The green entrepreneur
- By Helen Craig -
- Jul 05, 2012
Name: Dan Watson
Company: SafetyNet Technologies LTD
Role: Founder and Lead Designer
Length in role: 3 Years
Loves: When my job takes me in unexpected directions.
Hates: The state of London’s cycle paths.
Recommends: Talking to people about what they do and love.
Congratulations on winning the Pitch To Rich competition! What is your technology all about?
The SafetyNet project was started after I read an article about Scottish fishermen who had been arrested in Norway for illegally throwing fish back into the sea. I’ve spent the last 3 years developing devices that, when fitted to existing trawls, aim to allow small fish and non-target species (known as by-catch) to escape from the nets.
Why is your technology so important from a sustainability perspective?
Currently half of all the fish caught in the North Sea are thrown back, usually dead, into the sea due to quota laws. These laws say that fishermen can only catch a certain proportion of a particular species of fish, and that the fish have to be over a certain size to be taken to land. 40% of the global population relies on fish as its primary source of protein, so when fish are thrown back dead it means they are not able to produce the next generation, which could ultimately lead to their extinction. The fact that we might lose a food source really puts the extent of the problem into perspective. Helping make trawls more selective, and therefore efficient, is one way of addressing the issue of discards.
Apart from giving a great pitch, why do you think you won the competition?
This is an issue that is really coming to public attention at the moment due to great work by people like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I think the timing of the pitch fitted well with this and hopefully showed that the SafetyNet is something we’re really committed to getting onto boats in order to make a positive difference.
Has sustainability always been an interest of yours or something that you have learnt more during the development of your product?
Sustainability is a great buzz-word but in the end it really comes down to common sense. If what you’re designing has any elements of waste then you try, where possible, to design them out. Many of the most pressing problems in the world at the moment are to do with the inefficient use of the resources that we have around us and, as such, there is a lot of focus on sustainability and sustainable design - which can only be a good thing. Fortunately education is playing a large role in this and sustainable thinking is something that the next generation are very much aware of.
What is next for your business, SNTechUK?
We’re currently manufacturing 30 prototypes for use in sea-trials. Once those are complete we’ll be taking them out on a trawler to test them in a real-world environment. It’s daunting, but also very exciting!
What advice would you give to any other green technology entrepreneurs out there?
This is a great time to be involved in this sector of industry, whatever your green-tech is, because people are paying more attention to these issues now. If you’ve got something genuinely new and exciting, some people may be afraid of it and some people may try to challenge your thinking. Hopefully as a green-entrepreneur your driving force comes from trying to make a positive change in the world and, if this is the case, then you must always remember your goal as it will keep you going. Surround yourself with a good team and don’t be afraid to ask for help because there are plenty of people out there who can and will help you - but they’ll never know if you don’t tell them.