Success stories of innovation and collaboration

- Blog

On the 4th May at the BRE Innovation Park in Watford, the Innovation Gateway and BRE’s Construction Excellence team delivered a workshop that looked at how collaboration can help UK blue-chip organisations source innovations to reduce the impact of their buildings.  

The day kicked off with a warm welcome from Paul Toyne (Group Chair) who laid out the theme for the day:  innovation and collaboration. The audience then got a flavour of some of the exciting innovations successfully addressing social, environmental and financial impact of the built environment.

Dale Edington introduced Endotherm, the energy saving heating additive currently harvesting huge savings in different organisations.

Samantha Warren-Mant from Halcyan talked the crowd through redefining the impact of water conditioners in addressing hard water issues.

Jack Sweeney from Tobermore presented AirClean – a pollution-reducing paving range. 

Throughout the presentations, it quickly became apparent that all innovators face huge difficulties breaking into markets; what also became clear is that through collaborative efforts and the ability to trial solutions with leading companies, access to market and data validation can be made easier. Endotherm and Halcyan confirmed this idea, echoing that their innovation gained significant credibility and access to market through their previous involvement with innovation programme Innovation Gateway.

Following from an insightful tour of BRE's Innovation Park, where attendees were able to see more water, waste and energy-reducing innovations in the flesh, Henry Majed, Director of Partnerships at the Innovation Gateway, introduced the afternoon’s session; a panel discussion focusing on the work the Innovation Gateway's corporate partners are carrying out collaboratively to reduce costs and environmental impacts of their buildings. 

This powerful approach to sourcing ideas attracts the best innovation through the collective power of the partners’ brands, and provides innovators and SMEs with an opportunity to pilot their solutions on the property portfolios of Britain’s biggest companies. As Euan Burns, Chief Engineer at Carillion plc said, “if you remain collaborative you will find solutions”.

Panellists included Innovation Gateway partners, Euan Burns (Carillion) and James Tiernan (Unite Students); as well as Nigel Bamford (Waterblade) and Graham Simmonds (JUMP), who both successfully piloted their innovations through Innovation Gateway.

Access to big market players within the Innovation Gateway is a big draw for SMEs and innovators. Further than this though is the desire from all parties for trials to succeed. Talking about his experience with Innovation Gateway Partner Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Graham Simmonds made a point to mention that it was RBS’s collaboration and flexibility during the JUMP trial that allowed them to improve their innovation over time and unlock its true benefits.  After a successful pilot, JUMP is now being rolled out to the entire RBS estate, estimating a £3m savings from energy alone.

Waterblade then echoed JUMP’s sentiments; in fact, a successful trial with RBS landed them a deal with another one of our Partners, Heathrow Airport – a customer that would have been much harder to reach out to without being part of Innovation Gateway. Nigel Bamford, founder and director at Waterblade commented ‘The Innovation Gateway continues to be my no.1 sales tool. It has provided us with serious credibility and opened doors for us. As a result, we now have ongoing trials and sales with water utilities, shopping centres, hotels and even the House of Parliament’. Not just for innovators, but partners benefit from this as well. 

“If we (Unite Students) had joined the Innovation Gateway sooner, we could have jumped straight into the learnings rather than struggling to the solution on our own.”

– James Tiernan - Unite Students

By the end of the day everyone was agreeing on the importance of innovation and collaboration to drive meaningful change.  The real take-home message from the workshop though was that innovation and collaboration should go hand in hand, and it’s only by working together that we can solve the most pressing challenges faced by the built environment. People are enthused about this, and want to get on board.

If you are an innovator and think that your idea could help address energy, waste, water, and well-being challenges within the built environment then please get in touch here.