Innovate UK's built environment agenda

Innovate UK, the successor to the Technology Strategy Board, is halfway through its Delivery Plan for 2014-15, which includes important actions in and for the built environment. Innovate UK’s strategy covers a wide range of topics in the areas of commercialisation of processes and industrial sectors beyond the built environment, such as agriculture and food, healthcare, high-value manufacturing, and space. This article however concentrates on the sectors thatconnect most to IRF readers’ interests.

The 2014-15 Delivery Plan takes the 2011-15 strategy, Concept to Commercialisation, as the starting point, and outlines that 2014-15 will be another year of intensive activity, with the aim of stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. The main plans continue to build on Innovate UK’s strategic aims for the financial year beginning April 2014: accelerating the innovation journey through supporting businesses in taking ideas towards commercial reality; connecting the innovation landscape; working with and across government departments to for innovative businesses, and; investing in priority areas based on potential. A range of Key Actions for 2014-15 by sector are set out in the following sections.


This programme is addressing the challenges of delivering secure, affordable and sustainable energy for the 21st century. In 2014- 15, Innovate UK aims to:

• commit up to £81.5m in energy, including 11 new competitions;
• launch an Energy Systems Innovation Platform;
• establish the Energy Systems Catapult;
• launch an Energy Catalyst with the research councils and Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC);
• co-fund international activity in Europe (solar and marine), Canada and the US;
• develop a programme to demonstrate energy supply chain innovation.

Built Environment

The focus of the Low Impact Buildings Innovation Platform for the next five years is to transform the sector to a more-industrialised approach to deliver high-quality, carbon efficient buildings. This year Innovate UK will: commit £12.5m in four new competitions, including competitions in digital design and engineering – specifically in building information modelling.

Urban Living

Innovate UK’s vision in this area is to help UK firms develop the products and services to meet the changing needs of cities and urban areas, and to sell them to the world. Innovate UK has committed up to £63m towards fulfilling this vision and will:

• establish an Urban Living Innovation Platform;
• continue to support the Future Cities Catapult;
• run five new competitions that support integration of city systems;
• develop an approach to national urban modelling;
• develop competitions to explore the wider use of environmental, social and economic data in planning and managing cities.


In the Transport Sector, Innovate UK works to help UK industry profit from a transport system that allows efficient, cost-effective and sustainable movement of people and goods. Their commitment will be up to £70m and they will:

• launch a Transport Systems Innovation Platform;
• continue to develop the Transport Systems Catapult;
• run six collaborative R&D competitions covering on and off-highway vehicles, marine, aerospace and rail transport;
• support a further European competition for marine vessel technology;
• support and deliver R&D activities for the Aerospace Technologies Institute and the Advanced Propulsion Centre for automotive technologies.

Birmingham and its West Midlands neighbouring boroughs are typical of the built environments to which much of Innovate UK’s delivery plan applies (photo by Roger Venables)

Digital Economy

The internet, connectivity and computing are developing more quickly than manybusinesses can adapt. This programme addresses the use of digital technology by UK businesses, and Innovate UK’s commitment will be up to £42m and they will:

• launch 11 new competitions;
• support the Connected Digital Economy Catapult, the Open Data Institute and Tech City UK;
• continue the IC Tomorrow programme for digital micro businesses, including networking support and further funded competitions;
• develop an open-source toolkit to help business with data handling;
• continue support to develop Internet of Things systems, and apply this capability in real-world contexts;
• support the UK’s creative Industries.

Resource Efficiency

In this area Innovate UK help UK industry generate wealth through better management and
use of material resources. Innovate UK will commit up to £5.6m and will:

• run three new competitions in resource efficiency;
• organise an entrepreneur mission to San Francisco in ‘clean and cool’ technologies;
• ensure that the benefits of resource efficiency are captured in a wide range of our competitions.

Innovate UK states that its aims are simple – “to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation”. To gain access to Innovate UK’s work and explore their strategy visit their website at: Their Delivery plan for 2014-15 is available to read at:

For further information please contact Jane Chelliah- Manning at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (0207 215 1630; E-mail:

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