Imperial-Sainsbury's partnership

Imperial’s relationship with Sainsbury’s is multifaceted, spanning a number of Faculties and Institutes, with collaborative research addressing challenges related to the sustainable built environment and transport, agri-tech, supply chain decarbonisation and risk assessment, amongst others. To find out more about the broader relationship, please contact Becky Wilson at Corporate Partnerships.

In 2010, Sainsbury’s established a partnership with Imperial College London with the goal of pursuing research that results in reducing carbon footprint from retail activities and thus mitigates the future impacts of climate change. Research has been carried out on a range of multi-disciplinary topics and due to its success the initial 5-year partnership has been renewed.

By being one of the largest food retailers in the UK, Sainsbury's possess a large complex supply chain of food producers, logistics, and shops to optimise. The Partnership is constantly reviewing technologies and innovative approaches to enhance business operations. We encourage researchers and entrepreneurs who are interested in retail sustainability to contact us to share ideas and experiences.

Activities involve Imperial researchers from the Centre for Process System Engineering and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change as well as other departments. Through Imperial’s independent research Sainsbury’s has been able to make informed decisions on energy saving and carbon reduction strategies. Furthermore, Imperial expertise has supported Sainsbury's both in assessing state-of-the-art technologies and in developing models that can enhance business operations.

Highlights of the partnership include:

  • Climate change briefings and workshops to senior management
  • Robust carbon reporting frameworks
  • Impact of low carbon fuels and technologies on the built environment
  • Integrated re-commissioning of energy systems
  • Enhanced control management of HVAC, refrigeration, lighting, and bakery systems
  • Diagnostics and novel indicators of energy system performance
  • Proposing innovative refrigeration system and store design concepts
  • Technology review to deliver cost-effective zero carbon buildings
  • Optimisation models of low carbon investments
  • Comprehensive modelling of UK electricity prices
  • Supply-chain optimisation in food retail operations

Research learnings have been many and the body of work is being showcased in lectures on the Sustainable Energy Futures and Climate Change, Management & Finance MSc Programmes at Imperial College; hence positively impacting the knowledge of students who will later be responsible of applying their skills in the real world.

The partnership is also a collaborator of the EPSRC Future-FM project addressing challenges in monitoring and controlling building performance and the EPSRC iHPC project focusing on enhacing industrial processes - thus making the most of Imperial's research and networking capabilities. 

"It has been a great relationship with both sides gaining valuable insights and we’re really looking forward to continue making breakthroughs that can have a positive impact on the environment" - Paul Crewe, Head of Sustainability, Energy and Engineering at Sainsbury’s
"As a team we plan to work together on using state-of-the-art models to develop new low carbon know-how that helps ensure organisations are well positioned to respond to the effects of climate change" - Prof Nilay Shah, Head of Department of Chemical Engineering
"It has been great working with Sainsbury’s as they implement our suggestions in real world scenarios" - Dr Christos Markides, Reader in Clean Energy Processes