Over 400 businesses have so far engaged with the University of Hull’s Flood Innovation Centre.
The centre, established in April 2019 to build on the University’s expertise in flood resilience, works with SMEs across the Humber to innovate and find new solutions to tackle the challenges posed by flooding.
As part of OneHumber, a week-long programme of digital events, businesses were invited to a special webinar on Friday, June 5, to find out more about the support offered by the Flood Innovation Centre (FIC) and its sister organisation the Aura Innovation Centre.
Pip Betts, Project Manager at the Flood Innovation Centre, said: “At the University of Hull, we have a wealth of expertise and experience surrounding flooding and flood resilience.
“We launched the Flood Innovation Centre over a year ago, to help bring this expertise to SMEs working across the Humber region.
“It is widely-known that the Humber region is one of the most at-risk areas to flooding in the UK – we hope our Flood Innovation Centre will help put small businesses across both banks of the estuary in the driving seat in building resilience against one of the area’s greatest threats.”
The Flood Innovation Centre brings the University of Hull’s world-class research in climate change, flood, engineering, logistics, materials and computer science to Humber-based SMEs.
The Centre is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and has continued to support businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether it’s an existing product or a completely new approach to flood resilience, the FIC can help SMEs through a range of tailor-made Innovation Support Packages worth up to £20,000.
Feedback from businesses which have engaged with the University through its Flood Innovation Centre has been positive.
Nick Granger, Managing Director at HFR Solutions, said: “HFR Solutions are delighted to be once again collaborating with University of Hull.
“We are developing an innovative approach to the devastating effects of flood and the impact it has on communities at a regional and national level.
“We very much look forward to working together and genuinely making the Humber region a safer place to live and work.”
Bill Blackledge, Director at East Yorkshire-based 2B Landscape Consultancy, said: “We want to be the designers people turn to when they need Sustainable Drainage or Natural Flood Management solutions.
“Partnership with the experts at the Flood Innovation Centre will help to make that a reality.”
The team at FIC works closely alongside sister initiative Aura.
Through the £12m Aura Innovation Centre, Aura helps businesses to realise low-carbon projects, drive green innovation and deliver clean business growth, connecting them with academics to develop carbon-reducing ideas across all sectors.
Earlier this year, plans for Ark – a £15m National Flood Resilience Centre proposed for a site in North Lincolnshire – were unveiled.
If funding is secured, it would create a test bed for research and innovation into flood resilience, as well as provide a simulated environment for emergency services and businesses to better prepare and respond to urban flood events.
Ark would include a street scene – complete with houses and businesses – as well as a fast water rapids course.
The University of Hull, through its Energy & Environment Institute, is also this September launching an MSc Flood Risk Management course.
The first of its kind in the country, it hopes to tackle a national shortage of people with the skills required to build resilience into flood event preparation, response and recovery.
For more information on the FIC, visit https://www.floodinnovation.co.uk/.
[Phil Winter – University of Hull]