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Bath leads major academic-industry collaboration to tackle global challenges in sustainability

Bath leads major academic-industry collaboration to tackle global challenges in sustainability

The University of Bath is coordinating a major new collaboration with academia and industry to use sustainable chemical technologies to accelerate the UK’s transition to net zero carbon emissions.

The Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (iCAST) is a unique £17m facility hosted by the Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies (CSCT) that will accelerate the translation of sustainable chemical technology research to help tackle the global challenges of the climate emergency, sustainable development and plastics pollution.

It brings together industry with expertise at the Universities of Bath and Oxford, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s Sustainability Partnership (National Composites Centre and Centre for Process Innovation), innovation experts at SETsquared, Local Enterprise Partnerships and investors.

iCAST is supported by the Research England Development Fund, an initiative from UKRI that drives innovation in research and knowledge exchange in higher education.

The Centre builds on the very successful partnership between CSCT and SETsquared to deliver business acceleration hubs and scale-up programmes in the region. The Research England funding is key to unlocking the world class resources and fundamental research expertise of the partners to deliver commercial success in cutting edge sustainable technologies.

The partnership has over 45 member companies ranging from spin-outs, high growth SMEs and multinational corporates. Companies include Unilever, Wessex Water, Corbion, Total Corbion PLA, and Recycling Technologies.

iCAST will focus on research into four core programmes: bio-based feedstocks; sustainable chemical production systems; sustainable engineering materials and plastics as part of a circular economy.

Professor Matthew Davidson, Whorrod Professor of Sustainable Chemical Technologies at the University of Bath, is Director of iCAST.

He said: “There is currently a translation gap between publicly-funded investment into fundamental research and its deployment by UK companies.

“iCAST will address this gap by enabling companies to easily invest in R&D in a collaborative and agile environment and by providing specialist business support for innovations to be deployed commercially. 

“By partnering companies with the critical mass of research expertise at Bath and at Oxford, iCAST will accelerate scaleup of new technologies, deliver economic impact, and build supply chains, jobs and growth in the UK.

“This funding from UKRI will enable iCAST to achieve sustainability and become established as the ‘go to’ place in the UK for innovation in sustainable technologies.”

Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath, Professor Ian White, said: “We’re delighted to announce this new venture.

“iCAST will cement our links with existing academic and industrial partners and put Bath on the map strategically as a centre of expertise for knowledge exchange with industry to solve real-world global challenges in sustainability.

“As set out in our Climate Action Framework published last year, we are committed as a University to deliver impactful research and innovation supporting the transition to the net zero carbon economy. 

“iCAST will form an important part of this.”

Paddy Bradley, Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership CEO said of the project: “This is truly an exciting collaboration and couldn’t come at a more crucial time.

“The Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (iCAST) is a significant step forward in reaching the goal of not only changing the way the world thinks but also how we behave to prevent further damage to our natural environment. 

“We need business, academia and technology to harmonise as we advance towards a genuinely circular economy and iCAST is a partnership opportunity allowing us to meet today’s challenges.”

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SETsquared is a partnership between

  • University of Bath
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Surrey