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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Trust in Sustainability


Join this year-long programme and pilot to access training and expertise that will help to accelerate the growth of your business, provide mentorship and networking opportunities.


Delivered both online and in-person across the course of 12 months: in-person sessions will be arranged all during one week of each month in the Canopy at CISL's headquarters, the Entopia Building, in Cambridge.

There will be no more than 3 days in-person per month to attend and these will not be all-day sessions, ensuring that you will still have time to manage your business.

Who’s it for?

Sustainability startups who are looking to test and pilot their emerging products.


Duration: July 2023  - July 2024

After the success of this 2023-2024 programme we're running it a second time in partnership with BSI.

Find out more about the 2024-25 programme here



Join this programme to access the training and expertise that will help to improve the readiness of your business, and the opportunity to pilot your innovation.

Driving change in the way we address our economic, social and environmental challenges is high on everyone’s agenda. At the same time there are increased levels of scrutiny on companies and brands to make sure that they are not misrepresenting how sustainable their businesses are: there is a growing need to measure impact transparently.

On this programme in the Canopy, BSI wants to develop and showcase the latest sustainability innovations by offering opportunities to test and pilot emerging products. Working together in Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership's headquarters, the Entopia Building, a key aim of the programme is to co-develop digital solutions that can deliver trust and best practice for the world’s biggest sustainability challenges. In addition, BSI wants to harness its broad industry and subject matter expertise to support the growth of innovative and sustainable businesses, and the adoption and scaling of disruptive solutions.

Joining this programme will help you to:

  • Develop your sustainability compass and find a 'North Star' for your business
  • Interrogate and develop your product offering
  • Embed best-practices into your operations processes
  • Join a community of other sustainable startups at the CISL Canopy Workspace
  • Network with an international community of leading sustainability players and investors

Who’s it for?

Startups with a digital solution that can build trust and deliver best practice for sustainability, this could be through, but by no means is limited to, solutions that:

  • Measure and monitor sustainability impacts
  • Ensure viability and transparency
  • Verify sustainability-related claims
  • Enable more sustainable decision making e.g. through analytics or modelling

Some of the sectors of interest include:

  • Built environment
  • Energy
  • Food & retail
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • ICT
  • Transport & mobility
  • Government

Why is this right for you?

  • Access BSI and CISL’s resources and network of leading industrial experts to further develop your product offering.
  • You will gain a year's membership to CISL's Canopy workspace where you can join a community of like-minded sustainability startups that can give you support and feedback helping you to 'get things right'.
  • Grow your business with the market insights and validation gained from the pilot.


This programme will be delivered both online and in-person across the course of 12 months. In-person sessions will be arranged all within one week of each month in the Canopy at CISL’s headquarters, the Entopia Building, in Cambridge. There will be no more than 3 days in-person per month, and these will not be all-day sessions, ensuring that you will still have time to manage your business.

This 12-month programme will consist of two parts:

  1. Acceleration – workshops on business elements, sustainability knowledge and industry know-how
  2. Pilot Project – carefully matched opportunity to validate your product or service.  

There will be 1-2-1 mentoring support throughout 12 months, and you will also receive Canopy membership for 12 months where you can access to desk space, Canopy community programme support and networking with CISL’s amazing network in the sustainability space.

Watch the webinar about the programme

The British Standards Institution (BSI) is a long standing and trusted organisational partner with a reputation for driving progress towards a sustainable world. Incorporated by Royal Charter and with 84,000 clients in 193 countries ranging from globally recognised brands to small local businesses, BSI embeds frameworks, best practices and solutions that create trust between consumers, companies, and governments. The BSI Sustainability Innovation Lab is at the forefront of the innovation and development that is needed to deliver clear, positive impacts for wider society. The Lab accelerates the adoption of disruptive digital solutions that bring trust to sustainability, and enable more sustainable decision making. Offering a creative and collaborative environment, the Lab promotes strategic partnerships any organisations can benefit from BSI’s 120 years of knowledge and expertise to transform their business models and create new customer solutions.


The Delivery Team


Viola Jardon

Viola is currently working as a Senior Programme Manager with CISL Canopy where she has worked with more than 150 early-stage start-ups with sustainability innovations. Her expertise and experience are in business innovation, go-to-market strategy and sustainability storytelling for the creative industry, tech industry, and the built environment. She is a business mentor for Tech Nation, Digital Catapult, Plug & Play, MSDUK and L Marks Corporate Accelerators and a business advisor for a few tech businesses. Before joining CISL, she was part of the founding team establishing the London Fashion Fund, which supported start-ups and entrepreneurs to address innovation and sustainability in the fashion industry. 


Sam Laakkonen

Senior Programme Director of the Canopy & Accelerator Team at CISL, Sam started his career as a management consultant in the City of London. He was headhunted to his first startup, FirstMark Communications Europe, which raised one of the largest Series A rounds in European history, over $1 billion. He has since been an early employee at Spotify, privately invested in 25+ startups, had 3 further exits from his own companies, helped 250+ startups accelerate growth, and works as an expert for the European Commission to distribute EIC equity and grant funding. Sam has been active in the Techstars ecosystem for a number of years, having been an Entrepreneur-In-Residence for Techstars Amsterdam, and a Lead Mentor on a number of programmes including Techstars Lisbon, Techstars Korea, Techstars Boulder and Techstars Energy in Oslo.


Zoë Loughlin

Zoë manages the Canopy, CISL’s Cambridge workspace and global community for impact-driven startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs. Zoë has over 10 years experience working in sustainability across the public and third sector and in the innovation ecosystem. She has specialised knowledge on waste reduction, recycling and sustainable food systems, previously working at Sustain (the Alliance for Better Food and Farming), the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Waste Partnership, WasteWatch, Glopolis, and Green Alliance. Zoë also cofounded a social enterprise focused on food waste reduction and held voluntary positions as Hub leader at Cambridge FoodCycle and on the Board for Cambridge Sustainable Food. Zoë joined CISL in 2016 as part of the Marketing, Communications and Corporate Relations team, working across programme marketing, external communications, publications, Network development, and the Unilever Young Entrepreneur Awards, before moving to her current position in 2022. Zoë has a BA in Geography from the University of Leeds, and a certificate in Business Sustainability Management from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

Wendy Niu

Wendy leads BSI's Sustainability Innovation Lab in Cambridge. She started her career at Innovia Technology, a global innovation consultancy, where she specialised in managing complex, multidisciplinary projects across a number of sectors, covering areas such as innovation strategy, product development and prototyping, and consumer-facing communications. She has also worked at the Royal Society of Chemistry, where she developed and managed activities to advance the chemical sciences, including "Digital Futures", a cross-organisational programme on the role of data and digital technologies in the future of science R&D. Wendy has a background in physics, with a PhD in Nanoscience from the University of Cambridge.