Scottish Edge, the funding competition for high growth potential businesses, has awarded three businesses which demonstrate “environmental sustainability excellence” a total of £200,000. They were selected as winners in the new Royal Bank of Scotland-supported net zero Edge award category.
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, as well as to a live streamed global audience.
Judges said they faced very difficult decisions in the semi-finals and on the day, due to the exceptional standard of entries.
The biggest winner at the final was Dundee-based Faisal Ghani, who was awarded £100,000 for his solar technology business SolarisKit. Awarded £50,000 each were Alicja Dzieciol of SilviBio and Jonathan Feldstein, from Bennu.AI.
Finalists had the opportunity to pitch onstage to a high-profile judging panel consisting of NatWest Group chief executive Alison Rose, serial entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter, who is the founder of Scottish Edge funding partner The Hunter Foundation, and Eleanor Shaw of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde University Business School.
Financial support for Scottish Edge was provided by NatWest-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, which is also a principal partner of the COP26 climate event.
Hunter 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.”
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 [small and medium-sized enterprise] sector in particular, to 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 have displayed an authenticity and desire to affect real change.
“We hope that the COP26 event and the winner’s stories will inspire other entrepreneurs to take the next step and to help them see the support that is available to them here in Scotland.”
Evelyn McDonald, chief executive at Scottish Edge, added: “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.”