NERC invests in scheme to solve business problems using environmental data

11 February 2014

NERC has invested close to £1m in 33 projects aimed at harnessing the power of environmental data to develop new solutions to problems faced by a range of UK businesses.

All of the projects in the £4m programme, which is jointly funded by NERC and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), are business-led and involve scientific experts from UK universities or other research institutes.

The idea behind the projects is that researchers and businesses will work closely together to find innovative ways to combine environmental data with that gathered from a variety of business sources.

NERC routinely collects data on a range of topics, such as land cover, environmental change, precipitation, farm performance, biodiversity, water flows, geological surveys and the marine environment. By combining this data with data gathered by businesses, a range of sectors may be able to better manage future risks and opportunities, potentially increasing their resilience to change.

One project will develop a system that provides Sainsbury's and its suppliers with insights into environmental changes that may affect product quality, availability or cost, helping to shape future supply chains. This project is led by Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd, who will work with the University of Leeds and the Grantham Institute.

Another will design a scheme to improve dust forecasting for energy companies operating in North Africa, ultimately helping the oil industry reduce the risk of working in the region's harsh, remote climate. This project will be led by meteorological and oceanographic services provider, Fugro GEOS Ltd, who will collaborate with the University of Leeds.

Yet another of the projects plans to develop a method that uses cutting-edge, next-generation DNA sequencing to drastically cut the cost of environmental monitoring. The technology will be used to detect the great crested newt - a protected species in the UK - during environmental surveys. This project will be led by agricultural and environmental consultancy, ADAS UK Ltd, and will be joined by Nottingham University.

Professor Duncan Wingham, chief executive of NERC, said:

NERC has a wealth of environmental data dating back many decades. Combining this data with business data provides clear opportunities to address challenges in transport, the built environment, agriculture, food, energy and financial services.

Investing in these projects with TSB will help NERC develop new partnerships with UK business to encourage them to use environmental science to drive their innovation, a key part of NERC's strategy.

The projects will start during February 2014 and run from three months up to a year.

Further information

NERC media office
01793 411561
07917 557215

Press release: 05/14