Prosperity, Academia, and the Faraday Grid Prize for Research for Industry

Last week, Founder and Chief Technology Officer Matthew Williams travelled to the University of Manchester to award the first ever Faraday Grid Prize for Research for Industry. This prize recognises rigorous academic research with strong industrial applicability. It is also a great example of Faraday’s drive to enable collaboration among the academic and private sector thereby catalysing societal progress. Read Matthew’s article below to find out why he believes collaboration is a key pillar for building future prosperity.

Our society has never had it so good: we live longer and at a higher standard than ever, earn more in two weeks than did in a whole year a few centuries ago, and have unprecedented control over our world. And we have a chance – the best chance ever – to progress welfare globally. Faraday’s vision is to take this chance and enable a prosperous future for everyone, in a way that is sustainable for generations to come.

Energy is a primary driver of productivity and our economy globally. Prosperity has grown significantly with the increase of energy usage, but this has come at an environmental cost. As society has reached higher living standards, our desire for a cleaner environment has increased, driving investment and innovation in renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, and others. Underlying constraints in the physics of how we move and use energy are now threatening to boil over and disrupt the balance that our economy and lifestyle has been built upon.

Author and lecturer in history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yuval Noah Harari believes that nothing other, but our unique ability to work together with almost any member of our species allowed humankind to thrive and continue to grow.

Accordingly, we should not expect any single insight, company, or institution to deliver a prosperous future alone. Success will require a collaborative effort across a number of fields. We have to come together, share and combine innovative ideas and technology, and open doors where there were walls before.

We designed our system to be an enabling platform for future technologies; to encourage, rather than restrict evolving innovation. The energy field already sees an exciting diversification of emerging technologies, and making sure these solutions complement and advance each other is key. At Faraday we are committed to working with a wide ecosystem in order to deliver the optimal systemic outcome. An important part of this is collaboration is with academia.

We are determined to assist universities and research institutions in better understanding what outcomes are most desired by industry and society. Moreover, we actively help to transition this research from the theoretical and the laboratory into the real world.

This will enable research to be increasingly focused on delivering improvements that can be developed into the market and increase prosperity for everyone. The human intellectual labour that goes into academic research is a resource, and optimising that resource, like any another can lead to a systemic productivity gain.

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We created the Faraday Grid Prize for Research for Industry to reward those who recognise this need for fusion of perspectives and incorporated it into their research already. Last week, I travelled to the University of Manchester to present this award at the Manchester Energy and Electrical Power Systems Workshop.

In the future, we will continue to further strengthen our international and interdisciplinary collaborations, and bring together a network of thinkers and innovators to work with us towards realising Faraday’s vision. It will be a collective effort to revolutionise the energy system to suit our future needs – and ultimately, it will be a collective success.