Ben Neild (University of Exeter), Oli Raud (Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth UK), Iain Stewart (Sustainable Earth Institute, Plymouth University, UK)
The Impact Lab:
Is a partnership between Exeter University, Plymouth University (The Sustainable Earth Institute and i-DAT), Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the Met Office, Rothamsted Research and Exeter City Futures.
The Impact Lab is a response to a growing demand for innovation in Environmental Futures and Big Data. This project will harness these strengths and drive regional economic growth through innovation focused on: preventing environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and unsustainable natural resource use; seizing the opportunities to develop new green industries and technologies; improving resource utilisation and supporting cleaner growth.
While many geographies are focused on exploiting ‘Big Data’, our project is borne of the recognition that we have the opportunity to differentiate ourselves, to capitalise on unique local assets (such as the Met Office), and to attain a competitive advantage by becoming a national centre of excellence for environment-related Big Data analytics.
This project exploits this opportunity by creating an ‘Impact Lab’ that brings SMEs and individual innovators together with: environmental scientists and data owners; computer and data scientists; innovation and business support services, to create an ecosystem that will drive local growth through the creation of new products and services.
The Impact Lab will provide:
Access to expertise in data science / high performance computing; and topic / domain experts able to support the conceptual and further development of new products or services;
- Business Managers responsible for identifying, leveraging and co-ordinating support from across the partnership and from external business support and skills providers;
- A Challenge Fund to accelerate innovation by funding concept and product development, prototyping and testing from within and outside the partnership.
- Access to the innovation, incubation, business support and investment panels offered by the partnership through initiatives such as GAIN, SETsquared, FabLabs, Exeter City Futures and a new Met Office Centre of Excellence.
- An Open Innovation Platform that encourages and enables enterprises and innovators to draw on external ideas, to develop their own thinking, to explore new opportunities and map out paths to market;
- Enhanced access to: data curated and structured to meet market needs;
- Physical facilities in Exeter and Plymouth: open spaces with work-stations, meeting rooms, demonstration and workshop facilities;
- A ‘café environment’ that promotes networking, exploration and co-creation within accessible spaces in which entrepreneurs can access the expertise and support that they need; and in which anyone with a good idea can find a way to progress it.
The Impact Lab will be pro-active. It will reach out to innovators and entrepreneurs through marketing, networking and by enriching the agendas of technology and business / sector focused networks in the region. It will look within the knowledge base to identify the commercial potential of research undertaken by project partners and the market value of the data partners and other organisations (e.g. local authorities) hold. It will raise awareness of commercial opportunities in environmental science and Big Data analytics and create opportunities to exploit the assets and skills of the knowledge base through co-creation and collaborative research. It will respond flexibly to the needs of SMEs and innovators who bring promising new ideas and innovations to the Impact Lab on an ad-hoc basis. It will engage SMEs, entrepreneurs and potential innovators through a programme of ‘Challenges’.
The ‘Challenges’ provide a mechanism through which the Impact Lab will promote open innovation by engaging SMEs and other potential innovators (such as Graduates and Post-Docs) in a structured programme that enables them to: explore a topic, issues or environmental challenge; understand the business and supply chain opportunities that arise from these, and identify new products and services that meet market needs.
Rothamsted Research and Exeter City Futures.
is an International Conference designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between NATURE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.
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