A London heavy week began on Monday and catch ups with colleagues at BIS. I talked through the current state of play and forward plans for the Low Impact Buildings Innovation Platform with its leader Simon Hart then covered the Resource Efficiency communications brief with Natalie Waugh.
I then headed to the Barbican (via Westminster tube to pass copies of the Circular Economy: Business Models competition brief to Ben Peace) for a Forum for the Future event on ‘value networks’. This concept helps us understand how we can deliver system innovation – tackling challenges bigger than a single company’s remit and so involving multiple organisations and a change in the overall system. A value network works when everyone involved has aligned interests and aims and we saw examples ranging from AirBnB and their network of room leasers to the connections needed for Novelis to recycle scrap aluminium on the scale it wants to. It was interesting to see why big businesses work with Fairtrade-like organisations: because they don’t understand their supply chain but these guys do.
We are interested in how the idea of value networks applies to the circular economy. An overall business case for a more circular approach to delivering a customer benefit can often require collaboration and the formation of new networks. Marks & Spencer’s relationship with Oxfam for their Shwopping initiative if a case in point – both gain benefits to their business model but one part can’t work without the other. The Circular Economy competition is based on this and supports companies to work up the business case with potential network partners and design a pilot to test it if the case can be made.
The Forum event was followed by their annual Christmas drinks and the chance to discuss these ideas further with several companies and catch up with a lot of people and old friends.
Tuesday I travelled out to Ockley to learn about Flute Office who manufacture upcycled office furniture & fittings and provide it under a service to customers who typically produce lots of the cardboard waste they use as a raw material. This excellent closed-loop approach is a big win for many organisations besides the better value furniture and solution to a waste problem. Soon to move to a new factory they had some challenges as they looked to scale and upskill and I was able to provide a lot of leads to hopefully help.
Wednesday in London featured the briefing event for Clean and Cool Mission companies. This entrepreneur mission goes out to San Francisco in January and we spent the day relating the aims and benefits of the mission as well as preparing the companies for the pitch training and media work ahead. It was good to begin to get to know the companies and the day was ably compered, as ever, by Oli Barrett. The meeting extended into the evening over a few glasses of wine before I headed to Islington to catch up with some of our Digital team and make plans for an event in June.
Thursday I travelled to Cardiff for the last the Solving Urban Challenges with Data competition workshop I will support with three left to go. With a higher representation from local authorities at this one we heard some interesting challenges. All outputs across the workshops will be shared here: https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/solving-urban-challenges-with-data/overview
Heading home finally, I caught up with the boss on the train and spent Friday working through the week’s emails and joining several calls on projects.
Stat of the week: More than 1,400kg of iron ore, 740kg of coal, and 120kg of limestone are saved for every tonne of steel scrap made into new steel.
This week’s travel carbon footprint: 88 kg CO2