero companies in the UK while Cambridge and Edinburgh trail behind.

On this occasion, at UKTN, we take a look at some of the cool sustainable tech startups to watch in the UK that help people to reduce their carbon footprint on account of Earth Day.

Currensea
Image credits: Currensea

Currensea

Founder/s: Craig Goulding, James Lynn

Founded year: 2018

Funding: £1M

London-based Currensea offers the first Direct Debit Travel Card in the UK that links directly with your existing bank account. As the company’s debit card works with your existing banking account, you don’t need to worry about inconvenient prepaid cards and different currency accounts. Recently, the company has partnered with Plastic Bank so customers can use their Currensea savings to remove plastic from the ocean.

This new feature enables customers to remove plastic from the ocean every time they spend abroad. Prior to a move to post-ocean plastic cards, the company is also announcing that it will remove 2.5 times the amount of plastic they produce every year from the world’s oceans.

Treepoints
Image credits: Treepoints

Treepoints

Founder/s: Jacob Wedderburn-Day, Anthony Collias

Founded year: 2020

Funding: NA

Treepoints is a subscription service that simplifies positive climate action for businesses and individuals. It helps them understand and manage their carbon emissions and contribute in combating climate change. Your subscription will support world-class projects that tackle climate change on the front line, helping to reduce harmful pollution and remove carbon from the earth’s atmosphere. For Earth Day 2021, Treepoints has added an extra incentive for businesses encouraging them to do good for the planet and double the impact of new members for the whole of April.

Clim8 Invest
Image credits: Clim8 Invest

Clim8 Invest

Founder/s: Duncan Grierson

Founded year: 2019

Funding: £10.7M

Clim8 Invest is a London-based sustainable investment platform that helps consumers invest exclusively in companies focused on tackling the climate crisis. The company’s mission is to move billions of pounds of investments into clean energy and truly green, sustainable companies.

Recently, the startup raised £2.4 million in funding through the crowdfunding platform Crowcube. The investment was led by a range of venture funds including, 7percent Ventures, Basil Capital, Evergreen Fund, EcoSummit Ventures, and several ex-partners of McKinsey. Others including cleantech and technology experts, and more than 1900 retail investors, participated via the Crowdcube platform.

The company aims to empower people to make a positive impact on the environment while delivering healthy financial gains for their futures with this investment.

HumanForest
Image credits: HumanForest

HumanForest

Founder/s: Agustin Guilisasti, Michael Stewart, Caroline Seton

Founded year: 2019

Funding: £2.85M

London-based HumanForest, a one-of-a-kind shared electric bike service. The company works with the mission to help improve air quality in cities. It wants people to make sustainable choices that will let them protect the environment. With the investment from the crowdfunding campaign, the company will facilitate up to 7,000 rides and avoid nearly 4 tonnes of CO2 emissions into London’s air every day. In December last year, HumanForest bagged over £1.25M in a crowdfunding campaign to acquire 1,500 electric bikes and expand into 15 London Boroughs by Summer 2021.

Recycleye
Image credits: Recycleye

Recycleye

Founder/s: Victor Dewulf

Founded year: 2019

Funding: £1.2M

Recycleye has built a computer vision system, which is capable of detecting and classifying all items in waste streams – broken down by material, object and even brand. The company sorts recyclable waste manually, a process that is currently dull, dirty, and dangerous. Eventually, Recycleye’s technology removes the need for manual waste pickers. The company owns a library of 2 million trained waste images and counting, the largest data set in the world.

In December last year, Recycleye raised £1.2 million in seed funding, led by venture capital investors MMC Ventures and Playfair Capital, with participation from leading funds Atypical Ventures, Creator Fund, and eolos GmbH. The fund will be used to develop a computer vision system and affordable robotics, that will combine to create the world’s first fully automated, and deployable material recovery facility.

Pesky Fish
Image credits: Pesky Fish

Pesky Fish

Founder/s: Ben King

Founded year: 2016

Funding: NA

Pesky Fish is building a better and more sustainable seafood industry for fish, fishermen and consumers across the world. It is creating a more economically and ecologically sustainable industry for fish, fishermen and consumers. To deliver it, the company is building a global supply chain where any fisherman can sell to any customer with 100% transparency. The platform is also helping at a time when exporting fish to the EU has become more expensive due to post-Brexit paperwork.

Xampla
Image credits: Xampla

Xampla

Founder/s: Simon Hombersley

Founded year: 2018

Funding: £8.8M

Xampla is a spin-out from the University of Cambridge that makes natural alternatives to plastics and is the world leader in plant protein materials for commercial applications. Its next-generation material performs like synthetic polymers, but decomposes naturally and fully, without harming the environment. Their mission is to replace the everyday single-use plastics you see all around, like sachets and flexible packaging films, and the less obvious, such as microplastics within liquids and lotions.

In January this year, the next-generation plastic replacement company secured £6.2M seed funding led by Horizon Ventures, a private investment arm of Mr Li Ka-shring along with participation from Amadeus Capital Partners. Xampla will use the investment to accelerate the rollout of its natural plant-protein alternative to plastic.

MoA Technology
Image credits: MoA Technology

MoA Technology

Founder/s: Dr Clément Champion, Professor Liam Dolan

Founded year: 2017

Funding: £6M

MoA Technology is a plant genetics company using its proprietary technology to generate potential candidates for use as herbicides. The herbicide market mirrors the antibiotic market, in that there have been few new molecules developed in recent years and resistance is developing to those products on the market. MoA Technology’s mission is to provide farmers with a diverse choice of innovative technologies for weed control and develop products that will provide excellent, sustainable and economic weed control in a broad range of crops, utilise naturally occurring as well as synthetic sources, and have minimal impact on humans and the environment.

In 2019, the company bagged €7 million (nearly £6 million) Series A round from University Venture Fund, Oxford Sciences Innovation, and Parkwalk Advisors among others to develop its platform and find solutions to avert the global herbicide resistance crisis.

Infogrid
Image credits: Infogrid

Infogrid

Founder/s: William Cowel de Gruchy

Founded year: 2018

Funding: £12.2M

Infogrid’s smart building platform combines the world’s smartest IoT sensors with powerful AI to automate and optimise facilities and building management. With Infogrid’s end-to-end system, Facilities Managers and estate owners can create efficient, healthy, and sustainable buildings. One of their main objectives is to help reduce the impact of the building industry on the environment, with it contributing 39% of CO2 emissions. This is a huge sector that needs to be addressed if we want a healthier planet.

Late last year, the company bagged $15.5 million (nearly £11.5 million) Series A funding. The round was led by Northzone with the participation of investors including JLL Spark, Concrete VC, The Venture Collective, and Jigsaw VC. The funding will be used to accelerate the company’s growth and its mission to address the world’s climate crisis by enabling businesses to reduce the environmental and social cost of their buildings.

Cambridge GaN Devices
Image credits: Cambridge-GaN-Devices

Cambridge GaN Devices

Founder/s: Giorgia Longobardi, Florin Udrea

Founded year: 2016

Funding: £7.4M

Cambridge GaN Devices is a fabless semiconductor company spun out that intends to explore and develop a number of unique opportunities in power electronics made possible by the team’s proprietary application of Gallium Nitride to the silicon-based semiconductor transistor manufacturing process.

Cambridge GaN Devices’ mission is to shape the future of power electronics by delivering the most efficient and easy-to-use transistor. CGD designs, develops and commercialises GaN transistors and ICs enabling a radical step change in energy efficiency and compactness and is suitable for high volume production.

This February, the company secured $9.5 million (nearly £6.8 million) funding in a Series A round co-led by IQ Capital, Parkwalk Advisors, and BGF. It also included investment from Foresight Williams, Cambridge Enterprise, Martlet Capital, Cambridge Angels, and Cambridge Capital Group. The investment will be used to double staff and expand its GaN product portfolio following decades of research in power devices.

Circulor
Image credits: Circulor

Circulor

Founder/s: Doug Johnson-Poensgen, Veera Johnson

Founded year: 2017

Funding: NA

Circulor traces commodities from extraction to the finished product, supporting manufacturers with their sustainability goals. Circulor’s enterprise SaaS platform facilitates responsible sourcing, helps demonstrate sustainable production, and underpins effective recycling and reverse logistics. It builds supply chain networks and utilise data insights across these networks to better identify issues within them.

In December last year, InMotion, Jaguar Land Rover’s venture capital and mobility services arm invested in blockchain technology firm Circulor. The investment will enable Jaguar Land Rover to source premium materials with greater transparency as to the provenance, welfare, and compliance of suppliers throughout its networks.

Whirli
Image credits: Whirli

Whirli

Founder/s: Nigel Phan

Founded year: 2019

Funding: £4M

Whirli is a fully managed retail service for children’s toys. Starting from just £9.99 per month, parents can choose toys from a wide range of categories and brands including Le Toy Van, Melissa & Doug, Fisher Price, VTech, Micro Scooters and many more. Toys can be played with for as long as they are wanted and can be returned to Whirli to be swapped at any time. By borrowing toys, parents are getting far better value for money, reducing their environmental footprint, and reducing landfill waste.

Whirli landed a £4 million seed round led by Octopus Ventures with participation from MMC Ventures. The company intends to use the funding to expand its customer offering and continue investing in its proprietary technology.