Middlesex University’s IFB researchers working on SME Nature Positive Finance staged an SME pitching event on Thursday 20th June.

They became one of the first universities to run such an event, attracting seven early-stage ‘green’ environmentally innovative small businesses to pitch their ideas, Dragon’s Den-style to an international investment audience.


The seven pitchers at the Middlesex event

The seven pitchers


Middlesex University GreenFin researchers are at the forefront of advancing SME green finance, looking beyond net-zero to embrace nature-positive enterprise. That is how smaller businesses can also contribute to the conservation and advancement of the natural world and its resources to meet the requirements of the Kunming-Montreal ‘30 by 30’ protection of 30% of global land and water.

The pitching businesses were successful applicants who attended coaching sessions for the event. All demonstrated that they have achieved early market traction but require investments ranging up to £7.5m to scale up their innovation markets.  These markets are diverse, encompassing renewable energy, AI, robotics, agrifood and fashion.

Middlesex University researchers Professor Robyn Owen and Dr Amy Burnett, who devised this first UK university mini-accelerator programme for nature-positive SME innovators, said:

This has been an incredibly rich learning event for all involved. We can build on this to put Middlesex University at the forefront of SME nature positive innovation research.

A debriefing event with the pitching businesses revealed considerable impacts on the group, including “greater understanding of how to focus on the requirements of green investors”, “the synergies of mutual learning as a group”, and the “desire to work more collaboratively and set up a support group”.   

Spurred on by such positive feedback, Professor Owen said:

We intend to develop this mini accelerator training and pitching model to help nature-positive ventures and develop support toolkits for entrepreneurs and investors in this space.

The event also welcomed fellow IFB researcher Dougal Flemming (Innovation Advisor at the University of Brighton), deepening links across the programme, and forging shared goals to support SMEs seeking investment in environmentally innovative enterprise over the next few months.