New award for climate entrepreneurs

A new SSE Net Zero Award has been launched to help inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs tackling the climate emergency

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The special prize comes after SSE partnered with Converge, Scotland’s largest company creation programme for staff, students and recent graduates of all Scottish Universities and Research Institutes.

The stand-alone award will be presented to the most promising net zero project from this year’s Converge cohort.

Selected from a pool of semi-finalists across three Challenge categories – Converge, Creative and Impact – one aspiring entrepreneur will win £20,000 in equity-free cash and a package of in-kind benefits, with the winner announced by SSE Chief Executive, Alistair Phillips-Davies, at the annual Converge Awards on 30 September.

Last year, a quarter of all Converge proposals were in the sustainability and climate change space, a trend reflecting the growing urgency and associated response from Scotland’s universities in developing scalable technologies for a greener more resilient world.

In the year that Scotland welcomes the world to COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, the SSE Net Zero Award will shine a light on the inventiveness of our university sector in addressing the climate emergency.

Projects from all sectors will be eligible but construction and the built environment; transport; agriculture and energy are of particular relevance, given their impact on climate. To be considered, candidates will need to demonstrate how their innovation can deliver maximum impact for Scotland’s net zero goal.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge, said: “SSE is a leading player in the race to net zero with a long history of developing low-carbon infrastructure, so we are absolutely delighted to be partnering with them on the launch of the SSE Net Zero Award.

“Climate change is the defining crisis of our time with Scotland’s universities playing a key role in the race to accelerate our transition to a decarbonised economy. This new award will capitalise on those efforts by providing a much-needed boost to a climate-conscious entrepreneur working on the innovations of tomorrow that will contribute to Scotland achieving its net zero targets.

“We are thrilled to be working with SSE, a principal partner of this year’s COP26, and can’t wait to see which projects make it through to the shortlist.”

Marta Smart, Head of Partnership Funding, who will sit on the award panel, said: “We are very excited by the inaugural SSE Net Zero Award.

“SSE is at the forefront of tackling the climate emergency and in the year of COP26, we’re very proud to be associated with this award which will provide a real and tangible boost to academic entrepreneurs helping Scotland deliver its net zero targets.”

Converge’s mission is to help the next generation of innovators, creators and ground-breakers turn their ideas into commercially viable businesses to improve lives, safeguard our planet and help Scotland’s economy thrive.