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Innovation centre for sustainable technologies to be based in Swindon

A major new collaboration between academia and industry to use sustainable chemical technologies to accelerate the UK’s transition to net zero will be based in Swindon.

The Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (iCAST) will open its Creative Hub – a place where industrial innovation will be forged by academics and industrialists – at Swindon’s tech-focussed Great Western Railway Carriage Works buildings.

The innovation centre will bring together industry with expertise at the Universities of Bath and Oxford to accelerate the translation of sustainable chemical technology research to help tackle the global challenges of the climate emergency, sustainable development, and plastics pollution.

The partnership has over 45 member companies ranging from spin-outs and high growth SMEs to multinational corporates.

Companies include Unilever, Wessex Water, Corbion, Total Corbion PLA, and Recycling Technologies.

iCAST will focus on research into four core programmes: bio-based feedstocks; sustainable chemical production systems; sustainable engineering materials; and plastics as part of a circular economy.

Professor Matthew Davidson, professor of sustainable chemical technologies at the University of Bath and director of iCAST, said: “There is currently a translation gap between publicly-funded investment into fundamental research and its deployment by UK companies.

“iCAST will address this gap by enabling companies to easily invest in R&D in a collaborative and agile environment and by providing specialist business support for innovations to be deployed commercially.

“By partnering companies with the critical mass of research expertise at Bath and at Oxford, iCAST will accelerate scaleup of new technologies, deliver economic impact, and build supply chains, jobs and growth in the UK.

“This funding from UKRI will enable iCAST to achieve sustainability and become established as the ‘go to’ place in the UK for innovation in sustainable technologies.”

CEO Paddy Bradley, CEO of Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, which is a partner institution, said: “iCAST is a significant step forward in reaching the goal of not only changing the way the world thinks, but also how we behave to prevent further damage to our natural environment.

“We need business, academia and technology to harmonise as we advance towards a genuinely circular economy and iCAST is a partnership opportunity allowing us to meet today’s challenges.”