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8 November 2021
“The Earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet, or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve. People can achieve great things. The next ten years present us with one of our greatest tests – a decade of action to repair the Earth.” – Prince William
The much talked about Earthshot Prize is a significant global prize for the environment led by Prince William and Sir David Attenborough. The aim of the prize is to incentivise innovation in order to help repair our planet.
The prize rewards those who are providing ground-breaking innovative solutions to the major environmental challenges we currently face. Each year for the next ten years, one million pounds will be awarded to the winner of each of the prize’s five categories (also known as “Earthshots”): Protect and Restore Nature, Clean Our Air, Revive Our Oceans, Build A Waste Free World, and Fix Our Climate. As a result, this prize will highlight and support fifty innovative solutions to key environmental problems by 2030.
Below are just a few of the many inspiring solutions from the finalists and winners this year.
Restor are based in Switzerland and have developed science-based open data platform to support global restoration. Their platform has been described as “a Google Maps for nature” and helps conservationists have access to important datasets. Since their launch, Restor have connected over 50,000 restoration sites worldwide and will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the global restoration movement.
In view of the agricultural waste problem in India, Takachar has developed a portable machine which is attached to tractors and converts crop residues into valuable bioproducts that can be sold on. This machine has been shown to dramatically reduce smoke emissions and will be invaluable in improving air quality.
To help combat the destruction of coral reefs due to ocean warming and acidification, Coral Vita grow coral on land that can be replanted in the oceans. The methods they use allow them to grow coral up to fifty times faster than traditional approaches, which will be of irrefutable value in preserving these endangered ecosystems across every nation with reefs.
Japanese start-up WOTA have developed the WOTA BOX, which is a portable water reuse plant that helps people reuse wastewater. The positive impact of this product in Japan alone is huge, with over 20,000 people having made use of this product after numerous natural disasters, such as floods and earthquakes, cut off water supplies.
Hydrogen innovation has been pivotal in the fight against climate change. Enapter have developed the AEM electrolyser, which is a scalable electrolyser that turns renewable electricity into emission-free, clean hydrogen gas. Enapter’s goal is to turn water electrolysis into a universal and inexpensive product, and their AEM electrolyser has already been used to fuel cars and planes, heat homes, and power industry.
As the COP26 climate summit is now upon us, the solutions coming from the Earthshot Prize have provided a great deal of optimism and hopefulness to the wider community. The finalists and winners will be attending the summit and will therefore have an opportunity to present their incredible innovations and help encourage and motivate others to follow suit.
With climate change, energy security and pollution at the top of the global agenda, addressing these challenges and developing ‘green growth’ requires world-class clean technologies, developed by world-class engineers and scientists. The inspiring finalists and winners will no doubt ignite the imagination of companies and innovators worldwide, and we cannot wait to see the trailblazing environmental solutions and innovative technology that will emerge because of this prestigious award.
When innovating, it is important to appreciate the significant role that intellectual property can play. Intellectual property rights (including patents, trademarks, design rights and trade secrets) are known to provide companies and individuals with protection for their inventions and other ideas, and create opportunities to control and promote the commercialisation of the idea. But an effective intellectual property strategy can offer far more than this, opening the door to better funding opportunities, incentivising investment in research and development, and helping to encourage cooperation and collaboration within research communities. Intellectual property therefore represents an integral part of any innovation strategy, by providing options that can help to drive the innovation forward. In the midst of the current climate crisis, making the most of the opportunities that intellectual property ownership can provide could be seen to be more important than ever.
Life Sciences & Chemistry
© Withers & Rogers LLP November 2021