This is the generation that will change the world

Piers Lindsay-Fynn, his sister Miranda and partner Alex O’Cinneide, on green tech, keeping going and fighting the good fight


Ask Piers Lindsay-Fynn how he maintains a sense of optimism in the fight against climate change, and he’ll tell you it’s simple: maintain a focus on what you can change, and don’t think too much about the big picture. The best way to think about it, he says, is as a “small cog in the machine,” fighting the good fight, one battle at a time.

His response belies something of the impact he’s delivering in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Piers is a founding investor of Gore Street Capital, a market pioneer in renewable energy investment and the manager of the UK’s first internationally diversified pure-play energy storage fund. He started the company in 2015 together with – and “at the behest of”– business partner, Alex O’Cinneide after the pair identified energy storage as a nascent, but crucial element of the low carbon energy transition.

Since its inception, Gore Street Capital has increased its assets under management ten-fold to almost 1.2 GW across five international grid systems. With Net Asset Value reaching £558.4m as of 30 June 2023, the fund launched by Gore Street Capital in May 2018 is one of the biggest players in energy storage investment.

These systems provide critical grid services across Europe and the US, balancing the supply of increasing renewable and, therefore, intermittent generation with demand from consumers. This function is helping to ensure more clean energy can be integrated into the global energy system.

Unlike Alex, Piers hasn’t always been passionate about global warming.

“To be honest, before Gore Street, I was cynical about climate change. Alex was the visionary who persuaded me that what’s happening to the planet is man-made. He laid bare the imperative to change what we’re doing as a society before it catches up with us. Almost ten years into Gore Street and, of course, the evidence is now absolutely conclusive.”


Photo: Piers Lindsay-Fynn and Miranda Linsday-Fynn

Although Piers attributes the vision to his business partner, he needn’t have looked beyond his own family for inspiration. While he and Alex were setting up Gore Street Capital, his sister Miranda was simultaneously taking the helm as Commercial Director of Sonichem (formely Bio-Sep), a pioneering UK-based startup that has developed the technology to convert forestry biomass into biochemicals.

A scientist by training, Miranda Lindsay-Fynn, has always been drawn to problem-solving, specifically to the challenge of leveraging under-used resources. Sonichem, she says, was a natural next step in a storied professional trajectory that includes stints in marketing, fashion and even yacht skippering.

“I love science, but I didn’t want to spend my career in the lab,” she reveals. “So, I was keen to try out different things.”

Sailing satisfied a sense of adventure and a need for personal challenge, while five years in Singapore as a chief executive in retail honed skills that she has repurposed to “sell science.”

“Working in fashion retailing was exhilarating, but I struggled a lot with the idea of high consumption driven by people needing endless things,” she says. “I came back to the UK looking for inspiration and for purpose, which I have found in selling an undervalued resource; a technology that the world actually needs.”

Connecting with purpose – fighting the good fight in sustainability and the circular economy – is a common thread that connects the professional lives of the Lindsay-Fynn siblings. But it’s not the only one.

Piers, Miranda and Alex all share an experience – “life-changing” for each in different ways – that has helped shape their careers; that has been instrumental in the creation of their businesses; and that has dove-tailed with a common desire to give back to society.

All three are graduates of London Business School.

The London connection

In 2002, Piers was a city broker, sitting on the investment committee of his family’s business and keen to understand how to manage the proceeds from the sale of the company: how to make better sense of different asset classes and investment strategies. Management consultant Alex was, meanwhile, at a career turning point.

Photo: Alex O’Cinneide

Photo: Alex O’Cinneide

“I’d reached a moment where I wanted to make a shift from advising companies on their investments to sitting on the other side of the table,” says Alex. “At the same time, I was interested in personal growth and was looking for a tier-one school to make that growth happen.”

The two met at London Business School, having signed up for the Masters in Finance. It was a meeting of two very different perspectives and takes on life, but the start of an enduring friendship. For Piers, it was also an experience that offered important, personal affirmation.

“LBS grounded my understanding of finance, but on a more emotional level, the Masters gave me confidence,” says Piers. “I’d grappled with dyslexia at school and I’d made the wrong choices academically. LBS gave me a critical-first taste of academic success, and with that, a real shift in confidence.”

With that new confidence came a personal and professional network; access to diverse and complementary minds and skill sets that has led to extraordinary opportunities over the years – the greatest expression of these being the founding of Gore Street Capital.

For Miranda, building a network was also a major goal upon returning to the UK from her stint as a yacht captain. In 2007, she joined the London Business School MBA, looking for the same access to diverse perspectives and “amazing minds.”

“Coming back to London, LBS gave me a privileged space as a burgeoning entrepreneur to explore my ideas with my cohort and work through processes with different teams and group work. I built the most amazing network,” she says, “People that continue to inspire and challenge me, and many of whom have become the biggest investors in our work today.”

The shared LBS experience represents an inflection point in the lives and careers of all three change leaders: a step-change in knowledge, skills, understanding and confidence; a meeting of different minds, aptitudes and synergies; and a space to forge enduring connections that continue to yield unique opportunities for collaboration and growth.

For all three, the LBS connection has remained steadfast over the years. So too has a shared desire to give something back to the school; and to future generations of fellow change leaders.

Discover fresh perspectives and research insights from LBS

"With confidence came a personal and professional network; access to diverse and complementary minds and skill sets that has led to extraordinary opportunities over the years"

The CleanTech Challenge

The CleanTech Challenge has been jointly hosted by London Business School and University College London since 2011. Open to university students worldwide, it is a business plan competition focused on clean technology innovation. 

The latest competition marked the beginning of a five-year sponsorship by Gore Street Capital and The Lindsay-Fynn Charitable Trust, which funded the £20,000 prize money to support the winning team in developing their ideas into businesses. Alex and Piers sat on the final judging panel, with Gore Street Capital providing four senior team members as mentors to help the finalists hone their presentations. 

A&B Smart Materials, a developer of passive cooling technology with the potential to transform a breadth of industries from photovoltaic panels to cosmetics, was selected as 2023’s winner.

Sponsoring a competition like this is not only a chance to give something back to the school, says Alex. It’s an opportunity to do something concrete to develop a “new series of business leaders.”

“London Business School is all about developing the kinds of business leaders who can really think about the societal challenges we face and want to do all we can to encourage and support young people who are coming up with great ideas,” he says.

But it’s not just about the money. “We also make it a priority to have people in our organisation sit down with teams and we maintain contact with these fledgling companies to support their efforts to find funding afterwards. This is just as important as winning the prizes.”

Miranda agrees: “There’s a collaborative dynamic to the sustainability sector. We have a greater tendency to network and support each other’s efforts rather than to compete in a sense; it’s more about overlapping – borrowing ideas and trying new things out that need to be tested,” she says. “It’s a discovery dynamic, and we felt it when we were starting out and London Business School professors were just so keen to support us. It’s all about getting ideas off the ground.”

Sponsoring the CleanTech Challenge is also about amplifying impact, says Piers. For more than a decade, the family has supported London Business School through different types of scholarships; a gesture of thanks that acknowledges how much the school has given to the family, he says. Shifting the focus of support to the competition is a means of reaching more young people – scaling up their support of brilliance, as he puts it.

“The CleanTech Challenge is a way of touching more than one individual and their future impact. This year we had more than 30 entries and almost 100 participants. In 2024, I want to see more bright students engaged in the clean tech business and taking risks. And I want to help to give them the confidence to get started and to really get the dial moving.”

Clean technology, clean energy is “what the future looks like,” says Piers. Sustainability will be a “very large part” of what drives economic growth over the next 50 years.

Even so, we need to be moving faster. Much faster.

"I’m convinced that the coming generation are the kids who are going to change the world”

Driving forward momentum on the environment

Fighting the good fight is non-negotiable, says Miranda. The question is rather: can we win the war on climate change fast enough? And the signs are mixed. Sluggish action on climate policy in the UK frustrates her, although what she sees coming out of big corporations is more encouraging.

“I think public bodies in Europe are perhaps more risk-averse than they are in the US, in terms of grants and funding mechanisms in sustainability and ESG. But we’re seeing major traction from the private organisations that partner with our business,” she says. “Maybe policy isn’t changing fast in places like the UK right now. But carbon taxes are coming further down the line sooner than we think. Our corporate partners have grasped this and are making climate change a priority in their decision-making.”

Then there’s public pressure. If households are unable to insure their homes because of flooding or wildfire risks, governments will have a harder time defending apathy on the environment.

“I’d like to see us moving much faster on climate change, and I’d welcome more investment in emerging technologies like ours, which are the very technologies that will help us win this war,” says Miranda.

Sonichem is moving ahead with ambitious plans to design and build a commercial biorefinery in the UK in the next two years; a first-of-its-kind manufacturing facility supported by partnerships, green finance and VC funding that will be critical in bringing their new biochemical product to market. It’s a high-risk venture, but one that has the potential to deliver spectacular payoffs, she says.

“We’re on a mission to see forest biomass converted into biochemicals that in turn become performance materials for things such as car dashboards. It’s a huge challenge but it’s immensely exciting, and we’re seeing a lot of traction from the market and investors – among them investors who have come to us via my London Business School alumni network,” says Miranda. 

“So in personal terms, and in terms of the broader fight against global warming, there’s a tough road ahead, but I’m cautiously optimistic.”

And it’s a cautious optimism shared by Alex. While 2023 was designated the hottest year on record with more than its share of extreme weather, he says, there’s a resilience and an intellectual curiosity native to human beings – a spirit of discovery – that he finds “encouraging.”

“If you take my lifetime and work it backwards from when I was born in 1971, you get a sense of just how far we’ve come and how fast. Compare the technology and the business models of 1919 to 1971, and on to 2023 – it’s incredible.”

The challenges ahead of us are immense, says Alex, but so too is human potential and our capacity as a species to deal with adversity. Critical, going forward, is that the momentum built by Gore Street Capital, Sonichem, and countless other enterprises and communities of change, be matched by real effort and political will on the part of governments, he says.

Looking ahead

Alex and Piers agree that young people starting out on their lives’ journeys face unprecedented hurdles ahead. Climate change will be the defining issue for this and successive generations. Making sense of the road ahead and navigating its vagaries is contingent on persistence, says Alex: “Once you start on something, keep going no matter what.”

Miranda agrees and stresses the dual importance of conviction and support.

“I think it’s really critical to do something you believe in. Too many of us end up longing for the weekend more than we should. I’d urge young people to keep fighting to find their fit, and to really leverage the support of their networks, be they school or university friends or a professional body. Support is key.”

Piers holds a strong sense of optimism for the future. Like Alex, he has faith in human tenacity and our need to move “forever forward.”

“It’s what we do as human beings,” he says.

“I don’t think we have a choice other than to keep on going. Right now our focus is on reducing carbon in our energy systems and to keep innovating on new technologies. I have faith that in the future all of these efforts will change our world.

“That’s why supporting the CleanTech Challenge is so inspiring,” Piers muses. When you see the next generation, when you talk to them after each pitch, you understand how engaged they are and how well they understand what they’re doing – the opportunities as well as the challenges. I’m convinced that the coming generation are the kids who are going to change the world. These are leaders who are poised to win the fight.”


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