Spotless and sub-zero

Over the last few weeks, two themes seem to have forced their way to the front of my consciousness.  The first is small and medium sized companies and how they get access to the markets that can help them grow.  We have always been quite involved with start-ups, either through our links to universities and the exploitation of new science or through their entry to our competitions; something like 60% of the companies that enter our competitions can be classified as SMEs.  Once a company has grown to a certain size, it NEEDS markets to enable it to realise its full potential.  I have been to a number of events designed to help such companies meet new customers, or new collaborators that will give them access to new markets for their products and services.  I am always buoyed by the imagination and the enthusiasm of the people in these companies. 

One particular example late last year was WebMission.  We came to it late, but have become real fans of the principle.  Like many such initiatives, it starts with a mentored competition, where companies are helped to grow through the early stages of the process and then are given an opportunity to exploit their new skills and connections.  In the case of WebMission 09, it was 20 "Enterprise 2.0" companies who got the chance to go to San Francisco and meet with their peers, potential customers, potential financiers, and those who are already successful in their field.

The second theme is that of products and services that address the challenge of climate change.  Of course, much of our recent activity has addressed the opportunities of the low carbon economy, but it is still exciting to meet new companies that are finding and developing new ways to mitigate the impact of climate change to adapt to its effects.  Last week was particularly strong on this thread, because I attended the Guardian Cleantech Summit on Monday, took part in a Times Online Debate entitled "Is it too late to stop climate change?" on Wednesday and then went on a Forum for the Future Sustainable Development Masterclass on Thursday and Friday.  In each case, I met leaders of companies who see the opportunity for new products and services in this apparently huge challenge.

These things came together with the launch of the Clean and Cool Mission only the week before - but we are now getting down to the serious business of making it happen, and these two streams of thought and activity are becoming more obviously joined.  The main organiser of the "Mission" series of activities is a company called Polecat, and it is they that do most of the heavy lifting, but they already have Volans and Enterprise UK on board.  The launch, held at the London Stock Exchange, enabled us to meet some of the companies that would be logical entrants to the competition.  A couple in particular fired my imagination.  Diverse Energy had just won an iAward on the Monday and been successful in one of our competitions on the same day.  They were a bit happy!!  Also at the event were Method; I met one of the founders a few years back and have been following their almost explosive growth ever since.

We got good reviews in the "green" press but need to spread the word more widely.  We know that there are a lot of UK companies working in this space - because we keep coming across them wherever we go - but we need a more systematic way to capture who they are and what they do.  Hopefully, if we can publicise this activity, we can meet even more of them.  We already have a number of strong contenders, but have learnt that spreading the word gets some lesser-known companies to articulate their vision, the role they can play in it and the commercial potential of their activity.  There are always dark horses in these events, and it is the role of the mentoring and development process to find and develop them.  If you are, or know, a company that might be interested check out the Clean & Cool Mission website.  You have until January 8th 2010 to apply.  What's the worst that can happen?


Last updated on Friday 24 February 2012 at 10:10

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