The Imperial-Iota-Infrastructures Lab
Founded in 2022 with a generous donation from the IOTA Foundation, the Imperial I3-Lab is a joint initiative between the Imperial College London (Dyson School of Design Engineering), the IOTA Foundation, the Imperial College Transition to Zero Pollution initiative, and industry partners.
The mission of the I3-Lab is to act as a lighthouse for translational research activities in the area of the circular economy and in related areas. Roughly speaking, the Circular Economy refers to new economic models that seek to decouple economic growth from resource consumption; thereby promoting the elimination of waste and the continual use of resources. Traditional Circular Economy research has focussed, to a large extent, on new materials to underpin circularity, or methods to promote efficient material flows. An important, but often overlooked aspect of the circular economy, is the aspect of behavioural change. Consumer behaviour is driven by ownership models that support sole-ownership of both expensive and cheap consumer goods. Circularity is not served well by such models. Indeed, service based models, in which goods are never owned by consumers, has the potential to transform society for the good of everyone. Advantages of service based models include the following.
(a) Facilitation of waste collection at end-of-life. Since all goods are centrally owned, and and not distributed throughout society, waste is easier to collect.
(b) Durability. Since service providers sell access, rather than ownership, durability is promoted rather that the current cheap but safe model of manufacturing.
(c) Access poverty. Eliminate new forms of poverty by removing upfront costs and giving all citizens fair and equal access to good choices.
(d) Nudges: The ability to manage consumption and pollution through pricing strategies.
(e). Ethical and fair busines models. Promote ethical business models.
The added value of the I3-Lab is our focus on the co-design of new digital infrastructures, technologies, and analytics, that will enable widespread servitization of goods and services, rather than focussing traditional areas such as new types of materials, and specific material flows. Resolving the technology issues to enable servitization at scale gives rise to frontier challenges in several areas of engineering embracing new notions of ownership and behavioural change. The objective of the I3-Lab is to promote these goals by developing these digital tools and to demonstrate their utility in real use-cases that promote circularity.