After travelling the world seeking adventure and working odd jobs, Tom began working life as an on-site builder and plasterer. Seeing first-hand the waste that the construction industry is responsible for and the cost to get rid of it, Tom took action, opting to study for   a master’s degree in sustainable architecture at the well-known Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT). Through his thesis, he created, developed and tested the first samples of what is now known as Breathaboard. He applied for an entrepreneur competition taking him to the European finals (pictured) and winning him a place on the Climate Kic Accelerator at Imperial College, London. These experiences gave him the tools to go from on-site builder to business builder, and Adaptavate was born.


More success followed: Tom was accoladed with the Shell LiveWIRE Award for 2015 Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and the Green Alley award in Berlin. Tom continued to build the foundations of the business whilst at Climate Kic. Tools learned here still prove useful in our office! A lease was signed on the infamous Unit 10, the slightly damp and cold home of Adaptavate until 2022. It will always be the spiritual home of whatever we build!


A year of significant milestones. It began with a successful BBSRC grant bid, which funded proof of concept for Breathaboard in collaboration with the University of Bath. Following this, the initial patent for Breathaboard was filed, and the first major case study with the UK Green Building Council was secured. We also had our first Board meeting, albeit on garden furniture in the middle of the workshop. That same year, new Adaptavator Owen, and Tom trialled mixes for Breathaboard, testing different combinations. Connecting to his plastering roots, Tom realised there was an effective plaster to be realised. He also heard the story of how Tarmac started (ask him about it!) and so, on a shoestring, they developed what is now known as Breathaplasta Universal. This led to the soft launch of Breathaplasta at UK Construction week. 


We welcomed Jeff, a fellow CAT graduate, brought in for his technical expertise and is now the Chief Technical Officer. In the same year, Adaptavate went through a rebrand moving away from green, eco and experimental towards a healthy, high performance and scientifically engineered look. We continued to make Breathaplasta from Unit 10, by hand, and were featured in high-profile case studies like The Conduit, London. Tom winning a Shell Private Grant rounded the year up, one to remember.


With new branding and new members, a second patent was filed, and Jeff and Tom were working hard to understand how to scale the production technology. Breathaplasta went from strength to strength with a reformulation to incorporate waste streams and was exported for the first time to a distributor in the Netherlands. We also took receipt of our fancy new valve sacks and upgraded to contract manufacturing. Finally, our much loved 'how to’ videos for Breathaplasta were made in the film set of Unit 10.


Breathaplasta became CE marked this year and we won our first Innovate UK SMART grant, leading to big changes! This project focused on developing our accelerated carbonation technology and assessing impacts and value of Breathaboard waste. We also built our life cycle analysis and environmental product declarations (EPD) tool in this project. This meant working with the University of Bath and the Biorenewables Development Centre, consolidating our technology with independent verification. This year also saw exploration into North American opportunities, as well as some essential Unit 10 renovations.


With COVID-19 hitting, Adaptavate struggled to grow the team and keep on track with the Innovate UK Smart Grant project. However, in between lockdowns the team grew and one of our early prototype process development machines, Lucy, was designed and built by now long-serving Adaptavator, Nick.


As the world recovered, Adaptavate made great strides forwards. We filed for our third Breathaboard patent, looking at continuous extrusion of fibrous pastes. This work was developed using the technology platform we had developed in Lucy. We also had visitors from Innovate UK to our ‘curing chamber’ and were then successful in securing more support from Innovate UK to build our pilot line. Now all we had to do was to raise some funding alongside it!


No such thing as a quiet time here at Adaptavate. First this year was securing the Innovate UK IPP project, closely followed by closing a £1.3million equity round to go alongside it in a total seed round of £2.2million. This facilitated the move to Bristol, our new HQ.  We could now start to commission labs and build the infrastructure and pilot line. As if that wasn’t enough, we also attained the SMART Grant to accelerate carbon-negative development work for products and file the fourth and fifth patents: accelerated carbonation, curing and construction products comprising pyrolyzed feedstock. In this exciting year, we grew our team from five to 11 people.


Adaptavate started this year by launching the Breathaplasta product family, growing from just Breathaplasta to Breathaplasta Thermal, Universal and Smooth. Besides that, we closed a further £2million investment round to develop and industrialise carbon-negative materials, globally. Further proof that the industry believes we are doing something right is our trophy cabinet. In April, Breathaboard was awarded the FIS Sustainable Innovate award, and in November, the MiB Innovation of the Year. At HQ, the team doubled in size from 11 to 22, with talented individuals coming from all over the world to help our mission. We designed, built and commissioned our pilot line with a world first, and by the end of the year we were producing standard-hitting boards. A truly transformative year for our revolution and we had a lot of fun living it.


2024 has started with a bang. We have commenced our certification process, and the hand-picked, pioneering pilot projects are starting to go live. The world’s building product markets and production companies are looking at what we have developed, and we are excited to continue to conduct our global experiment on how we industrialise an industry changing business of the future where ecological impact comes first and economic profit is a by-product. Will you join us this year?

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