Imperial launches new MSc in Cleantech Innovation | Imperial News

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Posing people with mix of skintones, ages, genders Sanjana Kakar, Elena Dieckmann, Anne Houston, Alyssa Gilbert, Shayan Sharifi, Jim Shaikh, Anna Korre, Kamyar Hazeri, Reshma Rao, Gbemi Oluleye, Naomi




New Master’s programme is designed to nurture budding climate innovators and support a pipeline of intelligent solutions that tackle climate change.

Imperial’s new MSc Cleantech Innovation will bring aspiring climate entrepreneurs, with broad skills and diverse backgrounds, together to create revolutionary cleantech solutions in areas such as energy, materials, manufacturing, water, transport and food.

“I know that we have the potential to bring together the best of scientific expertise, with practical, pragmatic and beautiful design engineering [offering] students access to experts across faculties, as well as real-world innovation experience. Professor Mary Ryan Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise)

The new twelve-month, full-time programme – jointly delivered through Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering and Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment – will allow students to become embedded in Imperial’s thriving climate innovation community, and access a wealth of expertise in climate science, design engineering and business.

The course leads students on a journey to develop an understanding of the role of product design in cleantech innovation and its impact on sustainability, enabling them to apply systems thinking and extract the interrelatedness of social, economic, and environmental dimensions of climate change. By the end of the course, students will be equipped to fulfil a collaborative project that empowers them to craft and pitch their very own cleantech innovations, alongside gaining real-world practice by undertaking a residency project with a startup from The Greenhouse accelerator based at Undaunted.

“At the heart of our course is a year-long, prototyping-intensive innovation project focused on a specific cleantech area”, says Dr Elena Dieckmann, co-director of the course. “Bringing together students from diverse disciplines, this collaborative effort serves as a launchpad for startups to take their ideas to market with a tangible proof-of-concept,” she continues.

Why now?

The launch of this new MSc comes at a critical juncture, as the effects of global warming intensify, and the window for halting climate change rapidly decreases. “I am delighted to see Imperial responding to the global environmental challenges we see around us by spearheading a solutions-oriented approach to one our most intractable global challenges”, says Professor Mary Ryan, Vice Provost for Research and Enterprise. “I know that we have the potential to bring together the best of scientific expertise, with practical, pragmatic and beautiful design engineering. This course should offer students access to experts across faculties, as well as real-world innovation experience in the world of cleantech. We look forward to welcoming our first cohort of students”.

Undaunted collage

What’s needed in the face of climate change are practical innovations that can make a real difference urgently, and at a scale never achieved before, says Alyssa Gilbert, Director of Innovation at the Grantham Institute and Director of Undaunted:

“I am a real believer in the power of human ingenuity to deliver creative solutions to our most pressing global challenges. I cannot wait to bring together a group of talented individuals from different backgrounds to propel us towards the future we need.”

Career prospects beyond the MSc Cleantech Innovation

We need to equip the future workforce with talented leaders who understand climate and environmental challenges… This programme will provide the students with the knowledge and skills to have significant impact in their careers. Anne Houston Director of Training, Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment

A key aim for this programme is to draw in a wide range of students from diverse backgrounds and contexts, including design engineers, architects and industrial designers, who are passionate about making a difference and complementing each other’s skills through their teamwork and cohort-based activities.

“We need to equip the future workforce with talented leaders who understand climate and environmental challenges and can seek various solutions to address these, whether it be by creating a new business as an entrepreneur, or as an intrapreneur from working from within an existing organisation”, says Anne Houston, Director of Training at Imperial’s Grantham Institute. “This programme will provide the students with the knowledge and skills to have significant impact in their careers.”

Upon completion, it is expected that students will be equipped with the skills to seek employment in a range of roles in the cleantech sector and environmental engineering industry, or continue with their own startups, join other cleantech startups, or take on consultancy roles. Roles in product management of cleantech and environmental engineering companies and within companies focusing on sustainable engineering and sustainable product design will also be relevant.

A thriving climate innovation ecosystem

Although this is a new programme, Imperial’s worldclass expertise across design engineering, climate science and business are well-established, as is its thriving climate innovation ecosystem.

The College encourages budding student climate innovators, via activities such as the Climate Entrepreneurs Club, Imperial Enterprise Lab and Advanced Hackspace; supports early-stage climate startups, via Climate Launchpad and The Greenhouse; and bridges gaps to allow scale up and commercialisation for green tech companies, including at its campus in the White City Innovation District and Institute for Deep Tech Entrepreneurship.

Meet some of Imperial’s alumni who’ve built green businesses around their climate tech innovations…

Pierre Paslier – Notpla

Studying at Imperial gave me the tools to turn my passion for sustainability into a business focused on solving the global plastic pollution crisis. The multidisciplinary nature of Imperial is ideal to become a climate innovator and tech entrepreneur.

Pierre PaslierPierre founded Notpla, along with his co-founder Rodrigo Garcia, while both were postgraduate students at Imperial in 2014. The team received support from the Imperial Enterprise Lab and Imperial White City Incubator, and also took part in Undaunted’s climate accelerator programme. Notpla’s seaweed-based biodegradable alternative to plastic led them to win a £1m 2022 Earthshot Prize.

Reka Tron – Multus

Imperial has been very supportive to us over different phases of our venture building – from initial ideation about refining what we are building and understanding our potential climate impact, to helping us access various resources, partnerships in the later stages by being located in the heart of the White City campus.

Reka co-founded Multus with fellow students from the departments of Life Sciences and Bioengineering, who met through Imperial’s Synthetic Biology Society. In January 2023 the team announced having raised £7.9 million from investors to support further R&D on growth media for cultivated meat and the transition to manufacturing its first commercial products.

Reka Tron, Cai Linton and Kevin Pan of Multus
Reka Tron, Cai Linton and Kevin Pan of Multus

Liz Lee – CarbonCell

Studying at Imperial connected me to a broad network of designers, engineers, and researchers working to combat climate change, and prepared me to tackle the types of messy, interdisciplinary, and complex problems facing our society and planet.

Liz LeeLiz Lee is co-founder CarbonCell, who are on a mission to make polystyrene waste a thing of the past. CarbonCell’s founders are Imperial alumni, and currently part of Cohort 5 of Undaunted’s The Greenhouse climate accelerator.

David Prior Hope – FIBE

Inspired by the climate entrepreneurs from Imperial College, I decided to study at the Dyson School. At the heart of the education is a deep-rooted promotion of sustainability; the analytical philosophy coupled with the encouraged independence enables students to develop genuinely meaningful innovations.

David is co-founder of Fibe, a company that makes sustainable fibres for textiles out of potato waste. Fibe’s material uses 99.7% less water, no additional land and produces 82% less CO2e than cotton. Fibe’s co-founders all studied at Imperial College London and the team is currently part of The Greenhouse Cohort 5.

FIBE's co-founders in the lab
FIBE’s co-founders in the lab

Chloe So – Pulpatronics

The Imperial environment provided us the platform to develop cutting edge research into sustainable innovations that could drive real world impact. The volume and quality of resources and support covering all aspects of starting a cleantech spinout we’ve received has been astonishing.

Chloe So is co-founder of Pulpatronics, a company that’s developing revolutionary paper-based alternatives to traditional RFID tags, minimising resource consumption, simplifying manufacturing processes, and streamlining recycling. Their design holds immense potential in reducing waste and environmental impact while ensuring an efficient and seamless supply chain. Chole and her co-founders are Imperial alumni and also currently part of The Greenhouse Cohort 5.

Pulpatronics co-founders
Pulpatronics co-founders

Find out more about the MSc Cleantech Innovation

Find out more in depth information about the new MSc Cleantech Innovation including programme structure, eligibility criteria, and details on how to apply on Imperial’s postgraduate prospectus. 

Got a question? Email the team at: [email protected]

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