Oxford alumnus wins Shell global innovation prize

23 Nov 2018
Dr Richard Lofthouse

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Josh Burton winning his Shell LiveWire prize, Nov 14th, 2018.

At an awards event in Kuching, Malaysia, on November 14th, 2018, Metronome start-up founder Josh Burton (Oriel, 2009) and co-founder Daryl Rodrigo won the category for Energy Solutions, walking away with the $20,000 first prize.

To do this they fought off hundreds of entrants from around the world, as well as short-listed HySiLabs, from France, and Alternate Energy, from Nigeria.

Josh with co-founder Daryl Rodrigo, Shoreditch, London, UK, October 2018.

The annual competition, the Shell LiveWIRE Top Ten Innovators, is aimed at solving pressing problems in energy, retail supply chains and social enterprises.

Burton is focused on the valuable role played by anaerobic digesters that turn farm waste into methane burned for energy and heat, the largest of them capable of heating 2,500 houses.

Secondly, he and co-founder Daryl are developing software to match energy demand to supply in the unique setting of farms, too often intensive energy users and increasingly energy creators through solar and wind installation.

The Shell competition drew entrepreneurs from all over the world

Burton describes cold storage units on many farms as a variety of thermal battery, considering the energy they absorb and use.

Clever management of this energy can result in enormous efficiencies, but it requires AI-derived techniques of anticipation resting on datasets and machine learning.

Metronome founder Josh Burton says, ‘This blew us away. We are so pleased to win such a prestigious global competition. What we take from this is not just the valuable additional funding, but endorsement from a global energy giant and proof that we are on the right track with the technology we are creating to help agriculture manage its energy. It’s great to have the support of Shell helping Metronome build a cleaner, greener future.’

Crops such as potatoes demand energy intensive cold storage

Burton holds an engineering science degree from Oxford and while still an undergraduate helped his farming parents to build one of the UK’s largest solar energy installations.

Alex Annaev, Social Investment Advisor for Shell UK, says, ‘I am thrilled that an entrepreneur from the UK won the global awards, which showcased the talent and innovation of our country!’

Metronome’s award package from Shell will now include mentoring support by a Shell expert, the opportunity to benefit from market linkages and the possibility to be considered as a vendor to Shell’s Retail business.

Lead image of solar cells, Shutterstock. All other picture credits: SHELL

Metronome Technologies is an Energy Intelligence company founded in 2018 by Josh Burton and Daryl Rodrigo. Recently completing an incubator programme, called L.E.V8 (‘ELEVATE’) at the University of Oxford, the company has closed its seed funding round and is based in the tech district of Shoreditch, London, UK, and Herefordshire, UK. It provides energy services to the agricultural industry, storing energy in refrigerated crops such as potatoes and re-realising intensive energy use situations, common in farming, as thermal batteries. They have recently opened a new Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) service for farmers, offering higher prices for their exported power.

www.metronome.energy

Shell LiveWIRE Top Ten Innovators competition is a worldwide competition open to the alumni of Shell LiveWIRE. Its objective is to reward exceptional examples of innovation within businesses supported by the programme and to create a cohort of role models to inspire young entrepreneurs across the globe.

www.shell-livewire.org

OXFO L.E.V8 (‘Elevate’) accelerator is open to Oxford alumni and not just students, and is hiosted by The Oxford Foundry ('OxFo'). Metronome was part of the first cohort, in 2018. They pitched real investors at The Oxford Foundry on September 25th, 2018, and have subsequently completed a seed funding round.

The Oxford Foundry is the University’s new entrepreneurship centre, and supports all 24,000 students across the University. One of the key themes is enhancing employability through nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset.

www.oxfordfoundry.ox.ac.uk Twitter @oxfoundry; Instagram @oxfordfoundry; Facebook @oxfound

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