Jonny Voon, Head of the Sustainable Innovation Fund, Innovate UK explores…
The UK economy has suffered considerably over the past two years at the mercy of Covid-19. While uncertainty persists, there are lots of reasons to be hopeful. We have a fantastic opportunity as we recover from the pandemic to build an economy and society which is greener, fairer and more resilient.
Key to a sustainable recovery is innovation. Young, dynamic companies and their inspirational entrepreneurs are the lifeblood that can revive our economy and deliver pioneering solutions to our most pressing challenges. They can help us to develop a more robust economy, promote equality, diversity and inclusion, and achieve the country’s net zero goals.
There are a large number of early-stage projects and companies, and visionary leaders, I have been impressed by in recent months that are creating new products, services and processes that will help to drive forwards our Artificial Intelligence and Data Economy (AIDE), as well as minimise adverse environmental impacts.
These are my top AIDE innovations to watch in 2022 – exciting companies that are developing greener technologies:
Combining responsible fashion with the latest data science, Bendi’s innovative platform helps fashion brands measure, manage and communicate their environmental impact. Bendi uses machine reading technology to predict the environmental impact of a piece of clothing, giving customers information they need to make more informed decisions and purchase responsibly, drastically reducing waste in the fashion industry.
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As businesses come under pressure to demonstrate their net-zero ambitions, Spherics Technology has developed carbon accountability software which helps them to visualise the carbon impact of their operations and supply-chain. Spherics gives businesses the toolkit to support genuine net zero commitments, helping them to communicate confidently to stakeholders with authenticity and purpose, at a time when greenwashing is heavily scrutinised.
The business has developed a free platform called Crowdless that helps people with social distancing across the globe. It provides real-time data on how crowded supermarkets are so that people can avoid crowds, choose the least busy place and best time to visit. The platform uses a combination of existing data sources and crowdsourced data in combination with machine learning.
An AI-driven matchmaking platform that connects businesses looking to become more sustainable with suppliers that can help them meet their sustainability goals. This platform works for both sustainability providers (firms providing sustainable products/services) and seekers (firms searching for sustainable products/services), with AI technology streamlining the searching process exponentially. Instead of trying to network and search for the right partners manually, businesses are automatically given a list of providers to help them achieve their sustainability objectives.
Many start-ups are struggling to scale up due to limited liquidity available on the financial markets as a result of the pandemic. There is a need for an entrepreneurial ecosystem that can support start-ups creating sustainable and inclusive growth. Proodos Capital has developed a virtual entrepreneurial ecosystem that redistributes pre-seed financial resources in the form of donations from public and private sector stakeholders to build purpose-driven businesses.