Cranfield University will receive a £3 million donation over the next three academic years to develop the next generation of leaders committed to creating a sustainable planet, and support research and business initiatives focused on tackling climate change and achieving net zero.

The donation has been provided by Green Future Investments Ltd (GFIL), an organisation established to continue the environmental work and legacy of entrepreneur and ex-IBM engineer Brian Meredith.

GFIL’s focus is in innovative and technological organisations or projects which seek to tackle the challenges arising from climate change. Partnering with Cranfield University in a multi-faceted programme, a series of donations will support students, staff, alumni and research projects focused on sustainability and green initiatives.

Cranfield University’s Professor Chris Fogwill, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the School of Water, Energy and Environment, said: “This investment will unlock huge opportunities for so many. It is a significant step in our ambitions to create solutions that will help us create a more sustainable world through innovation.”

Supporting innovative ideas and technology

The GFIL donation will support ideas and research at all Technology Readiness Levels from development through to deployment and commercialisation.

The GFIL Future Frontiers Fund will support some of the most innovative ideas, products, and technologies around sustainability and climate change solutions. Each year grants will be awarded to innovators in February, May and September.

The GFIL Technology Accelerator Fund is designed to support businesses and individuals in proving that the product, service, or technology can work on a practical scale. Each year Cranfield will make six awards to innovators to take ideas from benchtop to prototype product.

The GFIL Green Future Entrepreneurship Fund aims to support the next generation of Cranfield businesses and is designed to encourage innovation around tackling the climate crisis. There are three aspects to the Green Future Entrepreneurship Fund: the Green Seed Fund; Ready for Net Zero Growth programme scholarships; and Student Entrepreneurship Prizes.

Scholarships for sustainability leaders of the future

In addition, the first cohort of postgraduate students set to benefit from the The Brian Meredith Net Zero Scholarship programme, funded by GFIL, began their studies at Cranfield this October.

Successful students are awarded the scholarships by demonstrating a commitment to helping achieve the net zero targets of the future. The scholarships – totalling £20,000 each – will cover tuition fees and living expenses.

Funded courses included as part of the initiative are listed on the Cranfield University website, and include MSc qualifications in Advanced Water Management, Environmental Engineering, Food Systems and Management, Global Environmental Change, Water and Sanitation for Development, and Renewable Energy.

Exciting partnership will deliver practical solutions

Professor Fogwill said that the new initiative will resonate across the globe: “With ten fully funded studentships per year supported by the Brian Meredith Net Zero Scholarship Programme, GFIL's investment and partnership with Cranfield will benefit communities globally, creating leaders who will make the difference during this critical decade for people and the planet.”

Professor Phil Hart, Director of Energy and Sustainability at Cranfield University, said: “You can tell from the moment you speak to Green Future Investments that they live and breathe their singular mission of supporting positive climate change initiatives.

“The ambitions, values, ethics and ethos of both our organisations are so closely aligned that I am confident we will do great things as a result of this exciting partnership.

“A programme like this will allow us and other UK innovators to investigate ideas and develop and deliver solutions which will make a real tangible difference towards our collective net zero ambitions.”

Sadie Meredith, Director of Green Future Investments Ltd, said: “We specifically targeted Cranfield University as a partner of choice based on the excellent applied research they deliver, their commitment and approach to their students and the impressive facilities they have on site. We are delighted with the partnership being developed between both teams and feel excited and confident that together we will achieve some great outcomes for the climate emergency and the sustainability of our planet.”

Andy Rounding, Director of GFIL, added: “This funding will enable future leaders and entrepreneurs to have confidence to look at innovative ideas to find solutions which will make a difference. It is going to be fascinating to see what ideas come forward and to work with people who clearly demonstrate a shared vision of addressing the climate problem.”

You can find out more information or apply for the GFIL scholarships here.