Thames Valley based City Farm Systems has been selected by the RBS Innovation Gateway. 26 finalists pitched their green inventions to a panel of judges in a bid to test their new products in selected RBS buildings and branches in the UK. 

The RBS Innovation Gateway, launched in March this year, has three aims; to help RBS save more energy, water and waste; to nurture new, brilliant ideas and help local innovators and SMEs to accelerate their ideas to market. The project attracted more than 140 submissions in just 40 days, from brand new concepts through to market-ready products and services. The ideas came from innovators and small businesses (SMEs) from around the UK and the world, including the US, Australia and Europe. 

The innovation submitted by City Farm Systems is their patent pending technology that allows them to create the most economically viable urban farming facilities at the point of retail or major consumption.

Jonathan Lodge, CEO at City Farm Systems said: “we may not show direct savings in a building’s energy costs but we do make sure that every unit entering a building is used more fully – and avoid the need to pay for much more elsewhere. Most commercial rooftops are less than ideal for Solar PV and hold little more than air handling units. No matter how efficient these may be they are, by definition, a means of dumping excess heat and CO2 – both of which traditional growers are paying to produce. If there is a substantial need for fresh produce in the building below there is no better way to make savings across the Triple Bottom Line than to grow it on the roof.”

Announcing City Farm Systems as a successful innovator, Marcela Navarro from RBS, who is leading the Innovation Gateway initiative, said: “Everyone connected with the RBS Innovation Gateway has been incredibly impressed by the innovators’ creativity and dedication to resource efficiency. The quality and the range of ideas have been phenomenal and City Farm Systems stand out from a great group of brilliant innovators.”

Over the last six months an independent panel of experts from academia and the business world has worked with RBS to analyse each submission, to assess how they could help drive resource efficiency if the innovation was installed on the RBS estate. The judging panel was made up of Caroline Rainbird, Director of Corporate Services of RBS, Ed Craig, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship of ECCI, Stephen Howard, CEO of BITC, Maggie Philbin, CEO of Teen Tech and former presenter of Tomorrow’s World, John Elkington – CEO Volans and Martin Chilcott, CEO 2degrees. 

As well as helping RBS to save more energy, water and waste, the Innovation Gateway aims to support innovation and to help SMEs accelerate their access to market. 

Jonathan Lodge said: “It has never been enough to have a brilliant idea. Bringing a new innovation to market has always needed many additional skills. Over the past year RBS has brought together a fine assortment of academics and industry specialists both to assess the innovations and to help us understand how we can focus our approach to potential customers. Working away on innovations can be very lonely. Bringing us together for several workshops has helped us all. It is wonderful to be amongst people so passionate about what they do and many times we have been able to help each other. RBS are rightly proud of what the Gateway has achieved. It has brought us to the attention of a wider audience than we hoped for and helped open many more doors for us. City Farm Systems has moved along the intended development path faster than believed was possible in January. We expect to be able to announce news of a project working in collaboration with RBS’ contract caterer and facilities management soon.”

Three years ago RBS set a target to reduce the bank’s energy and water consumption by 15% and they are currently on track to achieve this. RBS currently uses 1173 GWh of energy per year and it is initiatives such as the gateway that will help to further reduce consumption. 

For more information
City Farm Systems Ltd
Jonathan Lodge
T: +44(0) 1184 403 435 
M: +44(0)7974 734 435