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Meet the alumni and students who are driving success with help from the Venture Lab

a hand completing a lightbulb puzzleDate: March 2023

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Our alumni and students have set up some amazing businesses and are making huge impacts in their markets. These four case studies give a brief overview of startups that have launched with the support of the Venture Lab team.
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Founders of Low Carbon Materials holding their productsLow Carbon Materials

  • Co-founders: Natasha Boulding, Scott Bush and Phil Buckley
  • Established: 2019
  • Key achievements:
    • Winner of our Blueprint Startup Challenge 2019
    • Natasha spoke at COP26 and won Innovate UK's Women in Innovation Award
    • Bright SCIdea Challenge Winner
    • One of nine companies chosen globally for the Holcim Accelerator 2022
    • Finalists of The Earthshot Prize 2022

Low Carbon Materials is an award-winning speciality materials company focusing on low embodied carbon, next-generation construction material alternatives in the race to Net Zero. Its products include a carbon negative lightweight material designed to be used in concrete. This aggregate material has been trialled in concrete blocks.

The blocks have better thermal insulation and thermal mass than incumbents, where traditionally an improvement in both is not possible. This will improve a building’s heating efficiencies, energy efficiency ratings also lower the building’s operational carbon footprint. This invention also means less traditional lightweight aggregate is needed, a material with a large carbon footprint due to the high temperatures required for production, lowering lightweight concrete’s carbon footprint.

Find out more on Low Carbon Materials' website.

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Founders of Tred with their card and appTred

  • Co-founders: Will Smith and Peter Kirby
  • Established: 2020
  • Key achievements:
    • Accepted onto Tech Nation's Net Zero 2.0 accelerator
    • Co-founder Will Smith selected for 'Forbes 30 under 30'
    • Commercial deal secured with Mastercard


Tred is a consumer fintech whose mission is to make money work for people and the planet. It has created and launched the UK’s first green debit card that lets you track and offset your carbon footprint as you spend, and plants trees with profits.

Tred makes tracking and understanding your carbon footprint effortless by calculating it automatically from your spending, then showing you a breakdown of what activities are driving your carbon footprint. Customers can also opt to offset their carbon footprint easily within the Tred app. Tred offers customers tips to reduce their carbon footprint, using data on their spending to help drive smart recommendations of simple switches to lower carbon alternatives. Finally, it devotes 10% of revenue from transactions made on the Tred debit card to tree planting, so customers help tackle climate change as they spend, without having to do anything differently.

Find out more on Tred's website.

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Founders of Alora, Luke and RoryAlora

  • Co-founders: Luke Young and Rory Hornby
  • Established: 2019
  • Key achievements:
    • Graduated from IndieBio Accelerator
    • Featured in Forbes and Wired
    • First full-scale pilot launched in Singapore (August 2022)
    • Highly Commended Award at our Blueprint Startup Challenge 2019

Alora was built to solve world hunger and is evolving to create the sustainable future of food. Founders, Luke Young and Rory Hornby, are developing the future of agriculture by creating crops that can grow in high salt conditions such as salt soils in the Mekong Delta or in coastal saltwater on their floating ocean farms.

Luke and Rory started Alora’s journey as two students at Durham University creating Alora to solve all the sustainability restrictions seen in traditional agriculture. They have developed truly sustainable farming systems that use no freshwater, no chemical fertilizers and less land. To achieve this Alora modifies plant callus tissue using a particle bombardment system to activate a plant’s salt tolerance mechanism to enable them to grow floating on our oceans or in high salt soils.

Find our more on Alora's website.

Purple Dividing LineImpossibrew founder, Mark Wong, on the set of BBC's Dragons Den


  • Founder: Mark Wong
  • Established: 2021
  • Key achievements:
    • Entrepreneurial Impact Award at Blueprint Startup Challenge 2021
    • Hailed as 'the most credible 24-year-old' to appear on BBC's Dragon's Den
    • First and only non-alcoholic beer to be awarded the Gold Medal at London Beer Competition

Mark Wong established IMPOSSIBREW with a mission is to create the world's most complete alternative to alcohol that offers an experience beyond taste. It brews top quality, enhanced non-alcoholic beers developed for relaxation to offer a real alternative for those who don't want to drink alcohol, but still want to unwind with a pint.

Mark developed IMPOSSIBREW after developing a health condition and being advised not to drink alcohol. After finding none of the alcohol alternatives satisfactory, he enlisted the support of Dr Paul Chazot, a world-leading biosciences professor at Durham University, to develop a non-alcoholic beer using functional herbs known for their various beneficial effects including relaxation, anxiety and stress-relief.

Following a very impressive pitch by Mark on BBC’s Dragon’s Den, sales have grown considerably over the past year. As more people seek healthier alternatives to alcohol, the market for non-alcohol beer is expected to grow considerably. Future plans for IMPOSSIBREW include additional beer styles and draught across the UK, and expansion into international markets.

Find out more on Impossibrew's website.