Imperial College London has outlined plans to transform the capital’s global response to climate change through a new collaboration with the Mayor of London, adding significantly to White City’s burgeoning tech and innovation story.
Imperial is to establish a world-leading centre for climate change innovation at its White City campus, driving the development of new technologies, businesses and jobs across London that will support a zero-carbon and climate-resilient future.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “We are in the midst of a climate emergency. I am doing everything in my power from City Hall to cut emissions: introducing the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone, setting a zero-carbon standard for all new buildings and supporting the divestment of pension funds from fossil fuels.
“It is vital that we use new technology and innovation to tackle what is the greatest challenge of our time. London is a global hub for climate action and I’m proud to support this initiative with Imperial College London that will nurture talent and drive growth in the cleantech sector.”
The Centre for Climate Change Innovation (CCCI), will be backed by a grant of up to £8.7 million from the Mayor of London and supported by the UN Environment Programme. The Centre will fuel a new generation of climate change entrepreneurs in London and spur the translation of research discoveries into pioneering technological solutions and successful companies.
Imperial plans to raise a further £25 million of funding to support the new Centre, which will be led by its Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment.
Professor Richard Templer, Director of Innovation at the Grantham Institute, said: “London’s climate and environment sector is already worth £40 billion in sales per annum and grew by 10 per cent last year – but the city is brimming with people who have different experiences and new ideas to turn the tide on climate change and we urgently need to help them establish and grow so they can have a global impact. This Centre will give people the opportunity to start up a sustainable business or grow an existing one so that they can contribute to a cleaner, greener and fairer world for all.”
Professor Nick Jennings, Vice Provost (Research and Enterprise) at Imperial said: “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. We urgently need new technologies to help us tackle this threat. Imperial is ideally positioned to be the catalysing force for a connected, global movement in climate change innovation. We have the enthusiasm from across the sector, and from local and national government and this unique facility will put London at the heart of the zero-carbon revolution that our world needs.”
Andrew Dakers, CEO, West London Business who is an advisor to the project added: “The launch of the centre will be a significant milestone in cementing London, and West London’s, contribution as a globally significant cluster for innovation that accelerates our progress in tackling the climate emergency.”
By bringing together a critical mass of innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers, students, investors, policymakers, and businesses from across London, the Centre will support and stimulate the serendipitous encounters that drive ambitious innovation. This innovation hot-spot will accelerate the development and growth of London as a world-leading climate change innovation cluster.
It will support innovation across several key themes:
- Cleaning up the air: atmospheric greenhouse gas removal; improving air quality in cities.
- Food that doesn’t cost the earth: precision agriculture technology; smart systems for climate adapted agriculture; sustainable packaging; minimising food wastage.
- Buildings to address the climate crisis: low-carbon building materials; smart building systems; the climate resilient building; low-carbon heating and cooling systems.
- Transport without the bad emissions: transport without harmful combustion; supporting renewables through energy storage.
- Manufacturing for a low-carbon future: circular systems; resource, process and remanufacturing efficiency.
Housing technology development and testing facilities, incubation spaces, a dedicated accelerator, classrooms and offices, the Centre will support the development of technologies at a scale unrivalled anywhere in the world. Its construction will act as a beacon for sustainable building, generating its own power and heat and exporting energy for use on other parts of the campus.
The Centre will provide a focal point for London but will be based at Imperial’s White City Campus, which is part of the College’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that is focused on turning cutting-edge scientific research into real-world benefits for society. Imperial places a high value on innovation, encouraging and supporting researchers and students to engage in entrepreneurial activities through a range of programmes and facilities. The Centre will benefit from the entire campus’ ecosystem, which includes surrounding facilities, such as Imperial College Advanced Hackspace and the White City Incubator, offering a complete environment for inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs.
The Centre will also host a new Master’s degree in Climate Change, Innovation and Entrepreneurship that will be the first MSc in the world to focus specifically on innovation and entrepreneurship that addresses the causes and effects of climate change through technological solutions.
Imperial carries out world-leading research in clean energy, the environment and climate change and over the past decade it has produced more start-ups in the area than any other UK university.
The College was a founding partner of the Climate Knowledge Innovation Community (Climate-KIC) and has designed and delivered the successful Climate-KIC Accelerator at Imperial since 2012. Since then, 56 start-ups have graduated the programme, raising investment worth more than $200 million and creating over 1,000 jobs.
The companies Imperial has supported are striving to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from human activities that are causing climate change. These include NOTPLA (previously known as Skipping Rocks Lab), who have developed an alternative to single-use plastic in food and drink packaging. Their product Ooho is a flexible, 100 per cent biodegradable container made from seaweed. NOTPLA raised over £400,000 of funding for their product in two days on crowdcube, and have since supplied Glastonbury, Selfridges, Just Eat and the London Marathon with their packaging.
Earlier this year Imperial announced a partnership with startup Arborea to develop pioneering ‘BioSolar Leaf’ technology to improve air quality in White City. The technology, which is the first of its kind in the world, purifies the air through the photosynthesis of microscopic plants, removing greenhouse gases from the environment whilst generating breathable oxygen.