Green Transition Ecosystems (GTEs) are large scale projects that focus on translating the best design-led research into real-world benefits. Capitalising on clusters of design excellence, GTEs will address distinct challenges posed by the climate crisis, including but not limited to realising net zero goals.
The overarching aims of GTEs are to:
- empower the UK design research base to respond to regionally or sectorally significant green transition challenges in agile and collaborative ways
- embed circularity and sustainability across product, service, strategy and policy design in relation to the identified challenges
- contribute to increasing design gross value added in the nations and regions of the UK which have seen stagnation or decline
- realise measurable, green transition-supportive behaviour change across sectors and publics
- catalyse and foster opportunities for the socially, culturally and environmentally-acceptable commercialisation of design research-led interventions
- enable and support a greater diversity of voices and perspectives in the design of green-transition supportive-interventions, including users and publics
- create opportunities to build capacity and capability in design research for green transition challenges
Each GTE will identify the green transition challenges it is uniquely able to address and develop a programme of research and innovation activity tailored to addressing them through high-quality, multidisciplinary and intersectoral design research.
Such challenges might include (but are not limited to):
- developing low or zero carbon or non-extractive materials, products and services
- development of new circular design processes
- design that fosters positive behaviour change in support of green transition goals, including strategy and policy
- sector focused solutions, for example low or zero carbon screen (meaning, film and television) production
- region-focused solutions, for example transport systems and infrastructure supporting rural communities
- designing for diversity
- safeguarding the future of the design skills pipeline
The challenge you are seeking to address should require and promote the sustainable integration and leadership of arts and humanities design research in multidisciplinary fields of study related to net zero and the green transition.
GTEs must demonstrate the potential for their activities to deliver significant and measurable environmental, cultural, social and commercial benefit in relation to their chosen challenges. As part of our wider Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition programme, GTEs will benefit from the opportunity for accelerated impact and reach of their work through the Future Observatory hub.
GTEs will need to demonstrate a strong management and operational structures to deliver a programme of this scale. In building your team, you are encouraged to consider the range of capabilities you will need to deliver the GTE.
This could include:
- leadership of the GTE (director role and co-directors if appropriate)
- programme management and administration
- communications and engagement (including with the AHRC, the Future Observatory (FO) director and team, and the wider landscape of stakeholders)
- environmental impact assessment (of both research and innovation activity itself and its outputs and outcomes)
- commercialisation or business development
You may draw upon existing resources, either within a research organisation or partner organisation in building your teams. A maximum of 10% of the total award from AHRC can be used to cover the costs of management and operational staff.
Up to £4.625 million is available for the delivery of each GTE.
All GTEs will be expected to realise leveraged co-investment from third parties (research organisation or partners).
While there is no lower limit set on the level of co-investment expected at the outset of the project, you must have secured some material commitment (for example cash or in-kind contributions) and this should be outlined in the proposal with an accompanying letter of support from the contributing party (see ‘How to apply’ section).
The role of Future Observatory (FO)
FO at the Design Museum acts as a coordination and engagement hub, as well as a reporting body for the FO: Design the Green Transition programme.
With a focus on real-world impact, FO is the UK’s first design research and innovation (R&I) engagement centre. It bridges the highest standards of academic research carried out across higher education institutions, with the discoveries of professional designers, the influence of policymakers and most importantly, the engagement of the public, supporting a rich, diverse and inclusive design research ecosystem.
It makes these connections through symposia, roundtables, commissioned design research, displays, podcasts and a journal (launching 2023).
Over the course of the 19-month funding period, FO will undertake a number of engagement activities and programmes to surface, develop, translate and amplify the work of the GTEs.
These may include:
- ongoing guidance from the FO director and research steering group
- support with research activities from the research manager and research coordinator
- facilitation of shared activities and findings across the GTEs and FO’s wider network
- opportunities to engage with FO’s internal training programmes. This may include:
- design crits
- design sprints
- prototype development
- opportunities to participate with and contribute towards a public programme designed and led by FO. This may include:
- FO website
Included in each GTE award is £625,000 of ring-fenced FO funding for core costs and overall programme. This is to ensure cohesion and strategic alignment between GTEs and FO.
To help promote the funding opportunity with our community and in anticipation of the full opportunity launching in January 2023, AHRC and FO are running a series of events in October and November 2022 where you will be able to hear more about the scheme and ask questions.
31 October 2022
The first of these is a virtual question and answer event on 31 October 2022 11am UK time.
This event will enable you to:
- learn about FO and how the GTEs will connect with the wider FO: Design the Green Transition programme
- receive guidance on the scheme aims
- identify whether the scheme is a good fit for your project or partnership
- ask questions of the panel (including representatives from AHRC and FO)
Register to attend the 31 October question and answer event
9 November 2022
There will be a further event at Design for Planet on 9 November 2022 where you can hear from:
- Justin McGuirk, Programme Director for FO: Design the Green Transition
- Katherine Mansfield, Senior Investment Manager for Design at AHRC
Register to attend the 9 November event
In-person outreach events
The AHRC Design Team and members of the FO team will be travelling to Belfast, Glasgow and Swansea to provide an opportunity for researchers across each of the devolved nations to hear more details about the GTEs. For further information, please follow the Eventbrite links for each of the events below: