Three new impact-led businesses join CISL’s sustainable startup hub in Cambridge

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) welcomes three new, impact-led businesses as official members of its Canopy innovation hub

Advanced Infrastructure, Perpendicular Architecture, and New Allotment are the latest to join the community, with a range of focus from tackling the climate crisis through the built environment, to a data-driven approach to the energy transition. 

Perpendicular Architecture is the brainchild of Patrick Usborne & Aelene Thorne and aims to simultaneously tackle the climate emergency, biodiversity loss and social inequality. His team are building ‘for tomorrow, not yesterday’, using regenerative design principles and by working closely with local communities. Usborne is particularly interested in the use of engineered timber as a sustainable form of construction. 

Advanced Infrastructure is a data science and software startup who want to make it easier for local authority planners, network operators, consultants and energy hubs to plan a net zero transition. Founders Christopher Jackson and Lily Cairns Haylor believe decarbonisation shouldn’t be blocked by something as simple as data access and visibility. They build geospatial solutions (data with geographic/location components) to better understand the current energy baseline and help organisations take practical steps to cut carbon. 

New Allotment was co-founded by journalist Greg Cochrane. It is an audio production company focused on telling stories about the climate crisis – particularly the way it intersects with popular culture. In the past the team has launched successful podcast series like Sounds Like A Plan, which is all about how the music industry can help save the planet. Sustainability is at the core of everything they do, from who hosts their website to the equipment they use to record.  

Each small businesses joins the Canopy at an exciting time, as the community of entrepreneurs grows and continues to work on solutions to global sustainability challenges.  

Founders of Advanced Infrastructure Christopher Jackson and Lily Cairns Haylor said:  

“Canopy is growing into our go-to ecosystem for support and networking for our mission to reduce emissions from the built environment. It really helps to be in a flagship low-emission building, to meet local stakeholders from energy networks, councils and academia. Above all we learn from our co-tenants and peers of mission-driven sustainability startups and scale-ups.”  

Patrick Usborne, founder of Perpendicular Architecture said:

“Working under the Canopy umbrella has been an amazing experience. From the get-go, the team here has been so inclusive, creating introductions with so many incredible people across a range of sectors. This is precisely what we hoped; to meet and collaborate with start-ups working in other fields at a global level.” 

The Canopy opened its doors to businesses in October. It provides both a physical workspace for startups and SMEs and a virtual ecosystem where members can network and collaborate.  

Desks and shared space are housed in CISL’s new Entopia Building – an energy efficient, sustainable retrofit. What used to be a 1930s telephone exchange is now a world-leading example of green architecture, aiming for BREEAM certification (Outstanding), the Passivhauss ‘EnerPHit’ standard and WELL (Gold) certification. 

Sam Laakkonen, Director of The Canopy at CISL, said: 

“Our aim is to become the leading sustainability focused startup hub in the UK. It is great to see that we have started to attract extremely high- quality membership applications and that new members of this calibre are now joining our community.” 

A series of accelerator and incubator courses are also on offer for startups and SMEs at every stage of their journey, such as Sustainability Essentials for your SME/ Startup (starting March 2) and Launching your sustainability product (starting 16 March). 

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