Aisling Kirwan’s Positive Carbon powers up

Going for Growth: Food waste is a global problem and Aisling Kirwan’s Positive Carbon is on a mission to be a global company that makes a tangible difference.

Award-winning business development scheme for women entrepreneurs Going for Growth is accepting applications for the 16th year of the programme.

The programme, which is supported by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG, helps ambitious female entrepreneurs to achieve their growth ambitions – helping to build stronger companies, create new jobs and increase revenues.

“Starting a business is always a lonely place anyway. But the pandemic exacerbated that feeling so the opportunity to be part of a closeknit peer group within Going for Growth was fantastic”

The 15th cycle of Going for Growth reported significant results for its 69 participants. Combined turnover increased from €80.6m at the start of the cycle to almost €92.3m by the end, almost a 15% increase in just six months.

The deadline for applications for the 16th cycle of Going for Growth is Friday 17 November 2023.

Up to 60 places will be available and applications are sought from female entrepreneurs across all sectors who are strongly focused on growth. There is no charge for those selected and the six-month initiative will begin in January 2024. To learn more, click here

Positive Carbon

Aisling Kirwan is the co-founder and COO of Positive Carbon, which provides food waste data to commercial kitchens to enable them to cut their food waste in half, reduce waste collections and reach sustainability goals.

With a BSc in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Trinity College Dublin, Aisling had been working in the food waste sector for over eight years across Ireland, the UK, Australia, and Chile before establishing Positive Carbon with her former colleague, Mark Kirwan in 2020.

The inspiration for the new start-up company came from Aisling’s passion to make as big an impact as possible on the one million tonnes of food waste produced in Ireland each year.

From the start, Aisling and Mark’s focus has been on the foodservice and hospitality sectors which, unlike the retail sector, had no technology solutions to the food waste problem. While not ideal to start a company during a pandemic, “we were in research mode and people had more time” says Aisling, “so we spoke to hundreds of chefs, general managers and operation managers to understand their pain points, and also understand the dynamics of a busy kitchen”.

They discovered that the need was twofold: firstly, visibility of the food waste, and secondly, nothing other than a fully autonomous solution would work. So, they created a tool that automatically monitors all the food waste in a business where sensors track and analyse every single item of food that is thrown in the bin.

“All of this captured data is presented on our reporting dashboards where kitchen staff, operation teams and management can easily review daily, weekly and monthly waste reports” says Aisling.

Aisling’s determination to focus on sustainable focused businesses was successful with Managing Director Matthew Ryan from The Grand Hotel, Malahide becoming the company’s first customer. Recommendations followed and Positive Carbon’s customer base has grown across the foodservice and hospitality sectors in Ireland. Customers include KSG, the third largest food service provider in Ireland as well some of the largest multinational companies and hotel groups in the country, helping them understand their food waste and save costs. Positive Carbon received significant funding early on and is backed by some of Europe’s most prestigious investors, including Berlin based venture capital company, APX as well as Enterprise Ireland.

Aisling participated in the 14th cycle of Going for Growth, with Fidelma McGuirk as her Lead Entrepreneur. “Starting a business is always a lonely place anyway”, says Aisling, “but the pandemic exacerbated that feeling so the opportunity to be part of a closeknit peer group within Going for Growth was fantastic – our group phone calls were the favourite part of my month!”

Aisling also participated in Starting Strong in 2021 and in Continuing the Momentum in 2023.

With another funding round imminent, the company is poised for further growth in Ireland as well as entering the UK market, its first export market.

“Every year, one third of all food we produce goes into the bin, that equates to 1.3bn tonnes of food, costing the economy $1trn and contributing to 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions” says Aisling. “Food waste is a global problem, and we plan to be a global company that makes a tangible difference.”

The deadline for applications for the 16th cycle of Going for Growth is Friday 17 November 2023. To learn more, click here

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