Demand-led innovation initiatives at Innovation Zero

Posted on: 24/05/2023

Swift adoption is critical to reduce the disastrous effects of climate change and for the UK to prosper from being the fastest transitioning economy to net zero.

Demand-led innovation places an emphasis on addressing commercial risks of new innovations to initiate a market-pull, as opposed to technology-push. Overcoming barriers to adoption early, accelerates development and implementation.

At Innovation Zero, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) have launched their policy briefing which examines how UK markets can better drive decarbonisation in foundation industries such as steel, cement and glass. Industrial collaboration along the supply chains is essential to drive implementation of innovation in practice. This is particularly pertinent in the foundation industries, which supply 75% of the material our society uses on a daily basis but make up 10% of the UK’s CO2 emissions. CISL’s policy briefing lays out its proposed decarbonisation pathways – electrification, circular economy solutions, novel technologies and innovative products, processes practices, and recommends policy actions the UK government should undertake. The policy briefing is accompanied by a technical report and three sector deep dives for steel, glass and cement. CISL’s research was funded by Innovate UK and sits alongside Innovate UK’s Transforming Foundation Industries challenge.

The massive opportunity for demand-led innovation is beginning to be recognised. The First Movers Coalition is a coalition of companies using their purchasing power to create early markets for innovative clean technologies across eight hard to abate sectors. Innovate UK, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and First Movers Coalition co-convened a roundtable discussion at Innovation Zero to discuss the action industry and other stakeholders can take to accelerate adoption of clean technologies. A review of the roundtable discussion will be published shortly.

As the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK is in a unique position to convene the necessary collaborations in the UK. As such, Innovate UK also announced plans for a pilot demand-led innovation programme in concrete/cement products. It is well known that globally concrete is the most widely used resource, aside from water, and has a huge environmental impact. The programme aims to bring together the customers, investors and technology providers to develop a series of innovation projects that de-risk solutions for market adoption. More details about the programme will be released in coming weeks.

To keep informed, contact Christopher Pilgrim.

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