NEWS & INSIGHT | Opinion
Let the Pitch Battle Commence: Shining a light on upcoming clean energy start-ups
Mark Anderson is Chief Acceleration Officer & TechX Director at the Net Zero Technology Centre, where he leads the Centre’s activities to create, grow and develop start-up companies, to help accelerate the transition to net zero. Mark began his career with Procter & Gamble in 1991, before spending 25 years in strategy consulting and corporate advisory. For the last 20 years Mark’s focus has been on low carbon energy, climate change and sustainable technology. Before joining the Net Zero Technology Centre in March 2021 Mark co-founded two technology businesses alongside his advisory work, in which he focused on raising funds for start-ups and developing their business strategies, leading commercial due diligence for finance houses and advising large corporates on strategy and M&A.
Mark is passionate about entrepreneurship, and about helping to catalyse the transition to a net zero world and the role start-ups can play. Mark is an experienced mentor, and a seasoned chair and speaker at energy and cleantech conferences. He holds a Master’s degree in Engineering from Oxford University and a Master’s degree in Environmental Technology and Energy Policy from Imperial College, London.
Outside work, Mark enjoys golf, tennis, skiing and hillwalking, and is a keen singer.
In the UK, government figures show that small and medium-sized enterprises accounted for 60% of the employment and around 50% of turnover in the private sector in 2020. Start-ups are crucial for any economy – they provide the growth and jobs of the future. Technology start-ups, in particular, are essential in discovering innovative solutions that can help transform our world. In its Energy Technology Perspectives 2020 report, the International Energy Agency highlights the importance of new technologies in the race to net zero. While energy efficiency and renewables are central pillars of the energy transition, it says, we need additional technologies to achieve net zero emissions. These include solutions that electrify end-use sectors, such as advanced batteries; carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies; hydrogen and hydrogen-related fuels; and bioenergy.
“Come 2050, almost half the reductions in CO2 emissions will come from technologies that are currently at the demonstration or prototype phase” (IEA, 2021).
Innovative, transformative clean energy technologies, that are identified and developed by fresh and exciting start-ups, are what will help us transition to a net zero energy industry and accelerate a greener future. That’s why the Net Zero Technology Centre’s TechX accelerator programme – which is currently accepting applications – is now fully dedicated to supporting clean energy start-ups. And as the challenge to tackle climate change continues to grow, 2021 has presented an opportunity to take this further…
This November, world leaders and government negotiators will attend COP26 in Glasgow. During the summit, where the next steps on tackling climate change will be agreed on, our centre will host an exciting three-day fringe programme: ‘Road to Glasgow: Destination Net Zero’. Broadcast live from Glasgow, the programme will explore disruptive technologies that are set to accelerate the transition to net zero. The TechX team see COP26 as a fantastic opportunity to showcase game-changing tech start-ups that can help us meet our climate goals. So, as a core part of our COP26 programme we are hosting The Clean Energy Start-up Pitch Battle, which gives centre stage to 29 early-stage technology companies from around the world.
These start-ups are truly inspiring. Offering extraordinary innovation and ambition, all these teams are developing technologies that have significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and align with TechX’s technology focus areas. They include novel ways to produce green hydrogen, drone inspection of electricity assets in developing countries, carbon-negative chemicals, electrification of chemical production, direct air capture and carbon mineralisation technologies, and accelerated discovery of breakthrough materials. Among them, there’re also cutting-edge innovations such as reduced-cost desalination for offshore hydrogen generation, novel batteries, solutions to increase efficiency and reduce the costs of offshore wind and zero carbon engines. Also in the mix are a range of digital technologies to enable emissions reductions, based on blockchain, artificial intelligence, geospatial satellite imagery and quantum gas cameras.
And that’s just the beginning! Our Pitch Battle exhibits a wide range of technology solutions that turns words into action, and can help us make our net zero vision a reality. Equally as important are the teams behind the solutions – creative and determined entrepreneurs who are passionate about achieving their goals. Both women and men pitching from all four corners of the planet – a true coming-together in a global effort to accelerate the transition to net zero. More than 50% of the pitching companies are represented by gender-diverse teams, supporting TechX’s call to see more a more diverse energy industry.
The Pitch Battle is an opportunity for investors, industry players and policy-makers from around the world to show their support for these companies. Many of the start-ups explain their ask in their pitch videos, whether it be investment, field trials, industry support or buy-in from new customers. We hope that their aspirations will be realised, with the support of the amazing COP26 global audience. I would also like to personally thank the Pitch Battle’s supporters, who have nominated many of these companies. I would also like to mention how grateful we are for the help we’ve received from the UK’s Department for International Trade in sourcing start-ups from parts of the world far from the UK.
Let the battle commence!
The ‘first round’ of the Pitch Battle has officially launched! Explore the diverse range of technologies and show our start-ups support by casting your vote – all 29 pitches are live here. The public vote closes on 18 October, and following this 10 start-ups will be invited to pitch in the final, taking place during our programme on 2 November. You can register for virtual attendance here.
Innovation will be crucial to the success of COP26 and future COPs in the race to net zero, and we hope that you will agree that these highly innovative companies deserve your support.
Here’s to entrepreneurship, innovation and shaping the future! #HelloFuture
The Pitch Battle’s supporters are:
bp ventures, Greenbackers Investment Capital, Hydrogen Accelerator, ion Houston, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, Repsol and Scottish Development International.
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