Net Zero 2.0 is the first government-backed growth programme designed to support the most promising climate tech companies to accelerate the UK’s and the world’s path to net zero. This year’s successful companies were assessed by 40 specialists across key industries and sectors. The companies were judged based on their scalability and potential to help the UK reach its high-priority net zero goal. Companies are actively decarbonising each key sector, with the most prominent including energy and electricity, transport, buildings and cities, and agriculture. Carbon removals and space-tech are two new focus areas this year.
With 40% of emissions reductions reliant on technologies not yet at mass-market scale, it is imperative to support the growth of these companies. In the run-up to COP26, the Net Zero programme aims to help realise these vital tech companies’ potential to drastically reduce global emissions. Every company in the Net Zero 2.0 cohort will be given unparalleled access to long-term investment opportunities, education, talent, press opportunities and a platform with which to influence green policies and create the optimum conditions for growth.
The four climate tech companies accepted into this year’s Net Zero cohort from the East of England are Better Origin, Solar Polar, Unicorn Biotechnologies and Xampla, which span a range of different industries - including energy tech, transport tech and material innovation.
The UK leads the way in Europe for its number of climate tech companies
New data from Tech Nation and Dealroom has revealed there are 519 Net Zero startups and scaleups in the UK, nearly double the number in France (270) and 63% more than in Germany (318).
With its Net Zero 1.0 cohort and new Net Zero 2.0 cohort, Tech Nation has now supported the growth of 13% of the UK’s climate tech companies in total, who are leading the race to net zero by innovating across entech, healthtech, agritech, fintech and even space tech.
Tech in the East of England is booming
The climate tech companies joining Net Zero 2.0 from the East of England are part of a vibrant and fast-growing East English tech scene. According to data from The Tech Nation Report 2021, the East of England is home to over 24,525 digital tech firms (and five tech ‘unicorns’ - companies valued at $1bn+), and its tech sector employs over 134,890 people, with an annual turnover of $22bn.
Cambridge - where three of the four East of England Net Zero 2.0 companies are based - is the East of England’s largest tech hub, and received £145mn in investment in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic, making it the fifth largest tech hub in the UK overall.
Empowering all of these climate tech scaleups is at the core of Tech Nation’s mission. Tech Nation is also proud to be a founding member of the Tech Zero Taskforce, whose Tech Zero Pledge has recently reached 100 signatories, and have committed to reducing and measuring their own carbon emissions - as well as publishing these in an annual Sustainability Report.
Sammy Fry, Net Zero Lead at Tech Nation, said: “With Europe recording its highest ever temperature on record this Summer, and the latest IPCC report published last month, there isn’t a more urgent time to act on decarbonising our atmosphere. Every successful Net Zero scaleup is another leap closer to decarbonising the world. I’m proud to say that in the run up to COP26, our pioneering Net Zero growth programme gives these ambitious, high-growth climate tech scaleups the access they need to investors, insights, education, networks, and practical support, enabling the UK to lead our transition to a green economy as quickly as possible.”
Gerard Grech, Founding CEO of Tech Nation and Founding Member of the Tech Zero Taskforce, said: “Climate tech is playing an enormous role in reducing carbon emissions. Technology that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, either directly or indirectly, across all sectors of society is in hot demand. But with 40% of emissions reductions reliant on technologies not yet at mass-market scale, there is huge potential still to be realised. With these companies needing to scale further and faster than any other technology has before to meet the demand, we are committed to doing all we can at Tech Nation to support and accelerate their growth.”
Net Zero 2.0 cohort companies from the East of England:
Xampla - Cambridge - Material innovation
Xampla makes a replacement for specific microplastics and single use film packaging, targeting three launch applications with a patented, next generation material: plant protein. Xampla aims to become one of a handful of biobased majors by 2040, supplying plant-protein and other related materials to the major plastics customers.
Marc Rodríguez Garcia and Simon Hombersley, Founders of Xampla, said: “It’s really exciting to be part of such a dynamic and driven programme, which aligns fantastically with our drive here at Xampla to help address environmental challenges through the effective scaling of breakthrough technology.”
Better Origin - Cambridge - Agritech & foodtech
Better Origin develops and operates insect bioconversion solutions that allow farmers and food producers to turn food and agricultural wastes into valuable nutrients through insects. The company's goal is to democratise access to insect farming so that any farmer can access insect waste repurposing possibilities, in turn helping reduce the footprint of agriculture.
Unicorn Biotechnologies - Cambridge - Agritech
Unicorn Biotechnologies is developing a fully automated manufacturing platform to enable cellular agriculture producers to seamlessly scale products from the lab bench to supermarket shelves. The full stack platform combines hardware, software and analytics to completely automate cellular agriculture manufacturing, reducing costs and increasing product quality. By providing a clear path to take cellular agriculture products to industrial scales, the company aims to drive the transition to animal free agriculture.
Solar Polar - Peterborough - Energy tech
Solar Polar has developed solar cooling that delivers the cheapest Watt of cooling. The system is designed to manufactured in the developing world and provides cooling for refrigeration and air-conditioning without any electricity or gas, using only natural refrigerants.
Net Zero 2.0 Key Stats:
No. of companies 32
Avg no. of employees 11
Avg funding £1,800,000
Total funding £28,364,000
Sectors - by number of companies
Energy and Electricity - 7
Transport - 6
Building and Cities - 4
Agriculture - 3
Carbon removal and offsetting - 3
Supply chain - 2
Biotech and life sciences - 2
Smart cities - 1
Washing - 1
Carbon calculation - 1
Finance - 1
Environmental monitoring - 1
About Tech Nation’s Net Zero growth programme:
Net Zero is a six-month, free growth programme for early-stage tech scaleups that are creating a more sustainable future. We run masterclasses, insight sessions and peer to peer networking events for our fast-growth, sustainable cohorts. Find out more here.