Green Tech Symposium Learnings: Part Two

Thursday, 14th November 2019

In the second instalment of the key takeaways from our Green Tech Symposium, we begin with the incredible work being done by the University of Salford to tackle climate change.

Joe Flanagan is Project Manager on the university’s Energy House 2.0 project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The £16m development is the world’s first all-weather research centre aimed at developing initiatives to save on energy bills.

Incredibly, the Energy House boasts over 400 sensors, with a temperature range of -12 degrees Celsius and +30 degrees Celsius. Joe’s insights were fascinating, showing how sensors can respond to weather changes and react accordingly to keep energy costs and usage down, but ensure people are warm (or cool) among other things in their home.

The project is due for completion in Spring 2021. “We have been fully supported by our key partners on both the Energy House and the Energy House 2.0 projects,” explains Joe. “The funding from ERDF as well as the support from local government will be what helps us to make real change to become the zero-carbon region we all want to be, as per Mayor Andy Burnham’s plans,” continued Joe.

It’s not just the University of Salford’s project that’s helping with Andy Burnham’s plans to be carbon neutral by 2038; 12 years ahead of the rest of the UK. Amer Gaffar, Director at Manchester Met’s Fuel Cell Innovation Centre says: “This city is booming, and we all have this massive target but how are we going to get there?

“We can change a lot with some behavioural changes. Science doesn’t work by itself, this is why we have a great business faculty at MMU, who are looking at future prices and even the taxes that the government may inevitably attach to fuel cell energy, as we begin to use less fossil fuels.”

Amer believes the big change will be when large organisations get involved in promoting the use of renewable energy sources: “Manchester City have adopted fuel cell technology and that’s what we need.

“The whole Etihad complex is utilising the technology we’re creating, and hopefully these organisations will help others to follow suit.”

Our second panel of the day discussed The Business of Green Tech, including Todd Holden – GC Business Growth Hub; Sandra Hill – The Hill Group Limited; Somayeh Taheri – Urban Chain; Mark Westwood – ABGI and Alex Rothwell – Maven Capital.

“This [sustainability] is a really fast-moving agenda,” said Todd Holden, Director of Low Carbon at GC Business Growth Hub. “In order to keep your business on track, you need to find someone who is passionate about sustainability, ensure they want to stay, and help them to continuously learn.”

Sandra Hill has recruited in renewable energy and gas for 25 years and has seen a huge shift in this time: “In today’s job market, people look at the capabilities for an individual but more importantly, they look at whether they fit in with a company’s core values. It’s not just the businesses that do this. Millennials want to work for businesses who are taking sustainability seriously and investing in green technologies.”

One of the most shocking keynotes of the day came from Sophie Walker,  co-founder of Dsposal, a waste disposal start-up, who shared some stats that came as a shock to delegates.

“Waste crime costs £1bn a year for the UK economy – that’s £600m in England alone,” explained Sophie. “49% of adults didn’t know a rubbish removal service should be licensed and 48% of SMEs don’t know what happens to their waste when it leaves their premises and they are liable if it’s criminal and tracked back to them.

“This is because our current system is very paper-based and is highly susceptible to illegal activity. Waste crime been called the new narcotics. Lack of digital systems means it’s easy for criminals to exploit the system with mistreatment of waste.”

It is very clear from our Green Tech Symposium that there are some very exciting goings on in this landscape from both established businesses and institutions as well as tech disruptors.

Our next symposium will focus on the Future of Sport. For more information click here.