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Business & Economy

New virtual accelerator launched to tackle climate emergency post-coronavirus

The Innovation SuperNetwork has launched a new accelerator programme in response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on climate change.

The accelerator aims to bring solutions to market that will support the North East’s commitment to tackling the long-term damage of climate change to people, communities and the economy against the backdrop of COVID-19.

Specifically, the accelerator will look at challenges linked to electric vehicle (EV) adoption, home deliveries, home working, cycling and public transport.

This comes after a survey of the region’s business community revealed that 67 per cent of people expected the carbon footprint of their working lives to reduce, but just 41 per cent expected to see the same reduction at home.

Simon Green, CEO at the Innovation SuperNetwork, said: “The public response to the coronavirus crisis has over the last few months led to a drop in harmful emissions, and though our survey suggests an increase in home working has the potential to become a regular feature of our working lives, there is a risk that there could be an overall increase in carbon emissions, which would negatively impact the region’s efforts in tackling the climate emergency.

“For instance, as those who can’t work from home return to the workplace, a reluctance to use public transport or car share could see an increase in commuter traffic on the road, which wouldn’t necessarily be offset by those working from home.

“More home deliveries could also see more traffic contributing harmful emissions and congestion in residential areas.

“Likewise, a resultant economic downturn could leave businesses and individuals in a financial bind where they’re less able to invest in energy saving measures and equipment.

“Recent studies are already suggesting the environmental gains seen over the last few months, as a result of lockdown measures globally, will be short-lived.

“In fact, a combination of behavioural outcomes following the virus could go on to have a devastating environmental impact and we need to act now to ensure we mitigate these risks.”

The accelerator will run a series of virtual design sprints and will offer one-to-one support and online tools to help businesses develop their ideas, access funding and take their solutions or services to market.

Simon added: “Our usual model is to bring people together to tackle issues like these through open innovation and collaboration.

“While we remain committed to this, we too have had to think innovatively about how we can continue to support companies in their goal to bring brilliant ideas to market.

“This ambitious accelerator for North East companies will deliver a substantial online programme of support and opportunity for collaboration.”