Earlier this month I joined seven other start-ups from around Scotland to take part in the kick-off meeting for the Climate-KIC Accelerator programme at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI). I felt like I was at my first day at school again – except we met not in a dusty classroom, but in ECCI’s airy low carbon hub.
We represent a diverse range of innovations, from an adjustable tap adapter which reduces water usage to a durable solar lamp to cut paraffin use in rural Africa. But all of us have two things in common – a product or a service that cuts carbon or displaces higher carbon activity, and a desire to see our businesses go stratospheric.
The Accelerator programme includes coaching and workshops on finding a market niche, working out how to make money and scaling our business. It’s part of the Climate-KIC programme for cleantech entrepreneurs. Taking part will ensure my company, MiAlgae, sets off on the right foot and becomes profitable as soon as possible.
MiAlgae uses waste water to grow microalgae that can be turned into feed for livestock and commercially farmed fish. Our product replaces the practice of mincing up other small fish to put into animal feed. It solves another problem, too. The Omegas in farmed salmon have dropped by half over the last five years because collapsing fish stocks are driving the use of fishmeal replacements such as soya beans. But our microalgae feed is naturally rich in Omegas so it brings the levels back up – it’s where the healthy bit comes from. Using waste water cuts costs, plus there’s the benefit that we clean up the water we use before putting it back.
Why algae? I studied synthetic biology but ended up working as an engineer in the North Sea installing cables for an offshore wind company. A massive algae bloom halted our work for months, and it got me thinking about how we could put that algae to better use.
The support we’ve had from ECCI as part of the Ideas Lab, and now the Climate-KIC Accelerator, has been brilliant. I’m looking forward to taking on the world from here. Find out more about the Climate-KIC programme at ECCI at www.edinburghcentre.org and Twitter @EdCentreCC @MiAlgae