Climate innovators work with UK Supermarket chain

Climate-KIC gives innovative companies a chance to work with large UK retailer.

Climate-KIC partner the Institute for Sustainability is working closely with UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s to find new solutions to sustainability challenges while helping innovative businesses get their products to market faster. The project is part of the Climate Market Accelerator (CMA) initiative, which focuses on working with the demand side in order to help bring innovation to market more quickly.

In order to find market-ready and close-to-market solutions for in-store challenges identified by Sainsbury’s, the Institute for Sustainability organised a challenge-led competition in partnership with Imperial College London.

Although Sainsbury’s had already been using a wide range of solutions to minimise its environmental impact to date, the retailer had identified two areas where it was seeking further improvements: lighting and water use.

The Results

  • Six market-ready competition winners were given the opportunity to pitch their innovations to Sainsbury’s with the possibility to roll out their product in outlets across the UK
  • Two close-to-market winners each received €25,000 in innovation support from Climate-KIC
  • Five shortlisted innovators are still actively working with Sainsbury’s
  • A total of 68 entries from 61 organisations were received in response to the competition

Demand-led innovation

The Chief Executive of the Institute for Sustainability, Ian Short, said: “The market in climate change adaptation and mitigation innovations is still young and a lack of confidence in new approaches, the restricted opportunities to trial innovations and concerns about risk and reward are acting as barriers to take-up.”

“By working closely with potential buyers to understand their requirements better, we hope to stimulate suppliers, innovators and researchers to respond with innovation that solves real world challenges,” he concluded.

Wider activity

In the UK, the Institute for Sustainability is working with partners to deliver a range of practical activities for property owners, investors and managers through three Sustainable Innovation Forums (SIFs): retail, commercial/municipal and residential. 

Through these SIFs, the Institute aims to identify and understand demand side innovation challenges and then articulate them in ways which encourages the supply side to respond with relevant solutions.

  • The competition was the first engagement undertaken by the Sainsbury’s-led Retail Sustainable Innovation Forum
  • The Commercial SIF works with the Better Buildings Partnership in areas such as improvements to building envelopes, carbon mapping of commercial stock and sustained behaviour change
  • The Residential SIF has held initial meetings and areas of focus are likely to include resident engagement and building control interfaces

Climate Market Accelerator

The relative immaturity of the climate innovation market impedes the take-up of innovative products, with many organisations concerned about the potential risk and their return on investment. Alongside this, many innovation support initiatives tend to focus on the supply side – technology push – rather than on the demands of buyers – market pull.

Climate-KIC’s Climate Market Accelerator (CMA) pilots, utilise market ‘pull’ as the starting point to speed up the time it takes for climate change innovations to reach the market. Click here to find out more about the CMA or to get in touch.

External links

Institute for Sustainability