SME Development Team Domestic Decarbonisation Industry Day

This was an exciting day full of insights, discussions, and networking working towards achieving sustainable results in making the country’s housing stock carbon neutral. 

A selected cohort of high-growth potential SMEs from Connected Places Catapult’s SME Development Programme had the opportunity to meet four of our housing association (registered landlords) partners for an Industry Day on Domestic Decarbonization.

The day started with an overview of upcoming changes in the sector by Director of Built Environment Erin Walsh, followed by a presentation by Paul Bate, Director of Modelling and Appraisal, on Connected Places Catapult’s recent study of innovative finance mechanisms to support the transition to net zero in the built environment.  

Two private registered landlords – Bromford Homes, L&Q Group, and two public, Wolverhampton Homes and Birmingham City Council, shared their perspectives on the challenges the sector is facing in domestic decarbonization. 

Managing in total almost 200,000 houses in the UK, they had unique perspective but also shared challenges including: 

  • Technical challenges to delivering net zero, especially in retrofitting older housing stock  
  • Equitable sharing of the financial burden 
  • Engaging with tenants on the mutual value of the journey to net zero 

The highlight of the day was the SME pitching session. 11 innovative start-ups delivered 3-minute pitch presentations and follow up questions about how their novel technologies and services could accelerate domestic decarbonization: 

  • Wondrwall – developer of smart home technologies, which can automatically adjust heating, lighting and security levels according to the homeowner’s activity. 
  • Ambue – could create a Building Renovation Passport, linking all relevant documentation and records to a property throughout the retrofit for instant evidence and authentication. 
  • Bow Tie Construction – experts in Passivhaus and working towards zero energy buildings. 
  • Bays Consulting – using open data to identify the risk of cold, damp, and other key Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) hazards at a property. 
  • Titan Property Services – insulation and heating specialists developing innovative cavity wall insulation. 
  • Looper – performance analysis software to help architects and sustainability specialists accelerate the design validation process for sustainability, carbon reduction and wellbeing. 
  • Parity Projects – software and advisory for the home energy efficiency market, serving local authorities and landlords across the UK.  
  • Natural Building Systems – combining digital technologies with new biogenic materials, to create the Advanced Demountable Eco-Panel Technology (ADEPT), an integrated modular construction system.  
  • Switchee – developer of smart equipment that turns the heating on and off based on the homeowner’s routine and habits. 
  • NexGen Futures – using nanotechnology to develop waterproof heating films that can be used in modern methods of constructing. 
  • Aware Technologies – explainable AI and low-cost self-install sensors for prediction and quantifying of heating, ventilation and insulation performance of a building. 

The pitches were followed by our own innovation procurement manager Raj Ragiwala who mapped out the procurement rules and requirements for running compliant large-scale pilots in the housing sector, drawing on Connected Places Catapult’s experience in projects such as Homes for Healthy Ageing. 

The day concluded with an insightful working session where our companies and landlords had the opportunity to meet in smaller groups and explore ways for further engagement and the structuring of new pilots and testbeds they might create between themselves. The participants exchanged their first-hand experience of navigating the complex-built environment sector from both perspectives as users and providers of innovative solutions. 

“It was a great event, streamlined and informative, and packed with useful discussions and insights from experts from many different branches of the industry. It was great to meet so many landlords and understand their problems and challenges first-hand. Great to hear some sparkling ideas from other SMEs about how we can use technology to genuinely improve others’ lives. The breakout sessions were engaging and useful, and generated lots of thought-provoking questions. It’s wonderful to meet new people and share ideas. I really enjoyed the more in-depth conversations and the networking opportunity. After all, networking is so crucial to a SME business. Many thanks to Connected Places Catapult for organising the event and inviting Bays Consulting, it was a real pleasure.”   

Dr. Sophie Carr, Bays Consulting

If you would like to hear of and take part in further opportunities like this, please sign up to join our SME network.