Farming and climate fund announces first investments

Funding | National

The £3.5m SHAKE Climate Change Programme has announced its first three ventures to invest in.

Energy from manure, tools for smarter pest management and a yield boosting nanotech are the ideas behind three early stage companies selected by the unique fund.

SHAKE funds and trains entrepreneurs and start-ups who have innovative solutions to tackle climate change linked to the agri-food sector, which contributes more than a quarter of global emissions.

SHAKE was set up by a consortium of leading scientific research and academic institutions last year in the wake of the climate emergency, with financial backing from the UK-based charitable arm of a major European bank.

Professor Angela Karp, interim Director and CEO of the world’s oldest agricultural research institute, Rothamsted Research, co-developed the programme with partners at Cranfield University, UCL (University College London), and the University of Hertfordshire.

She said: “I’m delighted to be able to announce these successful ventures, and we look forward to working with them, and those that will follow over the coming months and years.

“They were up against tough competition, but all three of them have displayed great ingenuity in their initial ideas to help reduce the climate impact of food and farming, and they have taken really well to the training and mentorship we have provided so far. I am fully confident they will continue to go from strength to strength.”

The successful companies, who each receive £140k plus two years of dedicated mentoring and support, are:

EcoNomad Solutions (London) help small farms to improve resource management sustainability and agricultural waste recycling. Their proprietary technology includes biogas and nutrient recovery systems suitable for even the smallest of smallholders.

Glaia Ltd (Bristol) develop nanotechnology-based solutions for sustainable agriculture. Their first family of products, the sugar-dots, increase crop yields, reducing carbon inputs, and allowing crops to be farmed outside their traditional growing regions.

PheroSyn Ltd (Herts) whose mission is to scale up the production of and make available pest insect pheromones that can be deployed to protect crops and reduce the use of pesticides. This will also reduce fossil fuel consumption linked to pesticide production and subsequent on-farm applications. Their first products are designed to lure midges that attack wheat, peas and pears away from these crops.

Professor Karp said: “There has been a lot of publicity recently around the environmental impact especially of eating meat and intensive agricultural crop production – but the contribution of agri-food to our climate footprint is so much more complex and wider than that.

“It has been really exciting to see that this entrepreneurship support programme has attracted ventures with innovations offering solutions across that wide spectrum.

“We are very confident the first three to receive investment will help make farming part of the solution and look forward to continue to support them in that journey over the next year or so.”

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