The Conference of the Parties 26 summit (31 October to 12 November 2021) will be uniting nations together to join forces in a bid to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UK is committed to collaborating with civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to accelerate the UK's collective climate action.
With UK investment into clean technologies on the rise, we are delighted to see the commitment and faith in engineering and technology entrepreneurs and their role in achieving Net Zero. At the Enterprise Hub, we are proud to be supporting some of the UK's brightest engineering entrepreneurs with their clean technology innovations - in this blog series, we explore a few of the Hub Members joining the UK's climate action journey to Net Zero.
First up is Hub Member Pawel Kisielewski,
CEO and co-founder of Swindon based CCm Technologies, an award-winning clean
tech SME established
in 2011. CCm Technologies already have an impressive list of achievements in the climate tech sector - they are one of the founding members of the the HRH The Prince of Wales’ The Sustainable Markets Initiative, Innovate UK awarded them £2 million this year to accelerate UK's ambition to be the global lead in reducing agricultural and industrial emissions, and they are featured in Tom Heap's "39 Ways to Save the Planet" book and podcast. Read on to learn more about their pioneering technology.
COP26 aims to unite the world to tackle climate change. How is your innovation helping to tackle climate change? What impact will it deliver short, medium, long term?
The global food system, which includes production and distribution, is responsible for approximately 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Currently in the UK, agricultural practices produce around 10% of our greenhouse gas emissions. At CCm Technologies we have found a way to capitalise on these emissions and other waste streams, by stabilising it for use in other resources such as fertiliser. As Mahatma Gandhi correctly stated: “Waste is only a resource in the wrong place” – an ethos we passionately agree with.
Using our technology, we can cut the massive carbon footprints associated with conventional fertiliser production by more than 90%, by sequestering carbon into soil through the capture and utilisation of waste CO2, instead of using primary carbon sources. Because of this, we partner with companies who produce waste created as a by-product of industrial and agricultural processes to power the circular economy in the sector.
We’re proud to be able to produce a fertiliser that can be developed using existing machinery and that is cost competitive without compromising on the yield and the quality. Furthermore, CCm’s fertilisers have been shown to positively impact the environment by enhancing soil fertility.
Farmers can therefore make sustainable, tailored, low carbon choices without sacrificing yields or paying more. This is critical to moving the agriculture sector closer to net zero and incentivises production change.
Engineering and technology startups and SMEs are considered the backbone of the UK economy, as well essential to solving the world’s most pressing challenges. What was the moment that made you think “I can turn this into a commercial opportunity for society’s benefit”?
It was when we realised the difference our technology could make. If we deployed 50 standard CCm units, the reduction of emissions would be equivalent to taking 375,000 cars off the road each year. Furthermore, just one average UK water utility would need just nine CCm units to make a significant dent on emissions.
What are the best parts about working in the climate tech sector? What are the challenges for startups working in the climate tech sector?
The best part is the culture of collaboration. Having spent 25 years in finance where collaboration is an unfamiliar concept, it is energising to find it is broadly the norm amongst those who seek to resolve the challenges that climate change presents. The thing I find most challenging is having to manage the quick turnaround times demanded from SMEs, with the much longer decision-making processes of customers, policy makers and regulators.
The world is aiming to hit #NetZero by 2050. How different do you think the world will be by then and how do you see your product(s) evolving over time to ensure it remains relevant?
I think developed and developing countries alike will be facing and coping with even greater challenges from the environment, but I am optimistic that we will find ways to prosper as a society collectively, in order to adapt to the changing conditions.
CCm’s technology uses multiple waste streams including CO2 (what we think of as valuable resources), to turn into the nutrients that are needed to grow food. Food is a precious commodity which is only going to increase in demand over time due to the world’s growing population. The demand for fertiliser will be inextricably linked to this as there is a real pressure to produce good quality food at a rate that can meet global demand. This also needs to happen in a way that maintains and regenerates good soil health, which CCm produced fertiliser has been proven to do. We believe accomplishing this will be integral to building robust food systems in the future and feel our product can play an important role in this.
And finally, if you had unlimited resources and time, what do you hope to have achieved by 2050?
We hope to help the UK save over half a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2050, through biogenically (produced by a biological process) derived alternatives for agricultural resourcing. In addition to this, we would like our technology to be commercially available to all economies, developed and developing. While the applications of CCm’s technology and its positive impact on restorative agricultural practices are as relevant to the developed world as they are to the developing world, it has the potential to have a far greater impact on the latter’s ecosystems.
Ultimately, having access to scalable technologies will help economies transition from the linear to the circular economy, and we believe our technology can provide that opportunity.
The Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub supports the UK’s brightest technology and engineering entrepreneurs to realise their potential.
We run three programmes for entrepreneurial engineers at different career stages. Each one offers equity-free funding, an extended programme of mentorship and coaching, and a lifetime of support through connection to an exceptional community of engineers and innovators.
The Enterprise Hub focuses on supporting individuals and fostering their potential in the long term, taking nothing in return. This sets us apart from the usual ‘accelerator’ model. The Enterprise Hub’s programmes last between 6 and 12 months, and all programmes give entrepreneurs lifelong access to an unrivalled community of mentors and alumni.
Our goal is to encourage creativity and innovation in engineering for the benefit of all. By fostering lasting, exceptional connections between talent and expertise, we aim to create a virtuous cycle of innovation that can deliver on this ambition.
The Enterprise Hub was formally launched in April 2013. Since then, we have supported over 220 researchers, recent graduates and SME leaders to start up and scale up businesses that can give practical application to their inventions. We’ve awarded over £8 million in grant funding, and our Hub Members have gone on to raise over £380 million in additional funding.