Green Builders of Tomorrow are making a difference today

Green Builders of Tomorrow are making a difference today

Green Builders of Tomorrow are making a difference today
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In the scale-up space, venture capital is the key to turning today’s startups into tomorrow’s unicorns.

Five years ago, the UK became the first major economy to set a legally binding target to reach net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.

This was followed by the 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution, in which our government outlined the approach to accelerate our path to net zero, mobilizing £12 billion ($15 billion) of government investment and potentially three times that from the private sector in strategic green sectors. These sectors include offshore wind, low-carbon hydrogen, new and advanced nuclear power, carbon capture, usage and storage, accelerating the shift to zero-emission vehicles, green public transport, jet zero, green ships, and green finance.

Early-stage pioneers

This challenge served as the catalyst that inspired colleagues in the Department for Business and Trade’s Venture Capital Unit. They inaugurated the Green Builders of Tomorrow competition to identify the best early-stage pioneers from across the UK who could attract international venture capital investment into the UK’s net-zero sectors.

Now in its third year, Green Builders of Tomorrow has continued to grow from strength to strength. This year, with sponsorship from Octopus Energy Generation, the competition expanded to include both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, with support from Mubadala, Venturesouq, Gulf Islamic Investments, Masdar, the Future Investment Initiative, and NEOM on the judging panels.

Its success is underpinned by the commitments of the UK, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia to green technology in the march toward net-zero.

In the UAE, this commitment was front and center in hosting COP28 and in the signing of the UAE Consensus by the Conference of Parties.

Our prime minister visited COP28, during which Masdar and RWE announced their £11 billion investment into the Dogger Bank South wind farm off the coast of Scotland, and where Masdar announced its investment into the East Anglia 3 offshore wind project.

This is underpinned by our UK-UAE Clean Energy memorandum of understanding, which outlines our joint ambitions for clean energy investment and cooperation, as well as our UAE-UK Sovereign Investment Partnership, which includes renewables as a key pillar.

In Saudi Arabia, our bilateral Clean Energy Partnership is committed to developing new areas of cooperation, including low carbon, carbon capture technologies, and hydrogen, to enable knowledge exchange, innovation, and capacity building, supporting academic and commercial collaboration.

Flagship Saudi investments in the UK include SABIC’s $1 billion investment to decarbonize its plant in Teesside, and Al-Fanar’s £1.5 billion investment in Teesside and elsewhere to convert waste into sustainable aviation fuel.

Embracing emerging technology

The UK is home to some of the most innovative climate startups fueled by venture capital funds. This success is built upon wider strengths — our scientific research base and expertise in high-value services and financial industries. Complemented by a stable regulatory framework upon which cleantech companies can grow and flourish.  

Co-investment into green technologies of the future is central to all three nations.

One of the most important ways to achieve our joint ambition of net-zero is to embrace the emerging technologies developed by companies to address the challenges of climate change.

And this is why the Green Builders of Tomorrow is so significant.  

The five winners offer solutions to today’s challenges across multiple sectors:  

Tokamak Energy is a leading global commercial fusion energy company, developing technology to deliver fusion energy before 2040.

ZeroAvia is a leader in zero-emission aviation with the mission of delivering a hydrogen-electric engine in every aircraft.  

Riverlane is building the Quantum Error Correction stack to manage the millions of data errors preventing today’s quantum computers from becoming useful.

Notpla is a sustainable packaging and Earthshot Prize-winning startup that creates seaweed-based alternatives to single-use plastic packaging with partners like Just Eat and Decathlon.

ORCA Computing has built a groundbreaking new natively networked photonics architecture for quantum computing, the first and only architecture that is fully fiber connected from the first qubit generation through to thousands of entangled units.  

Together, these companies met with UAE investors, including Gulf Islamic Investment, Mubadala, Adio, Hub71, Masdar City, and the Catalyst.  

In Riyadh, the companies met with NEOM, PIF, and Riyadh Valley Co., among others, underpinning our shared ambition to partner on technologies of the future.  

As a token of appreciation for the winners’ commitment to sustainability, Masdar City will plant mangrove saplings for each of the visitors. Mangroves capture four times more carbon per equivalent area than rainforests.  

These mangrove saplings will mature and make an outsized contribution to net zero. I’m certain that the winners of Green Builders of Tomorrow will do the same.  

Oliver Christian is the UK’s trade commissioner for the Middle East and Pakistan.


Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view