The word of the day at the Green Innovation & Finance Awards was “Trump”. In the Intercontinental London Park Lane hotel’s glittering ballroom, over 250 innovators, investors, inspirers and advisors gathered last night to celebrate the known champions and unsung heroes of the green economy.
The theme of the night veered towards the ever-controversial American president, spurred on by Sir Ed Davey’s rousing keynote speech. The former Secretary of State for Climate Change believes there’s more to Donald Trump’s presidency and its potential impact on the world’s commitment march towards mitigating climate change. In terms of the commitments made at the 2016 Paris Agreement, Sir Ed argued that the USA’s interests are not well served by aligning with the environmental deals that help developing nations keep their CO2 emissions in check. In light of Trump’s vehement opposition towards climate change mitigation, the US may benefit from Russia’s influence, says Sir Ed.
“The world is misunderstanding the relationship between Trump and Putin. Don’t forget, Putin is completely opposed to shale gas,” he said.
On a more serious note, Sir Ed ended his keynote with sage advice. “For banks and institutions, the value on the stock market, which our pensions might rely on are basically locked into fossil fuels. And as the value of these fossil fuels falls as we realise they’re not feasible, and are competed by other technologies, then will have a big impact on our financial stability and our ability to pay pensions. I think if people are just their portfolios and you see a lot more money coming out of fossil fuels into cleantech, then we can supercharge our sector. That is a real goal to work for,” he said.
“We need a regulation which requires banks and companies to report on the fossil fuel investments that are within their balance sheet–just transparency, just telling their investors how exposed they are to the carbon bubble if they invest in carbon intensive companies.”
Following Sir Ed was Trevor Ingle, London corporate partner and head of energy for EMEA at corporate law firm, Squire Patton Boggs. The firm is a mainstay in advising green growth businesses and for its international impact in environmental litigation.
“As with the previous years, this year’s nominees show the strength, depth and extent of innovation in the green economy,” he said of the Green Innovation & Finance Awards. “The relentless pace of technology continues to set its own agenda, and long may it continue to do so.”
For the past nine years, the awards, then known as the New Energy & Cleantech Awards, celebrated ingenuity and dealmaking in the UK’s renewables sector. Marking its tenth year, the Green Innovation & Finance Awards broadened its focus to the wider green economy. The event this year saw a record number of nominations and a room full of impassioned environmental agents of change.
The Green Innovation & Finance Awards 2017 recognised leading players across 12 categories. The winners and highly commended nominees are below.
University of the Year
Presented by Karen Potter, project director at the Sustainability Hub.
- Aston University
- Imperial College London
- Loughborough University
- University College London
- University of Cambridge
- University of Manchester
- University of Oxford
The winner: University of Manchester
University of Manchester stood out in this category for the expansive, Europe-wide reach of its research projects. The judges believe the university’s work on climate change adaptation for cities stood out as a great example of what can be done to green inner city environments.
Innovator of the Year
Presented by Dimitri Zenghelis, co-head of policy at the Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics.
- Drenched Limited
- Growing Underground
- Upside Energy
The winner: Desolenator
Highly commended: Upside Energy
Desolenator stood out as the strongest candidate among an outstanding category, as a mega solution to a mega problem. Desolenator’s focus on demand management, and the company’s role in supporting micro businesses in water-poor emerging economies is its biggest strength.
The judges struggled to pick a winner in this category because of the level of innovation and drive for social justice demonstrated by the shortlisted businesses. They would like to highly commend Upside Energy for its innovative, technology-centred approach to a widespread problem.
Entrepreneur of the Year
Presented by Praseeda Nair, editor of Growthbusiness.co.uk
- Tessa Cook, Olio
- Simon Crowther, Flood Protection Solutions Limited
- Tom Druitt, The Big Lemon
- Erik Fairbairn, POD Point
- Charlie Ross, Offset Warehouse
- Robert Schrimpff, Solar for Schools
- Chris Wilson, Too Good To Go
- Marc Zornes, Winnow
The winner: Marc Zornes, Winnow
Marc Zornes believes that food is too valuable to waste, and that technology is the answer. With a passion for food and sustainability, Marc’s groundbreaking company, Winnow, appeals to a sector that is potentially very wasteful, using real-time data to educated kitchens of what they use and what they throw out.
The judges were impressed with Marc’s leadership of the company, and Winnow’s growth over the past year. Again, the judges wished to add that it difficult to pick just one winner in a category this strong.
Fast Growth Champion of the Year
Presented by Iain Patton, founder and director of Ethical Team.
- GreenTech Distribution
- Love Energy Savings
- Neal’s Yard Remedies
- Vantage Power
The winner: Fluidic Energy
Highly commended: GreenTech Distribution
Fluidic Energy demonstrates a lot of growth in terms of customers and reach. The judges were impressed with Fluidic’s pace of activity and its pulse on innovation in overcoming the major problem of energy storage.
The judges highly commend GreenTech Distribution for its rapid growth year-on-year, and its focus on addressing the problem of e-waste.
Infrastructure Financier of the Year
Presented by William Richardson, managing director of Green Element.
- Foresight Group
- Green Investment Bank
- Guinness Alternative Energy
- Powerhouse Energy Group PLC
- Standard Life Ethical Corporate Bond fund
The winner: Foresight Group
Highly commended: HSBC
Foresight Group stood out as the most active and successful large-scale financier in this category. The judges were particularly impressed with the group’s mobilised investment of 900 million pounds across 28 products in the UK.
The judges were also impressed with HSBC’s drive and commitment to green infrastructure, with its rapid growth since 2015.
Impact Investment Firm of the Year
Presented by David Thorpe, editor of What Investment.
- Bridges Ventures
- Davy Asset Management Ethical Equity
- Hermes Global Equity ESG
- Jupiter Global Ecology Diversified
- Kames Global Sustainable Equity Fund
- Newton Investment Management
- Standard Life Ethical Corporate Bond fund
The winner: ClearlySo
Highly commended: Bridges Ventures
ClearlySo stood out as a clear winner in this category. The judges were very impressed with its extensive commitment to social and environmental businesses. The judges also highly commend Bridges Ventures for the added value it provides to the community it serves, and for its expansive portfolio of genuinely inspiring businesses.
Circular Economy Champion of the Year
Presented by Eric Lounsbury, director, ventures at Carbon Trust.
- National Grid
- Recycling Technologies
- The John Lewis Partnership
The winner: Environcom
Highly commended: Recycling Technologies
Environcom demonstrates the true value of the circular economic model. The judges noted the company’s focus on getting value out to the rest of the circle. The judges also highly commend Recycling Technologies in this category, for the sheer scale of it, and the potential it has to make a real difference further down the line.
Deal of the Year, supported by Squire Patton Boggs
Presented by Trevor Ingle, partner and head of clean energy EMEA at Squire Patton Boggs.
- Ceres Power’s £20m fundraise in secondary equity
- £1.3bn Galloper Wind Farm deal
- Johnsons Aggregates & Recycling’s £10m fundraise from BGF
- Marks & Spencer single roof mounted solar panel array installation
- PaveGen’s £1.9m fundraise
- Rainworth Energy’s £13.2m fundraise from Foresight Group
- Rockfire Capital’s acquisition of Swindon Solar Park
- Viridor’s £700m landfill-bound waste diversion deal
- Wales Environmental’s £3.75m fundraise from BGF and HSBC
The winner: Ceres Power
Highly commended: Viridor
Ceres Power’s fundraise impressed the judges by size and impact alone. They were also taken with Ceres Power’s level of innovation and exploration of the potential of fuel cell technology, even if it is a high risk undertaking. The judges also highly commend Viridor for its real-world example of innovative collaboration in tackling an issue as large as landfill waste.
Adviser of the Year
- Almach Energy
- Carbon Smart
- Clifford Chance
- Crowe Clark Whitehill
- Hosking Associates
- Norton Rose Fulbright
- Zeus Capital
The winner: Norton Rose Fulbright
Highly commended: Zeus Capital and Almach Energy
Norton Rose Fulbright stood out for the volume and quality of deals it advised on over the past year. The judges also highly commend Zeus Capital for championing the sector, and Almach Energy as one to watch in the future, for all it has done to engage local communities and for going beyond what is necessary as an adviser.
Innovative Financier of the Year
Presented by Ben Lobel, editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk.
- Business Growth Fund
- Earth Capital Partners
- ETF Partners
- Salix Finance
- Triodos Bank
The winner: Salix Finance
Highly commended: Triodos Bank
Salix Finance is recognised for its focus on driving energy efficiency and mitigating the impact of climate change, particularly in the public sector. Salix Finance’s new Revolving Green Fund stood out in this category, as an innovative way to enable easy access to energy efficiency funding for universities. The judges were also impressed with Triodos Bank, for its track record in providing innovative financing for green projects and businesses.
Project of the Year
Presented by Pritil Gunjan, programme manager Europe – energy and environment at Frost and Sullivan.
- Aldi Stores UK’s £2.6m investment into energy optimisation
- Project Offgrid’s wind turbine installation at Bodmin Moor
- The installation of 32 8MW turbines at DONG Energy’s Burbo Bank Extension
- City of London’s sustainable urban regeneration project
- Kilgallioch Wind Farm’s installation of 96 turbines
- The £350m Lynemouth Power Station biomass project
- The completion of Phase 1A of the MeyGen Tidal Project
- The 45MW installation of Vine Farm photovoltaics park
The winner: MeyGen Tidal Project
The Meygen Tidal Project impressed the judges as a runaway winner in this category. The judges believe Meygen deserves respect for pushing boundaries, and for exploring the enormous potential of tidal power in an island where there is so much scope, like the UK.
Business Leader of the Year
Presented by the Right Honourable Sir Edward Davey, chair of Mongoose Energy, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
- Richard Clothier, Wyke Farms
- Juliet Davenport, Good Energy
- Bruce Davis, Abundance Investments
- Adrian Griffiths, Recycling Technologies
- Kevin Hard, Snap Nutrition (formerly EvoEnergy)
- Emma Marsh, RSPB (formerly Love Food Hate Waste)
- Hugh McNeal, Renewable UK
- Richard Reed, JamJar Investments (formerly Innocent Drinks)
The winner: Richard Clothier, Wyke Farms
Highly commended: Juliet Davenport OBE, Good Energy and Bruce Davis, Abundance Investments.
Richard Clothier’s passion for sustainability resonated with the judges, who recognise him in this category for his great ambition for Wyke Farms, and for rewriting the farming narrative. From fighting back against mass insecticide, to turning the long-standing family business around, Rich stood out in this category. The judges also highly commend Juliet Davenport at Good Energy as an icon in the space, and Bruce Davis at Abundance Investments, for democratising green finance.