18 September 2015

National impact Award won by unique environmental research programme which is helping 300 businesses innovate and boost business


The Centre for Global Eco-innovation, has won the ‘Outstanding Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation Initiative’ category in The Impact Awards 2015, backed by all seven UK research councils.


The Centre works with 300 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the North West of England who have ambitions to develop an environmental service, product or process, but who don’t have the in-house research expertise to bring the idea to fruition.


It then links these businesses with doctoral, masters and undergraduate students who take on the research project, supervised jointly by a leading academic and an expert from the business.


Staff from Lancaster University’s Science and Technology Faculty lead the Centre, which unites the expertise, resources and global contacts of Lancaster University, the University of Liverpool and Inventya Ltd.


Projects supported by the Centre span a huge range of businesses, products and processes including: developing a mobile app for eco-cities; improving wind and tidal renewable energy; reducing potential water pollution at airports; developing smart electricity grids; exploring stress responses in crops; improving carbon capture in soil and developing radar systems to improve coastal navigation and fuel efficiency.


Professor Nigel Paul, from Lancaster Environment Centre, who is Director of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation said: “The award is recognition of the way the Centre’s team is pioneering a “joined-up” approach to collaboration between universities and innovative businesses. 


The Centre provides companies with a single access point to a variety of options, from short-term undergraduate projects to three-year in-depth doctoral research. In doing so it meets the needs of businesses and universities, plus leads to positive benefits on both the economy and the environment.”


Dion Williams, Director of Enterprise & Innovation said: “This award is well deserved recognition for the combined effort of over 80 academics and over 150 research students across the two universities, over 290 regional SMEs, and our private sector partner Inventya Ltd.


“By working together across an innovative programme of collaborative research and development, the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation is already achieving significant impact in introducing low carbon products and services into the global marketplace, driving UK business growth and supporting positive environmental benefits.”


The Rt Hon Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science, said: “I would like to congratulate the winners of the RCUK/PraxisUnico Impact Awards. They, and all of the finalists, should all be immensely proud of their achievements.


“It is great to see so many innovative approaches to knowledge exchange and commercialisation, enabling UK research in deliver impact to businesses and society. This work is vital in ensuring that the UK remains competitive, innovative, and able to sustain development and economic growth.”


Dion Williams and Dr Andy Pickard from Lancaster University and Lee Omar, Director of Red Ninja Studios, received the award at the Research Councils UK and PraxisUnico Awards Ceremony at Central Hall, Westminster on 15 September.


The event recognises the outstanding contribution knowledge exchange and commercialisation professionals provide in turning excellent research into great benefits to business, the economy and society.


The Centre for Global Eco-Innovation is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund. SME-led collaborative research and development partnerships underpin the development of new products, processes and services for the global marketplace, which by virtue of their use, manufacture, raw materials, reuse or disposal, deliver positive environmental impacts.


If you are a business and have an environmentally innovative project you would like help to research and develop, please contact Dr Ruth Alcock r.alcock@lancaster.ac.uk or Dr Andy Pickard a.pickard@lancaster.ac.uk. or visit the CGE website.