Innovate UK hosts Nigerian delegates for a circular economy knowledge exchange mission

On 5-9 February 2024, Innovate UK hosted delegates from Nigeria to the UK on a circular economy knowledge exchange mission with a focus on sustainable construction and circular fashion with site visits, a sustainable construction networking event, workshops and a UK-Africa showcase session. This explored innovation transfer as well as opportunities for innovation exchange between Nigeria and the UK.

Posted on: 15/03/2024
Delegates outside Shibori Dye and Wash House, Leicester.

Innovate UK is recognised for its significant impact, particularly in its ongoing efforts to foster partnerships that amplify innovations within the circular economy. This is evident in the successful implementation of several programmes and strategic delegate visits.

The circular economy is one broad topic that cannot be unpacked in a day, and one of the main objectives of the UK-Nigeria Circular Economy Knowledge Exchange Mission Trip was to ensure an exchange of knowledge as well as innovation between Nigeria and the UK. We believe that understanding the circular economy ecosystem and the numerous innovations would foster the creation of opportunities for more sustainable practices within the innovation network.

– Joshua Adedeji, Country Lead for Nigeria, Innovate UK

The one-week knowledge exchange mission commenced with a focus on circular fashion and delved into various aspects critical to the Circular Fashion Industry in the UK and Nigeria including the use of chemicals in production/manufacturing, cutting-edge technologies for slow fashion and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for end of life textile waste sorting and recycling. During the visit to De Montfort University in Leicester, the delegation witnessed how technology and sustainable practices can harmoniously reshape the fashion landscape from the development of eco-friendly dyes and alternative fibres to employing laser technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

A visit to the Manchester Fashion Institute revealed a spectrum of technologies and innovations. The institute’s commitment to circular and sustainable fashion was evident, with 3D printing precision, versatile handheld scanners, and animated cameras showcasing forward-thinking sustainability. The delegates also visited fashion businesses exploring circular economy principles such as Fashion Enter Limited, Shibori Masters, SWD clothing, Lab E20 and E.L.V Denim.

Leading the Circular Fashion Delegation Mission was Chidubem Ejezie, Knowledge Transfer Manager Innovate UK Global Alliance Africa (Nigeria) who said that:

The circular fashion conversations highlighted the significance of knowledge exchanges as a stimulant for innovation in the fashion industry. Participants from the UK and Nigeria gained a deeper understanding of the Circular Fashion innovation landscape and how the both countries can collaborate for sustained growth.

Alongside the Circular Fashion visits were the Sustainable construction visits. The Sustainable construction delegation visited the Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre for Mineral-based Construction Materials team at University College London where discussions were held on the exploration of joint case studies and pilot projects for innovative, sustainable construction materials (such as secondary cross-laminated timber), affordable housing and incorporating new research brief outcomes to foster the development of the built environment in Nigeria.

The knowledge exchange mission offered a deep dive into various facets of sustainable practices and innovations within the circular economy network. Each day was marked by insightful visits, engaging discussions, and the exchange of knowledge that could reshape industries in both countries. We look forward to implementing the learnings through the innovation network.

– Sharon Rehoboth, Knowledge Transfer Manager, Innovate UK Global Alliance Africa (Nigeria)

The knowledge exchange mission culminated with the ‘Redefining Sustainable Innovations: the Circular Economy Exchange’ event hosted by Innovate UK. This gave a broader scope into the entire circular economy supply chain and the role of collaboration, education, circular design and data in the race to Net Zero. Further conversations at the event highlighted the need to design with the customer in mind and to constantly seek feedback to gauge the longevity and functionality of circular products, reiterating the point that some of the best circular solutions are not designing new products but longer use, reuse, and recycle.

In conclusion, the UK-Nigeria circular economy knowledge exchange mission was an exposure to various facets of sustainable practices and innovation. The exchange of knowledge about the circular economy laid the groundwork for transformative changes within the Global Innovation Networks of Innovate UK. As both countries look forward to implementing the learned strategies, the potential for a sustainable future in circular economies becomes increasingly promising.

About Innovate UK Global Alliance Africa

Global Alliance Africa is a six-year project funded by UK International Development through Innovate UK (GCRF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

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