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UK clean tech innovators look to move abroad for cash

Start-ups could soon be off…

The UK could lose some of its best young talent in the clean tech sector because the investment environment is ‘too tough to grow in’, start-up companies report.

An in-depth Greenbang study, called the UK Clean Tech Start-up Company Index 2008, found many UK start-up companies are tempted to head off to the US because investors are less risk averse.

“There is a danger that some very smart technologies could move offshore to places like the US where investors are happier to take a risk,” says Greenbang Editor Dan Ilett. “Some of the companies we selected for the index said they had to jump through hoops to get investment in the UK, particularly to grow from small to mid-size. It shows that while there is a lot of noise around clean tech and green business, innovators in the UK are simply not getting the cash they need.

“While there are some universities and government departments helping companies, the research showed that not all companies are finding it easy to get such support. Saying that, the research highlighted some inspiring clean-tech business ideas in the UK. The range of ideas and the potential for some of these companies is astounding.”

The report, a snap-shot of the UK’s clean tech market, profiles young companies innovating in carbon, construction, energy, resources, technology and transport markets. It also asks how these start-ups think businesses and consumers could cut their dependency on fossil fuels.

The report was sponsored by the University of Bath and PR company Hill & Knowlton. Other major findings include:

·       Getting seed capital from investors is relatively straightforward but moving products from the prototype phase is tricky
·       Transparency around new technology is key to avoid greenwash
·       Alternative energy technology is the way forward, people are unsure of the carbon cost
·       Energy security is essential – another driver for looking at alternatives

With global temperatures and the price of fossil fuels showing no signs of cooling, a target has been set to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by between 26 – 32% by 2020 in the UK. Combined with the growing awareness of an environmentally savvy consumer, there has been an explosion in innovation, which is a crucial step forwards for the environment.

“Earlier this year Gordon Brown said that the green tech industry would be worth billions,” says Ian Houston, CEO of Origo Industries, a company that captures carbon from cars and uses algae to turn it back into fuel. “The problem being that government bodies are the hardest route to funding. They are forcing these innovators leave British shores and the UK could lose a massive chunk of technology.”

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