Innovation Birmingham enrols 40 climate change practitioners onto European-funded exchange programme

A record-breaking 40 climate change practitioners are being enrolled onto the 2014 Climate KIC ‘Pioneers into Practice’ European exchange programme, being run by Innovation Birmingham.

30 of the Pioneers are Midlands-based, with a further 10 enrolling onto the scheme from Ireland. The programme commences with a three-day workshop, which prepares the participants for their four-week domestic placements. This is followed by a placement within a company based in continental Europe during autumn 2014.

Host companies where the Midlands-based domestic placements will be carried out include AECB, Arup, Aston University, Birmingham City Council, Birmingham City University, Centro, Disruptive Lemonade, EBRI, Eco2Solar, Encraft Engineering, Green Hill Consulting, International Synergies, JMP Consulting, Localise West Midlands, Loughborough Design School, MidSims, Northfield EcoCentre, Shropshire County Council/Marches LEP, Sustainability West Midlands, Worcester County Council, University of Warwick, University of Wolverhampton and Ventive Ltd.

The 40 selected participants are all experienced climate change professionals, with specialisms including civil engineering, housing, community activism, as well as research fellows. Each participant will receive €8,000 in staged payments over the duration of the programme.

Katharine Fuller, RIC West Midlands Manager for Climate KIC said: “Pioneers into Practice enables those at the forefront of climate change innovation and implementation the opportunity to work abroad and in innovative companies closer to home. The programme has demonstrated that being parachuted into an organisation – outside of regular comfort zones – is the best catalyst to new ways of thinking. The diverse mix of backgrounds and expertise is what makes this programme so successful for both the host organisations and the Pioneers. They take their experience and skills up a level, which in turn delivers a more effective and creative group of climate change practitioners working across the region.”

Katharine Fuller adds: “This is a challenging programme: the intensive transition management workshop, followed by two placements – including one overseas – means that the Pioneers have to quickly adapt into new work environments. This gives them the opportunity to forge new relationships, acquire knowledge and broaden their experience. The process generates outstanding levels of innovation, often leading to project and business opportunities that extend well beyond the end of the programme.”

During previous placements, Pioneers have identified significant savings, new products have been developed, and specific tasks completed – all free of charge to the host company. In some cases, the Pioneer has gone on to work for their host, once the programme has completed.

Participants from the Midlands will undertake their four-week overseas placement during September and October 2014. The host organisations will be based in the other KIC participating regions; Valencia (Spain); Emilia Romagna (Italy); Hessen (Germany); Lower Silesia (Poland) and Central Hungary.

Following the opening session, further workshops will be held at the Innovation Birmingham Campus during June and November 2014, bringing all the participants back together. Every Pioneer into Practice from across Europe will meet at the KIC Innovation Festival, being held in Valencia (Spain) at the end of October 2014.

Pioneers into Practice is a Climate Knowledge Innovation Community (Climate KIC) project. Climate KIC is the EU’s main climate innovation initiative, and was one of the first KICs created by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) in 2010. The EIT is the European Union body tasked with creating sustainable European growth and jobs while dealing with the global challenges of our time.

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