Built by Nature Accelerator Fund awards major timber perception research grant

11 May 2022, Amsterdam – Built by Nature, a network and grant-making organisation with a mission to accelerate the timber building transformation in Europe, is excited to announce a €250,000 Accelerator Fund grant to support research into perception barriers to mass timber adoption in Italy.

The research initiative will be coordinated by EIT Climate-KIC, the European Union’s largest climate innovation initiative accelerating the transition to a zero-carbon world. The project will establish a physical and digital prototype building to drive understanding and adoption of mass timber, while maximising the amount of timber used in construction of the one-million-square metre Milano Innovation District (MIND) complex.

MIND is developed and built by multinational property and construction company Lendlease, which is providing co-funding of €528,000 towards the timber perception research and digital technology support through Lendlease Podium. The prototype demonstration project is designed to act as a collaboration centre for industry and policymakers while creating an important source of knowledge and innovation. 

Waugh Thistleton Architects are designing the prototypes, with other industry players   University College London, Arup and Stora Enso providing expertise and/or in-kind support throughout the project. Fondazione Politecnico di Milano is conducting a review of scientific literature on mass timber sustainability implications in the Italian market.

EIT Climate-KIC’s existing Deep Demonstration work in Milan, funded by Built by Nature’s founding partner Laudes Foundation, will help map the barriers to a systemic transformation of the wood value chain and help prime the market for circular and bio-based buildings. Outputs of the project will be shared through Built by Nature and EIT ClimateKIC’s NetZeroCities partner networks.

Since launching in October 2021, the Accelerator Fund has supported, among others,  leading-edge work by Holland Houtland in scaling biobased building through a new blended finance and valuation model; Waugh Thistleton Architects and its ‘New Model Building’ methodology for building residential developments using engineered timber, and the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalunya’s Valldaura Labs (IAAC) in convening frontrunners and exhibiting solutions ahead of Barcelona’s ‘European Forest City’ 2022. Built by Nature’s Accelerator Fund provides grants of between €50,000-€250,000 to teams and solutions that scale up timber building and raise the bar on the positive climate impact of using timber from sustainably sourced forests. 

Built by Nature connects key actors across the built environment and forest communities to spark city-scale projects and amplify stories of groundbreaking timber projects and solutions. In close collaboration with its major partners and frontrunners, Built by Nature aims to change perceptions around timber construction and reshape the built environment system.

Built by Nature is supported by founding partner Laudes Foundation, which launched in 2020 and is part of the Brenninkmeijer family enterprise. Laudes Foundation supports initiatives that inspire and challenge industry to harness its power for good and has a track record of leveraging philanthropic capital as a catalyst for industry wide change. 

James Drinkwater, Chair, Investment Committee, Built by Nature says: “This is an extremely exciting Accelerator Fund initiative on several levels, bringing together a local network in Italy to develop knowledge and innovation in a demonstration project setting, as part of a larger city scale project that has the potential to really unlock the timber building transformation locally. We are pleased to deepen key Built by Nature partnerships with Climate-KIC and local research partners like Politecnico di Milano, and support city and industry frontrunners such as Milano and Lendlease.”

Thomas Osdoba, NetZeroCities Programme Director, EIT Climate-KIC, says: “Thanks to the vision and commitment of Built by Nature and Laudes Foundation, we are able to help cities tackle deep-seated, seemingly intractable challenges. Our ability to collaborate with the private sector, research experts, and the City of Milan means we can develop insights and actionable knowledge useful to all cities about circular building materials and how to reduce carbon emissions in the built environment. Further, we can connect this work to all cities across Europe through our leadership of NetZeroCities.”

Paul King, Managing Director Sustainability & Social Impact, Lendlease says: “To create places that are truly fit for the future we need to think and act fundamentally differently across the built environment sector. We need to design innovatively to facilitate efficient assembly and disassembly of buildings, using a range of materials that can be used repeatedly, and ultimately recycled to eliminate waste. We need to decarbonise traditional materials such as concrete and steel, but we also need to accelerate the adoption of inherently low-carbon technologies such as engineered timber. And we need to collaborate, reflect and share lessons more proactively as we will only succeed if we learn together. This initiative hosted in the Milano Innovation District (MIND) is central to this vision and adds to other similar industry collaboration efforts Lendlease is actively involved in Europe with the support of Built by Nature and other key actors around the world.”

Andrew Waugh, Founding Director, Waugh Thistleton Architects, says: “We have long since advocated for the use of bio-based construction technologies like mass timber to reduce the global emissions caused by the construction industry and address the climate crisis. This Built by Nature funded initiative is a significant opportunity to engage with key early adopters such as Lendlease and the Milan municipality to identify the local challenges to large scale adoption of mass timber construction in Italy. Drawing on the expertise of Climate-KIC and the other partners’ extensive experience, knowledge and networks we are excited to bring together an exhibition that will address the challenges and will provide a springboard to accelerating the expansion of low carbon mass timber in Italian construction.”

Mario Motta, Professor Department of Energy – Politecnico di Milano, Fondazione Politecnico di Milano, says: “We are pleased to be part of this project with important stakeholders such as Climate-KIC and Lendlease. This will be an opportunity to analyze the timber construction production chain, with a particular focus on the Italian market, to understand which effects potential “barriers” have on the perception of this technology. As Fondazione Politecnico di Milano we will also participate in the design and the implementation of the living lab in MIND.”


Press contact

Anne-Sophie Garrigou
E: anne-sophie.garrigou@climate-kic.org


EIT Climate-KIC

EIT Climate-KIC is the EU’s climate innovation initiative, working to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon and resilient world by enabling systems transformation. Headquartered in Amsterdam, it operates from 13 hubs across Europe and is active in 39 countries. EIT Climate-KIC was established in 2010 and is predominately funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. 

As a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC), it brings together more than 400 partners from business, academia, the public and non-profit sectors to create networks of expertise, through which innovative products, services and systems are developed, brought to market and scaled-up for impact. 

For more information visit: climate-kic.org

Follow EIT Climate-KIC on Twitter: @ClimateKIC

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