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Innovate UK EDGE supplies the goods for agri-food pioneer

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Agri-food pioneer Greener onboards four new international suppliers, implements new design thinking principles and revamps its website strategy, all with help from Innovate UK EDGE.

Whilst much of the focus of Net Zero is on vehicles, industrial emissions and energy, other less obvious sectors contribute equally to global sustainability challenges. For example, the agri-food sector is a major contributor to carbon emissions and biodiversity loss. 

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that the industry is currently responsible for up to 37% of greenhouse gases, and that without intervention, by 2050 this is likely to have increased by a further 30% due to population growth.

One Bath-based innovator is helping to address this problem by supporting agri-food businesses to develop more sustainable supply chains.

Through its online ‘matchmaking’ platform restaurants, shops, farms and food manufacturers can outline their needs and environmental aspirations and the ‘Greener’ platform will match them with sustainable suppliers of energy, produce, packaging, waste management and much more. 

The company uses advanced algorithms to achieve the most suitable matches between vendor and purchaser and carefully vets each supplier to ensure they meet the highest sustainability standards. 

“We know that a lot of agri-food businesses want to address their environmental impact, but it’s not an easy thing to prioritise during these difficult times for the industry,” says Mehrnaz Tajmir, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer, Greener. 

“Often, their best option is to reassess their supply chain, but with so many solutions out there it can be difficult to know where to begin – that’s where we come in.”

By way of example, Mehrnaz describes a café in Bath which was creating excess waste from tetra-packaged plant milks and, as a result, was facing high disposal and recycling costs. 

Greener matched the café with a supplier that delivers plant milk in glass bottles, which are then collected, washed and refilled – much like a traditional milk delivery service. Not only has the café and the environment benefitted, but the success of this service has allowed the supplier to expand its business to supply other cafes and restaurants in Bath.

“For us, the key is not to ‘guilt shame’ agri-food businesses, but to give them a head start on sustainability by showing them alternative options, carefully tailored to their particular needs and aspirations,” says Mehrnaz. 

“We want them to get inspired by what's out there.” 

Growth support from Innovate UK EDGE 

In January 2021, Greener began work with Innovate UK EDGE Innovation and Growth Specialist, Giulia Pratico, who helped the company find new partners and suppliers, here in the UK and internationally. 

“Giulia’s been amazing – she’s really proactive, she understands our business and she always has an eye out for potential opportunities for us.”

“With her support we managed to connect with, and onboard, four new suppliers using the Enterprise Europe Network and its Partner Opportunities Database*.”

Enterprise Europe Network is the world’s largest business support network operating in over 60 countries worldwide and helps scaling businesses who have global aspirations find international partners. 

Design Thinking support 

Innovate UK EDGE Design Thinking Specialist, Belinda Waldock, next stepped in to help develop Greener’s platform features. 

“Belinda ran well structured and thought-provoking sessions, helping us to focus on how we can build on our platform’s features and get more out of the clients that we currently have. 

“It really helped us to think more systematically and implement improvements to our processes.”

Marketing support 

Greener next began work with Innovate UK EDGE Marketing Specialist, Maggie Robinson, who advised the company on best practice in developing an awareness-raising LinkedIn campaign and then supported the revamp of its website strategy. 

“Since Maggie’s intervention, we’ve had really positive feedback on our website and platform with users saying it’s clear, easy to use and not too crammed or crowded.”

A critical friend

For Mehrnaz, the guidance and support from Innovate UK EDGE has been hugely beneficial.

“Managing a start-up can be quite a lonely experience – you’re often running around putting out fires and it can be quite intense and isolating.” 

“Giulia and the team have been able to offer a fresh pair of eyes, let us know when we’re on track and point out opportunities we would have missed – it’s been extremely useful.” 

Innovate UK EDGE will continue to support this Bath-based business as it helps more small agri-food companies take their first steps towards a more sustainable future. 

*Please note: We are unable to process expressions of interest at the moment, until our partnership status with the Enterprise Europe Network has been confirmed for 2022 and beyond

Managing a start-up can be quite a lonely experience...Giulia and the team have been able to offer a fresh pair of eyes, let us know when we’re on track and point out opportunities we would have missed – it’s been extremely useful.” 

Mehrnaz Tajmir, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer, Greener