Shiply | Robert Matthams

In his student days at the University of Manchester – “back when I still had spare time” – Robert Matthams ordered a pool table. While chatting with the delivery man he was introduced to the term “empty running”. Trucks full of packages leave their stations in the morning and return empty at night. The empty return is called “empty running” and is a common and costly phenomenon in the shipping industry.

“Empty running”

This encounter planted the seed for Shiply, which Matthams founded in 2008. The idea was to diminish the number of empty runs and, as such, make the shipping industry more efficient and sustainable. Matthams didn’t know much about programming and had to buy books so he could build the first version of Shiply’s platform himself. “Financially, the first year was very challenging. Low rent was a lifesaver,” says Matthams.

Qurrent | Igor Kluin

“As entrepreneur I was too early, but as an idealist I was right on time,” says Igor Kluin, founder of Qurrent. This company, founded in 2005, allows neighbours to share their sustainably generated energy with each other through the “Q-box”.

The Q-box combines the energy generated by personal solar panels or micro wind turbines and regulates the energy needs and costs accordingly among the participating neighbours. This could ultimately cancel out the need for large overarching energy companies.

Back in 2003, Kluin was intrigued by the energy challenges our society would soon face. “A lot of people had no idea, and even if they did, they didn’t know what they could do about it,” he remembers.