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Retrofitted Entopia Building opens as CISL base with Canopy hub sparking green innovation





The first official member of CISL’s newly-launched Canopy business hub is Monumo, the electromagnetic engineering company setting out to reinvent the electric motor.

The Entopia Building which now houses Canopy, CISL’s new green startup hub. Picture: SOLK Photography Ltd/Architype
The Entopia Building which now houses Canopy, CISL’s new green startup hub. Picture: SOLK Photography Ltd/Architype

The recently completed retrofit of the Entopia Building, a 1930s former telephone exchange, has created a new home for the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and its Canopy business hub.

The project team for the new look included 3PM, Architype, BDP, Envision Group, Eve Waldron Design, Feilden+Mawson, Gardiner & Theobald, ISG, Max Fordham LLP, and the University of Cambridge.

More than 60 per cent of furniture was reused, with an emphasis on bio-based materials and procurement from UK sources and suppliers. What used to be a 1930s telephone exchange is now a world-leading example of green architecture.

Eve Waldron said: “We thoroughly enjoyed our involvement for this exciting retrofit. Our work on the interior design has been both stimulating and technically challenging in order to satisfy both stringent sustainability and wellness criteria – while making sure the aesthetic design is uplifting, joyful and reflects our client’s ambitions and mission.”

Adhering to reused materials and sustainability principles has turned CISL from a 1930s to a retrofitted green building. Picture: Jack Hobhouse
Adhering to reused materials and sustainability principles has turned CISL from a 1930s to a retrofitted green building. Picture: Jack Hobhouse

Clare Shine, CEO and director of CISL, said.“Eve Waldron Design brought enthusiasm and creativity to our fast-paced project – a flagship retrofit for Cambridge.”

The Canopy hub within the building was launched by the then Prince of Wales earlier this year and opened its doors to businesses last month. It is an incubation hub for start-ups leading the way in green innovation. The community is open to entrepreneurs creating sustainability solutions, as well as SMEs wanting to integrate sustainability into the core of their business operations.

As well as being a virtual ecosystem which allows small businesses to network, Canopy also has a physical workspace in CISL’s new Entopia Building. Canopy members can connect with CISL’s 140 staff, working on green initiatives with international actors in business, government and finance. They become part of CISL’s established network of 27,000 sustainability leaders representing every industry on every continent.

CISL is located in the Entopia building, which includes the Canopy hub
CISL is located in the Entopia building, which includes the Canopy hub

Members can also apply to join Canopy Accelerator programmes. Delivered across a breadth of sustainability impact themes, these short courses cover everything from net zero targets and the circular economy, to women in sustainability innovation. Previous participants include upcycled fashion start-up Alterist and carbon-negative cement manufacturer Low Carbon Materials.

James Cole, head of The Canopy and director of corporate relations and communications at CISL, said: “The solutions to pressing global challenges like poverty, inequality and climate change are not beyond our innovative capacity – but we will have to rewire our systems as well as the way we design and deliver and consume products and services.

Entopia building which houses Canopy - CISL’s new green start-up hub. Picture: Jack Hobhouse
Entopia building which houses Canopy - CISL’s new green start-up hub. Picture: Jack Hobhouse

“The Canopy offers a home for mission-led founders and innovators to access the support and networks they need to accelerate their journey to impact and scale.”

There are various options for SMEs joining Canopy, from dedicated desk space or hot desking to bookable meeting rooms, boardrooms, an event space and even a roof terrace with 360-degree views over the city.

Monumo was co-founded by Dominic Vergine, who was previously in charge of sustainability at Cambridge-based software design company Arm.

Dominic Vergine, CEO of Monumo. Picture: Mark Bullimore]
Dominic Vergine, CEO of Monumo. Picture: Mark Bullimore]

Electric motors are an increasingly vital technology in today’s world, using roughly 50 per cent of the world’s energy. They pump domestic water, power transport and keep household appliances, like washing machines, running. But there is an environmental cost. Most electric motors are made with rare earth permanent magnets, producing a huge amount of carbon emissions and toxic waste in the process. Monumo’s technology is different – they are creating a more efficient and sustainable electric motor using complex artificial intelligence (AI) which they think will transform the industry.

Dominic Vergine, pictured, CEO and co-founder, Monumo, said: “Monumo is proud to be the first Canopy member. Getting a start-up or small business off the ground isn’t easy, and it’s important to us that we are networked into the right conversations that can drive forward our solution and contribute to the sustainable innovation agenda more broadly.”

Canopy is currently inviting pioneering members to apply for workspace and support within its sustainable innovation community.



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