June 10, 2020

Tech Nation launches its first programme for sustainability scaleups

The Net Zero programme plans to boost UK sustainability scaleups — and help the country reach its net zero carbon emissions goal by 2050.


3 min read

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Tech Nation Net Zero
Credit: Illiya Vjestica, Unsplash

Today, Tech Nation launches applications for its first programme for sustainable tech companies, Net Zero — and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Lockdown in the UK has shown that it is possible to reduce our carbon emissions (by a huge 59% in London). But coming out of lockdown threatens to undo any environmental gains, as car usage is expected to soar.

Smart sustainable technology solutions are needed — and at scale — or there’s little hope that the UK will be able to reach its target of net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050, as set out by the government last year.


“To build back better, the UK must harness low-carbon investment opportunities to reboot economies while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution that jeopardise lives,” says Zheela Qaiser, Net Zero’s programme lead. 

“The year of climate action is now.” 

Calling all green go-getters

A green recovery will require companies operating in a huge range of industries to step up to the challenge. 

It’s not just carbon capture companies that have a role to play here, says Cansu Deniz Bayrak, head of fundraising at tech-for-good investor Bethnal Green Ventures and a Net Zero judge. “There’s an opportunity for a wide range of businesses to join the fight against the climate crisis — from deep tech innovation and green transportation, from sharing economy and conscious consumption to food security and biodiversity.” 

The Net Zero programme is looking for scaleups creating electricity, energy, transport, mobility, agriculture, food systems, manufacturing and building technology. It’s also interested in applications from scaleups that have products or services that directly contribute to net zero, like emission-reducing and carbon capture technology — or those that contribute indirectly by changing consumer behaviour, for example. 

"Investing in new technologies is a crucial part of the fight against climate change — making alternative solutions cheaper and better than the incumbents will accelerate the zero carbon transition,” says Pippa Gawley, founder of greentech investor Zero Carbon Capital and a Net Zero judge. 

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Up to 30 scaleups will be selected to join the free six-month programme when it kicks off in October. Companies will need to show some traction or a customer base, be ready to deploy their product or service at scale and have either received some grant funding/investment, or have annual revenue of less than £1.5m.

Applications will be judged on the following criteria: 

  1. Potential for impact: What change could your company make in the world, and how do you plan to achieve that impact?
  2. A superstar team: What expertise (technical or commercial) do you have?
  3. Product market fit: Are you solving a problem that customers are willing to pay for?
  4. Potential for scale: Do you have the ambition to scale and the total addressable market to do so? 
  5. Traction: Can you make a clear case for your growth (commercially, product development or both)?

Greentech focus, same great team

This will be Tech Nation’s first sustainability programme — but it will draw on years of experience scaling and supporting startups. 

Over six months, founders will participate in masterclasses and sessions with sustainable technology experts, academics, entrepreneurs and investors. They’ll also gain access to a huge network, including members of government, and receive coaching. 

Tech Nation is also opening applications for two other scale-up programmes — for Fintech and Applied AI companies.

To find out more about and apply for Tech Nation’s Net Zero programme, click here. To find out more about Tech Nation’s other programmes, click here