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4 November, 2021 - 21:43 By Tony Quested

Cambridge GaN Devices founder calls for more net-zero action

Power electronics pioneer Cambridge GaN Devices (CGD) is in the vanguard of an initiative to persuade governments to do more to ensure net-zero targets are met and not allowed to fall away.

Co-founder and CEO Giorgia Longobardi is among signatories to an open letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and COP26 president Alok Sharma demanding less talk and more action.

The company chiefs – founders and investors – are forming a special group to maintain pressure on the UK and other global governments.

Longobardi told Business Weekly: “The letter and what COP26 is trying to achieve is very much aligned with Cambridge GaN Devices’ purpose: we are committed to a greener world and a sustainable future through advanced power electronics.

“By focusing on saving the energy wasted with efficient power devices made in GaN one could save millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions. Our purpose is not only related to what our technology can achieve. It is very much embedded in our culture, in the choices we make daily and that can help reduce the negative impact on the environment.

“With this in mind, we are putting together an ESG committee that will focus on rapidly improving our environmental KPIs, among other issues. With the letter, I wanted to share my view on the help we need from governments to make sure that the change is not only happening in small realities but also on a much more global scale. 

“I started the company with the idea of changing things for the better. My definition of success is in the impact that innovation can have in everyday life.

“We have a great technology that can help the environment and it is a great start but I want to do more. I want to drive the change and on a much more global scale; this letter is a first step.

“I am attending COP26 where I will take part in the CBI dinner and the SMI Terra Carta Action Forum – The Power of Enterprise – and hope I’ll have the chance to share my views on how much more can be done, the support that companies such as Cambridge GaN devices need and the role that power electronics can have in meeting the net zero targets.”

CGD has been created to explore and develop a number of unique opportunities in power electronics made possible by the team’s proprietary application of Gallium Nitride to the silicon-based semiconductor transistor manufacturing process.

With silicon transistors widely acknowledged as having attained maximum efficiency, CGD’s power design engineers have developed a range of Gallium Nitride transistors that are over 100 times faster, lose 5–10 times less power and are four times smaller than existing silicon equivalents.

The possibilities and range of potential applications for these transistors are almost endless in this increasingly digitally connected world.

The open letter to the Prime Minister and Alok Sharma states: “With COP26 underway, the number ringing in everyone’s ears is nine. We have just nine years to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – a feat that seems challenging at best.

“Startups, with their talent, resources and ability to innovate and scale quickly, have a critical role to play. However, despite a record €7 billion invested into European CleanTech startups from venture capital funds in the first half of 2021, there are huge structural issues preventing them from fulfilling their potential.

“We are writing on behalf of the UK investment and innovation ecosystem to call on our prime minister, Boris Johnson, and COP26 President, Alok Sharma, to urgently address and implement the following recommendations so we can maximise the ability of CleanTechs and other startups to innovate and contribute to the wider push towards the UN’s climate goals.”

The demands and recommendations contained in the letter were as follows:-

1) The Green Standards
The introduction of a simple, clear, and coherent set of Green Standards with country-level reporting guidelines that every business operating in – or with – the UK must adhere to. This will focus the sights of innovators on a unified framework with a single measure of success, while providing investors with clear guidelines they can use to better evaluate companies and deploy capital more effectively.

2) Green Tax Credits
The Government’s introduction of research and development (R & D) tax credits has been hugely successful in rewarding innovation. We propose an equivalent incentive that awards Green Tax Credits to businesses that can either prove a certain percentage of their expenditure is being spent on developing greener products and/or services, or demonstrate how they are making their own business practices more sustainable.

3) The Green Tax
Sustainability can no longer be a “nice to have”. It is time to introduce financial penalties for the businesses that refuse to take responsibility for their impact on the environment and/or continue to make unsustainable business decisions for commercial gain. We urge the Government to introduce a variable Green Tax levied on businesses that do not meet a minimum set of environmentally-friendly operating principles.

The letter concluded: “We know Boris Johnson has been a long-standing champion of the UK technology scene, having led the creation of the Tech City initiative in 2010 so we hope he, along with Alok Sharma, will take this opportunity to come to the table and discuss these recommendations from some of the most influential voices in the ecosystem.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: Cambridge GaN Devices co-founder and CEO Giorgia Longobardi. Picture by Alan Bennett – Media Imaging Solutions

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