The drive for sustainable human progress is a major global challenge. Societies all over the world, including the UK, must balance the energy needs of a growing population with the pressures this will put on the environment. To achieve this, we need game-changing solutions that make our living habits more sustainable and help us deliver more energy with lower carbon emissions.
The innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of low-carbon small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can play a vital role in addressing this energy transition while accelerating the UK’s economic growth. New ventures are efficient innovators and often the sources of disruptive technologies. This is why SMEs account for over 90% of the UK’s low-carbon sector, estimated to be worth £128 billion to the UK economy, according to a 2014 report from Shell Springboard and the Carbon Trust.
But with only about 45% of young UK companies surviving beyond a five-year term, we recognise the importance of helping innovative businesses grow. The Shell Springboard programme helps low-carbon SMEs take their businesses to the next level. Since its launch in 2005, Shell Springboard has awarded approximately £3 million to 86 SMEs at the cutting-edge of the low-carbon industry.
The application window for the 2016 Shell Springboard campaign is open until Friday, 20 November 2015. Once again, we are on the lookout for breakthrough, UK-based companies with innovative, commercially viable business ideas that can help the UK transition to a lower-carbon economy. The national Shell Springboard winner will collect a total grant of £150,000, and a further five finalists will each receive £40,000 of no-strings-attached funding to help scale up their business.
In addition, the programme offers participants unparalleled networking with the key players in the low-carbon sector, comprehensive business feedback from an independent panel of judges, and exciting publicity opportunities.
The seal of approval
We have supported some of the most innovative and inspiring companies in the UK. Past winners include GravityLight, a unique technology that generates light from gravity; Celtic Renewables, which produces advanced biofuels from whisky industry residues; and Cella Energy, which developed a hydrogen storage technology and has since attracted funding from NASA.
“One of the great things about being a Shell Springboard national winner is that it gives a seal of approval for future funding opportunities,” says Caroline Angus, Commercial Director of Deciwatt, the company behind GravityLight. “It gives us credibility as a business – being awarded a substantial sum through the programme gives investors the confidence to fund us at an even greater scale going forward.”
A more sustainable future
Last year, Shell Springboard commissioned Imperial College Business School to conduct a study on how to enable low-carbon entrepreneurship in the UK. The report, ‘Engineering Growth’, identified several important gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem that hamper the development and growth of low-carbon SMEs. Among them, the lack of access to venture capital and relatively low rates of funding equity were highlighted as key challenges.
To address this issue, the focus of the 2016 Shell Springboard campaign will be on the funding opportunities available to low-carbon companies in the UK. The programme will convene key players in this sector to offer practical insights into how low-carbon SMEs can enhance their access to finance. Together, we can build a smarter, more sustainable future.
For more information and to apply, visit us on www.shellspringboard.org. The application window for the 2016 Shell Springboard campaign will close on Friday, 20 November 2015.