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Opinion: Putting a Shell Spring (board) in our step

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cropped-Screen-Shot-2016-09-09-at-20.58.10.jpgOpinion: Putting a Shell Spring (board) in our step

Written by Euan Hogg – 29/09/2016 6:00 am

Oil major Shell plans to fork out a six-figure sum this year to support UK firms developing low carbon technology.

The Shell Springboard scheme will hand £150,000 to a national champion and £40,000 each to five regional winners.

Here Euan Hogg, a winner from last year, talks about how the cash boost helped him.

In March 2016, Shell Springboard awarded Water Engine Technologies an equity-free grant of £40,000 as the programme’s regional winner.

The Shell Springboard programme provides funding of up to £150,000, as well as marketing and publicity support to UK enterprises with bright and commercially viable solutions to reduce carbon emissions.

Here, co-founder, Euan Hogg, explains what winning a Shell Springboard award means to his business and team.

Water Engine Technologies (WET) is a renewable technology manufacturer business based in Clovenfords, on the outskirts of Galashiels in the Scottish Borders. We’ve developed a hydropower technology called the Water Engine that generates electricity at high efficiency with minimal impact on the environment.

We formed WET in 2015 – although the technology was originally conceived in the 1970’s by Alister Reid, who remains a shareholder in the business. As with many start-up businesses, our initial funding came from friends and family who were keen to see the business develop. As the company has grown, we have been able to attract more investment into the business, such as Local Energy Scotland Challenge Fund Programme – and Shell Springboard.

WET is part of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) Low Carbon Idea’s Lab, an incubator programme for innovative low carbon technologies. The ECCI encouraged us to enter the Shell Springboard programme as a means to help scale-up our business. This was some of the best advice the business has ever taken!

The potential total prize money of £150,000 was a hugely attractive factor for us, as was the programme’s feedback and business support advice given to finalists. We actually entered the Shell Springboard programme twice. After the first application in 2014, we received invaluable feedback from the judges, which helped us improve both how we pitched for funding and the way we talked about our business. Having been through a number of other programmes, I can say that the support offered to applicants is second to none. The second time, of course, we reached the national finals, securing £40,000 in funding for the business.

Winning Shell Springboard is still one of the biggest milestones for WET. The credibility of being backed by a Shell-supported programme as prestigious as Springboard was too good an opportunity to miss. This acknowledgment has been important when we have pitched for other funds.

Our five year plan for business funding was dependent on receiving early stage funding to help accelerate the development of our prototype. Shell Springboard funding has been very purposefully used to develop our demonstrator unit in the Scottish Borders, which will be up and running in early 2017.

In terms of what comes next for WET, we are already moving on with our new installations. We are working with a community group in the Scottish Borders region who are planning on installing two of our units to generate renewable energy. We are also working with contacts in Indonesia and Malawi to explore the potentially huge international market for WET. We see the Water Engine as an important technology for the developing world, and believe that it could play a significant role in energy generation in these areas for years to come.

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