In 2020, the UK Government set an ambitious target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and create up to 250,000 green jobs in the process. However, there is an innovation gap that needs to be filled for these green goals to be met.

A new £17M Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (iCAST) opened at the Carriage Works in Swindon in Autumn 2021. iCAST will help Swindon to build on its rich heritage of innovation and entrepreneurialism, as part of the Swindon Town regeneration plan. The new Centre, iCAST, is offering a solution. It will be a collaborative research and development (R&D) hub for companies working on clean growth technologies. It will focus on translating sustainable chemical technology research into commercial products to tackle the global challenges of Net Zero, sustainable development and plastic pollution.

Led by the Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies (CSCT) at Bath, the project is a collaboration between the University of Bath and the University of Oxford, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s Sustainability Partnership (National Composites Centre, and Centre for Process Innovation) innovation experts at SETsquared, Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, investors and the companies that iCAST will be working with.

iCast is built on a network of regional, national and global companies who utilise sustainable technologies. It will aim to deliver 10 joint industry projects in its first year and 46 over a three-year period. It is already on track to meet that goal, bringing together innovative companies with expert researchers to tackle some critical challenges to clean growth.

Professor Matthew Davidson, Director of iCAST and CSCT said: “We already have over 40 companies as part of iCAST – they bring the really challenging problems to us that we can help to solve and we’re already seeing results. It’s the perfect model for joint industry projects. Swindon is geographically critical in this – it really is a pivot point between the west of England and the Oxford-Cambridge arc. We want to bring industry back to the Carriage Works.”

Paddy Bradley, CEO of Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership said: “This is truly an exciting collaboration and couldn’t come at a more crucial time. 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.”

iCAST is funded by the Research England Development Fund.