Our challenge is to find ways that we can create a nuturing environment
Regular readers of RAC will be in no doubt that innovation is a key theme. That is exactly how it should be, as the constant pressure to deliver lower carbon, lower emissions, lower energy and lower cost requires a consistent stream of new ideas.
The industry has to be agile as well as resourceful – take refrigerants, where the supply chain has worked hard to adapt equipment and methods to work with CO2 and hydrocarbons. Now the industry has to prepare as HFOs are coming. (We are holding another Question Time to tackle this – more details on p31).
But it is important not to take this capacity for innovation for granted. Given rac’s combination of highly engineered systems and applications that have bespoke requirements, the ‘D’ in R&D is vital.
The SIRAC network, founded to foster relations between researchers and industry, faces a dilemma symptomatic of the industry (see Agenda overleaf). It has an important role as an incubator of fledgling rac ideas, but its future depends on support from industry – and that doesn’t just mean money.
Rac’s structure is challenging: its generators of ideas are often individuals, while the ‘industry’ mostly consists of small-ish companies. Major benefactors for ideas factories are thus few and far between. Government funding isn’t exactly sloshing around either. These three facts are linked.
So, our challenge is to create an environment where rac ideas and those that develop them are acknowledged as an early part of the supply chain and nurtured, where industry resources are channelled, and where the government can be convinced of the real influence of the industry.
We at RAC will be supporting those at the frontiers of rac technology with more coverage of researchers’ work around the world and more involvement with SIRAC and the Institute of Refrigeration. That includes supporting the Annual Dinner – I hope you will too.
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