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Prince William on a visit to Low Carbon Materials pictured with CEO and Co-Founder Dr Natasha Boulding

His Royal Highness made a visit to Earthshot Prize 2022 Finalist Low Carbon Materials (LCM) this week to learn more about how they create their innovative, low-carbon construction materials.

LCM spun out of Durham University in 2019, and was born out of a desire shared by scientists and co-founders Dr Natasha Boulding, Scott Bush and Dr Phil Buckley, to develop materials that could be easily and widely used to positively impact the environment by reducing carbon emissions and reimagining the way materials should be made.

The company has gone on to receive an array of awards and nominations, most notably as a finalist in the Fix Our Climate category for The Earthshot Prize, which was founded by Prince William.

During the visit, Prince William also toured the facilities and used LCM’s technology to experience how easily their new product, ACLA®, a carbon negative gravel like material, can be easily incorporated into a standard mix - resulting in net zero asphalt - decarbonising our roads.

Nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship

Alumni Natasha, Phil and Scott came up with the idea for LCM whilst studying for PhD’s in Chemistry and taking part in a Mini MBA Innovation Challenge at Durham University Business School. They retain close links with Durham University, returning to speak at events and judging student competitions.

"Durham University is a dynamic catalyst for innovation and enterprise, empowering students to pioneer new ideas through its cutting-edge enterprise incubator programmes. By doing so, Durham makes a profound and positive impact on our region and beyond, shaping the future of innovation and entrepreneurship." Professor Kieran Jude Fernandes, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Development and Engagement)

With a vision to repurpose waste by converting it into aggregate for concrete, the trio has gone from strength to strength since their original idea of OSTO®. Close engagement with workshops and start-up support services offered by Durham’s Venture Lab enabled the evolving company to win the Blueprint StartUp Challenge 2019.

LCM was supported by the Research England CCF funded Northern Accelerator programme; securing pre-incorporation funding, participating in Future Founders training and benefitting from the Executives into Business programme.

Celebrating collaboration

To celebrate the visit of Prince William, LCM hosted an event which brought together organisations, investors and partners who have provided support throughout their journey.

During Natasha’s closing speech at the event, she shared how a “full-circle moment” for the co-founders was when the material they manufacture was “used on a road at the heart of Durham University” during resurfacing works at Elvet Hill. Natasha explained how St Mary’s College “where it all started” can be seen from that point.

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