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Harwell announces new Living Laboratory to Tackle Climate Crisis

23 January 2020 - Harwell Campus, where government, business and academia apply big-science to solve urgent global challenges, is calling for UK energy innovators to join the fight to mitigate climate change with next generation energy solutions. The invitation, announced today, is open to organisations with an interest in creating global-impact energy solutions. They will work with Harwell Campus, including STFC, to establish a Technical Living Laboratory which will allow new technologies to be piloted in a real-working environment - embedded into the onsite infrastructure at this science and technology Campus.

Home to £2 billion scientific facilities, including STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and 6,000 highly-skilled people the 700 acre site can be a unique testbed for innovative technology aiming to solve urgent global challenges

Those challenges include the rise in increasingly energy-hungry technology and with a growing global population the energy challenge is growing in severity whilst investment into ‘clean tech’ is falling. At Harwell, both major corporates and emerging energy companies can test new technologies using world-leading research and technical facilities. By collaborating with the 6,000 strong community of engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and business leaders, risk is shared and subsequently reduced, whilst time to market is accelerated.

“An increased push for energy efficiency, renewable energy technology, electric mobility along with the growing digitalisation movement and a universal carbon pricing structure would speed up a carbon free future” says Emma Southwell Sander, Harwell EnergyTec Cluster Manager. “To be successful, we need to create an environment where passionate innovators can collaborate, test and get their solutions into market quickly.” 

The Living Lab Opportunity at Harwell

The Harwell Technical Living Lab will accelerate the adoption and accessibility of pioneering technology solutions including connected and autonomous travel, green fuel solutions, and integrated energy systems, to support industry goals and enhance healthier living amongst UK communities. Furthermore, by drawing on expertise from its thriving EnergyTec Cluster, now comprising 59 pioneering energy organisations, including the Faraday Institution, Harwell will remain committed to supporting the UK in reaching national carbon targets and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050.

Dr Barbara Ghinelli, Director, Harwell Campus Business Development and Clusters, STFC-UKRI, adds, “With its ‘Technical Living Lab’ status, world-leading facilities and diverse knowledge and skills base, Harwell can be a driving force in helping the UK realise its national carbon targets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050.”

Collaboration to tackle major energy challenges: Case studies   

The cost of testing new technology and finding the expertise needed to take energy companies’ innovations to the next level can be barriers to important research into reducing global carbon emissions. The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is helping companies overcome these barriers by providing funding to collaborative projects across Harwell’s three Cluster - Space, EnergyTec and HealthTec. 

Dr Hamish Nichol, Engineering Lead at Reaction Engines which is involved in one such collaborative research project, says; “Reaction Engines is currently working with the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) to investigate whether combining its world-class thermal management technology with the STFC’s novel ammonia catalysis concept could pave the way for the first zero-carbon-fuel jet engine, which could drive future aircraft and power generation systems. One of the striking things about this project, and a symptom of both partners being located nearby, is the speed of the collaboration; corporate partnerships can take months of form-filling in which time there can be communication issues and staff can even change. Being located near to the STFC means that this research, which could be hugely impactful to the UK energy and transport sectors, can happen in a fraction of the time.”


Notes to Editors

About Harwell Campus

  • Harwell Campus is the UK’s science and innovation hub and is rapidly expanding via a private public partnership between Harwell Oxford Partners and U+I, plus two Government backed agencies, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). 


  • ~200 public and private organisations are located at Harwell, collectively employing 6,000 people, additionally, at any one time there are 30 universities working on the Campus.


  • The contribution that Harwell makes to the UK is significant - leading in research and supporting industry with achieving commercial success in key global markets, including Life Sciences, Space, Energy, Supercomputing, AI and Big Data. With an estimated GVA of over £1billion, Harwell provides job creation and economic growth that benefits the whole country.


  • Harwell Campus operates a multi-disciplinary cluster approach to research and development, commercial innovation and scale-up. The cluster model, which focuses on Space, Energy and Life Sciences, catapults scientific innovation forward. It creates an ecosystem where research is rapidly accelerated through successful commercial outputs to high-tech manufacturing.


@HarwellCampus, or learn more here www.harwellcampus.com

Last updated: 23 January 2020


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