Posted by Saadia Ansari and Adam Smith

Shell Springboard: Meet the six national finalists.

Verco are proud to support the delivery of Springboard – one of the UK’s leading funding competitions for low carbon innovation. For the last 14 years Verco have been Shell’s technical assessment delivery partner - our role is to review and evaluate the low carbon business ideas submitted to the programme, of which there are routinely over 100 each year. We select the 16 who will proceed to the semi-finals. This is based on the credibility of the commercial strategy, the level of innovation demonstrated and the potential of the idea having a material impact on the transition to zero carbon.

From March to April 2019 Shell gave sixteen highly diverse low carbon start-ups the opportunity to pitch their concepts to a panel of esteemed judges drawn from industry, academia and the investment community. At each of the two events - one in Aberdeen and one in Manchester - three winners were selected. Each secured £40,000 to bolster their development plans and a place at the National Final to be held in London in July, where one business is selected as National winner and will be awarded a further £110,000.

The six businesses competing for the title of ‘Shell Springboard 2019 National Winner’ are as follows:

REOptimize Systems, who have developed a way to improve the operational efficiency of wind and hydro turbines with their Autonomous Continuous Turbine Optimisation System (ACTOS), a software platform that applies machine learning techniques with accurate system models to adjust the turbine control settings.

Farm-Hand have developed a new method of crop irrigation through pump control that reduces over-irrigation, reduces energy consumption by 70%, and improves crop yield by as much as 30%. This is provided with a two-year payback that has been developed with the farmers and can be delivered, by aggregators, through the existing farm infrastructure.

Based on 20 years’ worth of research at Queen’s University Belfast, Blow Moulding Technologies have developed simulation software that aims to optimise the design of blown bottles made from bioplastics. As most existing companies in this space use a trial and error approach, Blow Moulding’s software should help to accelerate the adoption of more sustainable packaging by providing the first validated bio-plastic software solution which is easy to use and accessible to all via software licence.

Anakata Wind Power Resources design and fit novel aerodynamic technologies and techniques to improve rotor blade performance in wind turbines. They offer both factory-fit options that are incorporated into the design and manufacturing process to boost the power output of the original design, and also retrofit options that are sold as kits directly to the wind farm owners / operators.

BioCarbon Engineering use drones to both map landscapes and plant trees in order to enable industrial-scale reforestation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The use of drones enables trees to be planted at 60x the speed and at a cost that is 5x less than current planting methods. Currently, BCE provides tree planting services directly to landholders, including private companies, governments and NGOs.

Cambridge Photon Technology’s Photon Multiplier Film is applied to solar photovoltaic modules and aims to improve solar efficiency by splitting high-energy incoming photons, most of whose energy would otherwise be lost as heat in the module, into two lower-energy photons. This consequently generates more power and enables solar PV to be a more competitive technology by increasing the capacity of PV installations and reducing the levelized cost of electricity.

The calibre of entries this year has been excellent and the judges have had a challenging time deciding on who to send through to the final. We would like to congratulate the semi-finalists who did not make it through to the next round of the competition, each of whom presented highly promising projects. These semi-finalists were:

Oxford nanoSystems Ltd.,
Combustion Order Ltd,
Origen Power,
Fernhay Partners Ltd,
Masterfilter Limited,
Aceleron Limited,
Innova Ltd,
Vert Rotors UK Ltd,
Ripple Energy Limited,
LettUs Grow,