Building the West Midlands' low carbon economy

“Houses that sweat, chimneys that soak up heat, and solar power systems for cloudy climates - as the housing industry gets back on its feet, there are terrific opportunities in green technology,” says Michael Overduin, the CEO of Science Capital.

Keith Budden from E.ON chaired the event which brought together industry leaders, SMEs, academics and investors in a bid to strengthen links and drive growth in the housing sector. Their focus on working together to build a green deal contrasts sharply with the UN climate change talks in Bonn that end today with little agreement on extending the Kyoto Protocol.

Speakers at last Wednesday’s meeting included representatives of local firms who highlighted the opportunities for the region in supplying the UK’s £15 billion housing retrofit needs. There are 26 million homes that must be improved if we are to hit our national energy efficiency targets.

Richard Brooks from sponsors Anthony Collins Solicitors set out a challenge to deliver the low carbon economy whilst meeting the needs of local communities hit by fuel poverty or long term unemployment by offering targeted training and job opportunities.

Chris Handy showed terraced homes that “put money in people’s pockets”. These houses process their own waste and are entirely carbon neutral. Chris is Chief Executive of the Accord Group, which is opening a new factory in Walsall to manufacture low carbon timber homes.

Malcolm McIntosh, who directs the Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable, argued that we need to “remove perverse subsidies for polluting industries”. The future, he says, requires “an engaged democracy and real leadership”.

Matthew Rhodes, managing director of Warwickshire-based Encraft, demonstrated how small companies are best suited to deliver large scale change. Like his own 30-strong team, they can engage local skills and work alongside homeowners in deciding the most suitable improvements.

Lubo Jankovic from Birmingham City University gave a fascinating insight into Birmingham’s first Zero Carbon house. This 4-bed house with studio loft in Balsall Heath generates more energy than it uses, even throughout this recent harsh winter. He believes the key to unlocking the market lies in education of more zero carbon designers, as the economics and technology already make sense.

Six companies also presented their new technologies to a panel of Birmingham’s top legal and investment firms including Midven, Beer & Partners, Mercia Fund and Advantage Business Angels.

Together these technologies provide an exciting range of opportunities for business growth with commitment for local government, industry and universities to work together to help local SMEs flourish. [press release from Science Capital on 17 June 2011]

University professor says almost any home could have its carbon footprint reduced to zero

A BIRMINGHAM City University building performance expert claims almost any home could have its carbon footprint reduced to zero – but without proper integrated planning thousands of pounds per house could be wasted not saved.

Dr Lubo Jankovic, from the Birmingham City University School of Architecture and Centre for Low Carbon Research, will be a speaker at the ‘Humans, Habitats and Heat Making: homes fit for the planet’ forum at Hotel du Vin in Birmingham today, the same say MPs are due to discuss how to enforce carbon reduction measure in the UK... more in Birmingham Mail article by Kat Baldwyn on 15 June 2011

Universities pioneer new automotive green tech projects

Kerry Kirwan of WMG on green racing cars Bruno Pollet, of University of Birmingham, discusses fuel cell technology TWO West Midlands universities are bidding to transform the motor industry by championing low carbon and green technologies that could revolutionise the manufacture and propulsion of cars for decades to come.

Warwick Manufacturing Group has developed a pioneering racing testbed to show off the way sustainable technology can be utilised in an arena seemingly abhorrent to the green lobby.

Meanwhile, the University of Birmingham is working with manufacturers and investors to try and develop a commercially viable means of marrying together battery and hydrogen fuel cell technology to power the cars of the future in a clean and efficient way.

Delegates from both universities showed off their respective technologies to an audience of investors, advisers and academics at a Science Capital event in Birmingham... more in The Business Desk article by Duncan Tift on 28 March 2011

Capital Science event looks to the future of car building in the West Midlands

Cars made from recycled cans, lightweight engine technology and practices borrowed from the motor racing and aerospace industries could help cement future success for the region’s automotive sector.

That was the message from West Midland vehicle technology innovators ahead of a Birmingham event looking at research developments in the automotive industry.

The Science Capital event brought together car firms, engineers, academics and investors in a bid to strengthen links between the key drivers in the West Midland sector. Speakers included representatives of firms like Jaguar Land Rover and turbocharger specialists Aeristech, who gave an insight into the world-leading research happening in the region... more in the Birmingham Post article by Anna Blackaby on 17 Mar 2011

Modec rescue deal 'imminent'

A RESCUE deal for Coventry based electric vehicle manufacturer Modec could be imminent after a rival firm confirmed it was in talks to salvage the company.

Barry Shrier, chief executive of Oxford based Liberty Electric Cars, said last night his firm was mounting a rescue bid.

Mr Shrier, chairing a Science Capital debate in Birmingham on the future of the motor industry, said it was vital that innovative firms such as Modec were encouraged... more in The Business Desk article by Duncan Tift on 17 March 2011

JLR unlikely to become UK's biggest manufacturer - Bailey

...Evidence of the company’s growth plans was outlined to an audience at the recent Science Capital automotive event in Birmingham.

Andrew Haggie, senior manager-materials engineering for JLR, said the company had invested £400m in research and development and had upgraded facilities at its Castle Bromwich plant to incorporate the latest advanced manufacturing techniques... more in The Business Desk article by Duncan Tift on 18 March 2011

U.K. Healthcare Experts Question Plans to Ring Fence NHS

Ring fencing the NHS budget makes political, not business sense, argued Dr. Alan Davies, Chief Medical Officer of General Electric Healthcare, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Chronic disease will remain one of the largest global risks for the foreseeable future, and reforming and containing costs are increasingly vital. Davies spoke at a meeting entitled “ Drugs, Diagnostics and Delivery: from Personalised Medicine to Global Health ” organized by Science Capital... more on Medical Device Summit news on 30 Sept 2010

Plans to ring fence the NHS budget are questioned by experts

Ring fencing the NHS budget makes political, not business sense, argued Dr Alan Davies, Chief Medical Officer of General Electric Healthcare, Europe, Middle East and Africa, at the inaugural Innovative Healthcare Meeting held recently at the Birmingham Conservatoire which brought together NHS executives, business leaders, scientists, policy makers and financial advisors looking to build new partnerships to support innovation and improve the economics of healthcare.

The theme of the meeting, which was sponsored by Life Science industry association, MedilinkWM, was entitled ‘Drugs, Diagnostics and Delivery: from Personalised Medicine to Global Health’. The event was hosted by Science Capital, an organization that was established in Birmingham, UK, to support commercialisation of new healthcare, low carbon and information technologies being developed in the West Midlands region.

During his presentation entitled ‘Future Directions in Healthcare’ Dr Davies discussed the plans to ring fence NHS and pointed out that chronic disease will remain one of the largest global risks for the foreseeable future, and reforming and containing costs are increasingly vital.

Dr Davies maintained that a way to lower healthcare costs is to be innovative when implementing care pathways. He suggested the NHS could push towards more healthcare delivery nearer the patient's home which could achieve cost reductions of 15 percent while improving access globally and providing better care locally... more in ProHealth Service Zone article on 24 September 2010.

IP Brief: Automotive

Martineau were proud sponsors of a low carbon event held in Birmingham in June entitled “Food, Fuel and Future Strategies for a Changing World”. The event was the inaugural meeting of Science Capital. This new organisation is an independent not-for-profit outfit which brings together scientists, business experts, policy makers and financial advisors to build new partnerships and develop shared strategies.

The event was focussed on assisting those in the region developing or supporting low carbon technology, and schemes for reducing fossil fuel dependency. In discussions moderated by Martineau’s energy expert Catherine Burke, the vast wealth of expertise in sustainable technology within the West Midlands was highlighted. It is clear that the region will play a key part in Government plans to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050... more in Martineau's Summer 2010 IP Brief.

Science in the city

...The speakers each gave us a richly informed and highly informative perspective about the scientific and technological breakthroughs needed for us to meet the global challenges of climate change, and of some of the world-beating technologies being made here.

Aston's VC, author of HM Treasury King Review and member of the Committee on Climate Change, Professor Julia King spoke of the whys and wherefores of the huge, radical industrial and behavioural shift which has to be made if we are to meet the Government target of 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

Professor Malcolm McIntosh, Director of the Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia gave us a perspective from the Asia Pacific, talking of Australia's high carbon footprint, their huge and easily accessible coal reserves -- and of the significant green manufacturing in China; they look set to lead the world in sustainable transport. As Julia King said in the discussion, while we're talking about electric vehicles, the Chinese are manufacturing them in their millions.

Professor Jonathan Seville, Dean of Engineering at Warwick spoke of several technologies being developed regionally. One that caught my attention was sorption energy, a super-efficient use of energy using well-known technologies and, owing to new miniaturised systems developed at Warwick, with far more wide-ranging applications.

Finally, Professor Kevin Kendall, FRS Director of the Fuel Cell Centre showed us the hydrogen vehicles already in regular use on the University of Birmingham campus. He gave, too, an insight into their future, and the necessity for development of such vehicles... more in the Birmingham Post blog by Kate Cooper on 18 June 2010.

Birmingham: Science Capital

Recognizing that innovation happens best when great minds connect directly, Overduin is launching Science Capital in 2010 to bring scientists, entrepreneurs and investors together in Birmingham. Leading scientists are given a stage to present their ideas and technologies to those who have the resources to build companies locally and scale them globally. This grassroots initiative is led by scientists who have built successful businesses, with prospective stakeholders include leading financial and legal firms and Birmingham City Council. Events will focus on innovative healthcare, digital and low carbon technologies. This is also the year Birmingham will host the British Science Festival, the largest such event in Europe for the general public. Everyone’s invited to join in and see how Birmingham is asserting itself as the UK’s leader in science and innovation... more on Parliament Magazine in winter 2010

Birmingham: Innovation, Innovation, Innovation

Professor Michael Overduin, Executive Director of the Henry Wellcome Building, is helping to transform our largest Science City into a hub of scientific enterprise from the ground up... Informing the private sector, political leaders and public about exciting scientific opportunities is equally important to Overduin. He is launching Science Capital in 2010 to provide leading scientists with a stage to present their breakthroughs. This grassroots initiative is led by scientists who have set up successful businesses, with prospective stakeholders include leading financial and legal firms and Birmingham City Council. The organization is partnered with the Lunar Society, which originates from 1775 and is continuing to run inspiring events for audiences of hundreds of participants... more at Public Service Health Issue 21