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23rd – 27th March 2015

Monday was a day in the office starting with working through the budgets for the Sustainability team and cleaning up accruals as we hit the year end. I then joined Nick Cliffe for the briefing webinar for the second stage of the Recovering Valuable Materials from Waste competition. We were joined by the new lead for Resource Efficiency at EPSRC (a co-funder of the competition) and we found the time to have a side conversation on building a cross-cutting sustainability theme: in my case experience of it for Innovate UK and in her case how it might be done in EPSRC.

I then managed a very quick chat with Natalie Waugh on the communication plan for Resource Efficiency before joining our Portfolio Management meeting. There we saw a demo of the new interfaces being developed for our applicants and assessors to make their lives easier. The whole project is being done with user input and I was impressed how quickly and how well the project had progressed. During the journey home I joined a call on where we interface with the skills agenda – particularly in areas where innovation is changing a sector such as construction.

Tuesday and Wednesday were holiday for me as I celebrated my wife’s birthday and tried to finalise buying a house. The latter ended up with us accepting a rabbit as part of the deal. My negotiation skills are failing me!

Thursday started with a series of calls as I planned meetings for Friday and Monday and chased up more financial stuff. I pulled together my presentation for Friday (and subsequently removed a lot of the slides) before jumping on a train to London. In the evening I caught up with the indefatigable Jamie Burdett of McCann and mainly talked about Worn Again where he is still involved as well as potential future collaborations. That and babies – we’re both soft hearted daddies.

Friday brought the Clean and Cool Showcase where we brought back alumni from the now five past Missions. In the past we have done a reunion catch up but this time we invited partners, sponsors and potential investors in to hear the companies do their snappy two minute pitches. To level the playing field we then had selected partners/sponsors do two minute presentations on how they can help. That of course included me and I must admit to rambling to a three minute explanation of how select what areas to invest in and how those four questions (Size of market? Why in the UK? What timescale? Why is public money needed?) relate to what we ask applicants and what investors want to know. We are trying to help companies describe their business model better and think hard about the drivers of the opportunity they describe. As the sustainability lead, my job is to ensure environmental and social drivers are considered by everyone.


The event was fantastic with the companies doing a brilliant job of telling their stories and lots of fascinating insights from across our family of support for these cleantech heroes. We also heard from some new companies doing exciting things as diverse as engaging children (and the public) in urban planning using Minecraft (very important skills-wise in a digitally-led future for the construction sector) to providing toilets as a service that generate drinking water and charge your phone as well as deal with your waste!


Stat of the week:  Low-carbon industries saw a record turnover of £122bn in 2013, with an annual growth rate of 7.6% since 2010, according to Government figures

This week’s travel carbon footprint: 60 kg CO2

Mike Pitts