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Automotive Industries spoke to Tony Hardy, director of the Centre for Low Carbon Futures

As part of the Yorkshire Forward mission, the Centre for Low Carbon Futures was set up to pool the research of universities in the Yorkshire and Humberside region to help businesses and communities improve carbon efficiency. Yorkshire Forward is the regional development agency for the Yorkshire and Humberside region. The 50 million pound Centre for Low Carbon Futures is expected to become a global, multidisciplinary, translational research centre that will harness the region’s research strengths in sustainability sciences to induce a transition towards a lower carbon future for Yorkshire and the Humberside region.

The Centre for Low Carbon Futures or CLCF, hopes to create a research and training environment of international quality to respond to the current energy and environmental challenges. It hopes to achieve this by making use of the region’s leading edge applied research that is available in the universities in the area. The CLCF says it will identify and promote innovations in technologies and processes that will lead to the emergence of a competitive, resilient, low-carbon economy in Yorkshire and the rest of the United Kingdom.

One of the main efforts of the CLCF is to address the issue of the whole carbon lifecycle from production and usage and disposal. This will cover issues like new fuels, bio-renewable fuels, combustion modeling, advanced engineering and supply chain management. This broad canvas is expected to help the Centre understand the impact of climate change at a local level and therefore design appropriate technology and carbon foresight capabilities that will be critical in identifying implementation pathways for a low carbon future, according to the CLCF.

Part of the CLCF’s mandate is to bring together the region’s universities and their research with businesses and communities. The CLCF will be a nodal agency to help find the most effective solutions for the low carbon economy or LCE. At the same time, it will be able to bring into focus the best of Yorkshire’s research institutions. This is expected to give a fillip to the investment-worthiness of the region. “The Centre will draw together the expertise from all the universities in the Yorkshire region and encourage involvement from businesses. Its work will encompass both fundamental science in the development of new technologies and solution focused research in response to end-user input,” says the CLCF.

The CLCF will provide the academic world the opportunity to be involved in a multi-disciplinary, translational research and training activities with new collaborators from academic, policy and commercial organizations which will shape the development of a low carbon future within the region and beyond. And in turn, the Centre will offer industry the chance to get involved in the work it does in researching low-carbon technologies. The CLCF is funded mainly by Yorkshire Forward plus a number of other sources. “The Centre will engage on an ongoing basis with a range of stakeholders and the work of the Centre will be largely driven through stakeholder involvement. It will be focused and responsive, building long term relationships with stakeholders to ensure long term success,” says the CLCF.

Automotive Industries spoke to Tony Hardy, director of the Centre for Low Carbon Futures.

AI: Tell us a little about how the Centre for Low Carbon Futures came into existence?

Recognizing Yorkshire’s strength in sustainability science, the brilliant idea for the Centre came out of Yorkshire Innovation, the regional science and innovation council, some two years ago. The newly established Centre is a flagship activity of the Yorkshire Universities/Yorkshire Forward Strategic Alliance Activity Framework and the White Rose Partnership. Critical to it was the support and financial investment by the Board of Yorkshire Forward.

AI: What makes the Centre unique compared to similar initiatives?

Two particular aspects characterize the strength and uniqueness of the Centre. It is a cross-university and a multi-disciplinary collaboration where the joint teams work together across their discipline boundaries.

AI: How did a regional development agency like Yorkshire Forward and the universities in the region work together to create an initiative like the CLCF?

Through discussion and a common vision, there is now a signed contract between the Yorkshire Universities, led by the Universities of Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and York, and a memorandum of understanding between the universities. This will shortly be formalized by the setting up of a Company Limited by Guarantee, which will form the governance vehicle for the Centre and the collaborating universities. Yorkshire Forward and the Universities will be represented on the Board and we are currently seeking a suitably experienced and enthusiastic independent chair.

AI: What role will industry play in the Centre? Please give us some examples.

Industry will play a vital role on a number of levels. Some of the cutting edge research and technology developments are being partnered by leading companies in their sector, for example bio-renewable fuels, combustion technology. Research on balancing supply chains is critically involving a range of business experiences and logistics from SMEs up to and including major companies. It is very important for the success of the Centre that the strategic translational research has a strong business pull to ensure take up and relevance to a low carbon future.

AI: What kind of response has the Centre drawn so far? How do you think it will help the Yorkshire and Humberside regions in terms of improving its attractiveness as an investment magnet?

Although it is early days, there has been a very positive response from potential stakeholders. My job is to get the Centre rapidly off the ground and to publicize and engage with all interested parties and organizations, businesses, communities and individuals. This is the future for all of us and we aim to increase the regional investment through recognition of the innovative contributions to establishing a resilient and competitive low-carbon economy, not just for the region but nationally and internationally.

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