Creative innovation collective, Ethos VO is launching a new project that will help the UK’s towns and cities build back better after Covid-19. Ethos will partner with Guildford Borough Council and ecollective to design a new technology that will enable local authorities to support truly sustainable development. The initiative, ‘A city-led recovery through Total Impact Visibility’ – addresses the need to manage economic growth that is inclusive, responsible, and lasting.

Ethos VO has been partnering with Guildford Borough Council for some time to develop Smart City applications. Ethos technology is already in place that enables the council to manage parking in the city.

Ethos’s technology will provide a Total Impact Visibility tool which identifies and values non-financial impact. Using artificial intelligence to analyse local data, the initiative helps councils to understand the balance between the positive and negative impacts generated by decisions. By valuing social, environmental, and economic impacts, council leaders would be able to compare the total impacts of their policy choices instead of relying solely on economic return.

The feasibility study of the concept developed by Ethos, has been made possible by an award of £59k from Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund.

Ethos Partner, Adrian Segens, says,

The funding from Innovate UK is a vital first step to produce a tool that can become a regular part of local government methodology. If the study continues to go well we will have shown that we can enable local authorities to get a holistic view of the risks and opportunities to maintain a positive impact on community, the environment, education and health – balancing the needs of people, place and planet.

The initial focus of the project is rebuilding a sustainable visitor economy for Guildford, post-pandemic. Like all UK local authorities, Guildford are working hard to help rebuild their local economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. They already have an innovation strategy in place that balances economic growth with the protection of their considerable natural capital assets as well as a commitment to becoming a net zero carbon borough.

As a prime destination for shopping, entertainment and a base for exploring the Surrey Hills AONB, Guildford’s hospitality sector has been hit hard by the decline in visitors during lockdown. At the end of the initiative’s first three months, will be able to show the value of the borough’s visitor attractions, not only in economic terms but also how they impact upon the environment and health of Guildford. The initiative will also have developed a tool with which Guildford Borough Council can monitor this data at all times.

The launch of is part of UK Research and Innovation’s £191 million investment for research and development projects over the next two years as part of its Sustainable Innovation Fund. The aim of this investment is to help all sectors of the UK rebuild after the effects of COVID-19.

Innovate UK Executive Chair, Dr Ian Campbell said:

In these difficult times we have seen the best of British business innovation. The pandemic is not just a health emergency but one that impacts society and the economy., along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through the Sustainable Innovation Fund, is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development. Each one is also helping to realise the ambitions of hard-working people.

Consortium Partners

Lead Partner Ethos VO
ETHOS is a creative innovation collective led by a network of social entrepreneurs with one common goal: to create sustainable and innovative solutions that improve human life, work and well-being for all. It aims to think and operate beyond the confines of traditional disciplines and silos to help tackle real problems and create positive social outcomes.

Guildford Borough Council
The initiative is working towards solutions to the requirements of fundamental themes in the Council’s vision for the future of Guildford: Place-making, Community and Innovation – meeting its aim to be the most desirable place to live, work and visit in South East England by 2023.

ecollective is a consultancy that finds ways to reduce carbon emissions in the leisure, tourism and travel sectors.

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation. It’s Small Business Research Initiative enables the public sector to engage with industry during the early stages of development, supporting projects through the stages of feasibility and prototyping.

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