Speaking up for the environment
Jack Fleet was a member of the University of Manchester’s winning YES19 team, Larvita
Our business idea was a vertical insect farm producing low cost, environmentally sustainable poultry feed and fertiliser using insects grown on waste products. The business was underpinned by a core environmental message: natural resources are running out drastically and we have to act now before the change to our environment becomes irreversible.
As such, our team aimed to address four of the United Nations sustainable development goals:
- Climate action - low carbon footprint; recycling food waste as insect feed
- Sustainable cities - modular farms in shipping containers placed on urban, brownfield sites
- Life on land - reduced need for agricultural land to be used to produce animal feed
- Zero hunger - protein-rich, nutrient-boosting poultry feed improving the quality of the end product
It was through this attention to detail and positive environmental ethics, that we went on to win Environment YES, the “best plant, microbial and environmental business plan” sponsored by Syngenta and the “people’s choice” award sponsored by Indigo Business. The YES competition gave us the means and knowledge to potentially turn a passion of environmental science into a profitable and sustainable business.
An unexpected reward
The prize for the “people’s choice” award was access to Indigo Business’ world renowned Think on Your Feet® communications training course, teaching you to speak with clarity, brevity and impact. As a PhD researcher, clear written and verbal communications are crucial to the success of the doctorate but likewise, casual communications and networking are essential skills to learn for the career beyond. Think on Your Feet® trained us to systematically breakdown arguments, condensing thoughts to prevent information overload, and provided us with techniques to remain calm and speak concisely in informal situations - particularly useful when caught off guard in questioning by a supervisor!
What was surprisingly enlightening was the range of people attending the course: from individuals who work in government, to directors of pharmaceutical companies, to PhD researchers like ourselves. No matter what your background is, or your career seniority, you may all struggle with structuring your ideas and presenting them with the impact they deserve.
We strongly recommend
We would like to thank all those involved, particularly Rob Fisher for providing us the opportunity to learn such crucial skills to our future careers. We would strongly recommend this course to any individual or business who wants their communications to get to the point and be remembered for it.
Larvita winning "people's choice" award:
(Left to Right) Rob Fisher, James Dinsley, Jack Fleet, Armida Gjindali, Owen McIntosh
Call to researchers
There are countless environmental researchers at universities across the country that have the potential to devise a business plan and bring it to fruition. It’s our responsibility as environmental researchers to address climate issues head first and apply our knowledge and experience in any way we can. We need passionate, creative thinkers to build from their research and learn the business development and communication skills necessary to be the leading environmental advocates in the future. The YES competition will help you do that.
Call to businesses
We would also urge any environmentally or energy-driven businesses to champion university teams hoping to compete in Environment YES. Researchers deserve to know about the positive work businesses and start-ups are doing for the environment: through conservation, sustainable food production and renewable energy development. Collaboration between academic researchers, environmental businesses and the YES competition will prove a powerful force in the fight against environmental decline.