Aggregating CleanTech (ACT) London

The challenge

According to Imperial College London, the capital’s environment and climate sector is worth around £40 billion in sales per annum, with this figure growing by over 10 per cent a year. 2020 has highlighted how critical urban resilience is, placing more weight on approaches that mitigate the effects of climate change.

So much so that the Mayor of London has invested in new programmes aimed at accelerating the already thriving CleanTech sector – ACT is a key part of that development.

With an annual public procurement budget of over £35 billion, London’s public sector is a significant opportunity for the CleanTech sector; not only to generate a new route to market but to enact real citizen-centric approaches.

However, there is a significant barrier to entry. Public sector engagement with SMEs – let alone CleanTech organisations – remains very low, with 91% of London’s public sector technology contracts are delivered by just 15 suppliers.

How can we incentive greater collaboration?

The solution

A partnership between Knight Frank, EIT Climate-KIC, Mayor of London and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) was formed, with a mandate of bringing together London Boroughs to develop common climate-related civic innovation challenges.

In order to create an easy entry point for CleanTech SMEs, pre-procurement collaboration and challenge-setting was a key mechanism in creating engagement and finding innovative solutions that can help solve London’s biggest environmental challenges.

Nitrous’ CityTech platform and expertise in challenge-led innovation was brought in to help find these common challenges between the boroughs and to utilise ChallengeX has a hub to help promote them to the broader ecosystem.

Not only this, but Nitrous’ ChallengeX platform was used as an interface for London public sector CleanTech activity, including a hub to share insights, promoting innovations challenges and procurement opportunities.

The challenges

The Nitrous team worked with a coalition of London Boroughs to understand the biggest challenges that their citizen face from a sustainability and environmental perspective. Through a series of workshops and engagement sessions, the Nitrous team narrowed down collective challenges that were a priority to address. Those included:

  • Repurposing of commercial real estate
  • Achieving energy-efficient housing

The ACT platform

Integrating directly into Thirty3 – London’s collaborative procurement platform – the ACT challenges were published, with challenge partners and collaboration rooms.


London’s Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, said:

“Supporting the creation of new green jobs and further growth across the capital’s world-leading cleantech sector will be an important part of the recovery from Covid-19 – and this project will help lay the foundations. The Mayor’s ambition for London to be a zero-carbon city by 2030 will only be met if we accelerate innovation and the procurement of cleantech goods and services across London.”

David Goatman, Head of Energy, Sustainability and Natural Resources at Knight Frank, said:

“We are delighted to be supporting this hugely important project. The growth of the cleantech sector in London is a win-win for the capital and aggregating public sector demand to drive the uptake of cleantech goods and services is an important way of accelerating London’s low carbon transition.”

George Johnston, Founder of Nitrous, the CityTech development partner of the GLA, said:

“91% of London’s public sector technology contracts are delivered by just 15 suppliers. With this new approach of pre-procurement collaboration, the capital’s innovators can create new solutions that address shared challenges within the crucial cleantech sector.”

Brian Kilkelly, Development Lead at EIT Climate-KIC, added:

“ACT London was chosen for support in recognition of the potential for a systemic shift in procurement practices. Covid-19 and the climate crisis require wholesale shifts in how we develop our cities globally. Bringing world-leading innovation into supply chains at scale can empower this transformation. We believe ACT London has an exciting role to play in achieving this.”