40% of UK carbon emissions are attributable to the built environment which requires significant innovation to reduce its impact. Recent research shows that, in London, innovation is the most frequently identified soft skill required to respond to recent trends in the built environment, with the same research identifying the most significant trend being the climate crisis.
As part of a project to accelerate open innovation, funded by EIT Climate-KIC, UKGBC and SV carried out interviews, desktop research and workshops with innovators and large corporations operating in the built environment sector to identify the needs and barriers currently preventing significant innovation. This research identified that in many cases the power to overcome barriers to innovation lies with large corporate organisations. 45% of all barriers identified related to corporate culture, including attitude to risk, lack of systems thinking and lack of incentives.
The Framework provides a step-by-step guide on how corporates can engage in open innovation and reach effective solutions. It is divided into 4 key phases – challenge definition, scoping, engagement, and collaboration – each of which are broken down further into 8 levels with associated actions. This shared process creates a common understanding of open innovation between corporates and innovators, increases transparency, and enables more efficient and timely engagements.
Alastair Mant, Head of Business Transformation at UKGBC said:
“If the built environment is to play its part in tackling the climate crisis we must radically increase the use of innovative solutions. Many companies throughout the property and construction value chain are setting ambitious carbon reduction commitments and to meet these they must now find new ways to construct and operate buildings and infrastructure. Innovators and start-ups continue to create many of the required concepts, prototypes and even final products, but due to largely cultural issues, take-up of these solutions is too slow. The Open Innovation Levels Framework provides corporates with a step-by-step process for collaborating with start-ups in a way that will lead to greater levels of innovation within their projects and across the industry.
“It is our hope that UKGBC members and other organisation in the built environment find this Framework useful in pursuing innovative solutions to environmental and social impact challenges.”
Charlie Beharrell, Senior Commercial Associate at Sustainable Ventures said:
“Sustainable Venture’s community is thriving with innovators tackling the Built Environment’s climate and sustainability issues, but the sector lags behind in its efforts to nurture these and bring them to market. The framework we have developed with UKGBC will enable corporate entities to better engage with early stage innovation, helping to build new, tailored solutions to facilitate the transition to net zero.”
Download the Open Innovation Level Framework and Guide here.
Find out more about UKGBC’s innovation activities here.
 Future places studio, Building Skills for the Future, 2020 (https://www.westminsterpropertyassociation.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Building-Skills-research.pdf)