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Sustainable businesses awarded £200k at COP26

Three sustainable businesses were awarded cash prizes as well as the opportunity to pitch onstage at the global COP26 climate conference. 

Scottish EDGE, the UK’s biggest funding competition for high growth potential businesses, has awarded three businesses which demonstrate environmental sustainability excellence with a total of £200k after they were selected as winners in the new Royal Bank of Scotland supported Net Zero EDGE award category.

The judges faced very difficult decisions in the semi-finals and on the day, due to the exceptional standard of entries. The pitches were delivered on stage in front of members of the public who had applied for green zone COP26 tickets, alongside invited guests from the business and start-up support community, and live streamed to a global audience. 

The biggest winner at the final was Dundee-based Faisal Ghani, who was awarded £100k for his solar technology business SolarisKit. Runners-up awarded £50k each were Alicja Dzieciol of SilviBio and Jonathan Feldstein, from Bennu.AI.

Judges included our CEO Alison Rose, Sit Tom Hunter and the University of Strathclyde’s Professor Eleanor Shaw.

Taking place at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), finalists had the opportunity to pitch onstage to a high-profile judging panel consisting of Alison Rose, CEO NatWest Group; Sir Tom Hunter, founder of Scottish EDGE funding partners The Hunter Foundation and Professor Eleanor Shaw of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde University Business School. This opportunity has been made possible thanks to financial support for Scottish EDGE from key delivery partner, Royal Bank of Scotland, which is also a principal partner of COP26.

The new Net Zero EDGE award supports Scotland’s target to be net zero by 2045. Finalists pledged to help create credible change, building awareness of the importance of making sustainability and climate friendly practices core to their growth. 

The winners were: 

  • £100k - Faisal Ghani, SolarisKit, the world’s first flat packable solar thermal collector 
  • £50k - Jonathan Feldstein, Bennu.AI, an automated recycling sorting machine, 
  • £50k - Alicja Dzieciol, SilviBio, innovative seed and soil treatment technology, 

Royal Bank of Scotland, who are principal partners for Cop26, have committed to four years of funding for this new Scottish EDGE award and have supported Scottish EDGE for the last decade.

Judith Cruickshank, Managing Director, Business Banking, Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “The financial sector has a crucial role to play  in helping businesses and the SME sector in particular, embrace the opportunities at all levels, which a net zero future, can offer.

“The enthusiasm from the competition entries shows the appetite that is out there to take on this challenge. The finalists presenting today have displayed an authenticity and desire to affect real change. All are deserving of their award.

“We hope that the COP26 fortnight, and Faisal’s story, will inspire other entrepreneurs to take the next step and to help them see the support that is available to them here in Scotland.”

Sir Tom Hunter, entrepreneur and philanthropist, said “To be an entrepreneur you need to be an optimist and take action; two attributes we need to win the war against climate change… 

“They say winners get to write history - we need to win this battle so we can write the positive history of how we came together to beat the climate crisis for future generations…Scotland as ever has a chance to lead in this if we invest coherently and wisely, and in that Scottish EDGE is a world class exemplar.”

Evelyn McDonald, Chief Executive Officer at Scottish EDGE, said: “We were delighted to see such a high calibre of Scottish entrepreneurs wishing to not only start a business but make a real change. The passion and ideas we saw at the event gives us hope for not only cementing Scotland as leaders in the sustainability journey but also for tackling climate change and helping targets be met.

“Thanks to the support of Royal Bank of Scotland, we were able to launch the Net Zero EDGE in line with Glasgow hosting COP26 but we will also be shining a spotlight on more sustainable businesses in the years ahead.”

Find out more about the Net Zero Edge awards here.