Innovation and technological developments are key drivers of growth and prosperity: they contribute to increasing productivity and efficiency. Today, as we live in a period of unseen environmental changes, sustainable strategies are creating the conditions for the readiness of a significant number of innovations, and this trend will increase in the coming years.
The Governmental funding bodies draw a clear path: last year the trend was being led by the Sustainable Innovation Fund (£200 million) set up by Innovate UK to help businesses considering their impact on climate change and/or environmental sustainability, bounce back throughout the pandemic. This spring, no less than fifteen public funding opportunities are available to businesses developing decarbonisation solutions, zero-emissions vehicles or clean maritime technologies against five focusing on other topic such as aerospace or quantum technologies (subscribe to our newsletter here to be informed of the latest competitions).
This roadmap is framed by the Green Industrial Revolution, HMG’s £12bn plan spanning over renewable energy, nuclear power and countryside restoration. The government’s Ten Point Plan outlines priorities that will be given to public funding and reflects what we can expect for the next few years regarding future calls. This plan takes into account the Net Zero Target that the government committed to in June 2019, requiring the complete reduction by 2050 of the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases. Last December, new ambitious targets were announced aiming for at least 68% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Research is critical in supporting the UK achieving those set-out goals. In this context UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has laid out a detailed plan and published its vision to lead the innovation sector towards those goals. The UKRI environmental sustainability strategy gives an overview of the objectives over the five next years of the government funding body, including priority areas such as: Fostering a healthy living environment, Carbon and Efficient use of resources. It ensures that in addition to supporting sustainable innovative solutions it will aim at reducing and mitigating all carbon emissions from its own operations.
UKRI’s priority areas
With the UK hosting COP26 in November 2021, support from the government towards innovative sustainable developments goes beyond public funding bodies. It was announced at the beginning of the month that a coalition of fifteen UK fast-growing tech companies will work in partnership with the Council for Sustainable Business and the UK’s Net Zero Business Champion, Andrew Griffith MP, to tackle climate crisis problems and attract green investment to the UK. This Tech Zero taskforce will include members such as the green energy supplier Bulb, the famous fintech scale-up Revolut but also firms like Hopin and Citymapper. A launch summit will be held in the coming months to announce additional information regarding the agreed-upon commitments.
In conclusion, it is widely acknowledged that the shift to sustainable models and solutions will require important changes within each industry and creation of new ones, we can expect it to fuel innovation funding for the next few years. It remains therefore critical to be aware of the framework set out by authorities to complete successful innovation projects.
By Coralie Hassanaly, Innovation Consultant at DRIAD