Innovative Midlands eco-businesses came to pitch ideas to a dragon’s den-style panel with a green twist.
The event took place at the Changing Lifestyles exhibition at the Town Hall, Birmingham and coincided with the launch of the Midlands Eco Partnership, a networking and lobbying group for eco-friendly organisations.
The event also heard from Councillor Ayoub Khan (Respect, Sparkbrook) who spoke before the launch of the Midlands Eco Partnership, which works with Birmingham City Council’s regeneration scheme Enterprising Communities.
Businesses presented products to a panel of dragons which included Professor Rex Harris from Birmingham University, a leader in hydrogen fuel, and Molly Scot Cato, author of Green Economics. Also on the panel was Rob Hopkins, author of the Transition Towns Handbook and widely accepted leader on the subject and Jane Sarkar, design innovator at Birmingham City University.
Businesses presented products as diverse as an alternative fuel source from leaves, a green magazine and electric vehicles to the panel, who discussed the products from the point of view of environmental impact.
One of the businesses, BioFuels International, presented the Leaf Log, the brainchild of chief executive Peter Morrison. The Leaf Log is an alternative to wood fuel made from 70 per cent fallen leaves compressed into a 1.2kg cylinder which can burn for two hours. The company counts firms such as B&Q among its customers and has a deal with Birmingham City Council to process some of the 16,000 tonnes of dead leaves that fall on public areas.
Recycling these into the Leaf Log means leaves are diverted from landfill sites where they would emit greenhouse gases while they rot.
Rotaire, in Malvern, presented its rotary washing line airer which allows people to dry washing outside when it is raining, cutting down on CO2 emissions from tumble dryer usage.
The product consists of a weighted mesh skirt surround and a cover which sits above the washing line. Its makers say it speeds up clothes drying time even when air conditions are damp.
Another firm to present was Green Transport Solutions, a distributor of electric vehicles, which presented its electric trucks, motorbikes and mopeds.
Prof Harris said he was impressed by all the contestants and found it hard to pull out a winner.
“I quite like the Rotaire simply because it is effective and its design is not complicated. It is based on a simple idea,” he said.
He hailed the innovation showed by companies and stressed the necessity of supporting innovative green businesses as they represent an area of hope for the dismal UK economy.
“It was a very interesting collection and shows there is a lot of inventiveness around still. We are going to need all the inventiveness we can find to steer us through the current economic situation,” he said. “What it shows is that there are enormous opportunities for innovation in our current crisis but is essential for us to plan how we emerge from the current chaotic situation.”