Three exciting companies have received funding from SHAKE Climate Change Programme to develop solutions for sustainable agriculture.
The three tech firms were chosen from an initial 17 applicants last summer. Of this initial cohort, ten were chosen for a further three-months of intense training to build their ventures. The three successful ventures were then recommended to receive £140,000 funding to develop their businesses under continual mentorship for a further 8-12 months, followed by aftercare support.
Glaia improving photosynthetic efficiency
Only 50 percent of the sun’s energy is used by plants and less than 1 percent is converted into biomass. Glaia has developed a new class of plant additive called ‘sugar dots’ that can increase photosynthetic efficiency naturally, increasing yields by up to 20 per cent.
The sugar dots technology, which has been developed by a team at the University of Bristol, has a well-defined mode of action, high efficacy
and is patent protected. Studies have shown that sugar-dots are non-toxic and they are already found in food products such as beer and honey.
David Benito-Alifonso says: “Sugar-dots are water soluble and can be applied as a foliar spray or within an irrigation system and have been tested on a variety of crops from soft fruit through to wheat and sorghum. The plant performance improvement results have been impressive and the technology can be applied across agriculture.”
EcoNomad Solutions affordable biogas
Anaerobic digestion (AD) turns waste into biogas and a nutrient-rich soil additive – but the current solutions are too complex and expensive for smallholdings.
To give smaller farmers the benefit of AD, agri-tech start-up EcoNomad Solutions (founded by Ilan Adler and Alex Demenko see left at REAP ) has re-engineered the technology to create a more affordable option that uses passive heating methods and naturally occurring bacteria.
London-based EcoNomad Solutions, 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.
PheroSyn replacing pesticides with pheromones
The third company to receive the £140k grant is PheroSyn Ltd, 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.
About Shake Climate Change Programme
The SHAKE Climate Change programme is specifically designed to attract entrepreneurs or start-ups who have developed early stage science or tech-based ideas that can have a significant impact on climate change, as well as form the basis of a sustainable and socially responsible business within the sector.
Professor Angela Karp, interim director and CEO of Rothamsted Research, co-developed the programme with partners at Cranfield University, UCL (University College London), and the University of Hertfordshire.
Professor Karp says: “All three of the finalists 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 SHAKE fund 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 major European bank, Societe Generale.