Skip to content The Open University

ESRC Seminar Series - Green Innovation: Making it Work

Funded by: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)


Led by: Professor David J. Smith (Nottingham Business School), Dr Richard Blundel (The Open University Business School), Professor Robert Ackrill (Nottingham Business School).

This series of six seminars brings together academics and practitioners interested in pro-environmental innovation with a focus on the factors that facilitate and constrain its practical application. It will promote a deeper understanding of the institutional and infrastructural changes required in both developed and developing country contexts. We have adopted the deliberately broad and populist term "green innovation" (Schiederig et al., 2012), to signal its role as a forum for the interchange of ideas and research findings between academics from different disciplines and institutions, and practitioners working in fields such as energy and transport, which have significant environmental impact.

Next seminar

Policy challenges and research contributions
Wednesday 18 May 2016, 10:00 - 16:30
UK Research Office, 4 Rue du Trône, Brussels

This seminar will explore the theme of policy, with expert speakers representing the policymaking, academic and consultancy communities. The papers provide a broad overview of current challenges in UK and EU policymaking, complemented by detailed analyses of green innovation in particular fields, and their associated socio-technical, political and regulatory challenges. We shall also examine the role of research in this policy arena, and how it might contribute more effectively in helping to overcome these challenges.

  • 10:00   Registration (tea and coffee from 09:45)
  • 10:30   Seminar introduction: David Smith, Rob Ackrill and Richard Blundel
  • 10:45   The complex challenges in bringing sustainable biofuels to the EU and world markets, given conflicting stakeholder positions, and an absence of long-term policies. Dr Kyriakos Maniatis (European Commission, DG-ENERGY)
  • 11:45   A critical analysis of UK and EU Green Innovation policy challenges. Andrea Westall (Independent Strategy and Policy Consultant and Visiting Senior Research Fellow, The Open University, UK)
  • 12:45   Lunch - including research poster session
  • 13:45   Green innovation and regulatory institutions: The case of smart electricity grids in Great Britain. Dr Matthew Lockwood (Senior Research Fellow, School of Geography, University of Exeter)
  • 14:35   Making the most out of academic research: translating research into practice. Alyssa Gilbert (Head of Policy and Translation, Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College, London)
  • 15:30   Plenary discussion - Enhancing green innovation policymaking: mapping out an agenda for research and engagement (tea and coffee will be available)
  • 16:15   Conclusion and details of next seminar

We would very much welcome submissions for the poster session on the theme of Green Innovation Policy Challenges – in particular, from doctoral students and Early Career Researchers. If you are interested in submitting and presenting a poster, please let the organisers know when you book your place for the seminar.

For further details and to book a place at this seminar, please contact Lianne Hannigan.

Future seminars

The two remaining seminars are scheduled to take place during July and October 2016. Further details, including confirmation of dates and venues, will be publicised in advance of each event:

  • Seminar five: Green innovation applications: mobility (NTU, Nottingham)
  • Seminar six: Deconstructing green innovation: implications for policy and practice (The Open University, Milton Keynes)

Previous seminars

Seminar one: Setting the scene, 22 April 2015 (NTU, Nottingham)

The aim of the first seminar was to provide an overview of the subject matter covered by green innovation and to introduce key themes prior to more detailed consideration in later seminars:

  • Scoping the role of green innovation in the wider sustainability agenda
  • Researching green innovation practice: multi-disciplinary perspectives
  • Identifying the key barriers, drivers and enablers for implementing green innovation
  • Setting an agenda for green innovation practice.

Guest speakers: included Will McDowall (University College London), Fred Steward (Policy Studies Institute), Gavin Killip (University of Oxford), Franz Huber (University of Seeburg, Austria), Michael Ehret (NTU) and John Nicholson (University of Hull)

Seminar two: Green business models and strategies, 6 July 2015 (The Open University, Milton Keynes)

The aim of the second seminar was to examine a variety of business models and strategies that have emerged in recent years with the explicit aim of fostering pro-environmental innovation, both within and across different industry sectors. Guest speakers included: Dr Naomi Braithwaite and Dr Luke Harmer (Nottingham Trent University); and Matthew Cook (The Open University). The event also featured four short ‘provocations’, which were presented by Sarah Williams (The Open University and the Sustainable Business Company), James Upstill-Goddard (Loughborough University), Chris Martin (The University of Manchester) and Aqueel Wahga (The Open University).

Seminar three: Green energy innovations (energy generation, distribution and consumption), 11 March 2016 (NTU, Nottingham)

The third seminar explored the theme of green innovations associated with the energy sector, including various aspects of both energy supply and energy demand. A range of innovative low carbon energy sources was considered, including farm-based systems, co-generation and energy extraction from flooded coal mines.  The seminar also explored how new urban housing developments and smart metering applications could be designed to reduce domestic energy demand. Guest speakers included: Nick Ebbs (Chief Executive of Blueprint Regeneration); Amin Al-Habaibeh (School of Architecture, Design & Built Environment, NTU); Les Levidow (The Open University); Julie Lewis, Julie Rosborough, John Harvey and Tony Woodall (Nottingham Business School); Md. Mofakkarul Islam (School of Animal, Rural & Environmental Sciences, NTU).


Schiederig, T., Tietze, F. and Herstatt, C. (2012) ‘Green innovation in technology and innovation management – an exploratory literature review.’ R&D Management, 42(2) pp. 180–192.

Research team