Wednesday, August 10, 2022

AgriTech and net zero innovators awarded top prizes

The University of Lincoln has awarded Colombian sustainability business Entio a cheque for £10,000 and trophy at their AgriTech and Net Zero Accelerator Programme final.

At the event, 14 early-stage AgriTech and Net Zero businesses from across the UK and beyond pitched for a range of prizes in front of a live Zoom audience.  

The event on 25th May was the conclusion of 11 weeks of intense business support as part of the University of Lincoln’s AgriTech and Net Zero Accelerator Programme, supported by Barclays Eagle Labs and delivered by Lincolnshire business accelerator specialists, known as the “10×10”. 

The programme provides an opportunity for businesses with growth potential, at any stage of their development, to benefit from intensive professional and personal support over 10 workshops. 

After 30 hours of workshops, three masterclasses, an “Ask the Expert” panel session and several hours of specialist mentoring from experienced AgriTech and Net Zero professionals, the businesses were put through their paces. Each had five minutes to pitch in a Dragons Den-style format to a panel of four judges selected from the University, Barclays Bank and Business Lincolnshire Growth Hub, as well as Martin Collison, AgriFood Advisor to the Greater Lincolnshire LEP. 

The eventual winner, Rafael Cepeda Lopez from Entio, pitched from Colombia and impressed the judges immensely, even while presenting at 5am local time. 

Rafael and his team have developed a business which uses waste materials from coffee and cocoa production to grow insect larvae which is then added into animal feed, driving down both landfill waste and significant financial costs. 

The runner-up prize was awarded to Luke Smith, a University of Lincoln final-year student who is developing an innovative business which uses a special type of seaweed as an animal feed supplement to drive down harmful methane gas emissions. Luke won a three months’ membership to the innovative Eagle Labs Farm at the University’s AgriFood campus at Riseholme.

Taking third place were Paul Coker and Rebecca Cole-Coker from PCI Technology, an early-stage business which has created an app called ‘Farm Smarter’ to help farmers and small-holders in developing economies to be more productive and efficient. 

Charlotte Baxter, Enterprise Manager at the University of Lincoln, said: “We are deeply invested in helping fledgling businesses to flourish. Our Riseholme Campus’ Eagle Labs Farm gives start-ups access to invaluable business support and innovative facilities, tailored to a sector of great importance to our institution and region.  

“We are delighted to widen and strengthen this support in partnership with Barclays Bank and 10×10, while shining a spotlight on talented, game-changing innovators in the AgriTech and Net Zero areas, each seeking to make a difference to our planet and communities. Congratulations to all involved!”

Adam White, Head of Agriculture at Barclays Business Banking, said: “Reducing the impact of the agriculture sector on the climate will not come from any one action but from the combined efforts and innovations of firms throughout the industry, so the wide variety of innovative AgriTech businesses that took part in the accelerator was brilliant to see.  

“I applaud all the businesses that presented and look forward to seeing how they play a part in the sector’s transition towards achieving Net Zero.” 

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