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Cambridge Cleantech matches investors with entrepreneurs for Venture Day opportunity

Cleantech Venture Day, coordinated by Cambridge Cleantech and Oxfordshire Greentech, proved its value to a global audience of investors and entrepreneurs last week.

Jean de La Verpilliere, CEO of Echion Technologies and one of those pitching at Cleantech Venture Day 2021. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jean de La Verpilliere, CEO of Echion Technologies and one of those pitching at Cleantech Venture Day 2021. Picture: Keith Heppell

The meeting place for climate-positive business opened its virtual doors on March 25 for an event that attracted more than 170 registered delegates, including 49 investors and a mix of corporates, SMEs, cleantech clusters and tekkies. The attendees came from not only the UK but also from around Europe and as far as India and Japan.

Aled Jones, director of the Global Sustainability Institute, offered an informative and optimistic keynote on cleantech in 2021 before 23 selected companies (listed at foot of article) looking for investment pitched during multiple sessions.

The four sessions – green building, carbon reduction, green transport and zero-emission vehicles – were inspired from the 10-point plan set by the UK government to lead the green industrial revolution.

“The online event was held on a custom-made platform, letting the attendees view virtual booths from the pitching companies and our sponsors,” said Cambridge Cleantech operations manager Sylvie Russell. “The investors and pitching companies could also schedule and book meetings. Investors requested one-to-one meetings with the pitching companies and the Cambridge Cleantech team organised virtual rooms to enable the first connections.

“The event included a carefully balanced act of timekeeping and breaks with the opportunities for all attendees to network, which made the day enjoyable and, we hope, memorable for the cleantech community.”

Pitching companies from previous Cleantech Venture Days include Zedify, Propelair, and Gravitricity, who respectively recently raised £300,000, £3m and £1m to accelerate their growth. The 2021 pace, with 23 companies pitching, was brisk, with a short Q&A after each pitch allowing time to delve a bit deeper into the business plans on display.

Pitches from Cambridge’s cleantech sector included a presentation from Jean de La Verpillière, CEO and co-founder of Sawston-based Echion Technologies, and another from Tim Chambers, strategy director of Hubl Logistics based at St John’s Innovation Centre.

An eee-Taxi in Delhi
An eee-Taxi in Delhi

After the pitches ended a series of break-out rooms opened up for attendees, and I spoke with Nishant Saini, founder and managing director of Delhi-based eee-Taxis.

Nishant described how the eee-Taxi model involves creating an EV eco-system for corporate employers.

“eee-Taxi is an end-to-end e-mobility solution provider which helps businesses reduce their employee logistics cost, travel time and Scope 3 carbon emissions by providing EVs, journey management technology and charging infrastructure.

Describing the day as “truly transformational – it challenges you to the core to bring out the best in you”, Nishant said: “Thinking outside the box with global vision is a very important part of the program.

“Investors truly believe e-mobility through eee-Taxi is very disrupting and highly scalable as there is a paradigm shift in mobility across the world and everyone wants to get on a sustainable solution as a part of our daily lives.”

Tim Chambers was in another meeting room: his day was going well.

Tim Chambers, strategy director at Hubl Logistics
Tim Chambers, strategy director at Hubl Logistics

“These kinds of public forum are very much of use,” he said. “It’s a great introductory platform, it provides a way for entrepreneurs to pitch to investors and investors follow up if they’re interested.

“The quality of the pitches is very good and the thing about this cleantech hub is that they bring an international perspective to the way they curate it and for me that works very well.”

It worked well for others too.

Ruth Smith, founder at Bristol-based Sustainable Results Labs, said: “The climate emergency and global inequality can feel overwhelming. When you add the Covid-19 pandemic into the mix, it’s easy to wonder whether we can really build a low-carbon economy that will enable people and planet to thrive.

“Cleantech Venture Day shows why we have so many reasons to be excited. Covering everything – from smart homes and electric vehicles to decarbonising the freight, aviation and marine industries – the range of innovative, cutting-edge technology was impressive.

“These are businesses that will transform how we live, work and travel, for the better.”

The synergy between Oxfordshire Greentech and Cambridge Cleantech is also operating effectively.

Martin Garrett, CEO of Cambridge Cleantech, speaking during Cleantech Venture Day
Martin Garrett, CEO of Cambridge Cleantech, speaking during Cleantech Venture Day

“Cambridge Cleantech and Oxfordshire Greentech are sister networks and work very closely together,” said Oxfordshire Greentech operations manager Philippa Hoy. “As Cambridge Cleantech have been in operation much longer than ourselves, they have built up good international contacts which our members benefit from through, for example, their ‘Meet the Buyer’ opportunities.

“The day went very well – we were pleased to see such good numbers of attendees and the pitches were inspirational as usual.”

Martin Garrett, CEO of Cambridge Cleantech, said: “We watched 23 tremendous pitches from some of the most innovative cleantech companies in the UK and beyond which has resulted in over 30 meetings between those companies and the cleantech sector investors at the event. We now look forward with relish to the pre-COP26 Cleantech Venture Day in October this year.”

It is understood that more than 220 connections between investors and entrepreneurs have been made since the event. The full list of start-ups pitching at Cleantech Venture Day 2021 is:

Green building: Rad Green, Setpoint, Switchee, Tekuncorked, Thermulon, and Ventive

Carbon reduction: Brill Power, Chakr Innovation, envoPAP, SEaB Power and, Wind Farm Analytics

Green transport: Cyclopic, eee Taxi, Global Ecofuel Solutions & ECCOne Ltd (GEFS), Go GreenEOT, G-volution Ltd, and OxNano

Accelerating the shift to zero-emission vehicles: ARXAX Ltd, Echion Technologies, ElectreeFi (TechPerspect), HUBL Logistics Ltd, Libralato (R6 Eco-Engine Ltd) and Rad Propulsion.

Company-by-company details here.

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