Interviews - January 10, 2023
Now that the year 2022 has come to an end, it's time to contemplate the fantastic work our Expert Community has accomplished. The Prêt à Voter, the Solutions for Cities Initiative, and the labeling of clean and profitable Solutions, was all possible thanks to the unraveling support of our Expert Community. We simply could not carry out our mission without the effort and commitment of our 370 Experts. We are unmeasurably grateful to every single one of them.
To celebrate their efforts, we are proud to announce the Expert of the Year Awards for 2022. The Awards honor Experts who have gone above and beyond in their role and have impressed in their dedication and excellence throughout the year. This sees the 20 top-performing Experts recognized for all their efforts throughout 2022, and a special distinction for the best-performing Expert of 2022.
A massive congratulations to the 20 Experts recognized in the 2022's Awards!
We are delighted to announce that from the 20 best-performing Experts in 2022, the Expert of the Year is… Dr. Henry Hunt-Grubbe! Henry joined our Community in April 2018 and has since performed 60 outstanding Assessments. We at the Solar Impulse Foundation would like to express our profound gratitude to Henry for his unwavering dedication to the Expert role.
Congratulations! How does it feel to be Expert of the Year 2022?
I am extremely proud to receive this award. It is wonderful to be recognised and to receive special appreciation for my efforts.
Could you tell us about your background and area of expertise?
Growing up I wanted to be an engineer, I have a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. I then studied Intellectual Property Law and qualified as a Patent Attorney.
My work involves obtaining legal protection for new technologies and advising on related matters. In over 15 years in the profession, I have worked on different state-of-the-art technologies every day. I enjoy the constant learning and the breadth of interesting technologies that I work on (e.g. mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, medical devices, semiconductors, artificial intelligence and many others). My preferred clients are SMEs, university spin-out companies and start-up companies. Advising a successful company over a long period, and seeing them grow to the stage of being sold or floated, is very rewarding.
Why did you decide to join the Expert Community, and what does being part of the Foundation mean to you?
I strongly agree with the goal of the Foundation to promote the adoption of green technologies. I wanted to be one of the Foundation’s Experts because I felt that I could bring relevant expertise. When evaluating a solution, there are often similarities to the issues that arise when performing a due diligence investigation or advising a company on strategy. Being an Expert allows me to provide opinions anonymously and free of charge, hopefully for the benefit of all.
With the urgency nowadays to find and implement sustainable solutions at a big scale, do you think patents slow down innovation, replication, and implementation of promising technologies, therefore being disadvantageous for our society?
Patents encourage and reward innovation, they do not slow innovation down. Patents are very important assets. For large companies, patents are required for protecting their market position and justifying the substantial investment required to develop and commercialise new technologies. With an appropriate strategy given their business plan and other circumstances, patents are also valuable assets of SMEs. Patents increase their appeal to investors and allow them to safely disclose details of their new technology.
Good and needed technology is not prevented from commercialisation by patents. Any barriers caused by patents can be overcome by licensing, sale and other agreements. Patents allow new technologies to be implemented in a safer and fairer manner than if there were no legally enforceable controls in place.
What types of solutions have you evaluated for the Solar Impulse Foundation as an Expert? Which solutions have most impressed you, and why?
The sixty solutions that I have evaluated have covered many different business types and technologies. I am particularly interested in those that are related to carbon capture, hydrogen production and biofuel production. I work with a large number of companies, universities and other research organisations in these fields and so I have specialist knowledge. That said, my favourite assessment was of briiv, an air purifier with a natural material filter. After I read the solution description I wanted to buy the product!
What are your hopes for the Labeled Solutions, and the overall mission of the Solar Impulse Foundation?
In my opinion, helping the environment requires the adoption of a vast number of differing green technologies. Some of these may be appropriate for global commercialisation on a large scale, others may only ever be commercialised on a small local scale.
I agree with how the Foundation promotes a wide range of businesses with environmentally beneficial products and/or services that can be commercialised profitably. I hope to see all of the Labelled Solutions successfully commercialised and complementing each other for the overall improvement of the environment and society.
Do you have anything else you would like to share?
I am pleased to have witnessed the change in attitude towards green technologies by the leading energy companies. When I started my career, I worked on a lot of innovation in the oil industry that was driven by the needs of multi-national companies. I have since seen these same companies transform from being oil companies to energy companies, with large investments in projects ranging from wind farms to carbon capture and storage. Of course, a lot more progress is required. However, it is good that powerful companies are now taking the lead in the development of green technologies.