After a rigorous semi-final that culminated in a pitch competition in front of judges, Charlie Guy of LettUs Grow took home the Shell LiveWIRE UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and £25,000 in equity-free funding. This annual award recognises entrepreneurs that are striving to meet the ever-increasing energy and resource needs of a fast-growing population. In order to compete for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, entrepreneurs must first win one of Shell LiveWIRE UK’s monthly £5,000 Smarter Future Awards. LettUs Grow snagged the Smarter Future Award in March 2018.
“Despite working in the increasingly popular sector of vertical farming, Charlie impressed the judges with LettUs Grow’s truly innovative patent pending technology with a unique farm management software for indoor vertical farms,” said Ana Avaliani, one of the judges and Head of Enterprise Hub at the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Other judges of the award included Oliver Rosevear, Head of Environment at Costa Coffee; Alex Betts, Managing Director of Adaxia Capital Partners; Julie Devonshire OBE, Director of Entrepreneurship at King’s College London and last year’s winner Douglas Martin, Managing Director of MiAlgae. Avaliani said Charlie’s vision for LettUs Grow impressed the panel.
“Charlie himself has all of the makings of an entrepreneur: his vision for the company - to grow the world’s leading vertical farming business - was evident in every aspect of the presentation, and his passion to feed people in a more sustainable way was clear,” she said. “I’m excited to watch the business scale and expand into markets outside the UK, deliver on its mission to reduce the waste and carbon footprint of fresh produce and see how Shell’s funding can support this growth.”
The judges announced the winner during the Shell Energy Summit, which featured a keynote from Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden and panel discussions on innovation, entrepreneurship, renewable energy, and more. Shell UK also announced the winner of the Shell Springboard awards. Shell Springboard provides funding to UK-based small to medium sized enterprises with innovative, low-carbon business ideas. Every year, the programme awards six regional winners £40,000 each of equity-free funding to help grow their low-carbon businesses while the national winner receives an additional £110,000. This year’s winner – Farm-Hand Ltd. – developed a pump control method that reduces over-irrigation and improves crop yield, with a two-year payback that has been developed with farmers.
“Tackling climate change is among the greatest challenges facing the world today, requiring an energy transition faster than any before,” said Alex Annaev, Shell UK social investment advisor. “All areas of society have a part to play, but it is clear that no one — not government, not corporations, not consumers — can make the decisive change alone. Collaboration is key. That’s why Shell sees it as so important to support young low-carbon entrepreneurs in the UK, helping them get the resources and publicity they need to be successful.”
To learn more about Shell LiveWIRE UK and their awards programme, please visit their website.