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Posted 12.02.19

£6.4m project builds environmental futures for Plymouth businesses

By Phillip Buchan
Business leaders from across Plymouth have been finding out how the region’s environmental and technological expertise can benefit them.

Dozens of companies attended the Plymouth launch of The Environmental Futures & Big Data Impact Lab (Impact Lab), held at Plymouth Science Park.

The Impact Lab is a £6.4 million project, part-funded by a £3.4 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund.

Its aim is to harness the knowledge held within those institutions as a resource for collaborative projects with businesses in the county to solve a key technical challenge in the development of a new product, service or process.

Oli Raud, Strategic Funding Manager at Plymouth College of Art

The Impact Lab brings together seven world-class Devon-based organisations – Plymouth College of Art, the University of Plymouth, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the University of Exeter, Exeter City Futures, the Met Office, and Rothamsted Research.

This launch event was specifically designed to reach out to firms in and around the city, and was coordinated by the three Plymouth partners.

It included talks about some of the environmental and technological challenges businesses might face, and how the organisations’ expertise could individually and collectively help overcome them. A further interactive panel discussion provided the opportunity for questions and discussion.

Oli Raud, Strategic Funding Manager at Plymouth College of Art, said:

“Businesses in the South West are already accessing the skills and resources available within the Impact Lab project to help them design and launch new products that solve environmental problems through digital technologies and academic expertise. At Fab Lab Plymouth, we can offer local businesses support and expert guidance in areas such as digital design, prototyping and manufacturing, as well as innovative use of media and big data visualisation.”

Fab Lab Plymouth Manager, Ben Mundy

Professor Iain Stewart, Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute at the University of Plymouth, said:

“We live in an era where everyone, whether they employ one person or one thousand, is more environmentally aware than ever. And every company, regardless of the size and sector, faces challenges that they might not have the expertise to address themselves. With funding of up to £50,000 available for new projects, the Impact Lab is perfect for small businesses looking to overcome obstacles and take advantage of opportunities now and in the future.”

Dr Tim Fileman, Business Development Manager at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, commented:

“The Impact Lab is a great initiative that encourages our academics to engage with SMEs across Devon. By creating a Devon knowledge network and giving local businesses free access to the world-class academic expertise held within organisations like Plymouth Marine Laboratory, we can work together on innovative projects to boost jobs and wealth in the region. For me the highlight of the day was the lively engagement and enthusiasm of so many local SMEs who will all, hopefully, benefit from our help and expertise.”

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