Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the low-carbon, clean energy and sustainability sectors can now use a handy interactive online tool to identify funding opportunities most relevant to their sector, development stage and financial requirements. The Access to Finance Navigator was recently launched by none other than energy giant Royal Dutch Shell, building on the company’s existing funding and awards offerings.
“One of the biggest challenges facing the world today is how to produce more energy for economic growth, while significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions,” Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said. “Collaboration and entrepreneurialism are paramount to finding solutions to meet these challenges, which are the cornerstones of our #makethefuture campaign.”
The Access to Finance Navigator is a curated digital database of 84 investment sources totalling £157 million in value. These sources include governmental organisations, venture capital funds and crowdsourcing platforms, as well as region-specific opportunities for businesses based in the United Kingdom (UK). The tool was developed by Shell Springboard, which has awarded approximately £3 million to 86 enterprises since 2005.
“Shell Springboard provides low-carbon entrepreneurs with a vital foothold on the funding ladder, but for many this is just the start of a journey to secure the finance they need,” said Erik Bonino, Shell UK’s Executive Vice President for Downstream Technology.
“To help navigate the funding landscape, we developed the Access to Finance Navigator with experts in finance and the low-carbon sectors. Alongside our wider enterprise development programmes, this provides the type of support low-carbon businesses in the UK are seeking.”
The announcement was made over the weekend, in celebration of Shell’s #makethefuture initiative at its “festival of ideas and innovation,” Make the Future London. The four-day event is supported by Shell Springboard and Shell LiveWIRE. According to the company, the latter invested US$4.3 million globally in 2015, and has supported 6,200 entrepreneurs throughout its 34 year history. One such entrepreneur is Solveiga Pakštaitė, who won a Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award and 2016 Shell Staff Inspiration Award for her food expiry label Bump Mark.
In support of the launch, Pakštaitė added, “For a startup business to get off the ground, funding is key. Understanding which funding sources are best for your business and navigating the huge range of funding resources available can take as much time as applying for the money itself. Shell Springboard's Access to Finance Navigator is a great idea and will make it much easier for entrepreneurs in the sustainability and low carbon sectors to find the funds they need. It's hugely valuable.”
The festival showcased 50 entrepreneurs supported through Shell programs. Visitors were able to experience their technologies first-hand, including Capture Mobility’s wind turbines that harness the air of passing cars, Gravity Light’s lighting system powered by the force of gravity from a weight, meals cooked using bio-bean’s fuel from recycled coffee waste, and Pavegen’s paving slabs that convert energy from people’s footsteps into electrical power.
In partnership with Pavegen – which is both a Shell LiveWIRE winner and one of the Unilever Foundry 50 startups – Shell installed the world’s first player- and solar-powered football (soccer) pitches in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Lagos, Nigeria. The projects, completed over the past two years, were completed with the help of global football icon Pelé and recording artist Akon.
Adaptavate, a startup producing biodegradable alternative to plasterboard, received extra support as the focus of one of “the festival’s biggest brainstorms,” the Shell #makethefuture Accelerator. The workshop is designed to help startup founders overcome challenges such as scaling, manufacturing and resourcing. This year’s audience boasted entrepreneurs such as Blaise Belville, Founder of Boiler Room and Eben Upton, Founder of Raspberry Pi.
Vehicle technologies also took centre stage at the festival, including through the Shell Eco-marathon, which saw approximately 200 student teams from Europe and Asia compete on a specially designed track around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to see how far their eco-friendly cars can travel on a single litre of fuel.