Supported by the EY-Nottingham Spirk Innovation Hub, the Decoding Innovation podcast series explores the groundbreaking technologies, business models and ideas that are shaping the future of industries.
Join Mitali Sharma as she meets with stakeholders at the cutting edge to discuss issues around innovation, disruption and importance of ecosystems.
How circular economy acts as an enabler to build sustainable societies
In this episode of Decoding Innovation, Keiran Smith, CEO and co-founder of Mr. Green Africa, discusses circular economy and how technology is changing the way plastic is recycled worldwide.
Sustainability has been of key focus in modern day living. Circular economy plays a key role in achieving sustainability by reaching maximum input efficiency using minimal resources, as well as reducing waste production. The regenerative economic system aims to achieve sustainability without diminishing existing products but to churn the “waste” into something useful via systematic shifts.
By extending the life of products, especially plastic, the natural capital that goes into recycling can be reduced. The life of plastic products can be extended by bringing in a loop of reuse, repair and remanufacturing products. Circular economy involves a clear distinction between technological and biological cycles that aims to rebuild all types of capital.
Keiran Smith is a disruptive innovator in the recycling space. The CEO and co-founder of Mr. Green Africa shares his insight on the right combinations and necessary understanding needed to implement circular economy for plastic recycling, and how Mr. Green Africa is paving the way to building a sustainable tomorrow.
Circular economy holds a key role in building sustainable societies and can lead to increased efficiencies using minimal input resources and a connected ecosystem of capital. Awareness and technology are the biggest hurdles faced in plastic recycling that need immediate addressing. Connecting a commercial model with a sustainable, social-friendly model is the way to go for recycling plastic worldwide. Partnership element plays a key role in successful implementations of plastic recycling based on the circular economy approach.
Why a mindset shift matters for implementing circular economy
In this episode of the Decoding Innovation podcast series, Helen Burdett, Head of Technology Strategy at the World Economic Forum, talks about circular economy as a vision for the future.
Circular economy reimagines the linear economy in which we live. It’s a pervasive systems approach that is broader than reduce, reuse and recycle. As a concept and set of principles, circular economy brings immense economic and resiliency opportunities.
While there has been a proliferation of circular roadmaps at a national level for countries around the world, the question remains: How do we ensure an absolute and effective shift of the system to get to this new reality?
In this episode of the Decoding Innovation podcast series, Helen Burdett from the World Economic Forum (WEF) talks to our host Mitali Sharma about how circular approaches are redesigning the way our economy works, the importance of design and global collaboration in circular economy, and the initiatives being undertaken by global organizations like WEF to promote circularity in an inclusive manner.
How one startup is progressing toward commercialized nuclear fusion
In this episode of Decoding Innovation, Scott Krisiloff shares Helion Energy’s journey so far in creating electricity from nuclear fusion and the subsequent plans to commercialize this form of energy.
Fusion — the inverse of fission — is a process where energy is created when two lighter atoms are combined to form a new atom. Established in 2008, Helion Energy is aiming to use nuclear fusion for producing electricity and meeting the global energy demand.
Scott Krisiloff, Chief Business Officer of Helion Energy, details how the company has taken an unconventional approach to its fusion reactions, so that more energy is generated from the reaction than is put into it. Helion’s sixth prototype, completed in 2020, was able to reach a temperature of 100 million degrees. Without such high temperatures, bulk fusion reactions cannot begin. By showing that it can achieve commercially relevant fusion conditions, Helion Energy was able to raise US$500m at the end of 2021.
Scott also talks about Helion Energy’s future goals. The company expects to demonstrate the ability to produce net electricity by 2024. But for nuclear fusion to replace fossil fuels, society will need to be educated about the safety profile and risk characteristics of fusion.
Nuclear fusion may completely transform the global energy industry and help tackle climate change. However, it will need a lot more experiments, advancements and investments.
Helion Energy uses deuterium and helium-3 as the fuels. Enough deuterium exists on Earth to produce fusion energy for billions of years, whereas helium-3 is a by-product of deuterium-deuterium fusion. The sixth-generation Helion prototype is small enough to fit in a shipping container, and is able to create an ideal combination of temperature, density and time — the three fundamentals that govern fusion reactions. The US$500m raised by Helion Energy in 2021 came from its group of existing investors, who were impressed by the results of the sixth prototype and the future potential of this form of energy.
How high-pressure water stored underground may reshape energy storage
In this episode of the Decoding Innovation podcast, Quidnet Energy CEO Joe Zhou discusses the use of innovative geomechanical methods and its impact on the global energy industry.
Currently, pumped hydro is the only form of commercialized long-duration energy storage available globally. Quidnet Energy — with its innovative use of geomechanical methods to deliver long-term energy storage — looks set to transform the global energy industry.
Joe Zhou, CEO of Quidnet Energy, explains in detail how the company uses conventional oil and gas techniques to effectively put the weight of the mountain on top of the stored water. Quidnet’s technology stores energy underground in the form of high-pressure water, with the help of impermeable and shallow rock.
Joe also shares his views on the differences between the business models of startups that build their products in a lab, versus those, such as Quidnet, that harness a real-world resource. Such startups must collaborate with regulators, communities and financiers from the start — and share with them the business risk and future rewards involved.
About US$300b worth of pumped hydro has been built globally — but we are running out of viable mountainous sites to meet the future energy consumption needs. Over the next three decades, the demand for global energy requirement is likely to rise by 80% — due to electrification of transportation, heating, industrial uses and economic growth. Quidnet is planning to become a grid-scale solution, built in modular pieces. Like wind farms, the Quidnet technology aims to construct single-megawatt modules spread across a field, electrically linked to a single point of interconnection to the electricity grid.
How the metaverse is planning to augment reality — not replace it
In this episode of the Decoding Innovation podcast, Mathieu Nouzareth, CEO of The Sandbox, explains how a community-driven platform is shaping the future of the metaverse.
The metaverse technology creates a 3D virtual space on computers and phones to bring people closer. For organizations such as The Sandbox, the metaverse is a medium where users can meet each other, make friends and play games. According to Mathieu Nouzareth, CEO of The Sandbox, the objective of creating a metaverse is not to replace reality — it is only to augment it.
The Sandbox is a community-driven platform where creators can monetize their assets and gaming experiences on the blockchain. The organization has created a map with a finite amount of land that users can buy. Like real estate, the price of virtual pieces of land is decided by location. So, buying a piece of virtual land in a celebrity neighborhood will be more expensive than other neighborhoods.
Mathieu also talks about the three early adopters of this technology: gaming, digital fashion and luxury, and entertainment industries. The Sandbox has partnered with several famous luxury brands because users are willing to buy digital accessories for their online avatars. Furthermore, some users want to extend the experience of a movie or a TV show by entering a virtual world.
Web3 adoption will bring a whole new set of features to metaverse environments. Since Web3 is a nonzero sum game, organizations such as The Sandbox want to create value for the entire community — including their competitors — for long-term rewards.
Users can create avatars, NFTs and items for the game, and publish on the marketplace. The Sandbox’s commission is very low — only 5% — compared with the commissions charged by mobile phone app stores (between 20% and 30%). Currently, the biggest market for The Sandbox includes the US, the UK, Canada, Western Europe, Korea and Japan. About 65% of the current user base of The Sandbox is male. However, the organization is partnering with a foundation that is working to bring women into Web3.
What Industry 4.0 is all about: the progression from 1.0 to 4.0
In this episode, Ajay Khaladkar, former Technical Program Manager, Golisano Institute for Sustainability, Rochester Institute of Technology, discusses how the institute is helping companies transition to Industry 4.0.
Humanity is in relentless pursuit of enhancing living standards and creating a more comfortable existence. Every major effort to advance society using human intellect and technology has not only induced socioeconomic ripples but also transformed the world — starting from the first industrial revolution in the 1700s, also known as Industry 1.0, to the digital transformation we are witnessing today: Industry 4.0.
As technology is rapidly evolving and new frameworks are being introduced, experts point out that the periods between industrial revolutions are decreasing. A good transition strategy can help traditional businesses to successfully adapt to the latest transformation metrics.
Ajay Khaladkar, former Technical Program Manager of Advanced Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 Solutions at Golisano Institute for Sustainability, Rochester Institute of Technology, discusses how the institute is supporting organizations’ transition to Industry 4.0, the challenges and what to expect after the transition.
It is noted that the periods between industrial revolutions are getting smaller and we may enter Industry 5.0 quicker, with the emergence of new technologies and the fast, widespread integration of information. Industry 4.0 is considered as a catalyst for better, sustainable goals and may bring societal shifts, such as in job profiles and social equity. Industry 4.0 is more complex than its previous counterparts for calculating returns on investment, because some Industry 4.0 tools will not replace workforce, but help empower leaders to make agile, reliable decisions.