Heathrow Airport: Calling all sustainable innovators

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Heathrow has today launched a prize worth £30,000, to be awarded to a winning idea that will help the airport reduce its carbon emissions as it explores solutions that will address climate change. Heathrow’s new “Innovation Prize” is part of the airport’s new “Centre of Excellence,” which is a hub of learning and exploration that will accelerate the arrival of sustainable air travel. Heathrow has also today announced the launch of its first research think tank comprised of British universities.

The new Innovation Prize is open to those with entrepreneurial ideas on how to reduce carbon impacts through one of three ways:

  • Sustainable surface transport: Enabling travel to and from the airport with low or zero emissions;
  • Preparing for sustainable flight: Expediting the arrival of a fossil-fuel free flight, including through the introduction of new hybrid and electric aircraft; and
  • Delivering negative emissions: Finding new, practical ways to capture and use carbon at or near the airport.

Applications for the Innovation Prize will be accepted until May 22 online through a dedicated website.

The prize is sponsored by Heathrow’s Centre of Excellence which connects experts – from entrepreneurs to academics – and offers Heathrow itself as a living laboratory to test and try new ideas to encourage sustainability in aviation. The Centre is already investigating how to turn waste plastics into pavement materials at the airport.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Sustainability, said: “Climate change is the greatest threat facing our generation and it is imperative we take meaningful steps to address our impacts – and we need to make them quickly. Through the Centre of Excellence, and by partnering with top scientists we will continue to think radically about sustainability, translate ideas into action at Heathrow, and across our industry.”

The Centre of Excellence will bring together Heathrow’s first think tank of university partners to work with the airport on new coordinated research on sustainable aviation challenges. Brunel University London, Cranfield University, the University of Essex and Royal Holloway, University of London will be invited to pitch their ideas for funding starting this summer, before initiating the successful projects later this year. The think tank will explore topics such as carbon and net zero air travel alongside other environmental challenges like noise, air quality and waste.

Professor Geoff Rodgers, Vice-Provost for Research at Brunel University London, the airport’s most local university, said: “We consider the sustainability agenda around airports and aviation to be one of the premier opportunities for UK research and innovation. Brunel University London is delighted to be involved in this initiative. It will allow us to work in collaboration with Heathrow and the other partners to develop the innovative technologies necessary for the sustainable development and growth of the airport.”

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