20 April 2016

Lancaster University is working with four of the UKs leading companies to help pilot sustainability innovations on their estates

The Innovation Gateway brings together Lancaster University’s Centre for Global Eco-Innovation with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, the construction services company Carillion and contract catering provider BaxterStorey to accelerate opportunities for innovation.

The Innovation Gateway has launched a competition to find small businesses with novel and groundbreaking ideas about how to reduce energy, water use and waste. Successful SMEs, entrepreneurs and inventors with pioneering ideas will be offered an opportunity to demonstrate and test their ideas on the property of one or more of the Gateway partners.

“These big companies all have sustainability challenges on their estates, and are looking for solutions,” said Dr Andy Pickard, Manager of the Centre for Global Eco-innovation (CGE).

As well as sitting on the assessment panel which decides which ideas to pilot, CGE is acting as an independent, expert evaluator of the innovative ideas.

“In particular we can support small businesses who have essentially good ideas but are not ready for market, who may need more research and development.

“Expertise at Lancaster will help them to get the data to show the impact of the innovations they put in place in the companies: for instance how much water, energy or waste is saved by a particular product or process.”

Last year, the Centre won an Impact Award from the Research Councils UK, recognising its work providing research support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are developing new environmental products, processes and services for the global market place. It was also a winner in the ‘Research and Development’ category in the Green Gown Awards 2015.

RBS launched the Innovation Gateway two years ago, trialing several ideas on its own estates including water saving devices on taps and toilets, and introducing bees and apiaries to the RBS estate to enhance biodiversity. With three more companies involved this year, there are now more opportunities and a wider, more diverse, testbed for innovators to trial their cutting edge solutions.  The ideas could be just at the conceptual stage, or could be market ready and should help the companies in one of the following four ways:

1.     Engaging on resource efficiency

Technology-led innovations that help effectively engage staff, customers and suppliers on key sustainability-related messages

2.     Reducing Energy Use

Innovative products or solutions that help reduce energy usage, particularly from refrigeration, or help generate renewable energy across a diverse portfolio of building type, age and sizes.

3.     Reducing Water Use

Innovative solutions to help improve water efficiency in buildings to conserve water and/or reduce the impacts associated with its collection, processing, use and disposal.

4.     Reducing and Reusing Waste

Innovative disposal and waste avoidance solutions to help tackle food and office waste, in particular new ways to create value from waste through reuse or repurposing.

The deadline for the submission of the first round of ideas is 12 May 2016. Find out more and submit your ideas here.