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How is London thriving as a leading sustainable-tech ecosystem

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City of London see from under Millennium bridge
Green path: London is home to 296 sustainable tech start-ups | Photo: Johan Mouchet

From innovative start-ups to high growth companies, London is home to a large family of purpose driven companies focused on tackling climate change and promoting sustainability. With supportive city-led green initiatives, access to high levels of growth funding and a thriving ecosystem for building networks, London has emerged as a top destination to grow and scale a sustainable business.   

London is a leading global centre for sustainable tech start-ups. According to a recent report by Dealroom, London is home to 296 of them, more than anywhere else in the world, other than the Bay Area. London’s boom in this area has been fuelled by the city’s access to high levels of VC funding. In 2021 sustainable tech investment in London surpassed $1billion, with London-based VCs raising over half of all European dedicated sustainable tech funds in the last two years. The potential for further growth in London is exciting, especially considering that the European sustainable tech ecosystem was valued at $100 billion in 2021, double the year before according to Dealroom.

The UK capital is also championing sustainability at a city level, with ambitious targets to reach net zero by 2030. Supportive business initiatives include the Mayor of London’s investment in green projects, work to slash transport emissions as well as reinvigorate the recycling industry with ReLondon, helping to make the city an ideal place to start and scale sustainable business. In addition, the City of London’s recent 2021 Global Green Finance Index (GGFI) named London as the third best global centre for green finance based on public, private and non-profit investment in sustainable development projects.  

Key to London’s strength as a centre for sustainable business are the organisations spread across the city that work to drive and consolidate growth. This includes HereEast based at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which over the past decade has become a hub for clean technologies and home to 3,800 innovators and disruptors. Additionally, Mills Fabrica in King’s Cross is a centre of incubation and investment for London’s agrifood and ‘techstyle’ sectors. Supportive hubs like this are crucial to London’s continuing to grow its sustainability credentials over the next few decades.

Furthermore, incubators such as London Cleantech Cluster specialize in supporting renewable and clean energy businesses and technology development. The cluster brings together many cleantech initiatives in London under one umbrella and provides cleantech businesses with access to mentors, office and a like-minded community for entrepreneurs building sustainable energy production alternatives.

London is also home to a collaborative business ecosystem which places sustainability at the forefront. This includes hosting inspirational events such as London Climate Action Week, the Climate Tech Summit and Reuters IMPACT Summit. These events bring together leading experts, companies and policy makers from around the world – helping to further establish vibrant networks and access to dedicated business support for entrepreneurs.

The city’s thriving, green-focused ecosystem covers a range of sub-sectors that span innovation in mobility and transport to disruption in finance and food. Several London-based companies are leading the way and demonstrating why being based in the capital is allowing them to achieve their goals of making the world more sustainable.

Clean Mobility

Whilst London has something to show for almost every area of the sustainable tech industry, one of the sectors where London has really proved its mettle is clean mobility. A top example is Zenobe Energy, the battery storage disruptor with an expected valuation of £1billion. Headquartered in London and expanding internationally, it is speeding the UK towards net zero with renewable energy and electric vehicles.

Zenobe works closely with British transport, helping London to achieve its pledge of 100% carbon neutral buses by 2034. It does so by providing zero-carbon transport solutions to electric buses in south London. Earlier this year, Zenobe also signed a landmark deal with the National Express, and already powers 25% of the burgeoning UK electric bus market.  

London is also home to Enso, which, to counter increased tyre consumption of EV vehicles, manufactures range-extending EV tyres with increased durability. The company launched a pay-per-mile project with electric London taxis this summer to make EV tyres more affordable for London’s taxi drivers, charging them around 1p per mile, with no upfront costs. Like Zenobe, Enso is also running trials with Transport for London, and is working with DPD and the Royal Mail, to increase final-mile sustainability for EV delivery fleets. 

London has proven it is a fit for sustainable start-ups both small and large; it is home to two of the three biggest sustainable tech start-ups in Europe by employees – Arrival and Depop. Although London is home to three climate tech unicorns, and six potential unicorns, it isn’t only the big companies flocking to the city; for example, Enso Tyres employs less than 10 people.

Green Finance

London is also home to sustainable tech companies that are reinventing more traditional industries. In the finance sector for instance, Clim8 is an investment app championing sustainable causes.

Choosing to set up in London, Clim8 was only founded in 2019, and already has a £2 million agreement with London’s Channel 4 Ventures, trading equity in its company for exposure. This partnership has cemented the company’s choice to base in London, proving once again that the city offers far more than just its cultural offerings, but also world-class business opportunities for the right, purpose-driven brands.

Also within green finance, German start-up Plan A has just expanded to London. Providing a SaaS platform, Plan A enables leading financial institutions to improve their climate impact by using AI software to manage ESG reporting, ensuring businesses meets with market-specific sustainability regulations. In November of last year, the B Corp certified business closed a series A funding round of $10million.

Food Tech

London has long been passionate about food sustainability and start-ups like Collectiv Food – a  sustainable food supplier whose niche is selling high quality food on demand, rather than using a catalogue- amongst many others is testament to this.

The company has zeroed in on optimizing its ‘last delivery mile’ model by having centralized Points of Distribution in underutilized urban spaces in London that are loaded by trucks at night. Collectiv then uses empty space in vehicles and electric cargo bikes for the last leg of the journey. This produces up to 50% less CO2 than traditional methods.  

Collectiv Foods is capitalising on London’s fight against food waste, a major part of the Mayor’s London Food Strategy, of which the target is a 20% reduction in food waste per person by 2025. Showing huge growth potential, the brand already works with the likes of Haché Burger and Fresh Fitness Food, gastronomic giants also based in the capital.  

Vertical Future, valued at £100 million earlier this year, is also based in London and already managing over 100,000 square metres of vertical farming in the UK alone. The company’s vertical farms are not only cost effective, but mean crops can be grown in drastically reduced spaces closer to their final destinations, for a reduced carbon footprint.  

London has the ability to support sustainable tech start-ups on a macro and micro level. The city has high ambitions to become a more sustainable destination, and this means committing to helping make it easier for a company to setup or grow a sustainable business.  From financial services and healthcare to hospitality and transport, there is no better place right now to set up a sustainable tech business than the British capital.

EuroNewsweek is a dynamic news platform featuring lifestyle, sustainability, successful stories, tech, leadership, creative marketing, business, and the unstoppable people behind them.

Sustainability

Barcelona launches awards for sustainable digitalisation projects

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The initiative was announced today during the presentation of the new 2023-2027 Strategic Plan at Barcelona City Hall.

Mobile World Capital Barcelona has announced the launch of international awards to recognise the best innovative projects in sustainable digital transformation. The Foundation will reward the public or private proposals that are best aligned with compliance with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria.

With these awards, MWCapital aims to take a step towards highlighting the role of technology as a driver of change to generate a positive impact on society and the economy and, therefore, on the planet. This is also reflected in the development of the maxim that will govern MWCapital’s activity, which goes from Technology Matters to Humanising Technology.

This launch took place today at the presentation of MWCapital’s new Strategic Plan, which was attended by the Mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Collboni, the Minister of Enterprise and Employment of the Government of Catalonia, Roger Torrent, and the new Minister of Digital Transformation of the Government of Spain, José Luis Escrivá, who has recently joined the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.  Also participating were the Director General of GSMA, Mats Granryd, the CEO and Director of GSMA Ltd., John Hoffman, the President of Fira de Barcelona, Pau Relat, and the CEO of Mobile World Capital Barcelona, Francesc Fajula.

Since its inception, Mobile World Capital Barcelona has been a pioneer in showing how technology can improve people’s quality of life and contribute to the overall well-being of society. The Foundation will focus on Tech4Good, promoting technological projects and scalable digital services that have a mission to generate a positive impact on society and the economy; Digital  talent, promoting the generation and attraction of digital talent so as to position Barcelona as the benchmark in this field, and technology transfer, occupying a unique space in Europe in the ecosystem of initiatives to support the creation of scientific spin-offs.

During the presentation, Francesc Fajula, CEO of Mobile World Capital Barcelona, and John Hoffman, CEO and Director of GSMA Ltd., announced the first strategic alliance to confirm the city of Barcelona as a benchmark in the field of sustainable digital solutions.

Technologies such as Big Data, artificial intelligence and advanced robotics will be explored to develop scalable projects and to face the challenges linked to technological progress in society.

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Sustainability

10 European cities awarded by EU for plans to reach climate-neutrality by 2030

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Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, in Sweden, is one of the cities awarded the Label of the EU Mission for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities | Photo: Mike Kienle

10 European cities have been awarded the Label of the EU Mission for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities, one of the EU Missions in Horizon Europe. The EU Mission Label is an important milestone as it recognises the cities’ plans to achieve climate-neutrality already by 2030 and aims to facilitate access to public and private funding towards that objective.

The cities that have received the label are: Sønderborg (Denmark), Mannheim (Germany), Madrid, Valencia, Valladolid, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Zaragoza (Spain),Klagenfurt (Austria), Cluj-Napoca (Romania) and Stockholm (Sweden).

The EU Mission Label is an acknowledgement of the successful development of Climate City Contracts, which outline the cities’ overall vision for climate neutrality, and contain an action plan as well as an investment strategy. Cities co-create their Climate City Contracts with local stakeholders, including the private sector and citizens. A first group of cities presented their Contracts in April 2023, which were reviewed by the Commission with the support of experts, including from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC). Following a positive review, cities receive an EU Mission Label, which is intended to facilitate access to EU, national, and regional funding and financing sources, in particular private investment.

In total, 100 EU cities participate in the EU Cities Mission, with 12 additional cities from countries associated to Horizon Europe. 

The Commission, through the Mission Platform, will continue to support cities with hands-on advice and funding programmes, such as a €32 million pilot programme combined with a twinning programme. Another call for pilot cities with a budget of €20 million is currently open until 6 November. 

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How does solar energy work and why to use it?

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Solar panels in a house
More than 1.3 million UK homes have solar panel installations, according to the latest MCS data

 The impact of the climate crisis has never been more evident, with flooding, rising sea levels and high temperatures now becoming common occurrences on national news.

But renewables are a relatively unfamiliar technology, which means that we first need to raise awareness about how they work in order for people to feel comfortable using them. In this post, we explore solar energy – how it works, how you can use it at home, and why you should make the effort to switch to green energy.

How does solar energy work?

Solar energy is probably the most well-known form of renewable energy, but it’s massively underutilised. In fact, some research suggests that in just an hour and a half, the amount of sunlight that hits the earth could actually power the world for a year.

To harness the power of the sun, we need to use solar panels, which capture the sunlight (solar radiation) and then turn it into power that we can use in our homes. A conductor material in the panels, such as silicon, releases electrons when exposed to light, which in turn produces an electric charge. This then creates a direct current, which is passed through an inverter to create an alternating current – the type of electricity we use in our homes.

The difference between solar PV panels and solar thermal panels

When most people refer to solar panels, they tend to mean solar photovoltaic panels (PV panels) which we’ve outlined above, but there are actually two types. Solar thermal panels are made up of tubes or panels filled with water and glycol. They harness solar energy, converting it to heat.

The fluid is then pumped around the solar thermal circuit, which goes through the hot water cylinder used for the house. So, they do not offer solar electricity, but rather solar powered hot water, which can be used for washing as well as heating a property.

How can we get solar energy at home?

Solar PV panels can either be placed on a residential property, for direct use by the homeowner, or they can be part of a solar farm. If you have solar panels on your home, you’ll use solar power first, before topping up your electricity supply from the national grid. UK homeowners can also take advantage of the Smart Export Tariff, allowing you to sell back any excess electricity you generate but that you don’t use to the grid.

Alternatively, if you’re renting, don’t want to or can’t have solar panels at home, you can choose a renewable energy supplier to provide you with your electricity. Whilst there’s no way of ensuring that only green energy flows into your home, these renewable suppliers will put more green energy units into the grid mix, increasing the overall percentage of eco-friendly electricity – so you’re essentially voting for clean energy with your money.

What are the benefits of solar energy?

Cut your carbon emissions

The most significant reason to choose solar energy is that doing so can slash your carbon footprint, reducing your impact on the environment. Your installer will be able to advise on the best solar setup for your home, based on the orientation of the property, size of the roof and how much energy you’re likely to need. Whilst solar panels won’t be able to provide all of the necessary energy for your property all the time, there’s something satisfying about running your devices on energy that isn’t harmful to the planet.

Reduce your bills

Generating your own solar energy can help you cut your energy bills at home, both because you can use the energy directly and through the Smart Export Tariff. You’re simply making the most of the geographical orientation of your property, utilising a previously untapped resource to generate power for your home. In a time where energy bills are notoriously high, this is a welcome idea for many homeowners. Whilst there is the initial cost of the panels to consider, in the long run, you’re likely to end up saving money.

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