First cohort graduate from HSBC UK-supported Climate Innovation Platform

Thirteen cleantech businesses recently celebrated their graduation from the Climate Innovation Platform’s 'Low Carbon Energy Solutions, Innovator Challenge’.

The group of SMEs from the first cohort of the Climate Innovation Platform stand outside the Birmingham Energy Innovation Centre

The graduation ceremony took place at the Birmingham Energy Innovation Centre.

Supported by HSBC UK and delivered by the University of Birmingham in partnership with the Energy Systems Catapult, the Climate Innovation Platform (CIP) offers SMEs at various stages of development with tailored packages of support to drive the commercialisation of innovative energy technologies and services that will help tackle the climate crisis.

One Newbury-based company to benefit from the programme has been Sygensys, a start-up developing technologies for more effective use of renewable energy sources.

The targeted, sector specific, business support and advice has help us develop our ideas for business growth, provided access to technical support from the University of Birmingham and aided recruitment. It has also been a great opportunity to meet the other CIP companies, learn from their experiences and plan future collaborations.

Andrew Larkin, CEO of Sygensys

Connected Response, a Glasgow-based SME aiming to reduce fuel poverty by offering an alternative to archaic ‘Economy 7’ energy tariffs, engaged with the CIP at a particularly exciting time.

In the last six months we have become part of Warmworks, the Managing Agent for Scottish Government's Warmer Homes Scotland fuel poverty scheme and for similar initiatives in London and the south east of England. We have started a major tower block retrofit programme in Glasgow with Wheatley Group. The CIP programme has been invaluable, enabling us to meet fellow innovators and acquire new skills to help us develop our business. This has included consumer insight advice to help us better understand what motivates real people to embrace new heating technology - rather than just assuming that everyone will be onboard.

Kenny Cameron, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Connected Response

The first CIP cohort challenge launched in November 2021, with participating businesses gaining access to a number of linked opportunities, including:

  • Business engagement support through BEI’s ATETA programme. Designed to help SMEs improve efficiency and test new ideas, it offers access to research expertise and facilities as well as research and technical support from Knowledge Exchange Fellows.
  • Incubation space at either the University of Birmingham or Tyseley Energy Park, along with Incubator Project Management.
  • Access to a range of business development support, including financial planning, start-up mentoring, market research expertise, IP protection expertise, advice on regulation and standards, grant writing and bid development, and investor access support.
  • An opportunity to pitch their innovations to representatives from HSBC UK
  • Introductions to the National Trust, fellow member of HSBC’s Climate Solutions Partnership. Working together on nature-based solutions and climate innovations and leveraging on each other’s wider connections.

CIP will support over 100 businesses over four years (2021-2024), with participants ranging from entrepreneurs with an idea that they want to develop, through to established businesses developing cleantech.

Michaela Wright, Head of Corporate Sustainability, HSBC UK said: “The breadth and calibre of the first cohort of CIP challenge participants was impressive, and we look forward to continuing to support companies developing cleaner technology through mentorship and by connecting them with organisations interested in supporting their growth.

“Companies of all sizes and sectors have a role to play in the transition to a low carbon economy, and it’s critical that we create spaces for the exchange of ideas and provide meaningful support to SMEs pioneering new frontiers to address climate change. We are leading by example, working towards achieving net zero in our own operations and supply chain by 2030 or sooner and supporting our customers’ transition to net zero through finance and investment by 2050 or soon."

A selection of businesses will also go on to participate in HSBC’s global Climate Solutions Partnership innovation accelerator, powered by WWF’s Impactio platform, which will help further scale climate solutions, supporting business innovations in partnership with leading universities, research institutes, incubators and accelerators.2

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute and the Energy Research Accelerator, said: “We selected an exciting mix of innovators for this first challenge call – from start-ups working in the emerging hydrogen economy and blockchain-backed green finance, through to SMEs developing cutting-edge heating, energy storage and digital platforms for improving building performance. It has been a pleasure to see these 13 businesses flourish with the tailored support offered by the Climate Innovation Platform, and the achievements they have made in these short six months is truly remarkable.

“The application round for our second cohort is now open and I would encourage any businesses committed to driving energy technology innovations to apply before Friday 29 April.