SHIFT launches new £1.47m innovation programme for London SMEs tackling the climate emergency

SHIFT, east London’s innovation agency based at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, has today (Wednesday 4 October) launched a new scale-up programme of funding and support for London-based enterprises working to tackle the climate emergency. The project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The Future Industries Demonstrator Programme provides pioneering start-ups and SMEs with financial backing, as well as linking them to the collaborative networks, workspaces and local knowledge resources that give them the best chance to succeed. The theme of the first challenge is ‘Natural Cities.’ Organisations that are working on a solution to one or more of these key challenges facing east London’s natural environment are particularly welcome to apply:
● Safeguard our Water Systems: Reducing risk from flooding and drought, restoring natural water bodies and protecting water resources
● Clean our Air: Reducing air pollution from existing sources and removing pollutants
● Halt and Reverse Biodiversity Loss: Promoting biodiversity and the wellbeing of natural spaces
● Fight Rising Temperatures: Combatting the urban heat island effect
● Create a Capital Without Waste: Minimising waste and its impactsApplications are now open to the first of these via the SHIFT website. SMEs and individuals can also sign up to become a SHIFT member to stay updated with all the latest information about the Future Industries Demonstrator Programme.

Applications are now open to the first of these via the SHIFT website. SMEs and individuals can also sign up to become a SHIFT member to stay updated with all the latest information about the Future Industries Demonstrator Programme.

● The Future Industries Demonstrator Programme has been created to invest in and support 215 London-based SMEs working to tackle the climate crisis
● First of three open innovation challenges calls for solutions to tackle the climate emergency, starting with enhancing east London’s natural environment
● Successful bids win £25,000 grant plus access to support, expertise and networks on and around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
● Two-year programme part-funded by £1.47m from the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund

Successful applicants will receive:
● £20,000 grant to supplement scaling plans
● £5,000 budget to support testbed deployment
● Access to world-class workspaces, including The Loop, east London’s hub for circular economy businesses.
● Expert support from specialists at innovation company Plexal and University College London
● 1:1 coaching with a circular business specialist
● Support programme facilitated by SHIFT.
● Businesses based in the Hackney Wick & Fish Island Creative Enterprise Zone will be considered for an additional capital grant up to £10,000 to supplement their scaling plans after completing their initial development through the programme.

The second and third Innovation Challenges will be open for applications in February 2024 and July 2024. The Open Innovation Challenges will focus on the intersection between the real problems that citizens and institutional buyers face locally and the market solutions that, with investment and tailored support, can accelerate the collective transition to Net Zero.

Abdul Rahim, the Chief Innovation Officer of SHIFT highlighted that this isn’t a call for piecemeal change, it’s a demand for systemic responses. That means considering the complexity of how different aspects of our urban environments are connected, and bringing forward holistic, comprehensive solutions.
Abdul Rahim, Chief Innovation Officer of SHIFT, said: “SHIFT is committed to bridging the gap between real, local need and market-defining innovations. By spotlighting challenges encountered by local communities, we hope to ensure that supported solutions possess genuine and significant potential to meet urgent challenges for east Londoners whilst accelerating the net-zero transition for the capital.”

Andrew Roughan, CEO at Plexal, said: “Plexal is a founding partner of SHIFT and little over a year from launch, it’s a pleasure to further our role within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park innovation district to be part of SHIFT’s Future Industries Demonstrator Programme. As an innovation company and workspace for trailblazing founders, our mission at Plexal is to solve society’s challenges through collaboration with organisations. Therefore, we’re excited to be delivering the Venture Creator programme to discover and support sustainability startups committed to achieving net zero as part of our involvement.”

Alex Russell, Executive Director, Hackney Wick and Fish Island Community Development Trust CIC, said: “We are excited to be a partner of The Future Industries Demonstrator Programme. The programme provides a great platform for SMEs with innovative ideas to tackle the climate crisis, in partnership with industry, community and academia. We also welcome the continued support of The Loop – the creation of a cluster of circular economy initiatives on the Park – under the stewardship of the CDT, a community ownership model.”

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