Policymakers, academics, corporate players and innovative scaleups explore the potential of the UK’s climate technology sector at the Jawdrop Summit.
The second Jawdrop Summit, following a successful summit on life sciences in February, took place at Imperial’s White City Campus. The event brought together academics, startups, scaleups, enterprise, industry, investors and policymakers to discuss the future of the UK’s climate technology sector.
Welcoming the attendees, Professor Mary Ryan, Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise) highlighted the success of Imperial’s partnership with the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF), the creation of the Deep Tech Network (DTN), a key initiative between Imperial and LBHF, and Undaunted, a partnership between Imperial’s Grantham Institute and the Royal Institution.
The Deep Tech Network, set up in 2019, supports a deep tech science innovation ecosystem at White City through connecting local start-ups and businesses and Imperial’s academic experts. The Jawdrop Summit, a collaboration between the Deep Tech Network, Undaunted, Imperial Policy Forum and the White City Innovation District, included three panels exploring the UK’s ClimateTech sector and practical pathways to bring more collaboration, innovation and growth to the sector.
The keynote address was given by Richard Youngman, Chief Executive Officer of the Cleantech Group. He gave an overview of current climate investment, noting a recent slowdown compared to 2021-2022 levels. Splitting the transition into two sections, Richard stated that to halve emissions by 2030, as required by the Paris Agreement, the focus must be on scaling ready and available technologies. This includes assuring access to vital critical materials and supporting innovations to improve energy capacity and density. Turning to the challenges of 2030 to 2050, Richard said this phase would require early investment in small scale lab stages and commercialisation of technologies that are not yet scalable. He described the UK as possessing strengths in science and technology alongside a foundation of innovation in venture markets, but warned of complacency as peers catch up.
Jawdrop Summit panel highlights
The panels began with a discussion on how to unlock greater energy innovation in the UK. At a time of a dual energy and cost-of-living crisis, panellists considered how policies could be implemented to support clean energy technologies. Sarah Mackintosh, Director of Cleantech for UK, said planning changes are taking far too long to implement. She noted that government policy is to incentivise heat pumps, but someone living in London is unlikely to get planning permission to install one. Deputy Director of Net Zero Strategy at Ofgem, Jane Dennett-Thorpe, stated that we need to think about innovation beyond a technology-focus to consider new business models and different ways of financing critical projects.
The second panel, chaired by Professor Ramana Nanda, Academic Lead at the Institute for Deep Tech Entrepreneurship, explored the role for government and investors to collaborate and de-risk deep tech and climate technology solutions for challenging sectors. Christina Chang from Lowercarbon Capital described investing in climate technology as the single biggest impact opportunity of our lifetime and noted that ‘ClimateTech means remaking the entire world sustainably’. There was discussion of the impact of the United States Inflation Reduction Act, with Christina commenting that it supercharges what were previously good investments. Sarah Hunter, a non-executive director, at the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) called for a focus on supporting and developing talent more than specific technologies.
The final panel focused on the role of White City as a climate technology innovation ecosystem for the UK. The panel included Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council, Stephen Cowan, Director of Undaunted Alyssa Gilbert and Reka Tron, an Imperial alumni and Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Multus. Multus was founded by a group of students at Imperial about has since raised millions to support development of its cultivated meat products. Reka reflected on her innovation journey by praising the ecosystem available at White City. She identified two critical factors; access to a community of likeminded innovators who could exchange advice, ideas and support with White City benefitting from Imperial’s academic expertise, and facilities. Reka recounted how Multus started in the Imperial College Advanced HackSpace transitioning through a range of advice and facilities to grow to three offices and two labs based in the I-Hub. Councillor Stephen Cowan, spoke about seeing his role as a ‘gardener’ using convening power to assemble key assets to create a self-sustaining ecosystem for climate technologies in White City.
ClimateTech and Deep Tech at Imperial
Imperial recently announced the launch of?The Institute for Deep Tech Entrepreneurship. The Institute aims to drive the development of ground-breaking, ambitious technologies with world-changing potential, and help them find a pathway to market, addressing global challenges in areas such as climate change, improving human health and well-being, and developing sustainable food and water systems.
Undaunted is a partnership between Imperial’s Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment and the Royal Institution. Undaunted focuses on climate innovation within academic science, industry and business and works to build a global community, based in London, with exciting ideas that tackle the climate crisis in sustainable, viable, equitable and scalable ways. Undaunted hosts the Greenhouse, a 12-month innovation programme for climate startups that offers pre-seed entrepreneurs access to business coaching, masterclasses, free workspace and equity-free grant funding.
White City Innovation District and ClimateTech
Imperial’s White City Campus anchors the White City Innovation District – a new innovation district and hub for our thriving ClimateTech community and an emergent economic and cultural hotspot in West London.?At White City, Imperial is bringing academia and business together on an unprecedented scale to support economic growth and local skills, enterprise and innovation with an impact locally and across the UK.
Launched in May 2019, the Deep Tech Network is organised between Upstream, a partnership between the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and Imperial, and Imperial’s Department of Chemistry and Enterprise Division. The DTN encourages collaboration between business and Imperial’s researchers to develop a deep-tech innovation ecosystem around Imperial’s White City Campus. You can keep up to date with the Deep Tech Network by signing up to their newsletter?here.
Credit for all photos: fergusburnett.com