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9th – 13th February 2015

I started the week travelling to Swindon for a full office day beginning with a meeting about the interface between the KTN and the thematic areas in Innovate UK. We’re still working to get full alignment and sharing the way each area works across to KTN is helpful is seeing where we could be and what could be achieved. After catching up with various colleagues (those informal conversations only achieved by being in the office) I joined the Heads of thematic areas meeting as we worked through the latest actions, mostly to better manage project finances.

I then sat down with James Taplin, Simon Hart and our Finance partner, Nicola, to draw up budgets for next year and agree an approach to managing non-grant spend. James and I then jumped on a train to London with the boss and Nick Cliffe. We all split in different directions once there but it was good to catch up informally while travelling. We sympathised with Nick’s challenge to be vegetarian for a year by detailing our best recent meat experiences.

I was in London for an early starting meeting on Tuesday – a workshop with EPSRC on their Living With Environmental Change programme and where it should go next. Attendees were researchers from across the EPSRC communities and I was disappointed to hear a lot of suggestions from academics own perspectives and such a focus on climate change rather than environmental change. It was also interesting to note none seemed to know what a Catapult was but viewed them as important anyway. Nevertheless some interesting challenges were synthesised and I particularly liked the focus on better understanding environmental and social externalities at different granularity (time and scale – i.e. how do they affect my city, business, house...) and research on system integration.

Wednesday was spent at home catching up on plans for our Environmental Data Collaboration Nation event and the internal offsite day for the thematic team. Thursday I was back in London and spent the day at the Cleantech Innovate event which we were sponsoring. The format is 36 companies doing 5 minute pitches. It makes for a long day but it is always fascinating (I go every year) to hear about new businesses and see ones we know well present their work. There were four Clean and Cool Mission alumni and Libertine won the overall prize fresh off the latest mission. Some (other) pitches that stood out for me included:

Solarbox – turning phoneboxes into solar powered phone charging points

Adaptavate – with a closed-loop plasterboard replacement that regulates indoor air moisture and cleans the air

Kelda Showers – using pumped air to create a power shower that uses considerably less water

BACTEST – doing realtime analysis on activated sludge (filtered sewage) to reduce the energy used to aerate it (this process uses 2% of UK electricity)

OAL Group – have a ‘steam infusion’ process to prepare processed food quicker and at better quality

Solar-Polar – replacing patio heaters with a heater that captures solar energy during the day

The event was a great networking opportunity as well and I left with plenty of new contacts and follow up meetings to be had.

Friday I spent the morning reviewing the Clean and Cool Mission so far with Guy Pattison and Amanda Booth and planning forward. All very exciting so watch this space!

Stat of the week:  The circular economy could create 200,000 jobs in the UK

This week’s travel carbon footprint: 59 kg CO2

Mike Pitts