What is Innovation Zero?
Taking place at the iconic Olympia London, Innovation Zero is a two-day international clean tech conference which brings together attendees from across the clean tech industry, including policymakers, innovators, funders, and large organisation leaders – all united by the goal of achieving a low carbon economy by championing the latest green tech innovations, building partnerships, and driving collaboration. Upon arrival in the exhibition hall, it was incredible to see so many exhibitor stands, from large companies to small, all gathered together and contributing in their own way towards building a sustainable future.
Why did us marketers attend?
As you’ll be aware, climate change prevention has become a hot topic (pardon the pun) lately – and with the UK’s goal of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, it’s more important than ever. Added to this, some of our own clients (some in attendance at the event) are in the sustainability space, driven by the goal of decarbonisation (which means reducing carbon emissions from energy production), so it was incredibly inspiring to spend the day learning about the innovative ideas driving the transition to net zero. And of course, we made sure to take notes to inspire future content along the way!
Our favourite sessions (and key takeaways)
1. Imagination and Inspiration: The Future of AI in Climate Tech Policy
Speakers: Joanna Gosling (Broadcaster and News Anchor, BBC) and Michal Nachmany (Founder and CEO, Climate Policy Radar)
As marketers, we love AI, so we just had to attend this session! This was a conversation between Joanna Gosling (who you’ll recognise from BBC News) and Michal Nachmany, CEO of Climate Policy Radar – a data science and AI-powered platform which explores thousands of climate change laws, policies and legal cases worldwide to help understanding global processes and risk modelling. Michal emphasised the benefits of leveraging AI modelling, for solar tracking, determining renewable energy usage, addressing pressing issues like plastic pollution, and even exploring the mysteries of the ocean floor.
However, Michal stated the importance of navigating ethical considerations when delegating decision-making entirely to AI, as unintended consequences could arise – in the case of analysing climate data, this could lead to population displacement. To ensure the quality of AI models, we must prioritise high-quality data and be mindful of potential biases. Michal envisions AI as a public good, harnessing its capabilities to track emissions, analyse policy documents, and make informed decisions that fuel innovation. Therefore, to maximise the benefits AI brings, Michal states we should eliminate bias risks and adopt an open-source, open-data approach – meaning that AI technology should be free to use, distribute and modify so everyone can access its benefits. Public sources should be considered for funding public goods like AI, and when it comes to using it to battle climate change, open sourcing of large language models fosters collaboration and transparency, ultimately benefiting us all.
2. Secure & Sustainable
Speakers: Dr Alex Mardapittas (Chairman, Powerstar), Steve Milward (SVP of Engineering & Operations, 8 Rivers), Dr Caroline Hargrove (CBE, Chief Technology Officer, Ceres), Guy Newey (CEO, Energy Systems Catapult), Prof. William J Nuttall (CPhys FInstP FRSA, Professor of Energy, The Open University), Amna Bezanty (Commercial Manager and Strategy Lead, Circular Fuels Ltd & KEW Technology Ltd)
In this insightful panel discussion with many prestigious players in the energy industry, the speakers explored the crucial aspects of securing a sustainable energy supply – meaning a transition away from fossil fuels, considering alternative energy sources, and ensuring a reliable energy provision. Whilst relevant for our client base, we also thought this was an enlightening session for us as consumers too. The session started off by analysing the UK government’s £20 billion of funding for early deployment of carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS). Whilst this grant is significant, it’s not enough to tackle huge challenges that persist, for example poor grid connections, lack of skills and training for jobs to work in the sector, and supply chain issues. Collaboration is vital in tackling the global problem of decarbonisation – starting with our behaviour as consumers, for example the way we heat our homes or travel. Together, we can overcome these obstacles and create a greener and more sustainable future.
3. Decarbonising Our Built Environment
Speakers: Nicola Yates OBE (CEO, Connected Places Catapult), Rob Lane (Chief Property Officer, Clarion Housing Group), Chris Trott (Partner & Head of Sustainability, Foster + Partners), Prof. Gaurav N. Sant (Director, Institute for Carbon Management, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)), Jo Hills (Director – Real Estate Sustainability, Deloitte)
With clients in the construction industry, we attended this session for some key insights about decarbonising in the built environment (structures, features, and facilities making up the environment in which people live and work). Retrofitting – in this case, modifying existing buildings to be more energy efficient – is vital to decarbonising the built environment however, convincing homeowners to embrace retrofits can be challenging due to concerns about funding and the disruption it may cause. Educating the public to change their behaviour, for example emphasising the long-term benefits of retrofits such as reduced energy bills, is important to encourage sustainable living from all levels.
As the speakers in the panel agreed, a huge barrier to decarbonisation is the supply chain, particularly steel. Further government procurement of green solutions, coupled with a robust legislative framework that encourages innovation, can help overcome barriers and drive progress in the built environment.
Our time at the Innovation Zero not only sparked fresh digital, content and events inspiration for our clients in the sustainability field, but also provided us with valuable insights on the journey towards a sustainable future. The big lesson we learned? If the UK wants to lead the way in reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, real and tangible actions must be taken now, rather than later – and it’s all about collaboration, from consumers, to the Cabinet, to corporations. The innovative ideas and technologies, such as those showcased at the conference will play a vital role in driving the transition to a low-carbon economy – but for them to be effective, we all have a part to play. We’ll definitely be back next year – and hopefully have made encouraging progress towards our ambitious net zero goal!
If you’re a client in the sustainability sector looking for digital, content or events marketing solutions, we’d love to chat! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.