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10th – 14th November 2014

Monday and Tuesday was spent in our office in Swindon for a collection of small meetings and chance encounters. These mainly began with phone calls, including updates with Gerrard Fisher at WRAP on how we work with them for our next Circular Economy competition and the same theme with Louise Armstrong at Forum for the Future. I then joined a regular meeting on how we keep the KTN and our innovations programmes aligned. After working through the latest budget information and forecasts I discussed the Resource Efficiency strategy, aims and messages with our Communications team. The last call of the day was with BRE about how the upcoming Resource Efficiency competitions aligned for the construction sector.

Tuesday started with completing the competition brief for the aforementioned Circular Economy call and transferring to our Publications team. I try to get briefs available to potential applicants around three months before the competition opens. I heard this week many applicants struggle to pull a consortium together in the six week window a competition is open so getting people thinking about them in advance is a benefit. Let me know your experience.

Following more budget work, I then met with our contracts teams to improve our forward procurement for Entrepreneur Missions. I then caught up with James Taplin in our Urban Living team to plan the Solving Urban Challenges with Data competition workshops and relate experience from the previous competition: Solving Business Problems with Environmental Data.

Wednesday I travelled on to Banbury to a meeting closing out a project from our Supply Chain Innovation for Resource Efficiency competition. The meeting was at Innoval (consultants for aluminium processing) for a project led by JaguarLandRover on improving aluminium castings for engine components. The consortium was trying to overcome two principle issues: cast aluminium (theoretically the most material efficient way to make aluminium parts) is generally five times more expensive than sheet aluminium components probably as a yield issue with scrapped pieces; and the need for more refined grain structure in aluminium alloys used for high performance parts such as cylinder heads that confer the mechanical properties required. The project’s key technology was a novel grain refiner additive that was potentially superior to the incumbent. Technically the project was a real success proving the substitute worked and moving it through the Technology Readiness Levels. The commercial reality of switching an ingredient with established suppliers, particularly one with a higher cost implication, had started to hit the end of the project and will shape forward exploitation. However, I take this as a sign the project has moved to a commercially relevant result. I will watch the next steps with interest.

Thursday was a holiday and Friday brought a day of admin and calls covering everything from critical materials to environmental data and project monitoring to keeping the Horizons tool updated. Lastly, a follow up to last weeks’ Innovate14 event. If you missed the sustainability in business session I banged on about in previous posts then you can watch the entire panel session here:

Stat of the week:  there are 421m fewer birds across Europe now than in 1980

This week’s travel carbon footprint: 35 kg CO2

Mike Pitts