- Course studied:
- Design and Visual Communications BA (Hons)
- Year of graduation:
Andrew Gregson founded and runs an innovation lab providing start-ups and individuals with a space to tackle some of the world’s most profound issues. Green Lab was established to help find sustainable solutions to complex urban food, water and waste challenges. It is London’s first agri-tech and urban farming incubator and now works with entrepreneurs, businesses, universities and other education institutions.
Andrew is himself a serial entrepreneur, having founded several companies and philanthropic initiatives since graduating from Staffordshire University with a degree in Electronic Media in 1995. He now spends most of his time running Green Lab but hopes to work on his own sustainable food initiatives in future, with an interest in the application of seaweed and algae.
He said: “Food’s at the heart of everything we do. One of the biggest challenges we face is around the efficient use of resources and developing ways to produce food on a more hyper-local basis, rather than on a global scale.”
Designer to Entrepreneur
Andrew is originally from Preston, where he worked in display advertising at the Lancashire Evening Post in the early 1990s. He used a newly released Apple Mac computer to produce adverts for the newspaper, which sparked his interest in design.
He said: “The Mac was coming to the forefront when I was working at the newspaper. I was interested in design and typography, so I looked into studying a degree in the subject. Staffordshire University came up highly for the design school, so I drove down there and was offered a place.
“I started the degree at 23 years old and spent the next three years at Staffordshire University. I had a completely different social circle to academic and mixed with a wide range of students. Getting to grips with the course itself, learning about typography and design, gave me a broad set of skills. It was great to have access to that. The university definitely helped me get where I am today.”
Andrew graduated in 1995 and briefly moved back south, where he took part in London Young Designers, after which he was offered a job at a London based start-up designing a website for the Edinburgh Festival. Over the next 15 years, he worked as European Webmaster for Apple, Senior Product Manager, Head of Online Customer Service and Programme Manager at BT, and then as Innovation Manager at Sky.
In 2009, he founded Media140, a social media focussed events company, organising more than 60 events worldwide and working with media organisations including the BBC, ABC Australia, WikiLeaks, Sky News, Guardian and Al Jazeera. In 2012 he started Big Data Week, which brought together data experts to look at the impact of big data, later selling the business in 2015.
Sustainable Food Sources
During this time, in 2013, Andrew founded the precursor to Green Lab. Fab Lab London gave individuals and companies a creative space to learn about digital manufacturing using 3D printer, laser cutters, electronics and workshops.
In 2015, the idea for Green Lab came about and the organisation’s first space opened in Bermondsey, London, in 2016. Green Lab is now moving to Brixton but Andrew has plans to open new labs around the world, including a site in Andalusia, Spain.
He said: “Maybe I should’ve studied a different subject at university as marine biology is where my heart lies. Green Lab is an open workshop and we’ve had some fascinating projects taking place in the last few years. We’ve done stuff with an insect company who use Black Soldier Fly Larvae, feed them beer grains and vegetable peelings and then feed them to fish as a sustainable food source.
“We’ve been working with several London universities because student relationships are high on our agenda as they are the future. It would be great to work with Staffordshire University and its students in future as well.”