2002 to Billions
Envirup was established in 2002 as a sustainability consultancy for the built environment. Our first clients included Billion pound property managers in the West End of London, often owned by Billionaires (we cannot reveal their names) and some of the leading property investment funds. We lead their efforts to reduce energy costs through energy procurement where we worked with most of the country’s energy and gas suppliers, procuring millions of pounds in utility contracts for A-Grade offices, Shopping Centres and retail-leisure parks across the UK.
From one person being made redundant from the corporate world we grew and all our staff gained Associateship of The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment. Our two Directors at the time were elected Members of The Energy Institute and Registered Chartered Energy Managers.
(Photograph by: Alex Lentati)
Our work included being the property owners Sustainability Consultants working with Her Majesties Customs & Excise, NATS- the UK air traffic control service, Local Councils, major facilities management companies, Government Agencies and private companies around the country. We strive to provide a high quality, ahead of expectations service to all our clients, being rewarded with their referrals.
From Energy to Sustainability and Renewables.
Our practice extended into sustainability strategy for our clients, evaluating and advising on practical methods to reduce their climate change impact reduction. We were considering everything from renewable energy generation, waste segregation, water savings measures, low energy control measures and innovations.
Seeking opportunities to take our work beyond the UK lead us to being supported by UK Trade & Investment to work with an international steel company to design a land remediation strategy for 50 years of waste they had accumulated into a man-made “mini-mountain” ! We had built a comprehensive consortia to deliver the 10 year project, but sadly we did not win the contract as the executive decided to ‘sell’ the contract to companies willing to pay the bribes required to win it – Not our way folks ! It was an interesting lesson in the how bad corporate behaviour can actually be.
Envirup were also invited to support renewable energy developers across Eastern Europe, helping them to commercialise their innovations, raise funding and close deals. We were involved in around £1.5billion of clean technology projects in Wind, Biomass to Energy, Waste to Energy and Solar energy. We were also invited to assist a group of Silicon Valley veterans to evaluate their plans to build a solar panel factory by the Inward Investment Department of Hungary.
Heat Loss problem
With all that experience, it was inevitable that Envirup would come up with a something to reduce building environmental impact. The problem we saw with that of heat loss through the walls of old cold homes, taking on fuel poverty and the huge casualties it creates. Insulation saves energy, reduces heat loss, leads to a more stable internal temperature, reduce energy cost anxieties and for some people reducing the stark choice of food or fuel.
Current system are complex, require highly skilled installers, fine dry weather to install, taking many weeks to install with a lot of resident inconvenience.
We created the Envirup Insulation System – high quality, factory manufactured complete system, completely fire tested (as the finished product), easy to install in any weather in 3rd of the time of current system. We took the idea, designed it, the components, tested it with Nottingham University, raised over £900,000 with Innovate UK and corporate partners, gained patents and Design Registration, completed full product certification and installed on an occupied home installation. It worked, we won awards and further funding.
The innovation was a technical feat for our small company with lots of delays along the way. We created a new toy along the way and spun that into a new company – www.simbrix.com launched on Kickstarter and gained lots of fans around the world.
Suffering the problem we are solving
Then our manufacturing partner suddenly pulled out of the project before launch and would not give access to our IP or production tool for 3 years despite all our effort and it was completely horrible, taking the company to its knees
and the remaining Director and family into Fuel Poverty. The broke our orginally agreement with the Chief Executive Officer and our then sought to punish by holding us back from future progress.
We had legal support – but they had more, we had morals and integrity and they had none. Of all the government funding that we received by the project was lost. Thankfully Innovate UK has made changes to their funding rules so that
companies that fail to exploit their project for good reason are not able to receive further grants.
This situation was doubly difficult as this impacted our businesses credibility and therefore our ability to find a suitable alternative – that one company’s decision raised questions when talking to alternatives.
Talking helps more than One!
Assim, the founding Director had been delivered business seminars for many years around energy, sustainability and being an entrepreneur, working Universities, Accelerators and Non Government Agencies and one year he was invited to give a seminar to an class of MBA students. Rather then speak about his triumphs, but talked about his challenges – worts and all as that was his truth and he realised that Entrepreneurs rarely do, despite a 60% business failure within 5 years of starting.
He also developed a number of concepts to help them think about seeing the dangers before they happen. It went well and The Entrepreneurs Trust was born – our brand to teach motivated innovators and businesses people strategies to commercialise their ideas and protect them from the dangers. www.entreust.org. Our Directors has travelled and ‘Zoomed’ extensively to deliver practical seminars, workshops and keynotes with accelerators and universities around the world, as well as joining the Board of some exciting early stage startup companies.
A New Green Frontier
It took some out of the box thinking for us to pivot into a new use case – Greenhouse insulation, win another Innovate UK grant, to buy the production machinery and our IP out of the Stock Exchange listed company.
A simple passing conversation with a Swedish social enterprise helping asylum seekers grow crops in community gardens was the spark the ignited and idea – what if the insulation panel could be made from clear material and used for the walls of greenhouses?
What would be the result? What would be the impact on crop quality and growth? This lead to a research project with Wolverhampton University’s experts in building thermal performance which concluded a greenhouse built with clear Envirup insulation panels would extend the growing season and result in greater crop yields.
Fuelled by this 3 month research project, we sought our expertise to investigate this further.
Together with Crop Health & Protection – one the UK’s leading Agritech research centres we devised a research plan and won a Feasibility Study grant to bring us together with Wolverhampton University – BECCI Project.
CambridgeHOK (UK’s leading Greenhouse design/engineering/construction company, Selby Technology Centre- plant research centre and Boomer Industries, an expert in building products and automotive parts manufacturing.
Reduce the energy consumption of greenhouses
Create more energy savings in the northern hemisphere
Increase the growing season of greenhouses
Be a more resilient wall system than glass
Allow onshoring of crops grown overseas
Helps reduce the CO2 footprint of greenhouse crops.
Our main technical focus is progressing the Envirup Greenhouse Insulation to field trials to test in real life use case Nottingham Trent University, Brackehurst Campus within their Greenhouse Complex. Working with such well regarded academic partners will allow us to field test the system and allow growers around the country to see the progress of the system with the rigour that such partnerships provides.