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Challenge 01: Natural Cities

Applications to Challenge 01 have closed. View the Future Industries Demonstrator page to find out about the latest challenges and register your details.

Future Industries Demonstrator

Building resilient cities for people and planet

A vibrant, healthy natural environment is a necessity for the resilience of cities in the face of the climate crisis. For too long, bustling hubs like east London have been major contributors to the problem. Now, we want to turn problems into solutions and challenges into opportunities, so that our environment and communities are healthier, greener and more resilient.

This isn’t a call for piecemeal change, it’s a demand for systemic responses. That means considering the complexity of how different aspects of our urban environments are connected, and bringing forward holistic, comprehensive solutions.

If you are an SME working on a solution that could rapidly transform east London’s natural spaces and systems, we want to hear from you.

Safeguard our Water Systems

East London is at increasing risk from water-related effects such as flooding and drought, and water bodies like the River Lea are plagued by pollution. Do you have a solution that could reduce risks, protect existing water resources and/or restore or protect natural water bodies such as canals and wetlands in east London?

Clean our Air

East London’s population are exposed to high levels of air pollution, with poor air quality killing 96 residents in the borough of Newham alone every year. Do you have a solution that could reduce air pollution from existing sources or remove pollutants from our air?

Halt and Reverse Biodiversity Loss

East London will continue to see high rates of development, with the greatest number of tall buildings in the pipeline across London’s regions. This places further pressure on green spaces and habitats. Do you have a solution that will preserve biodiversity and the wellbeing of our natural spaces?

Fight Rising Temperatures 

Rising heat levels are threatening lives. 2/3 flats in London could experience overheating by the 2030s and east London is no different. The unprecedented heatwaves of summer 2022 led to fires across London, including Epping Forest and Bushwood in London Borough of Waltham Forest.  Do you have a solution that can help to combat the urban heat island effect and keep east London cool?

Create a Capital Without Waste

The population of east London continues to grow rapidly, placing pressure on waste management. Do you have a circular solution that will minimise waste created and/or increase the percentage that is reused, recycled or composted?

The Prize

In this five-month programme, you will benefit from direct access to an extensive pool of resources and support designed to open the door to mass market adoption. We’ve assembled experts from across east London’s innovation ecosystem to work hand in hand with your team to build, test and scale up your solution at the urgent pace the climate crisis requires. 

Successful applicants will also receive…

£20,000 grant

to supplement scaling plans

£5,000 budget

to support testbed deployment

Access to world-class workspaces

including The Loop, east London’s hub for circular economy businesses

Expert support

from specialists at innovation company Plexal and University College London

1:1 coaching

with a circular business specialist

Support programme

facilitated by SHIFT

Additional £10,000 grant

available for organisations based in the Hackney Wick & Fish Island Creative Enterprise Zone

What We’re Looking For

This challenge is for solutions that are beyond ideation — from teams that have an understanding of their market and end-users, or have had some initial commercial success, and have demonstrated potential to scale.
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Aligns with one of our challenge impact areas

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At least an early stage prototype

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Fulfils a clear, evidenced market need

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Requires financial or non-financial support to scale

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Created by a London-based SME or startup

This challenge is open to all types of solutions that support the transition to a resilient capital. As well as new tech, we want to uplift innovators who are: building new services and business models; using digital tools to monitor and manage the environment; thinking about climate justice; supporting behavior change; driving opportunities for new economies; and more.

What is the Future Industries Demonstrator?

The Future Industries Demonstrator (FID) is a mission-led scale up programme focused on supporting London-based enterprises who are working on innovative solutions to tackle the climate crisis. It focuses on the real problems that citizens face in east London and the market solutions that, with investment and tailored support, will accelerate our collective transition to Net Zero and fairer economies. 

FID provides pioneering start-ups and SMEs with financial backing, as well as linking them to collaborative networks, workspaces and local knowledge resources that give them the best chance to succeed.

Delivery Partners

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Supporting Partners

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About SHIFT

The Future Industries Demonstrator is led by SHIFT. We’re a local east London innovation agency with a mission to accelerate innovation that transforms how we live in cities.

One of our key roles is to facilitate access to the internationally recognised testbed at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which innovators can use to test and demonstrate the potential of new solutions. Through our carefully curated ecosystem, we build connections and spark collaboration between startups, corporates, universities, community groups and policymakers.

Get access to our ecosystem of innovators, opportunities and partnerships in east London.

Join the ecosystem