£50,000 awarded to University of Exeter and partners to develop Environmental Intelligence bid

UK Research and Innovation has awarded 24 shortlisted projects £50,000 in seedcorn money from the Strength in Places Fund to boost regional economic growth. 

The University of Exeter, in partnership with the Met Office, University of Plymouth, Falmouth University, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Rothamsted Research now has until September 2019 to develop a full stage bid to support the £30 million Environmental Intelligence Accelerator programme.  

The Environmental Intelligence Accelerator will build on the South West’s environmental science and digital innovation strengths to support growth in areas such as Food Production, Energy & Utilities, Construction, Finance & Insurance and Health.

It is about exploiting the power of data analysis to support smart environmental decision making in the private and public sector. The programme will unlock innovation, research and skills to ensure the Westcountry leads the global market for Environmental Intelligence Solutions worth over £100bn each year. Over 5 years, the ambition is to create 1000 new jobs and £78 million additional gross value added ongoing.

A changing climate, and need to move to a low-carbon economy, means that businesses and governments increasingly need to use environmental information in their operations. For example:

  • Mitigating risks, such as damage to property by extreme weather
  • Optimising opportunities for growth, such as renewable power generation
  • Reducing negative impact on the environment, including reducing pollutants.

Development of ‘Environmental Intelligence’ involves the collection, integration, analysis and communication of multiple types of data and information from many different sources and domains. Rapid advances in technology, data availability and digital applications such as artificial intelligence, sometimes referred to as ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’, offer unprecedented opportunities to transform the market for this type of information.

The Environmental Intelligence Accelerator will attract tens of millions of co-investment and involve hundreds of organisations within and outside of the region to generate growth.

The Accelerator includes:

  • 50 developers and applied researchers working alongside partners from around the world to address challenges in the development of Environmental Intelligence Solutions;
  • A ‘Smart South West’ Challenge Fund — supporting private sector entrepreneurs seeking to test environmental sensors in the South West, creating an open-data network for entrepreneurs in the region;
  • A Data & Infrastructure Fund supporting implementation of technologies to improve access to the data and skills required to develop Environmental Intelligence Solutions.

Mark Goodwin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) at the University of Exeter said:

“We are delighted to reach the next stage of the Strength in Places Fund and receive seedcorn money for our bid. We will work with partners across the region to develop a strong final bid in the rapidly growing area of Environmental Intelligence to boost jobs and business in the South West.”

Penny Endersby, Chief Executive at the Met Office said:

“Through the Environmental Intelligence Accelerator bid we have a great opportunity to establish the South West as a leading region in the world utilising data to make smarter business decisions to benefit our economy, society and protect our environment.”

Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said about the Strength in Places Fund: 

“‘Our clear vision is to ensure we benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas. Significant support through the Strength in Places Fund will further catalyse economic potential across the country by bringing researchers, industry and regional leadership together to drive sustained growth through world-class research and innovation.”