UK: A Scottish company has secured funding from the UK Government to help tackle the global problem of the black market in HFC refrigerants.
Vistalworks, which has established bases in Glasgow and Estonia, develops tech solutions to protect citizens and economies from illicit trade, and is currently part of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre’s cyber accelerator programme.
With £60,000 funding from Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund for the first phase of the HFCs project, the company will work with the Dundee-based Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science on a new software solution.
The tech solution will automatically detect online illegal sellers of illicit F-gas, quantify and group patterns of illicit trade to detect organised criminal sellers, provide data to enforcement agencies across Europe, and ensure sampling/test processes can support successful prosecutions.
It is estimated that the solution could reduce climate-related emissions and pollution caused by HFCs used in buildings and industry refrigerants and air conditioning by up to 840,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.
It is planned that a software solution to help European enforcement agencies target the black market will be announced in time for COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021.
Vicky Brock, chief executive and co-founder of Vistalworks, said: “When COP26 comes to our home city of Glasgow in 2021, it is our ambition to present a regulatory enforcement solution that can be used by the world to tackle the illicit trade in these greenhouse gases and directly reduce the associated social, climate and environmental harms.
“Reducing the black market will enable legitimate businesses to “build back better” from the Covid-19 pandemic, creating a more sustainable economy and directly tackling the illegal emissions threatening net zero targets in countries across the globe.
“At a time when nations are working to meet tough climate change goals, our software could be a major tool in helping companies, governments and enforcement agencies to tackle this illegal activity and help the environment.”
Vistalworks was launched in 2019 by three highly experienced Scotland-based entrepreneurs – Vicky Brock, Alan Murray and Stephen Budd. Their mission was to reduce the financial, social and human costs of illicit trade by supporting public bodies and industry in their efforts to detect, inform and enforce the legislation flouted by online illicit traders.
The company has developed technology that greatly reduces the risk that shoppers will become a victim of fraud and illicit trade, with software that warns online shoppers of potential high risk purchases before they buy. The same technology risk-profiles sellers and products on mainstream online marketplaces, proving intelligence software and alerts to public sector and industry clients.