Partnerships to power the future at Harwell


The power of partnership is what drives U+I. It’s through partnering with others, both through formal Public Private Partnerships and through working alongside communities, organisations, architects and builders that we are able to create places which are even better than what we could have created on our own.

Partnership is also what’s been driving growth at Harwell Campus, a private public partnership between Harwell Oxford Partners and U+I, plus two Government backed agencies, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (UKRI STFC) and the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). It’s just been announced that Harwell’s EnergyTec cluster – established just six months ago – has already grown 17 per cent. The cluster is a partnership between 35 industry, academic and public organisations working on the Campus, and includes The Faraday Institution, Siemens and EDF Energy alongside fast-growing start-ups, collectively employing around 900 people.

The cluster is driving forward new technologies which will help face the energy challenges of the future – whether that’s energy storage and battery technologies, or carbon neutral alternatives to fossil fuels. And it’s doing that through collaboration across disciplines and sectors. The 26 organisations from Harwell’s other clusters, which focus on space and health, now also have technologies or applications being used in the energy sector, testament to the powerful advantage of working in close proximity one another and sharing thoughts, data and discoveries.

Harwell is now looking to grow this collaboration further. The campus is currently seeking partners to put in bids to the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, a £170 million fund which aims to attract innovators, investors and problem solvers to create low-carbon exemplars that others in the UK can learn from and replicate.

Harwell is a great example of the far-reaching benefits successful PPP can bring – not just to investors and developers, but to the communities that use the final development. It’s also a lesson in taking the long view – an essential part of any successful partnership. We’ve been involved in the partnership at Harwell since 2014, and the continued growth and new discoveries emerging from the campus are a powerful reminder that the success of a development isn’t just measured by how nice it looks on the day the opening ribbons are cut, but by the life, successes and collaborations it gives birth to in the years that follow.