Earthshot Prize finalist delivers Bright SCIdea business training

21 December 2022


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  • LCM Co-founder and 2019 Bright SCIdea Challenge winner runs session on ‘a winner’s perspective’
  • Calling university students and entrepreneurs with a plausible scientific concept for a product or service

Dr Phil Buckley, Co- founder and CFO/COO of UK-based science-led construction company Low Carbon Materials (LCM) delivered a session for university students as part of SCI’s (Society of Chemical Industry) Bright SCIdea Challenge 2023 business training programme this month. LCM was one of three international finalists in the Fix Our Climate category, in the prestigious environmental award, The Earthshot Prize, 2022.

The 15 Earthshot Prize finalists announced by HRH Prince William were recognised as a group of entrepreneurs and innovators spearheading ground-breaking solutions to the biggest environmental challenges our planet faces. Set up by three materials scientists who met at Durham University, LCM is shaping the green construction sector with its science-based, low-carbon building material OSTO®. In 2019, competing as Plastech Innovation, the team walked away with first prize in the annual Bright SCIdea challenge – SCI’s annual flagship entrepreneurial challenge for science students.

Based on his own experience of winning Bright SCIdea, building LCM from a three-person to a 15-strong team and becoming an Earthshot finalist, Phil’s advice for Bright SCIdea entrants included:

  • Be certain to communicate the impact of what you’re doing without giving away technical details – and learn about the commercial aspects of your business, not just the technical ones
  • Manage your team – this means getting the culture right from the start – your management style will echo for years to come
  • Always think of the ‘bigger picture’ – strategic intent and a forward-thinking ethos
  • When presenting in a team, have the focus on one front person delivering the pitch – the others can answer specific questions
  • Be open-minded about the type of investment you need and explore a wide range of options to ensure you find a good business-investor match. This is an important relationship and a good match will help the business thrive
  • Look for opportunities to ‘speak to anyone and everyone’ – networking is one of the most important things you can do

Dr Natasha Boulding, LCM CEO has said:

‘Winning Bright SCIdea was a real springboard for us. We received invaluable training and business advice and expanded our industry network which helped us attract business funding. Investors have been impressed by our thought leadership which has included being invited to take part in SCI’s global COP26 panel debate last year.

‘Since the 2019 prize win, we have attracted support from BEIS, the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, the Creative Destruction Lab and Tech Nation. I was also honoured to win Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Award.

‘LCM is always keen to share its business experience with university students, mentoring them to go on to great achievements. To have our low-carbon, waste-based building material recognised as a formidable solution that can be scaled to reverse environmental damage and to better protect the environment is truly game-changing.’

The annual Bright SCIdea Challenge is open to budding entrepreneurs with scientific business ideas that could benefit society. The international competition provides training and mentoring as well as the opportunity to win funding to help launch their business. Now in its fifth year, this successful competition has helped launch new businesses as well as support startups in their early stages.

The winner of the 2022 competition, CardiaTec, is developing technology to address the global killer, cardiovascular disease. Following their March win, CardiaTec went on to raise £1.4 million in a pre-seed round of funding.

Shortlisted teams will pitch their business idea in front of a panel of industry experts and the winners will receive a cash prize of £5,000 at the final in March 2023.

More information about the competition can be found on our website and you can register a team here.

Please contact with any questions. Our writeup of the 2022 event final can be found here.


Notes to editors:

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