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SHIFT announces winners of first innovation challenge for London SMEs tackling the climate emergency 


SHIFT, east London’s innovation agency based at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, has today (11 December 2023) announced that five organisations have been selected to take part in a new scale-up programme of funding and support for London-based enterprises working to tackle different aspects of the climate emergency.  

The successful organisations are: 

  • Yodomo works to reduce pre-consumer textile waste generated by UK manufacturing, unlocking its material value and designing into useful and creative projects with the maker community. Yodomo has successfully diverted tonnes of textile waste, encouraging creative repurposing and keeping materials in circulation at their highest value, delivering social, environmental and economic value.
  • MAD LEAP combine their micro-scale anaerobic digestion technology with composting and food growing infrastructure to turn food waste into bioenergy and biofertiliser and compost to grow food for local consumption. They aim to inspire and support a global network of decentralised, circular biowaste solutions to create local employment and training opportunities alongside environmental benefits and economic value. Their team combines expertise in mechanical engineering, circular bioeconomy design, green skills training and food production.
  • Alive Labs envisions a future where vertical greening is seamlessly integrated into the fabric of our cities, becoming a ubiquitous feature of urban landscapes worldwide. They see a world where most buildings in the urban landscape, from towering skyscrapers to humble homes, embrace the beauty and benefits of nature-based, green cladding systems.   
  • FibreLab is a hyper-local textile recycling start-up that uses a custom-built mechanical shredding machine to turn post-industrial textile waste into valuable recycled fibre. They collect, sort and recycle textiles into innovative new materials including, PAPERTEX, our proprietary handmade paper material made from 100% recycled textile waste. They work with a wide range of industries from garment manufacturers to hotels, customising the process for their textile recycling needs. Their hyper-local, circular approach ensures that the waste collection, sorting and remanufacturing process stays within the UK, reducing emissions and increasing transparency.
  • GoodMine is a female-led climatetech company founded in 2021 (ex-JPMorgan). They are waste-obsessed. Too many valuable products are thrown away each year due to an inefficient waste system, confused consumers, lack of data and networks. Their platform is redesigning the system through a data-driven search & match platform that digitally connects unwanted consumer goods to the circular ecosystem (an Amazon for the circular economy). 

Abdul Rahim, Chief Innovation Officer of SHIFT, said: “We had an amazing, high-quality response to our Open Innovation Challenge call out and it’s been great to see some local organisations applying as well as interest from across the capital. This bodes well for the future of the scheme and SHIFT’s ability to bridge the gap between real, local need and market-defining innovations.”  

As well as receiving a £25,000 prize, each business will benefit from a bespoke accelerator programme powered by innovation company Plexal, called Venture Creator. The programme launched on Thursday 7 December 2023 and saw the businesses come together in person to further assess their business needs and get to know the various partners involved in the Future Industries Demonstrator.   

Andrew Roughan, CEO at Plexal, said: “We’re thrilled by the calibre of companies that will be joining us for Venture Creator. As a founding partner of SHIFT and with a mission designed to support innovation that can create prosperity for society, Plexal is eager to see how the solutions of these talented organisations further develop through our programme.”  

The Future Industries Demonstrator Programme provides pioneering start-ups and SMEs with financial backing, as well as linking them to the collaborative networks, workspaces and local knowledge resources that give them the best chance to succeed. The theme of the first challenge was ‘Natural Cities’, with an emphasis on issues such as biodiversity loss, air pollution and circular solutions to minimise waste. Organisations that were chosen all demonstrated significant growth potential and capability to deliver impact across east London and further afield. The project is funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and supported by the Mayor of London.    

The second and third Innovation Challenges will be open for applications in Spring 2024 and Autumn 2024. The Open Innovation Challenges will focus on the built environment, energy and food systems – all key areas to address the climate emergency. Interested SMEs can join the waitlist to receive updates on the next two Challenges.  

Successful applicants will receive:  

  • £20,000 grant to supplement scaling plans 
  • £5,000 budget to support a ‘testbed’ project or deployment 
  • Access to world-class workspaces, including The Loop, east London’s hub for circular economy businesses
  • Expert support from specialists at innovation company Plexal and University College London
  • 1:1 coaching with a circular business specialist
  • Support programme facilitated by SHIFT
  • Businesses based in the Hackney Wick & Fish Island Creative Enterprise Zone will be considered for an additional capital grant up to £10,000 to supplement their scaling plans after completing their initial development through the programme. 

Organisations can also apply to become a Member of SHIFT to make connections, learn from local innovation projects and get more involved in SHIFT’s cross-sector innovation ecosystem.


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