Appledore-based Earthly Biochar has won a £50,000 Innovate UK grant in the Young Innovators Next Steps Awards.
Founded by two innovators in the mid-20s, Earthly Biochar helps farmers and gardeners use less water and feed and grow bigger, healthier plants with an organic soil amendment that also sequesters carbon.
Earthly Biochar will use the grant to develop new biochar products that will help create the foundations for a carbon negative economy.
Innovate UK’s Young Innovators Next Steps Awards recognize pioneering young entrepreneurs who have previously won Young Innovator Awards.
“We are so proud to be recognized by Innovate UK again,” says Lottie Hawkins, co-founder of Earthly Biochar. “With a growing team behind us and access to funding, we can now deliver on our mission to increase carbon capture and focus on climate change adaptation.”
Earthly Biochar delivers climate benefits by collecting waste wood and other biomass and sequestering carbon that would otherwise be released if it were rotted or burned.
By burning this organic waste at high temperatures in pyrolysis furnaces with little or no oxygen present, the company creates a black, stable material known as biochar. Biochar captures 50% of wood carbon in non-biodegradable crystalline structures, meaning they will remain locked in the product for many thousands of years to come.
Earthly Biochar research shows that when added to soil, biochar increases plant health and growth by 10-200% and reduces water and fertilizer needs by 15-40%, depending on existing soil quality.
Since winning the 2021 Young Innovators Award, Earthly Biochar has benefited from a special package of mentoring and growth support from Innovate UK EDGE focused on business strategy, marketing and investment readiness.
Reflecting on her journey of support with Innovate UK EDGE, Lottie said: “The exceptional support has helped us achieve a number of significant milestones over the past year. We expanded our team, completed product development and launched our hero; biochar stoves for gardeners.
“We are now in a strong position to scale and secure additional funding and investment.”
In a message to other young, innovative entrepreneurs, Lottie said: “Applications for the next Young Innovators Awards are now open. What if you were one of the awardees in 2022/23? If you have a business idea or even a problem that you think is worth solving, I really urge you to apply. It was a game changer for us. Dream bigger.”
Innovate UK EDGE will continue to offer close advice and guidance as the Devon-based business helps address our global climate, waste management and food production challenges.