Enablers of Transformation in the Foundation Industries

Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change

Coal power station

The need for innovation and transformation has never been more significant in the Foundation Industries.  

COP26 highlighted how critical the current moment is to change our practises and approaches to business in the fight to reach Net Zero and protect the climate. The looming rise in the cost of electricity and gas is casting a shadow over our energy-intensive industries and disruptions to global supply chains and available personnel caused by the pandemic have exacerbated issues around production. 

The foundation industries (namely glass, ceramics, metals, paper, cement and bulk chemicals) are worth £52B per annum to the UK’s economy. They are by far the UK’s biggest industrial polluters, accounting for 10% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions. Recently, these energy-intensive industries have faced increasing pressure, as well as business need, to embed innovation within their sectors.  

The Transforming Foundation Industries Network+ was launched in 2021 with funding by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to build a united community between the six Foundation Industry sectors, as well as provide funding for innovative research projects representing strong industry collaborations and cross-sector solutions.  

As part of the Industrial Challenge Strategy Fund launched by Innovate UK, the Network was launched alongside the TransFIRe research hub to boost sustainability and transformation across the Foundation Industries. The Network has over 600 members across industry and academia, representing interest areas such as equality and diversity, next generation processes, energy efficiency and circular economy.  

On the 12th October 2022, the Network+, in collaboration with Leeds University Business School and TransFIRe will be hosting an in-person workshop exploring ‘Enablers of Transformation in the Foundation Industries’. The workshop will include keynote speakers, a panel session and an interactive workshop to encourage delegates to collaborate and build effective relationships across the sectors. The event has a diverse range of speakers covering topics including business models, social sciences and government policy. The workshop is primarily aimed at industry members of the community, with the aim to encourage businesses to consider how to effectively embed innovation outside of traditional technology practices.  

The workshop will be taking place in Leeds City Centre, with an option for virtual attendance online. Places are limited and we encourage early sign-up for this event.

Professor Vera Trappmann, Leeds University Business School, will be joining Professor Susan Bernal Lopez, School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds, to open the event. Professor Trappmann comments: “My colleagues and I have recently published a report that looks at the decarbonisation pathways of foundation industries and how workers and their skills development will be affected. It has become clear we need much faster action, and more funding to achieve the technological innovations needed, but we also need social scientists to help develop new business models that put material efficiency and circularity centre stage. The Foundation Industries will only remain attractive to a younger British workforce if its contribution to a core sustainable world manifests more clearly.” 

Register for the event.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect the views of Leeds University Business School or the University of Leeds.