EPSRC is holding a workshop to bring together the information and communication technologies (ICT) and circular economy research communities, fostering relationships to:
- encourage greater consideration of circularity and resource efficiency in ICT research and research outcomes
- increase awareness and further develop understanding of the role of ICT research in achieving a circular economy
- identify community highlights and future priorities to feed into related EPSRC and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) strategy development and understand the barriers to delivering high impact, interdisciplinary research in this area
EPSRC aims to actively support the engineering and physical sciences research, innovation and training needed to support greater circularity within the ICT landscape and the significant economic, environmental and social benefits this will deliver.
We must embed design considerations for circularity in ICT research and training now to address key priorities, such as the climate crisis and enhancing population health. It is imperative that systems, technologies and tools developed consider whole lifecycle environmental costs and utilise the resources in the system as efficiently as possible. If not, we simply consider circularity in isolation at the end of the innovation cycle, increasing the overall costs and diminishing the potential benefits to the environment or to health.
In addition, the workshop will:
- explore the opportunity for ICT research to drive the transition to a circular economy
- support the development of the relationships, shared understanding and collaborations which are necessary to deliver this
The specific objectives for the workshops are to:
- foster relationships and encourage interaction and collaboration between researchers, stakeholders and partners in the circular economy and ICT communities
- support the discussion of the barriers and opportunities for transitioning to a more sustainable and circular ICT
- identify research challenges and opportunities for ICT to support a circular economy and for delivering more circular ICT technologies
An exact agenda and location will be confirmed nearer the time.
Submission of an expression of interest will be taken as confirmation of ability to attend if invited.
Please note there is no funding associated with this activity.
The workshops will consist of:
- keynote talks from community leaders and EPSRC
- facilitated discussion sessions
- networking opportunities
We anticipate this event will be of interest to researchers, small and medium-sized enterprises and industry experts working in areas directly supporting the transition to a circular economy. We also expect the event to interest those who have an interest in considering circularity in ICT research.
A background in circular economy research is not a pre-requisite and applications are actively encouraged from those new to the area or only just beginning to consider how to embed circularity in their research.
Colleagues from industry and the third sector are also encouraged to apply in order to foster relationships between industrial needs and fundamental science research especially in ICT. This will also support EPSRC to ensure non-academic drivers are reflected in future priorities and scoping activities.
Although this is primarily an EPSRC event, it is an inherently interdisciplinary area of research. Applications from those not traditionally in EPSRC remit but currently or hoping to collaborate with those who are to deliver a circular future or embed circularity in ICT research and innovation, or both, are encouraged.
Improvements to communications, computing and the internet will shape our future society and economy and will play a vital role in tackling societal priorities from climate change to healthcare.
Our current linear ‘take-make-dispose’ economy is not sustainable. The world’s consumption of raw materials is set to nearly double by 2060 as the global economy expands and living standards rise. This places twice the pressure on the environment, for example via greenhouse gas emissions and depleted natural capital.
A circular economy keeps resources in use for as long as possible, extracts the maximum value from them whilst in use, and recovers products and materials after use.
Consideration of a circular economy must be embedded across the ICT research and innovation landscape if we are to achieve net zero carbon emission targets. And if we are to reduce energy use and e-waste, and ensure resource security. It offers the UK significant economic, social and environmental benefits.
Embedding consideration is in part about community behaviour and training but it also raises specific research challenges, including:
- new recycling, separation and remanufacturing technologies for ICT products and systems
- designing for circularity
- developing more circular materials and utilising waste streams as feedstocks
ICT research and technologies can also accelerate the transition to a circular economy in other sectors. A number of fundamental circular economy questions relate to or could be enhanced by ICT research and collaboration with the ICT community, including:
- using data to enable a more circular economy by developing a fundamental understanding of whole lifecycle costs and the impacts and trade-offs associated with different approaches and material sources. And developing approaches to track and account for materials across systems and sectors
- using digital approaches to:
- enable better decision making on how and when to implement whole circular economic systems
- inform government positions
- deliver lifecycle assessment-informed supply chains
- support societal transitions and prioritisations
This workshop directly delivers against both the digital futures and engineering net zero priorities detailed in the EPSRC strategic delivery plan. Delivering a circular economy for ICT and driving a circular economy through ICT research and innovation will also support UKRI ambitions, in particular in building resilience and a green future.
Who can apply
This workshop is open to people of all research disciplines and industries with an interest in ICT or the circular economy, or both.
We are keen to engage with individuals with a diverse range of experiences of research related to circular ICT and the role of ICT in delivering a circular economy. This will range from those who have an initial interest in considering circularity in their own research, to those with fully established research programmes relating to the circular economy.
A background in circular economy research is not a pre-requisite and applications are actively encouraged from researchers who are new to this area.
Colleagues from industry and the third sector are also encouraged to apply. As well as researchers not traditionally in EPSRC remit but currently or hoping to collaborate with those who are in order to explore circularity in their research.
We are committed to a policy of equal opportunities, and encourage applications from women, those with a disability, members of ethnic minority groups, and other groups who are currently under-represented at EPSRC’s events.
Support will also be available to cover caring responsibilities in addition to normal care arrangements. Find out about equality, diversity and inclusion support. If you have any questions, please contact the organisers.
How to apply
EPSRC are looking to select between 40 to 50 attendees for the workshop, with a diverse range of expertise and experience in research and innovation from across all of EPSRC’s stakeholder groups.
The workshops will include an appropriate balance of expertise from different organisations as well as reflecting a diverse mix of individuals and backgrounds.
Submit an expression of interest via the Smart Survey form before 12 January 2023 4:00pm UK time.
There are 4 parts to the application:
Basic information and contact details, including title, name, current position, organisation, and email address.
Area of knowledge and experience
Please outline your current research area or areas, as well as your prior experience or future aspirations of circular economy or ICT related research, or both.
Why is this event of interest to you and what contribution are you hoping to make? How will you disseminate the information discussed to your own network or community?
Equal opportunities information
EPSRC operates a policy of equality and fair treatment. All applications will be treated fairly, regardless of gender, age, ethnic origin or disability. To help us achieve this aim the information from this section helps us to monitor the effectiveness of our policy.
Individuals are asked to supply equal opportunities information. Information will not be used to determine an applicant’s fit to the essential criteria. It will be used to consider a balance of gender and other protected characteristics across the workshop, after the initial sift.
Applications will be assessed solely on the information provided in the application, with the focus of the assessment on the answers to the questions provided.
In accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (EU) (GDPR), the personal information provided on this form will specifically be used for the purpose of administering this form. Aggregated anonymised data will be used for the purposes of monitoring our advisory and decision-making bodies. Analysis of the information will be viewed by EPSRC staff only and personal information will not be used for any other purpose without your specific consent.
For further information on how your information will be used, how we maintain the security of your information, and your rights to access information we hold on you, please contact the UKRI information rights team.
How we will assess your application
All expressions of interest will be assessed by an internal EPSRC panel against the selection criteria.
The expressions of interest will be used to:
- select participants based on the responses to the assessment questions in the ‘How to apply’ section
- ensure as broad a representation of the community as possible, including organisation, research area and prior experience of, or interest in, circular economy research
Places are limited. In the event of over-subscription, an appropriate number will be selected to attend, and prioritisation will be based on the following selection criteria:
- Relevance of prior experience or future research aspirations to the scope of the workshop.
- Potential to contribute to and gain from the workshop.
- Out of applications meeting the essential criteria, steps will be taken to ensure diversity of membership from across EPSRC’s stakeholder groups. There will be a balance of expertise and institutional representation, and a consideration of gender and ethnicity balance.
EPSRC’s decision on attendance is final and feedback will not be given to unsuccessful applicants.