Five young eco-entrepreneurs set for big things in 2018

Five young eco-entrepreneurs set for big things in 2018

Adam Dixon, co-founder of Phytoponics

Phytoponics, an agri-tech company founded in Cardiff by Adam Dixon, Luke Parkin and Matteo Iorio, has developed a system designed to make commercial greenhouses more energy, land and water efficient.

Phytoponics grows vine crops, like peppers and tomatoes, using hydroponics. It consists of an inflatable grow bag made out of a flexible polymer, which is then filled with water and attached to a pump to filter in nutrients and aerate the water.

Commercial farming and agriculture cause huge strain on the natural environment because they are energy, water and land intensive. Hydroponics is much less carbon intensive than other growing forms as it uses significantly less land and water than soil growing. As a result, the team behind Phytoponics estimate that their system could be up to 80% more water efficient than soil based farming.

Having already received the huge accolade of United Nations Young Champion of the Earth, Adam was named Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future winner in August 2017 and also start-up of the year at the Welsh start-up awards.

Ryan Mario Yasin, co-founder of Petit Pli

In an attempt to change the way the UK thinks about, uses and disposes of children’s clothing, Petit Pli, a London-based start-up, creates children’s clothing that are pleated in such a way that they can grow bi-directionally to custom fit a range of sizes. This means that, as the child grows, their clothes expand in size, too, reducing the need to buy new clothes every few months.

Whilst studying for a Masters in aeronautical engineering, Ryan Mario Yasin, founder of Petit Pli, conducted extensive research in to origami structures. He came up with the idea of embedding origami structures in to the textures of garments so that the pleats unfold as the child grows.

In September 2017, Ryan was awarded £5,000 as the winners of the Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award. The future looks bright for Ryan as he has subsequently been awarded the James Dyson award and has presented to the First Lady of Dubai.

Kate Hofman, co-founder of GrowUp Urban Farms

GrowUp Urban Farms, started in London by Kate Hofman, lowers the environmental impact of agriculture by building and operating farms that take unused urban space and use it to farm and grow produce, such as sustainable fresh fish, salads and herbs. They do this using a combination of aquaponics and vertical growing technologies.

Aquaponics is a recirculating system that farms fish, and then uses the nutrient rich waste water from the fish farming to fertilise the plants. In turn, the plants clean the water the fish live in. Through the use of aquaponics technology and protected cropping, they can produce a year-round harvest in a low energy, low water-use system; an environmentally conscious way of growing food.

In 2017, Kate was a Shell Springboard 2017 regional winner and national finalist. Since then GrowUp Urban Farms has been named on the Virgin Media Business Disruptors to Watch 10 list and also came runner up on the OFM Awards 2017: Best Ethical Food Project.

Carlton Cummins, co-founder of Aceleron

Founded by Carlton Cummins, Aceleron develops a technology to transform end-of-life lithium batteries into safe, cost-effective energy storage applications like battery packs for wheelchairs or energy storage batteries for homes.

Aceleron tests to identify which batteries are viable for reuse before transforming them into energy storage applications. They found the cells from lithium batteries going to landfill could still have up to 89% of their original capacity. Incredibly, there are currently no facilities in the UK for the large volume recycling of these types of batteries. As a result, they are shipped overseas, at a significant cost.

Since being crowned the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2016, Carlton has gone from strength to strength. He was recently announced the Global Winner of Shell LiveWIRE’s Top Ten Innovators, as well as being named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 European Science Entrepreneurs.

Elena Dieckmann, Co- founder of AEROPOWDER

Founded in December 2015, AEROPOWDER developed a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly insulation for homes, made-up almost entirely of waste feathers.

AEROPOWDER’s product is a sustainable alternative to polyurethane foam in boards that are commonly used for home insulation. According to Elena, AEROPOWDER not only has similar heat-retention qualities to current insulation materials, but the cost is 14 times lower.

AEROPOWDER won funding from the Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award programme in 2016 and has since been named the Mayor of London's Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award 2016 and one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 Europe Social Entrepreneurs. Elena was also one of 15 women to be honoured by Innovate UK in their ‘women in innovation’ awards, in November 2016

Given the UK’s housing stock is some of the most poorly insulated in the developed world, with side effects costing the NHS an estimated £1.36bn every year , AEROPOWDER’s product has the potential to make a big impact

Published: 03 January 2018

Article by Ellen McGann
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