University of Cambridge: HRH The Prince of Wales visits world-leading Cambridge sustainability projects and opens pioneering green retrofit office

During a visit to groundbreaking sustainability projects at the University of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales met with experts and practitioners from all sectors and disciplines working together to solve the world’s biggest problems.

Today we celebrate projects that have the power to change the way we live and the way our industries operate, hastening the transition to a low carbon world.
Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor
At a reception for the opening of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s (CISL) low-carbon HQ and its new green entrepreneur hub, The Prince of Wales met with design and construction firms, owners of start-ups, small businesses and corporate CEOs, before moving onto events to celebrate Commonwealth scholars, and innovative academic and industry leaders collaborating on net-zero aviation – just two years after the Prince issued a challenge to accelerate innovation towards sustainable flight.

Professor Stephen J Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge said: “The University of Cambridge’s work on climate change and sustainability is an outstanding collaborative achievement. Today we celebrate projects that have the power to change the way we live and the way our industries operate, hastening the transition to a low carbon world. The new Entopia building is now the most sustainable premises in the University’s estate, and a key contributor to reaching the target of eliminating our carbon emissions.”

Housed in CISL’s new ultra-green Entopia building, the Prince launched the Canopy incubator where SMEs and entrepreneurs can join the organisation’s international network of corporate, finance and sustainability leaders to share ideas and gain access to the wider University community.

Clare Shine, CEO and Director, CISL said: “Bolder leadership and action are critical for human security and planetary health over the next 10 years. Today’s launch of the Canopy incubator at the heart of our groundbreaking retrofit HQ takes CISL’s global reach and impact to new levels. We’re creating new bridges between entrepreneurs, SMEs and the most powerful actors in the economy, to put their collective weight and innovation capacity at the service of inclusive and sustainable development. CISL thrives on openness. Through Canopy and our collaborations across the University, we hope to embrace fresh perspectives and forge solutions that work for people, nature and climate.”

The £12.8m retrofit is supported by a £6m donation from greentech leaders Envision Group and a £3m grant from the European Regional Development fund (ERDF), which is also funding the operation of the Canopy. The University has invested its own funds in the project alongside an internal grant from its internal Energy and Carbon Reduction Project.

Michael Ding, Executive Director, Envision Group said: “Envision Group is pleased to support the Entopia building as a world-first retrofitted sustainable office building to showcase pioneering net-zero innovation and set new standards for low energy use, carbon emissions and impact on natural resources. Entopia was conceived with the aim of housing a global hub and collaboration space for companies, academia and governments to push the boundaries of sustainability and accelerate the transition to net-zero carbon emissions. Envision will play its full part to help bring together like-minded people as part of a bold vision to enable a future where everyone has access to clean, secure, affordable energy.”

HRH The Prince of Wales also visited the University’s Whittle Laboratory to see groundbreaking work hosted there on how to accelerate the transition to sustainable aviation. He was joined by Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Kwasi Kwarteng, and key figures from the aviation sector, including business and government representatives, to see both cutting-edge, zero-emission technology under development and a new global whole-system model of the aviation sector developed by the Aviation Impact Accelerator (AIA) – an industry-academic initiative started two years ago by a challenge from The Prince of Wales for Cambridge to accelerate the transition towards sustainable flight. The AIA is led by The Whittle Laboratory and CISL.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “We are determined to seize the economic opportunities of the global shift to greener aviation technologies, which will help to secure growth and thousands of jobs across the country. That is why just this week we have announced record levels of Government funding for our Aerospace Technology Institute R&D programme.

“It has been fantastic to accompany HRH The Prince of Wales on a visit to one of our country’s great seats of learning to discover more about some of the incredible new zero-emission technologies that are currently under development at the world-class Whittle Laboratory.”

Professor Rob Miller, Director of the Whittle Laboratory said: “Achieving an aviation sector with no climate impact is one of society’s biggest challenges. Solving it will require a complex combination of technology, business, human behaviour, and policy. We have assembled a world class team of academics and industry experts to take on this challenge.”

During the event the Prince was introduced to the latest developments on a proposed new Whittle Laboratory building, currently under development. This new site would provide facilities for rapid technology development, cutting the time to develop technologies from years to months and act as a hub for the Aviation Impact Accelerator. By bringing together multi-disciplinary global expertise from industry and academia this new hub will accelerate the aviation sector towards a climate-neutral future and help sustain the UK as a leader in aviation innovation.

In a visit to King’s College, the Prince met with HRH Prince of Wales Commonwealth Scholarship recipients currently undertaking their studies in Cambridge, and welcomed the launch of a new climate action scholarship programme for students from small island nations. Working with HRH The Prince of Wales, Professor Toope developed the initiative that will support skills and knowledge development for students at the frontline of the climate crisis.

Scholarships will be provided at the University of Toronto, the University of Melbourne, McMaster University and the University of Montreal, as well as by the Cambridge Trust, which will offer 10 fully-funded HRH The Prince of Wales Commonwealth Scholarships over the next two years, with the first recipients expected to take up their places at the University of Cambridge in October 2022.

Helen Pennant, Director, Cambridge Trust, of which HRH The Prince of Wales is Patron, said: “The strength of the collaborative thinking between HRH The Prince of Wales and the University, and the scholars living with some of the most substantial impacts of climate change has the potential to make a huge difference – not only to support climate action in small island states, but also in seeding new conversations in the University and beyond that can widen the perspectives we need to see solutions to the climate crisis more quickly.”

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