UK-based innovation network to address environmental challenges

An innovation network, named KTN, has launched a new strategy to address some of Britain’s greatest environmental and societal challenges.

The UK’s largest innovation network, KTN, allows communities to create real-world solutions to the biggest challenges faced by British industries. This week, KTN launched a new strategy which will adapt their innovation network to address major environmental and societal issues.

As a major partner of Innovate UK, KTN was founded to bring disparate sectors together to facilitate R&D and fast-track innovation, with the explicit goal to stimulate the UK economy.  KTN runs the Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Services programme, which unites industry leaders to facilitate multi-disciplinary and cross-sector discussions on salient topics such as bias in AI and its ethical implications. By connecting scientists, manufacturers, and medical professionals, KTN have contributed towards:

  • Minimising ventilator shortages during the pandemic,
  • Improving safety in the transport of nuclear waste from old facilities,
  • Preventing major food shortages in the UK.

The CEO of KTN, Dr Alicia Greated, says, “innovation is complex. The journey from idea to market is not straightforward and requires a diverse range of investment, market knowledge, and research.  KTN exists to connect innovators with new partners and new opportunities beyond their field – accelerating the time it takes for ambitious ideas to become real-world solutions, and we’ve been incredibly successful over the years.

“KTN is playing an important role in overcoming some of the most high-profile and complicated problems the UK economy is facing.  But beyond our shores, the world is up against some even bigger challenges; climate change, COVID-19, access to healthcare, trade and investment, the future of global finance and online security – to name a few. If we broaden our scope, we can tackle more of these problems and change the world for the better.”

What are the aims of the KTN innovation network?

As part of its five-year strategy, KTN have become involved in a broader range of projects in the UK. KTN will bring its network of mathematical scientists together to help FareShare, the UK’s largest charity dedicated to tackling food poverty. This collaboration will better forecast demand for food products and optimise its distribution networks to meet that demand.

KTN also plans to hold a nationwide innovation call to address the challenge of social distancing requirements on transport ships. By introducing five new technologies, KTN innovators aim to allow workboats to take the necessary number of engineers to offshore wind farms, preventing their failure. These technologies are also being assessed for suitability in other industry sectors.

The innovation network has also created a partnership between the charity Positive Steps and Manchester Metropolitan University to develop a new framework with young people from within the criminal justice system, resulting in reduced reoffending rates and improved opportunities for those involved. The scheme is the first of its kind in the UK to be co-created with the young offenders themselves and was facilitated via the use of boxing, lyric writing, and art workshops.

David Lawrence, Chair of KTN’s Board commented: “World history tells us that innovation typically comes from new intersections between ideas, technologies and people, and KTN’s history confirms that. In the present, we are facing more and more problems as a society, some of which can be described as existential.  Innovation has never been more important. That’s why KTN and its network is committed to creating and fostering diverse connections to drive innovation for positive change to our economy, but also towards a more sustainable society.”

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