New Sussex Innovation Forum to boost region’s sustainability, wellbeing and economy

Businesses and community groups are being invited to help deliver the innovation required to make Sussex net zero.

The Sussex Innovation Forum will launch next month, creating a space for collaboration, exchange and innovation to drive decarbonisation, improve wellbeing and boost economic growth.

Businesses, local government and community groups across Sussex are now being asked for their views to help shape the Forum events.

Establishing the Forum is one of the actions from the Greater Brighton Energy and Water Plans, an ambitious programme to develop a resilient, net zero carbon and smart energy system that supports a sustainable and healthy economy, environment and society across the Greater Brighton City Region.

The Energy Plan, which includes proposals to retrofit thousands of homes, use solar power to supply public buildings and the rail network, and harness alternative energy sources such as natural ground heat for homes and hydrogen for transport, was unveiled by the Greater Brighton Economic Board in July 2020 as it bids to “grow back greener” from Covid-19. It was launched alongside the Greater Brighton Water Plan, which includes proposals to achieve water neutrality within a decade and calls for the restoration of kelp beds off our coast to capture carbon.

The Forum will provide an inclusive and informal space for local and regional businesses, councils, organisations and groups to work together on delivering the plans’ ambitious proposals, starting with an interactive online event in November focussing on finance innovation for cross-sector and net zero projects.

By taking part in the Forum, stakeholders will be helping to get sustainability and innovative projects off the ground, help make Greater Brighton carbon neutral by 2030 and improve the wellbeing of local communities.

The Forum is being launched by a coalition of local and regional partners led by the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex Business School,alongside the University of Brighton’s Green Growth Platform, Brighton and Hove City Council, Community Energy South, Coast to Capital LEP and others.

Organisers are asking local and regional stakeholders to help shape the events by taking part in a short survey by Sunday 25 October. Questions include the timing of the Forum meetings, the option of targeted support through innovation surgeries and future topics for discussion – including options on scaling up innovation and pilots, developing innovation-driven business models and financing riskier projects.

Dr Ralitsa Hiteva, from the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex Business School, said: “The region really needs an informal, inclusive and open space for innovation. The Sussex Innovation Forum offers exactly that. Businesses, community organisations and local authorities are working on ambitious, original projects throughout our community; we want to build on this by bringing them together, giving them a safe space to think innovatively and providing specialist support to help bring their ideas to life.

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