If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else — making partnerships and community work for net zero

Centre for Net Zero
Jul 21 · 4 min read

Hello world!

My name is Steve and I’ve joined Centre for Net Zero to help the team source, secure and manage our partnerships across tech, academia, industry, NGOs, think-tanks, the media and anyone else that can help us! I’m inspired by the words of Booker T. Washington, African-American leader in the late 19th century: ‘if you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else’. Without building collaboration, the change we need won’t happen.

I was attracted to CNZ because of the people, the vision, the partners that we can attract and the impact that we can make. It also presented an opportunity to leverage my former roles in consultancy, academia and government.

Making an impact

I worked for five years on the inside of the public sector — and it’s now time to make a difference on the outside.

Following my experience in local and central government, I’m convinced that I’ll have a bigger impact in a place like Centre for Net Zero than I did as a civil servant building teams, influencing ministers, and setting down processes for an emotive and radical service. I’m also looking forward to speaking to more people (like I did on podcasts on smart cities and panels on new government technologies) about the benefits of both government, industry and consumer choices for net zero.

Getting partnerships together

I’m excited about working with potential partners across the energy and technology sectors, academia and government.

As the head of science policy at the NHS Covid-19 App, I took responsibility for getting help for the app on the science of exposure notifications, digital contact tracing, and bluetooth connectivity from the Oxford Big Data Institute and from the Alan Turing Institute. I managed our partnerships between these academic organisations and the government in the middle of our Covid-19 response in the UK government. You can read about the epidemiological impact in a recent publication in Nature!

When I was working for the Mayor of London, I managed an entire trade stand for London at the Smart City Expo World Congress. I recruited smart city and emerging technology partners that London wanted to put on display and organised a symposium of London’s best thinkers, innovators and government officials over three days. The result was London’s reputation for exporting and investment in smart city technologies — and the next year London was a finalist at the same Expo as the City of the Year. I then developed more civic innovation challenges in transport and wellbeing, partnering with tech accelerators, academics, and the health innovation networks to promote ideas from new London startups; and a new regeneration report for the use of technology in high streets.

Being in a new organisation

Joining an initiative in its formative stage is attractive and I’ve loved those experiences in the past. I’ve been the first person in my position in multiple organisations, from future cities and smart cities to data policy. During the initial response to the current pandemic, I led the science and data analytics team for the NHS Covid-19 App — the biggest challenge of my career so far. I think the same adrenaline rush will be coming later in 2021 as CNZ gears up ahead of COP26!

What I’ll be doing here — partnerships and community

Here at Centre for Net Zero, I’ll be focused on:

  • Developing agreements with our partners
  • Writing joint manifestos and joint white papers with others
  • Bidding with others for research and implementation contracts
  • Growing a research community, with a focus on open technology, software engineering, open data, and energy systems modelling and simulation
  • Working with others to put on real world demonstrators and events

To give you a flavour about my first couple of weeks of work, I’ve spent time cataloguing the partnerships discussions that the Centre for Net Zero have had before I came on board, judged open technology awards, had tea with everyone, and had my first day in the office since July 2020!

Hanging out in our office at The Royal Institution

You can see a recent result of a partnership from London Climate Action Week this June. ‘London’s Burning (Fossil Fuels)’ took a data-driven look at how the capital can wean itself off fossil fuels through an increased adoption of heat pumps. We partnered with Advanced Infrastructure Technology (AIT) to produce a demonstrator of London’s future heat requirements. CNZ produced a map of future electricity demand and AIT overlaid this map onto its model of electricity generation, carbon intensity and flows.

Working with the best people

The people here are wonderful. The leadership of the centre are thought leaders in the energy sector and open technology. I couldn’t think of a better place to lend my experience from consultancy and academica to being a government official.

I also really enjoyed having ‘virtual tea’ with other team members that have joined before me:

Get in touch

Together at Centre for Net Zero, we bring experience from venture building, artificial intelligence, open source, energy and government. If you want to develop partnerships to develop faster, fairer, and more affordable paths to net zero, and secure our planet’s future for future generations, do get in touch! I’m at stephen@centrefornetzero.org

Centre for Net Zero

An open research lab that uses data-driven modelling and simulation to provide the critical insights that policy makers need to take bold climate action.

Centre for Net Zero

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Open Research Lab, realising faster, fairer and more affordable paths to Net Zero. Powered by Octopus Energy

Centre for Net Zero

An open research lab that uses data-driven modelling and simulation to provide the critical insights that policy makers need to take bold climate action.