Cardiff-based SCREENswitch receives £1.2m in Government funding

Thursday July 29, 2021

As part of the UK government’s commitment to achieving carbon net zero, it has announced a major new round of funding. Under the Sustainable Innovation Fund (SIF) the Cardiff-based project SCREENswitch has been awarded over £1.2 million to invest in the development of its revolutionary retractable partition screen designed to improve safety and hygiene in hospitals all across the UK.

SCREENswitch is one of nineteen new tech projects around the country to receive government support. The SCREENswitch project has been recognised for its environmentally responsible contribution to the control and reduction of infection.

Innovation that protects the environment

The thinking behind SCREENswitch is deceptively simple and was inspired by the many challenges created in the health service by mandatory social distancing demands made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic. The idea was to develop a completely hygienic retractable partition screen which at the touch of a button can switch between opaque and transparent. This would allow patients the freedom to choose between visibility and complete privacy. As the screen is a permanent and multi-use fixture it provides a highly sustainable solution.

Before the innovative minds behind SCREENswitch set to work, hospitals had to make use of single-use disposable curtains. As if the sheer wastefulness of this were not enough, its ramifications for the environment were seen to be serious, especially at a time when the universal adoption of disposable face masks had already been having dire consequences.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund (SIF)

The SIF was introduced in 2020 to distribute £200 million among cutting-edge businesses. Its aim is not only to promote development and innovation but also to help in the economic recovery of the nation after the worst impacts of the coronavirus. It is managed by the government’s innovation agency Innovate UK.

Simon Hart MP, the Secretary of State for Wales, is understandably pleased to see a Cardiff-based operation receive such significant support. In making the announcement, he emphasised his government’s commitment to ‘cutting carbon emissions and achieving net zero’ by helping ‘to fund and contribute to the development of the latest sustainable projects and supporting innovators who have the ability to execute them’. He also welcomed the recognition of a Welsh project by the fund ‘as they, and each of the projects included, will help us to build back better from the pandemic’.

Innovate UK is dedicated to identifying and supporting businesses who show a real determination to contribute responsibly, effectively and sustainably to the reduction of carbon emissions and the achievement of net zero. Simon Edmonds is the agency’s Deputy Executive Chair and Chief Business Officer. 

Commenting on this first round of awards, he praised the recipients, stating that ‘UK innovators have risen to the challenge of the pandemic to come up with big, bold ideas to help the economy roar back in a sustainable way. By supporting enterprise and academia all over the country, Innovate UK is backing not only business but our net-zero goals’.

The SCREENswitch project is precisely the kind of initiative that needs to be supported. It tackles issues that the average person might never even consider, but which can make a huge difference to the future health of the planet.

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