Birmingham improves public health in response to tackling climate change

Participants at an event in Birmingham came up with new climate solutions for improving public health as part of a 24-hour global climate change challenge, to win free incubator space at Innovation Birmingham Campus for the rest of the year.

Citizens in Birmingham joined others in world cities, such as Paris and Shanghai, simultaneously taking part in the hackathon-style Climathon event.

The Climate-KIC Climathon brought together major cities across six continents to solve city-wide climate challenges.

In Birmingham, participants took part from 4pm on Thursday 27th October until 4pm on Friday 28th October and focused on solving climate change challenges in a way which improves public health.

The event was organised by Innovation Birmingham Ltd, Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network and held at Innovation Birmingham Campus’ iCentrum building.

The winning solutions featured ideas involving wellness festivals; car sharing schemes and urban farming solutions.

Winners were selected based on best idea, best pitch presentation and best model – with them receiving prizes including free incubation space as part of a place on the West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network Serendip Smart City Incubator based at iCentrum.

The global event, the second of its kind, was organised by Climate-KIC, the EU’s climate change innovation partnership of universities, businesses and the public sector.

Framing the Challenge

The public health challenges facing Birmingham were set by Birmingham City Council’s Public Health Innovation team and West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network and were distilled into two main areas – food security and air pollution.

Climate change professional, Siobhan Hill of Greenhill Sustainability Ltd then framed Birmingham’s climate challenges including rising temperatures, ambitious carbon reduction targets and existing urban development consequences.

These talks enabled the teams to ideate together solutions that responded to the current challenges facing Birmingham citizens and Birmingham city.

Winning Solutions
After 24 non-stop hours of collaboration, excitement and solution-finding during the Climate-KIC Climathon, the best idea was selected by an expert jury consisting of Paddie Murphy and Karen Morrey, West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network; Jenny Drew, Birmingham City Council and Ben Onyido, Climate KIC.

The overall winning idea came from WellFest, a partnership between Ellie Welch and Richard Davies.

Delighted to have won Richard said:

“We are so pleased to have been chosen as overall winners.

Despite only meeting 24 hours ago and coming up with our idea, we have become very passionate about it and believe it could be a huge success.

The support we’ve been offered as part of the Serendip programme at Innovation Birmingham Campus with West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network, I hope will allow us the chance to do some market testing to see if we could make our idea a real innovation.”

Their idea is an outdoor festival focussed on mental wellbeing and environmental challenges anticipated to save 56,000 tonnes of CO2 per 2,800 people attending the festival.

Judge, Paddie Murphy said:

“We loved the concept of a wellness festival for the city and it fits very well into 2017 priorities for both EIT Health and West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network.

Richard and Ellie presented their ambitions for the project and its expected impact very well and we were left convinced that their WellFest idea should be supported.”

NewLeaf – Urban Social Planning, were the winners for best model as made by Megan Davies, Sarah Milburn, Venkata Dalta and Jake Sallaway-Costello

And the winner of best pitch was awarded to Jolade Azzan and Thomas Eldridge of team, FareShare.

Next steps

In Birmingham, our winning idea received incubation for the rest of the year to help build on the great progress made in 24-hours and turn the solution into a viable business.

In 2017, the fledgling business will be eligible for business growth programmes run in the partner institutions and can be cultivated to market entry.

Our Partners

Birmingham City Council’s Public Health Innovation team and West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network were keen to work with Innovation Birmingham on this 24-hour challenge and be part of the global network identifying climate solutions but with a real local focus on how to improve public health in Birmingham.

Birmingham City Council’s Public Health Innovation team and West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network both provided the welcome and framing of the challenge in the first few hours as well as judging the competition in the final few hours.

Both providing the teams added support along the way.

Climate-KIC is the EU’s largest public private partnership addressing climate change through innovation to build a zero-carbon economy and first organised the Climathon in 2015, in the run up to the Paris climate change summit.

Climate-KIC organises the Climathon to help kick-start new climate change solutions, and to inspire and empower the next generation of climate leaders.

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