The public sector already provides a range of environmental services focused on “public good” such as weather forecasts, weather and flood warnings. In addition there are commercial products produced by a range of providers for specific sectors such as aviation, transport, energy and finance. These products are well developed in some sectors and there is a healthy competitive market. However, in others the services are fragmented and of variable quality. This is particularly true where integration with a number of factors is required.
However, the capability for the UK to develop and deliver services to this market is constrained by an incomplete view of the business need and individual problems faced, coupled with an innovation gap between UK research excellence (academic and other research technology organisations) and commercial exploitation. In many cases there is a lack of sufficient skills, knowledge and expertise to translate research outputs into innovation and economic growth. To speed up development in a global market there is a need to pool resources and develop some common tools and industry standards.
The Environmental Catalyst would function as an "honest broker":
1. It will identify and promote best practice in the use of environmental data and applications for making decisions that are critical to resilience, national infrastructure, supply chains, UK growth and policy.
2. It will work with the provider and user sectors, including innovate UK, the Catapults and other innovators, to identify problems that are bigger than a single business, and require cross sector skills and knowledge.
3. Participants will be asked to bring their own tools and data to share, in order to strengthen their sector as a whole, making them more competitive internationally and with other rival sectors.
4. It will focus on business sectors where there is a need to raise awareness of their dependency on the environment and where integration of information and services is important. Smart cities are likely to be a focus.
I will discuss a number of pilot projects related to the energy sector. The first looks at the impacts of climate change on energy infrastructure. The second is a new project with the offshore renewables sector, with the aim of making investment decisions more robust, so that renewables can compete more effectively with other forms of energy.