By Daniel Hunter

A new national competition worth £3 million to drive forward the UK’s green growth agenda will be launched by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today (Friday).

The Green Genius - or ‘Greenius’ - contest will look for solutions to questions of food, water and energy security, such as how to keep bills down for consumers and businesses, how to better manage our food and water resources, and ensure a secure supply of clean, green and reliable energy.

Entrepreneurs and businesses will be invited to compete for £3million to fund the further development and commercialisation of innovative technologies. The Deputy Prime Minister will launch the contest before leaving the Rio+20 summit in Brazil, where he has argued for the importance of using natural resources sustainably for long-term prosperity. Under current projections, by 2030 the world will need at least 50% more food, 45% more energy, and 30% more water, and this will need to be produced without further damaging the environment.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“When it comes to green innovation, Britain is a world leader. The ‘green’ sector is worth 8 per cent of UK GDP — the largest proportion of any of the leading industrial G20 nations — and employs almost 940,000 people - up 2.8% from last year. Sales in the green economy are also growing at a rate of 4.7%.

“Now we want the very best of Britain’s green talent to set their minds to some of the toughest challenges facing the country today — how to keep bills down for households and businesses and ensure we manage our food, water and energy supplies more sustainably.”

The competition will be run by the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s Innovation Agency and will begin later this year. The focus will be on searching for sustainable solutions in the areas of energy, food and water. Successful projects will aim to develop technologies that secure long-term resource security, are economically and environmentally affordable and which support improvements in the natural environment and wellbeing.

As well as helping the planet, green innovations save businesses money too. Green industries are booming in the UK and there is enormous potential for growth. The green economy is worth an estimated £3.3 trillion globally and is growing.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“Low carbon industries have a key role to play in building strong, sustainable and balanced growth. There is great potential for our world leading companies and engineers to be at the forefront of developing new technologies which can help combat some of the most pressing issues facing all of us. By helping to bring those ideas to market we can not only benefit our economy, but also the environment.”

Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman said:

“UK businesses, engineers and scientists are known all over the world for coming up with solutions to the most difficult problems. Through this new competition we are asking them to come forward with their ideas on how to tackle three of the most urgent issues we face - the problems of food, energy and water sustainability. The solutions are out there and I look forward to seeing what the best of British innovators can come up with.”

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey said:

“To tackle climate change and move to a clean energy system, we need to change the way people use and think about energy. UK business is ideally placed to come up with some of the creative solutions that could help. That is why DECC are putting £1 million into this scheme, which will encourage innovation and give UK entrepreneurs a step up”.

The Greenius competition will play on the UK’s strong track record in green innovation, which has also been showcased at this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. The London 2012 Olympics are aiming to be the most sustainable games of modern times. This includes some green innovations such as the velodrome’s steel cable-net roof, which uses about one tenth the amount of steel as a comparable standard roof construction. As well as needing less steel, this saved almost £6m in reduced foundation costs and resulted in embodied carbon savings of over 27%.

By using water efficient fittings, rainwater harvesting, filter backwash recycling as well as the Old Ford Water Recycling Plant, the Olympic Park is on track to exceed its target of reducing potable water use by 40 per cent. The Old Ford Water Recycling Plant is the first treatment works of its kind in the UK. This unique recycling plant will convert raw sewage into a non-potable supply of water for use in toilet flushing, irrigation and cooling the water in the Energy Centre via a separate non-potable water distribution network.

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