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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Innovators for the built environment


Virtual Accelerator programme to fast-track promising SMEs who are commercialising novel products and services that could help achieve net zero in the built environment.


Six-week online Accelerator programme, 2-4 hours per week. Additional hours for ongoing 1-2-1 mentoring, 2 optional virtual networking events and demo day with investors.

Applications for this programme are now closed. If you are interested in discussing future opportunities on this topic please get in touch.



About the programme

We are looking for the most innovative business minds with potential solutions to help unlock transformative change in one of the most resource intensive, greenhouse gas emitting and least diverse industries on the planet: the building industry. The built environment is responsible for almost one-third of total global energy related CO2 emissions. With the inclusion of emissions from construction, this share increases to 38 per cent.

Approximately 40 per cent of global materials are used for construction. In the European Union, current construction and demolition waste accounts for approximately 25-30 per cent of the total waste generated. What’s more, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reports that of more than 134,000 members worldwide, women represent only 15 per cent. That proportion drops to 1 per cent for those who are LGBTQ, BAME or people with disabilities.

Intelligent design and planning from the outset is often the best way to achieve sustainability outcomes. However, the building industry also needs new products and services to enable a rapid transition from predominantly linear models to circular solutions and to find creative new ways to decarbonise. The retrofit agenda is a key element of this. There is also the challenge of how we adapt our buildings and communities effectively to ‘locked in’ climate change that we are already starting to experience.

This Accelerator aims to fast-track companies who are commercialising novel products and services in the built environment space. There is no fee and we do not take equity. Delivered over six weeks of interactive online sessions, with contributors from the University of Cambridge and experts from the built environment, investment and innovation communities, the focus will be to support small businesses with new products to bring to market or those with initial customers looking to take the next step.


Programme overview:


Session A

Session B

Week 1

Meet the cohort

Break the ice and learn about each other’s businesses, challenges and opportunities.

Sustainability compass

Strength test your sustainability proposition.

Week 2 

Big picture overview

Explore global and domestic challenges and opportunities.

Business audit

Creatively test your commercialisation plans.

Week 3 

Innovation showroom

Share experiences with selected global innovators breaking new ground in the industry. 

Risk analysis

Learn how to improve your risk analysis skills.

Week 4 

Intellectual property

How to protect, manage and commercialise IP.


Consider the options for finance that best suit your business and hone your bootstrapping skills.

Week 5 

Sustainability storytelling

Understand the value of storytelling in communicating your unique selling point and practice how to tell yours. 

Meet the corporate buyer

Q&A with a corporate buyer wanting to procure sustainably. 

Week 6 

Pitch camp 1: preparation

Learn how to pitch to different audiences, from investors to customers. Q&A session with investors.

Pitch camp 2: practice

Pitch to your peers and share feedback. 

Optional Extra

Week 7 (8/6)

Demo day with investors and/or corporate buyers  

This programme will take place over six consecutive weeks, beginning w/c 19 April. The demo day will take place in early June. Confirmed dates and times for sessions will be shared soon.

Mentoring is offered on a one-to-one basis in addition to the programme above for up to three months from its start date, subject to mentor availability.

There are optional networking sessions between these virtual workshops to connect innovators with the wider sustainability ecosystem of CISL and its network.   



21 Rosalie RyclovaRozálie Ryčlová

Co-founder and COO, Thermulon Ltd.


2 Emma Jane HoughtonEmma-Jane Houghton

Commercial Director, Cabinet Office 

3 Dr Jenni BarrettDr Jennifer Barrett

Director, coLAB and Senior Lecturer, University of Central Lancashire


4 Indy JoharIndy Johar

Co-founder and Executive Director, Dark Matter Labs

5 Peter BachmannPeter Bachmann

Managing Director, Sustainable Infrastructure, Gresham House 


22 Nathan WrideNathan Wride

Head of Partnerships and Innovation, The Pallet Loop

7 Emma HoskynEmma Hoskyn

Head of Sustainable Solutions, JLL


8 Jonny AnsteadJonny Anstead

Founding Director, TOWN

9 Dr Amanda WoodingDr Amanda Wooding

Deputy Head of Life Sciences, Cambridge Enterprise 


10 Viola JardonViola Jardon

Programme Manager, CISL 

11 Ian RobinsonIan Robinson

Head of UX Design, Secret Escapes


12 Shaunie BrettShaunie Brett

Director, Sussed Sustainability Consulting 

13 Dr Michael AnsteyDr Michael Anstey

Partner, Cambridge Innovation Capital 


14 Erenn OreErenn Ore

Programme Manager, CISL 

15 Angela HoneggerAngela Honegger

PhD Candidate, University of St. Gallen and External Consultant, Ashoka


16 Roland HunzikerRoland Hunziker

Director, Sustainable Buildings and Cities, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

17 Ehad SayedEhab Sayed

Founder and Director of Innovation, Biohm


18 Ella Liu    Ella Liu 刘文敏

Vice President, Winsun

19 Agnes CzakoAgnes Czako

Co-founder and Managing Director, U-floor Technologies (Creators of AirEx)


20 Muhammad IrfanMuhammad Irfan

Director, IZ Energy 



Who should apply

This programme is part funded by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund, and is available for free to SMEs based in England, with priority given to those in parts of the East of England

We’re looking for small businesses with commercial propositions who are looking to bring new products or services to the market, or who have existing clients and are looking to grow. This is particularly in the areas of:

  • Decarbonisation of buildings – technologies and business propositions to decarbonise construction of new buildings and retrofit applications, including the use of AI or other strategies to improve and monitor construction standards
  • Materials & circularity – novel materials, 3D printing and new circular business models for construction materials and resources consumed during building lifetime, such as water
  • Biodiversity – innovative approaches to encourage greater biodiversity in the built environment and assist with monitoring and enforcement regimes
  • Climate adaptation and resilience – new products or services to create greater resilience to drought, higher summer temperatures, storms and flooding, for example, in ways that are low in embodied energy and do not create future waste issues
  • People centred solutions –improving occupational health and safety for people in the construction industry and providing consumer education on sustainability behaviour relating to buildings to help encourage low impact lifestyles

Applicants must be based in England and be available to attend the full six-week programme (virtually, not in person). One representative from each company should attend for the whole programme, allowances will be made only for exceptional circumstances. For some sessions, more than one participant may be allowed. The online sessions will be delivered weekly from week commencing 19 April – 28 May, with a time commitment of between 2-4 hours per week.


Applications for this programme are now closed. If you are interested in discussing future opportunities on this topic please get in touch.