Home Call for Applications Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership Virtual Accelerator Programme 2021 for SMEs and entrepreneurs based in England.

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership Virtual Accelerator Programme 2021 for SMEs and entrepreneurs based in England.

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Virtual Accelerator programme to fast-track promising SMEs who are commercialising novel products and services that could help achieve net zero in the built environment.

We are looking for the most innovative business minds with potential solutions to help unlock transformative change in one of the most resource intensive, greenhouse gas emitting and least diverse industries on the planet: the building industry. The built environment is responsible for almost one-third of total global energy related CO2 emissions. With the inclusion of emissions from construction, this share increases to 38 per cent.

Approximately 40 per cent of global materials are used for construction. In the European Union, current construction and demolition waste accounts for approximately 25-30 per cent of the total waste generated. What’s more, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reports that of more than 134,000 members worldwide, women represent only 15 per cent. That proportion drops to 1 per cent for those who are LGBTQ, BAME or people with disabilities.

Intelligent design and planning from the outset is often the best way to achieve sustainability outcomes. However, the building industry also needs new products and services to enable a rapid transition from predominantly linear models to circular solutions and to find creative new ways to decarbonise. The retrofit agenda is a key element of this. There is also the challenge of how we adapt our buildings and communities effectively to ‘locked in’ climate change that we are already starting to experience.

This Accelerator aims to fast-track companies who are commercialising novel products and services in the built environment space. There is no fee and we do not take equity. Delivered over six weeks of interactive online sessions, with contributors from the University of Cambridge and experts from the built environment, investment and innovation communities, the focus will be to support small businesses with new products to bring to market or those with initial customers looking to take the next step.

Who should apply


This programme is part funded by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund, and is available for free to SMEs based in England, with priority given to those in parts of the East of England

We’re looking for small businesses with commercial propositions who are looking to bring new products or services to the market, or who have existing clients and are looking to grow. This is particularly in the areas of:

  • Decarbonisation of buildings – technologies and business propositions to decarbonise construction of new buildings and retrofit applications, including the use of AI or other strategies to improve and monitor construction standards
  • Materials & circularity – novel materials, 3D printing and new circular business models for construction materials and resources consumed during building lifetime, such as water
  • Biodiversity – innovative approaches toencourage greater biodiversity in the built environment and assist with monitoring and enforcement regimes
  • Climate adaptation and resilience – new products or services to create greater resilience to drought, higher summer temperatures, storms and flooding, for example, in ways that are low in embodied energy and do not create future waste issues
  • People centred solutions –improving occupational health and safety for people in the construction industry and providing consumer education on sustainability behaviour relating to buildings to help encourage low impact lifestyles

Applicants must be based in England and be available to attend the full six-week programme (virtually, not in person). One representative from each company should attend for the whole programme, allowances will be made only for exceptional circumstances. For some sessions, more than one participant may be allowed. The online sessions will be delivered weekly from week commencing 19 April – 28 May, with a time commitment of between 2-4 hours per week.

Application process


To apply, please complete our online application form.

Official Webpage: Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership Virtual Accelerator Programme 2021

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