Lancashire at the forefront of women-led eco-engineering revolution to tackle climate crisis

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With International Women in Engineering Day taking place at the end of June, Lancaster University’s Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory (LCEI) program, which promotes closer collaboration between academia and industry to help create more of low-carbon goods, services and processes in Lancashire.

Since its launch in 2015, the LCEI has supported 350 companies and saved 10,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases. Delivered by Lancaster University’s Center for Global Eco-Innovation, it is led by engineer and environmental scientist Jess Davies, who works as a professor of sustainability at the university.

“One of the biggest challenges for women entering engineering is seeing it as a profession for them,” says Jess. “Having great female role models is hugely important and while there have been great strides, events like International Women in Engineering Day help celebrate them.

Professor Jess Davies of Lancaster University

“We want to encourage SMEs to take a leading role in addressing climate and environmental emergencies, but it’s also important that we champion the diversity of these innovators to help overcome barriers and change culture and norms. traditional,” adds Jess.

“We can contribute to change by diversifying networks; we need diverse perspectives and lived experiences to better understand the many dimensions of the problem. And we’re going to need all the creativity that comes with diversity to help us find good solutions to the big environmental problems of our time.

Autentica Parts, based in the North West, is one of the women-led businesses to have benefited from the scheme. Enabling engineers to share 3D-printable part designs anywhere in the world, the company is the brainchild of Irma Gilbert and has been developed through access to academic expertise and cutting-edge resources offered by the LCEI.

“As a woman at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I needed someone to believe in my ambition,” says Irma. “I saw an opportunity to create a marketplace where engineers could share their part and component designs, which could then be uploaded to a platform, licensed, and downloaded by customers all over the world.”

Irma Gilbert, Founder and CEO of Autentica Parts

Thanks to the LCEI, Irma was able to conduct more research and hire a fully-funded intern who helped create a prototype for the platform, which now has clients in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America. Autentica Parts now operates in services as diverse as automotive, electronics, consumer goods, medical, heavy machinery and energy.

They have also successfully decarbonized their manufacturing supply chain, reducing customer transportation and logistics costs by 70%, lead times from three months to 24 hours, and CO2 emissions by up to 40%. Irma now leads a team of four and expects a turnover of £6million by 2025.

“We are truly indebted to the support offered by LCEI and the expertise of Lancaster University, which boosted my ideas to create a platform transforming supply chains, reducing carbon emissions and building a sustainable future” , adds Irma.

“Irma [is a] great example to show what women can achieve in engineering,” continues Jess. “We are delighted to hear that the kind of access to opportunities, resources and support we have provided has helped their development as leaders in eco-innovation.”

Lancaster University
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