Mackay has big plans for Microgenius

Published: 23 February 2012 at 11:48

Anglia Ruskin helps to power renewable energy start-up

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Microgenius, the first-ever crowdfunding service dedicated to community-based renewable energy projects, expects the launch of to spark interest amongst the UK public.

The not-for-profit company is the brainchild of Cambridge eco-entrepreneur Emily Mackay, who has been supported by Anglia Ruskin University in her bid to start an online green energy revolution.

Anglia Ruskin’s Centre for Enterprise Development and Research (CEDAR) awarded Mackay £10,000 in December as part of part of its Enterprise Fellowship Scheme, and has also provided her with ongoing mentoring support.

The business model for Microgenius is based on crowdfunding, which involves groups of people pooling funds to achieve a particular aim. 

Mackay wants to become the hub for people wanting to find out about and invest in local green energy such as hydro and wind turbines or renewable heating schemes, as well as the platform for co-operatives and communities needing to manage the investment process.

“Community-based green energy is really taking off but it’s hard to find projects if you want to invest,”

said Mackay.

 “The idea behind Microgenius is to provide one website where investors and projects can come together.
“Community energy generation projects are typically raising funds by offering community shares for people to buy.  This gives ordinary people an opportunity to have a say in the running of the project as well as a financial return.
“It’s a great way of not only investing your money, as the return comes from a government-backed subsidy, but also being able to see how it’s improving the environment for you and your family.
“There’s lots of potential for communities to form green energy cooperatives or companies, not only here in Cambridgeshire, but throughout the UK.  However, organisations face a lot of admin and legwork to find investors and still more paperwork to look after them once they’ve found them.  Microgenius will offer some really useful website tools to make the process much easier for both investors and organisations.”

The boom in community-based energy is being fuelled by the government’s two subsidies for green energy generation – the feed-in tariff for electricity and the newer renewable heat incentive for heat.

Subsidies are paid for energy produced and depend on the type and capacity of the installation and the date it was installed.  This means there is a financial return to be made from community schemes, as well as environmental and social benefits.

Dr Aled Jones, Director of Anglia Ruskin’s Global Sustainability Institute, said:

“The opportunity to make a short to medium term profit from renewable installation is now a reality.  By offering a platform to make accessing these investment opportunities easier Microgenius is tapping into a real growth area.”

Director of CEDAR Professor Lester Lloyd-Reason, who was part of the awarding panel, said:

“Everyone was tremendously impressed not only with Emily’s vision but also her passion, drive and commitment to wanting to make this real.  Microgenius is a highly innovative business idea and exactly the kind of venture CEDAR is proud to support and champion.”