The University of Reading as a Climate KIC affiliate provided us with the opportunity to attend a different experience to a traditional academic conference, so that we could benefit from networking with entrepreneurs in the field of climate innovation.
The programme comprised a number of plenary discussions and parallel sessions, opening with a speech by the President of the Generalitat Valenciana, Alberto Fabra Part, and a scientists versus politicians panel discussion on the Road to the Conference of the Parties (COP) 21, featuring Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Prof. Jürgen Kropp (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research), the Right Hon. Gregory Barker MP (former Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2010-2014) and Sir Graham Watson (Chair of the Climate Parliament and former British MEP and Leader of the European Parliament’s Liberal Democrat group).
Interesting parallel sessions included:
- ‘The Impact Of Carbon Data On Climate Friendly Customer Behaviour’, pitching a potential website app to provide consumer information on the carbon footprint of companies producing given products;
- ‘Overcoming Barriers Towards Successful Implementation Of Innovations’, on bringing innovations to market for smart sustainable districts and sustainable building technologies respectively;
- ‘Fostering Green Skills To Make Transitions Happen’ – a debate on how to address which new, specific skill sets will be required; and
- ‘Blue-Green Solutions For Cities’, presenting the Blue Green Dream project led by Imperial College London on combining water and vegetation-based ecosystem services for urban planning.
On the final day there was a particularly engaging plenary debate on ‘Climate Innovation – How To Create A Sustainable Economy’, with an opportunity to hear from some very experienced practitioners in the private and public sector, including Maria Garaña (European Institute of Innovation and Technology and President of Microsoft Spain), and Dr Charles Donovan (Imperial College Business School).
The Festival concluded with a presentation of the results of a venture competition running throughout the event, and a speech by the new CEO of Climate-KIC, Bertrand van Ee, on his future plans.
Considering the very large number of attendees, the networking opportunities included Climate KIC’s partners, start-up companies and pioneers into practice in climate change mitigation and adaptation, alumni and representative students from universities across Europe, who could be followed on an online forum called ‘Pathable’ where profiles were uploaded prior to the event. Indeed, there was an opportunity to make some useful contacts and share our academic research in ways which could be understood by a more entrepreneurial community.
The representatives of the University of Reading,
Dr Richard Hanna and Mary Pothitou (EngD)