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The value in mentorship: from start-up to scale up

28 March 2024 3 minute read
Written by Fernando C. Hernandez

Four years ago, my journey as a TechX mentor with the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC) began, and little did I know how transformative and beneficial this experience would be. Collaborating with pioneering start-ups, all dedicated to advancing a net zero energy industry, has been an eye-opening venture. Also, being a mentor has brought me personal fulfilment, and I have been humbled to win two “TechX Mentor of the Year” awards.

That said, TechX start-ups focus on accelerating the energy transition through ground-breaking solutions in technologies including carbon capture, hydrogen, renewables and the digital sphere. As a TechX mentor, I’ve had the privilege of guiding early-stage companies with technical prowess, a thirst for knowledge and a strong commitment to making a positive impact.

My mentorship journey commenced in 2020 when Scottish Development International (SDI) informed me that TechX was seeking international mentors. Given my expertise in technological innovation, commercialisation and internationalisation, and my interest in start-ups, I gladly accepted the role and have been mentoring start-ups ever since.

NZTC excels at creating winning outcomes for all involved. Since joining TechX as a mentor, I have provided guidance to a total of nine start-ups. I plan to continue with this momentum in 2024.

From the get-go, I benefited from becoming a TechX mentor through exposure to a range of up-and-coming start-ups with innovation are their core. Their solutions are promising, and it’s an exciting prospect being able to assist them in propelling their commercial and technological trajectories forward.

One such company is Aquature, utilising cutting-edge technology to produce green hydrogen, green chemicals and carbon-neutral fuels from wastewater. Our mutually beneficial partnership assisted Aquature in winning the ‘Best Performance’ prize upon graduating from TechX.

Another noteworthy collaboration was with Puls8, a piping and tubing verification company. From the outset, their dedication to enhancing safety onshore and offshore was evident. Our close collaboration extended beyond the programme, with Puls8 securing additional funding and a piloting opportunity. My role was to facilitate strategic discussions, draft their initial commercial proposal and provide insights into global marketplaces.

Part of being a mentor for an up-and-coming company is not only being technology savvy, but also knowing how to secure such opportunities to advance adoption and commercialisation.

I’ve learned that continuous support is essential. Companies like Aquature and Puls8, playing key roles in the energy transition, require ongoing assistance even after completing the TechX programme. TechX extends its commitment beyond the accelerator, ensuring alumni receive the support needed to bring their companies to market faster. Myself, along with some of my fellow TechX Mentors, have partly contributed to this, having established lasting relationships with many of the companies.

Working with these companies has also benefited me personally. I have expanded my network, and at the same time, stayed connected to current trends, technologies and best practices in the energy sector – something that is pivotal as I continue to support the companies of tomorrow.

The multitude of start-ups graduating and tackling the decarbonisation challenge is both inspiring and crucial. Nurturing the potential discovered by TechX each year is key to helping unlock a net zero future. I’m proud to continue supporting these companies leading the way in this important endeavour.

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