The ten best climate-positive business ideas in the UK and Ireland

On 18 September, Climate-KIC UK and Ireland’s Venture Competition 2017 sees start-ups from across the cleantech sector pitch to a panel of expert judges to win a cash prize and a place at the European Venture Competition Finals. Communications & Public Affairs Lead, Gudrun Freese, explores below how Climate-KIC is supporting businesses and what they are doing to propel Europe towards a sustainable future. 

Turning good ideas into climate-positive businesses

We need to create more climate-positive businesses in the UK and Ireland, more quickly, if we’re going to meet our climate goals and play a leading role in the changing global economy. Start-ups play a crucial role in the supply of innovative climate solutions and provide enormous business, mitigation and adaptation opportunities.

Financial markets, however, are failing to provide finance to early-stage climate-focused companies with great innovation potential.

Climate-KIC has a proven model of financial and business support for accelerating low-carbon and resilience businesses into a global market and investment arena, at record speeds.

Our business creation programmes work

  • Since 2012, €450 million of external investment has been reported by Climate-KIC start-ups*.
  • We validate, on average, 200 low-carbon and resilience ideas a year, in 14 countries.
  • In 2016, 13 Climate-KIC entrepreneurs were featured in the Forbes ’30-under-30 List’, for Europe’s boldest young entrepreneurs.
  • Climate-KIC start-ups have already given the world a raft of game-changing technologies, products and services, including a hybrid solar panel that produces both heat and power, with world-beating efficiency; a bio-reactive food expiry label that prevents consumable food waste, and a safe, electric autonomous flight helicopter with the potential to reinvent mobility in urban areas.

Meet our 2017 Climate-KIC UK & Ireland Venture Competition finalists

Since early 2016, a new batch of start-ups has been working with Climate-KIC coaches to validate their business models and get their businesses ready for take-off. On the 18 September they will be pitching for a cash prize, and a place in the European Venture Competition Finals, where they will compete with start-ups from 13 other European countries.

The ten companies pitching are:

4T2 Technologies

4T2 is an Engineering company committed to applying its expertise to make positive social and environmental change. Our company’s current challenge is to pave the way for industry to reduce dependence on hydrocarbon-based oils and fuels and make the switch to bio-derived alternatives. 4T2 has developed a highly innovative sensing technology that enables industry to readily use bio-based alternatives. This will have a significant reduction on CO2 and set a future trend for industry for years to come. Find out more:


Aceleron processes battery waste and repackages perceived end-of-life lithium batteries into innovative energy storage solutions which are both affordable and serviceable. This dual-sided circular model and ability to service battery packs sets Aceleron apart as a true cleantech pioneer attempting to provide ‘energy for life’ to developed and developing regions. Founded in 2016, Aceleron operates in the UK with ongoing expansion to Central America and Africa focused on a 12V lithium replacement to the hazardous 12V lead-acid battery for the same price as a 12V lead acid battery and with the added ability to service instead of replace. Find out more:


AEROPOWDER is an award-winning start-up developing sustainable materials from waste feathers. Around the world, thousands of tons of waste feathers are generated every day and disposal options are limited. Embracing the mindset of the circular economy, AEROPOWDER has identified several potential uses for feathers and are currently focusing on creating high-performance insulation materials. AEROPOWDER is working towards a more sustainable future, where products can be manufactured locally using a globally available waste resource… all thanks to feathers! Find out more:

Brill Power

Brill Power is a spin-out company of Oxford University with a vision to revolutionize energy storage. Our interdisciplinary team is experienced in science and engineering as well as business and finance. We develop intelligent management and control systems for advanced battery technologies, which enable longer lifetime and continuous high performance. This translates to longer asset lifetime and lower cost of ownership and maintenance for energy storage systems. Brill Power will enable increased penetration of renewable energy on the electricity grid and make electric vehicles more affordable by integrating our technology into every cutting-edge battery system. Find out more:

Chrysalix Technologies

The UK produces 4.5m tonnes of waste wood every year while raw material costs of bioderived products account for around 50% of the final product cost. Chrysalix Technologies has developed the BioFlex solvent process which can make use of unwanted waste wood to produce sustainable materials, fuels and chemicals at lower cost. The founding team from Imperial College has developed a technology that uses inexpensive and recyclable liquid salts to separate the components of wood while extracting and removing heavy metals that are typically present in waste wood from construction and demolition. Find out more:


CustoMem is an engineering biology start-up focused on removing and recovering toxic synthetic organic micropollutants e.g. man-made chemicals found in industrial wastewater, an urgent insufficiently met water need. These micropollutants including Per Fluorinated Compounds like PFOS/PFOA are toxic, persistent and bioaccumulating.

Our unique patented technology enables producing biomaterials with added functionality cost competitively, with our first product being a PFC capturing granular media that deploys in granular bed systems like activated carbon vessels. We’ve got 2 commercial testing proposals underway based on lab testing of PFC pollutants for potential customers. Find out more:


To reduce energy waste in our cities LightFi is offering an IoT based, retrofit building automation and optimisation solution. We use WiFi to detect mobile devices and calculate the number of people in a room, to automate lights and optimise HVAC for dynamic use. With a 50m range per sensor, installing LightFi is quick, simple and needs no rewiring, which removes the landlord-tenant barrier and gives a Return on Investment (ROI) < 1 year. LightFi is designed for large spaces, has low maintenance costs, and doesn’t require an additional budget to implement energy efficiency. Find out more:

Smart Renewable Heat

The only way to meet our Climate Change objectives is with a significant change in the way that we heat and cool our buildings. Smart Renewable Heat brings a disruptive market model with scope for enormous climate impact. Developing their “Heat as a Service”, a very experienced team are set for scale following successful early revenue growth. Already a leading installer of Heat Pumps in the UK, providing turn-key design and installation of financed low carbon heating systems, with a digital, AI, overlay to ensure that Service is optimised whilst maximising and maintaining Cost and Carbon Savings. Find out more:


Water cleaning processes consume between 3% and 7% of the total electricity produced worldwide which results in costs of approximately USD94 billion/year. SweetGen has developed a technology to simultaneously produce electricity and reduce up to 45% the contamination in effluents with current treatment above USD12 billion/year. Our technology relies on abiotic electrochemical reactions which are insensitive to variation of the pH and temperature and avoid incubation time. This reduces the operational complexity and enables a compact system in size, which has the ability to treat 10-100 times larger volume of water per unit of time than the existing technologies. Find out more:


The world currently consumes 5.8 million tonnes of wipes annually. Yet, “flushable” wipes are just marketing gimmicks and they just clog the drainage systems! Twipes are eco-friendly toilet wipes.

They are moist wipes encased in a plastic roll that slides onto your existing bathroom toilet tissue roll holder. Twipes are anti-bacterial, alcohol-free and paraben free, they don’t dry out and most importantly, each Twipe is 100% dispersible in water within 3 hours, unlike traditional “flushable” branded wipes that can take up to 3 months or even years. This means that from the moment you flush to the time it gets to the main waterworks, Twipes have broken down into its basic elements.

The Mayor of London’s Entrepreneurs of the Year and the 2017 UK’s Women start-up Competition winners, Twipes are on a roll! Find out more:,000-in-mayors-entrepreneur-competition


*Lilium – an aviation start-up developing an all-electric jet with vertical take-off and landing capabilities – is our most recent success story, having raised €75 million of external investment in September 2017. 


Join us at the ‘Climate-KIC UK & Ireland Venture Competition’ to hear the ten best business ideas to come out of our Start-up Accelerator Programme:

18 September 2017, Millbank Tower Skyloft, London SW1P 4QP , from 3pm

* Please RSVP to attend *


Read about last year’s Venture Competition here

Interested in applying for the next Climate-KIC UK & Ireland Start-up Accelerator? Visit our website

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