Aston Uni plans ‘climate community’

Aston University is involved in a €750m (£660m) European programme that aims to develop jobs, businesses and markets within the low-carbon sector.

Aston is part of a successful consortium bid that brings together other universities, global companies and researchers to transition the West Midlands region and five other European regions into Climate Knowledge and Innovation Communities (Climate-KIC).

These so-called ‘innovation hotspots’ will test, develop and facilitate green industries and encourage new climate-change markets.

The areas comprise: central Hungary; Lower Silesia, Poland; West Midlands; Hessen, Germany; Emilia Romagna, Italy; and Valencia, Spain.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) scheme will see investment across four major research and innovation programme areas: climate science, low-carbon cities, zero-carbon production systems and integrated water management.

These programmes are expected to offer advanced training, create new companies and spin outs and help develop markets for existing low-carbon industries across Europe.

The West Midlands area Climate-KIC programme will be led by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands and will involve Aston, Birmingham and Warwick universities; Birmingham and Coventry councils; the Midlands Energy Consortium; and Qinetiq and Arup.

Aston University is already involved in research into renewable and green technologies, including the development of algae, biogas and sewage sludge as alternative fuel sources for heat and power.

Aston is also analysing and assessing the performance of electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles as part of a government trial that brings 110 alternative-energy cars on the streets of Birmingham and Coventry this year.