What innovation means to us
Innovation involves the creation of something new: it's an activity, the bringing together of resources, findings, challenges and approaches etc, in new ways. From our unique position and science base the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) has the ability to convene groups and networks to produce innovative products and services.
At UKCEH we see innovation as the mechanism that turns world-class research into action, enabling ideas, fostering partnerships and improving environmental and public well-being.
Innovation at UKCEH
By combining ideas and challenges from businesses, NGOs and governments, UKCEH is able to channel existing knowledge and carry out new research to address specific needs. The results of this activity become concrete and impactful when forged into innovative products and services.
Our innovation portfolio
Our portfolio includes work from the wide spectrum of terrestrial, freshwater and atmospheric sciences, addressing issues from predicting floods, assessing atmospheric ammonia, land use optimisation, to apps for ecological recording in the field:
- UKCEH's Flood Estimation Handbook and web service enables insurance companies to estimate flood risk
- Air sampling systems for ammonia monitoring
- Providing the UK Land Cover Map for environmental assessment, protection and planning. See an example in research: Mapping allergenic pollen vegetation in UK to study environmental exposure and health (McInnes et al, 2017)
- A Japanese Knotweed alert service used by the conveyancing industry
- the National Honey Monitoring Scheme
- A growing family of smartphone apps enabling recorders to contribute to scientific knowledge
- A range of technologies available for licensing and development
- A research programme to understand how the full environmental benefits of floating Photo Voltaics (floatovoltaics) can be realised.
Knowledge platforms to stimulate innovation
Our scientific work is relevant to all interested in how innovation can improve the environment. Scientific programmes address issues resulting not only in scientific papers but often in open platforms where users can interact with the science as a stimulus for innovation. UKCEH’s Environmental Information Portal has national platforms for lakes, droughts, rainfall, ecological status and atmospheric pollution etc. The Environmental Information Data Centre hosts a wide range of data sets to explore and case studies illustrate the wide impact of our work.
- The UK Lakes Portal
- The UK Drought Portal
- The UK Rainfall application
- GB Ecological Status Viewer
- The Atmospheric Pollution Portal
- NERC's Environmental Information Data Centre hosted by UKCEH
- Science and impact case studies
NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellows
A number of UKCEH’s scientists are actively involved in a dialogue with industry, establishing networks and initiating transfers of knowledge from the research base to where it is needed and used. More information on work by KE Fellow Jeanette Whitaker can be read below:
Low Carbon Lancashire Innovation Hub
UKCEH is part of a £5.1 million low-carbon research and development initiative aimed at helping small and medium-sized enterprises in Lancashire to innovate to create products and services which make a transition towards a low carbon economy. The award-winning Centre for Global Eco-Innovation at Lancaster University is spearheading the Low Carbon Lancashire Innovation Hub (LoCaL-i), in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University and CEH.
The initiative will give SME businesses the chance to benefit from the expertise of leading researchers at UKCEH and Liverpool John Moores University, thereby enabling them to undertake the research and development necessary to develop successful products. Overall the project will support 180 local businesses to deliver research and development projects of varying duration over a three-year period.
UKCEH, with the UKRI Natural Environment Research Council, has created two spin-out companies since 2000:
- Wallingford HydroSolutions Ltd – consultancy to the water and environmental sectors
- Oxford Expression Technologies Ltd – developing baculovirus protein expression products
Working with business
The UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crops is the first national map of arable crops utilising the Sentinel RADAR satellite. It provides the opportunity to develop a spatial understanding of how the UK's main arable crops relate not only to each other, but also their governing environmental factors. The innovations behind the Crop Map are the product of a collaboration between the Hampshire-based SME Remote Sensing Applications Ltd and UKCEH.
- Habitat Creation and Management is an informative and useful practical guide for conserving insect pollinators. The book is the distillation of a 20-year research partnership between Marek Nowakowski - a practitioner with a passion for wildlife conservation on farmland - and applied ecologists working for the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. Click through to obtain it as a free PDF download.
- Tree shelter belts for ammonia mitigation: CEH and Forest Research have developed a calculator and guidance for farmers, planners and tree planters so they can maximise the benefits of planting tree shelterbelts for ammonia recapture. Click through for the calculator, guidance and research background.
Opportunities for collaboration
We are always looking for new ideas and partners to develop them with. If you are searching for a way to commercialise existing knowledge based on CEH research, or if you have thoughts on how to take our work to the next level, then please get in touch with our Innovation Manager, Nicholas Corker.