22 September 2015 17:20

A unique environmental research and development programme involving leading universities and almost 300 businesses has won a prestigious national award.

Business partnerships and enterprise staff within Lancaster University’s Faculty of Science and Technology and Research and Enterprise Services working on the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation have won the ‘Outstanding Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation Initiative’ category in The Impact Awards 2015. The award reflects the success of a unique partnership between Lancaster University, the University of Liverpool and Inventya Ltd in working with businesses on innovative environmental research and development projects.

Dion Williams and Andy Pickard from Lancaster University and Lee Omar, Director of Red Ninja Studios, received the award on behalf of the Centre at the RCUK and PraxisUnico Awards Ceremony at Central Hall, Westminster on September 15th. 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.

Lancaster University leads the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, which unites the expertise, resources and global contacts of Lancaster University, University of Liverpool and Inventya Ltd to develop environmentally-focused products, processes and services in collaboration with ambitious North West businesses.

Professor Nigel Paul, 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 at Lancaster University, said: “We are incredibly proud to win this award. Through this project we have applied the combined research power of Liverpool and Lancaster, two of the country’s leading universities and the commercial expertise of our delivery partner Inventya Ltd, to work in collaboration with regional SMEs to create significant positive economic and environmental impact.

“The award recognises the collective effort of over 80 academics, 50 graduate researchers and over 290 SMEs, supported by dedicated teams of expert knowledge exchange staff at both universities, to create new opportunities for the North West to become a global leader in the development of eco innovative technologies and services. It is fantastic for KEC teams up and down the country to be recognised for the value we add to the sector through the Impact Awards and we are really pleased to be a part of this.”

Dr Matt Fulton, University of Liverpool Centre Manager, said: “The success of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation demonstrates that SMEs are capable of absorbing long-term collaborative intensive research projects with HEIs, and commercialising the results.

“The demand for eco-innovations is set to expand exponentially globally and the North West should do all it can to position itself to be at the forefront of technological advances.  Industry and HEIs working in partnership enables us to pool our resources and knowledge assets for the benefit of all.  We are planning to expand our activities over the coming years, and have already submitted a proposal for a future project working alongside LJMU and Lancaster.”

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 to 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.”

The Centre for Global Eco-Innovation is the only centre of its kind in Europe and 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. Projects utilise the expertise of graduate researchers from Lancaster and Liverpool universities as part of their PhD studies.

Please contact Dr Ruth Alcock r.alcock@lancaster.ac.uk or Dr Andy Pickard a.pickard@lancaster.ac.uk  for further details about the Centre and working with Lancaster University.