Green firm honoured by Apprentice Tim

Tim Campbell
Tim Campbell

SIR Alan Sugar’s television Apprentice Tim Campbell made it a night to remember for the bosses of a pioneering green firm by naming them winners of a £25,000 top prize for innovation.

Mr Campbell, guest speaker at The Big Dinner which ended the Kent 2020 Vision business show at Detling Showground, was invited to open the envelope and unveil who had won the 2007 Kent Innovation Challenge.

"And the winner is....Carbon8 Systems," he said to applause from 250 guests at the biggest business event ever staged in the county.

The Challenge, run by Sittingbourne Enterprise Hub, attracted a record entry. Twenty contestants were chosen to give a nerve-wracking two-minute presentation to the judges.

Hub director John Dodd said: "Innovation is alive and well in Kent. Over the past two years we have had more than 150 hopefuls accept the Kent Innovation Challenge."

Carbon8 was spun out of the University of Greenwich in Chatham Maritime by Paula Carey, Colin Hills and Prof Stef Simons.

They are used to winning prizes. In December, they scooped a prestigious dragonfly award in the Environment Awards for Kent Business. Carbon8, based at Medway Enterprise Hub, has also won trophies from the Institue of Chemical Engineering.

The fledgling company saw off more than 70 hopefuls to claim the prize in the fourth annual contest designed to find and support the innovative schemes with the best chances of commercial success.

Carbon8 has perfected accelerated carbonation technology. This converts industrial waste, such as ash from commercial incinerators, and contaminated soil into harmless aggregate used by the construction industry.

The process promises big gains for the environment. It reduces waste going to landfill, and the process also captures and removes significant amounts of carbon dioxide, helping to fight global warming.

Carbon8 Systems is about to commission its first industrial scale pilot plant at the Viridor Waste Management plant in Medway. It hopes to run its first pilot scale trials in the next few weeks.

Robert de Fougerolles, chairman of the judging panel and director of Sittingbourne Enterprise Hub, based at Kent Science Park, said: "Carbon8 Systems is a company operating in the right space at the right time. It has already attracted a lot of interest from the construction and waste disposal industries and this award is well deserved."

Paula Carey, commercial director, said: "We are very excited by this award - it will make a terrific impact on making Carbon8 a commercial reality. The money will enable us to complete the construction of our pilot, conduct trials at an commercial scale and market the system."

Carbon8 also won prizes in kind - free rent for a year, free business and banking support from NatWest for 18 months, up to 10 days free business mentoring from Business Link Kent; legal support from Vertex Law woth £5,000; and filming and production of a corporate video valued at £5,000.

The 10 finalists in the Kent Innovation Challenge in 2007 were Shwosher, Fillaball, Allcook, Olfactory, Silent Wind Turbine, Optimum Fitness, Industry Direct, Carbon8 Systems, Ultrasoc, and Global Medical Systems

Sponsors were: South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Sittingbourne Enterprise Hub, Medway Enterprise Hub, Canterbury Enterprise Hub, Kent County Council, Kent Science Park, Business Link Kent, The Kent Messenger Group, Vertex Law, NatWest, Coast Communications, Lavender Blue Media, CBI and the University of Kent.

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