Net Zero Living - Thriving Places: ‘Pathfinder Places’ or ‘Fast Followers’, how to be involved?

Posted on: 18/11/2022
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Thriving Places is part of the Innovate UK Net Zero Living programme.

The programme provides support to local authorities, their partners and communities to overcome non-technical systemic barriers to the scaling and adoption of net zero solutions. To explain what is meant by systemic barriers, please watch this short recording.

Thriving Place Challenge will be delivered under two funding awards, which are:

  1. The Pathfinder Place awards, which aim to support those places which are actively delivering their net zero plans, have a deep understanding of the systemic barriers to scaling and adoption, and are willing to demonstrate and share innovative approaches to overcoming these barriers
  2. The Fast Followers awards, which aim to equip local authorities with the experience and skills to overcome non-technical barriers and help to accelerate progress towards net zero.
  3. The Future Ready programme, is the community & knowledge sharing delivery partner (currently referred to as ‘the convenor’ throughout the rest of this document) who will be instrumental in the success of the programme as a whole.

Pathfinder Places

The Pathfinder Place awards is part of the £60m Net Zero Living programme that aims to support those places who are actively delivering their net zero plans; have a deep understanding of the systemic barriers to scaling and adoption and are willing to demonstrate and share innovative approaches to overcoming these barriers.

The deployment and demonstration of transformative business solutions will enhance quality of life across the UK, improve our homes and offices, address spiralling energy costs, support cleaner and safer transport solutions, protect natural resources, optimise material flows, and accelerate the transition to the UK legal net zero targets.

Pathfinder Places will develop innovative solutions to maximise the opportunities associated with taking a systems-based approach. By considering multiple systems and their interdependencies, benefits can be delivered not only in terms of net zero but also to reduce energy usage and cost, provide cleaner and safer transport systems and protect our natural environment through improved resource management.

This Pathfinder Places award is delivered over two phases. The full details of the Awarded Pathfinder Places can be found here.

The successful applicants in Phase 1 have been invited to apply for a potential Phase 2 competition. Phase 2 will fund up to 6 places, who will each receive up to £8m to deliver their innovative approaches as developed in Phase 1.

Fast Followers

The Fast Followers have awarded 21 Local Authorities to fund a resource within each local authority over an 18-24 month period. The aim of these awards is to equip local authorities with the experience and skills to overcome non-technical barriers and help to accelerate progress towards net zero. The awarded Fast Followers can be found here.

They will form part of a Net Zero Living innovation cohort; have access to training and resources provided by Innovate UK and partners, and apply these skills to turn their ambitions into deliverable plans. Details about this support (Future Ready) can be found here

If you are interested in receiving this programmes latest updates, and being the first to hear about upcoming KTN or partners’ competitions and support opportunities, please register with the Net Zero Places Innovation Network. 

Contact our expert Nilam Banks if you have any questions.

Future Ready

While each project has grant funding for their own net zero efforts, Future Ready brings the cohorts together across the total funding period to create critical opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration between them. This real-time sharing and learning is essential for building the collective understanding of local net zero delivery and accelerating impact both within and outside the programme. It will help us remove barriers faster, identify common challenges to address, and remove unnecessary duplication of effort.

Future Ready involves a number of interlinked packages of work, and the convenor, together with Innovate UK, will need to co-ordinate across them all, but not deliver them all. The outline packages of work will be:

  1. Community of Practice: this is the real-time insight gathering, intelligence distilling, knowledge-sharing network that is core to the programme and will be facilitated and delivered by the Convenor in consultation with Innovate UK. It should create a culture of open and honest sharing between cohorts that fosters a spirit of collaborative working towards a collective goal including cohort-led working groups around particular themes of interest. Leadership and mentoring support is likely to include facilitation of mentoring between cohorts, might include action learning sets and should aim to build agency among participants, all with a view to becoming member-led and self-sustaining post-programme.
  2. Training and upskilling academy: a programme of inspiring educational and training activities addressing key non-technical barriers (e.g. leadership development, citizen engagement, finance, data & digital, policy, skills, etc.) involving all three cohorts. These will be delivered by relevant expert providers through a regular programme of learning co-ordinated by the Convenor – and whilst a number of anchor elements of the programme are known, much of it needs to be informed by, and responsive to, common issues identified through the communities of practice. The convenor will therefore need to work closely with Innovate UK, projects and the expert providers to design and manage this programme in real time.
  3. 121 support: a dedicated programme of in depth 1:1 technical assistance in critical areas such as user engagement, business engagement, data skills, and finance sector engagement. These modules of support will be procured by Innovate UK and run alongside the other elements of the programme. These providers will provide the expert content to the training and upskilling academy. The Convenor will again need to understand these packages of work and where they interface with the overall programme.
  4. Communications: producing engaging communications outputs to influence and inform stakeholders. We will appoint a comms partner to run this programme, but they will need to work closely with the convenor to share insights and materials throughout.
  5. Monitoring and evaluation: establishing KPIs with IUK and projects early, including counterfactuals, a mid-point evaluation of progress and a final evaluation after the programme has completed. Help facilitate any external evaluation and contact between external independent facilitators and the projects. IUK will appoint external facilitators.

Innovate UK have appointed Urban Foresight, supported by We Are Liminal and Forum for the Future to be the Net Zero Living Community and Knowledge Sharing delivery partner

Innovate UK will work with this consortium over the next two years; tasked with engaging a cohort of 51 Pathfinder Places and Fast Followers from local authorities to create an active community and help to accelerate the UK’s transition to Net Zero.

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Nilam Banks

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Nilam Banks

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Net Zero Living

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Innovate UK’s £60 million, three-year Net Zero Living Programme aims to help places and businesses across the UK to accelerate the transition to net zero.

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