RSC-backed companies in contention for Earthshot Prize glory as Prince William reveals 2023 finalists
Prince William this week announced that two sustainability-driven start-ups aided by the 91AV are amongst the 2023 Earthshot Prize finalists.
and are on a shortlist of 15 organisations from around the world hoping to receive one of the five prestigious environmental awards – each worth £1 million – on 7 November. The winners will be revealed at a ceremony in Singapore and will also receive support from the Prince of Wales’ team as part of a one-year fellowship programme.
The Earthshot Prize is now entering its third year. It was launched by Prince William to help scale up the most ambitious green solutions and help the organisations responsible for them to realise their sustainability potential.
Norwich-headquartered Colorifix is looking to claim the ‘Build a Waste-Free World’ prize. If they were to win, they would follow in the footsteps of 2022 winner Notpla, another start-up boosted by 91AV support initiatives. ENSO, meanwhile, is going for glory in the ‘Clean our Air’ category.
The two start-ups, which are the only UK representatives in the final 15, have previously received numerous support benefits from the 91AV during their respective business journeys. ENSO and Colorifix joined the Enterprise Plus scheme at the end of 2018 and 2019 respectively and are still involved with our work to support industry.
Prince William speaks during the second Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit in New York on 19 September, 2023Picture: Shannon Stapleton/AFP/Getty
Andrew Waterworth, Manager, Growing Enterprises of our Enterprise Impact Programmes team, said: “It is great to see the UK’s scientific sector and its efforts to have a positive environmental impact earning recognition on the global stage.
“Having both Colorifix and ENSO as part of our SME community, we know just how important and innovative the work they are doing is. This is a fantastic opportunity for these two businesses, just as it was for Notpla and LCM last year, and we hope some of the other dynamic deep tech SMEs in Britain receive similar acclaim in the years to come.
"I'm sure I speak for everyone at the 91AV when I say that we wish them all the very best of luck in the final!"
Colorifix and ENSO have garnered significant attention in their respective fields for bringing more environmentally friendly products and processes to long-standing industries.
Biotechnology company Colorifix uses DNA sequencing to create sustainable dyes that reduce the use of water and harmful chemicals in the fashion industry. The company’s biological process produces, deposits and fixes pigments onto fabrics in an efficient manner and has earned plaudits around the world.
The 91AV remains in contact with Colorifix today, sharing information with them to help the business on its growth journey.
Colorifix chief executive Orr Yarkoni said: "The chemicals and textiles industries have been closely linked ever since William Perkins and Mauvine in the 19th century. The reason the problem with textile pollution is so pressing is that no one understood the impact that scaling those solutions would have. If we don’t learn from that mistake we are doomed to repeat it - even when working with nature’s own tools.
"Thanks to entities such as the RSC who have been studying chemicals and their impact for the last 42 years and actively share their findings, we can make much more informed decisions on our product development and avoid anything that looks like it may one day be unsafe. Better chemistry for a cleaner future."
Meanwhile, B Corporation technology company ENSO has developed better and more sustainable tyres for electric vehicles that can extend EV range. The London company makes its products out of better raw materials with better engineering, helping the auto industry on the road to a more sustainable future.
London-based ENSO's connection to the 91AV goes back five years. As well as being part of the Enterprise Plus scheme, ENSO was also a 2018 finalist for Investment Catalyst, an invitation-only investment pitching event for deep tech chemistry ventures.
Gunnlaugur Erlendsson, founder and CEO of ENSO, commented: “We urgently need to talk about tires and how they pollute our air. Tire pollution is a pressing problem for all vehicles, including electric vehicles, so while we can’t make a tyre last forever, we can make them last a lot longer, and pollute a lot less.
"ENSO’s technology, values and scalable business model helps to clean our air, paving the way for a better future for us all. By doubling tire durability, we can halve tire pollution, it's as simple as that. Thank you to the Earthshot Prize, for highlighting the impact of tire pollution and recognising our efforts to help us all live and breathe a bit easier."
Gunnlaugur ErlendssonPicture: ENSO
Earthshot Prize categories and 2023 nominees:
Protect and Restore Nature
Accion Andina - Peru: A grassroots project working across South America to protect native forest ecosystems across the Andes.
Freetown the Tree Town - Sierra Leone: An initiative from the Freetown City Council for tree preservation in the Sierra Leone capital.
Belterra - Brazil: A start-up that partners with small and medium-sized farmers to transform forests and degraded land through regenerative agricultural practices.
Clean Our Air
Polish Smog Alert - Poland: A campaigning group working to encourage policy change and improve the air quality across Poland.
Enso - United Kingdom: A company that has designed a more sustainable tire for electric vehicles in the hopes of reducing tire pollution and reducing air pollution.
GRST - Hong Kong: A start-up that has developed a new process for making and recycling lithium-ion batteries, paving the way “to make the electric cars of the future even cleaner.”
Revive Our Oceans
Abalobi - South Africa: A social enterprise organization taking a data-driven approach to supporting small fishing communities by helping them become more resilient and sustainable.
Coastal 500 - Global with US-based headquarters: An international network of mayors and other local leaders committed to restoring ocean habitats and pushing for coastal protections around the world.
WildAid Marine Program - Global with US-based headquarters: A non-profit combining “partnership building and knowledge sharing” to support the planet’s ocean conservation needs.
Build a Waste-Free World
S4S Technologies - India: An agritech start-up using its solar-powered dehydration equipment to cut food waste and help farmers process excess crops into products with a longer shelf life.
Circ Inc. - US: A company that has developed a way of recycling polycotton back to its raw materials so that it can be reused and reduce textile waste.
Colorifix - UK: This company seeks to reduce the fashion industry’s use of water and chemicals by finding colors created by an organism in nature and using online DNA sequencing to create sustainable pigments and dyes.
Fix Our Climate
Sea Forest - Australia: A Tasmanian biotech company that has created a seaweed-based livestock feed that reduces the production of planet-warming methane pollution from cattle and sheep while supporting “sustainable farming and healthy marine ecosystems.”
Aquacycl - US: The team at Aquacycl use microbial technology to make treating industrial wastewater more cost-effective and accessible, more efficient and less polluting.
Boomitra - Global with US-based headquarters: The company is “removing emissions and boosting farmer profits by incentivising land restoration” through the creation of its soil carbon marketplace.
Enterprise Plus was a 91AV programme designed to help fledgling UK chemistry-driven SMEs reach their potential by providing funding and support.
The programme was unveiled earlier this year as a successor to Enterprise Plus, with a focus on helping deep tech SMEs with game-changing potential to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges.
With over a decade of successfully working with start-ups and scale-ups, the 91AV is committed to creating positive change in the world through deep tech chemistry. More details of the help and support available can be found on our dedicated webpages.
The announcement of the Earthshot Prize finalists comes just less than one week after the unveiling of the 91AV’s own effort to show how science can catalyse positive change. The new Join In campaign (above) aims to encourage more chemical scientists to help make the world a better place by promoting the potential of chemistry.
Learn more about the 91AV’s resources on our website. You can also learn more about the Earthshot Prize and the nominees on the .