Britain faces big challenges such as youth unemployment, fuel poverty and climate change. We believe it’s possible to combat issues like these and build a better society by collaborating across sectors, which is why we are investing in Energy Entrepreneurs through Ignite, the UK’s first corporate impact investment fund focused on energy.
Ignite will invest £10m over the next 10 years and use the expertise of our people to grow the impact of purpose-driven enterprises. These investments will span every point of the energy chain, from sourcing and generation through to supply, service and saving energy.
To find the brightest business ideas which could benefit from investment ranging between £50,000 and £2m, we hosted a Big Energy Idea event in 2014. And so far, we have committed £5m to eight enterprises which include:
- Brackenburn who are transforming a naturally re-occurring nuisance crop, Bracken, into a renewable biomass fuel to keep homes warm. They do this by harvesting the crop and producing briquettes (‘Brackettes’) that can be used in log burners and open fires. Our investment will help expand their business while reinvigorating rural communities.
- Grow-up Urban Farms are pioneering urban agriculture by creating large scale aquaponics farms, which use nutritious wastewater from fish tanks to grow food. Our support will enable them to build their first urban farm, plan their second and give local people employment.
- Warm Age Wood Company sell wood and briquettes for fuel and for every ten packs purchased, they will donate an extra pack to local, vulnerable people struggling to heat their homes. Our investment will help them reach even more people.
- Global Action Plan work with organisations like the NHS to cut their energy consumption and bills through behaviour change. Our investment will provide 150 NEETs (young people not in employment, education or training), with green skills to help organisations reduce their energy use while giving them the skills they need for future employment.
- Midlands Together are enabling ex-offenders to learn a trade by refurbishing and improving the energy efficiency of empty homes. Our support will give 150 ex-offenders a chance to get back on their feet and secure long-term employment in the sector.
- E-Car Club are alleviating transport poverty with the UK’s first entirely electric car club, which also reduces the carbon emissions from travel. Our investment will help E-Car provide their service to additional communities.
Two investments are also currently progressing through contracting. During 2015, we will be searching for further innovative energy solutions, including at Ignite Roadshows across Britain.