University researchers turning Begbroke Innovation District into a living lab

They are also an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to create a 'Living Lab' that will give us new insights into the effects of development over time.

Scientists don’t often have the chance to be closely involved with monitoring the impact of a major development over a long period, and there is lots of potential for ground-breaking studies. Researchers from many different backgrounds are already at work at Begbroke.

For example, University ecologists led by Professor Dame EJ Milner-Gulland plan to survey the range of living things currently found at the site to provide a baseline and will carry out regular monitoring over the next 30 years to understand how the changes that are made to the site affect local ecosystems. Their findings will feed back into the development process to inform planning, helping ensure we achieve key goals, like aiming to increase biodiversity on the site by at least 20% over the course of the project.

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Other current research focuses on topics like the overall sustainability of the construction process, including embedded carbon, and on the project’s energy strategy, and will help keep the environmental costs of building and running the innovation district as low as possible. More funding is now being sought for an ambitious programme of research around the development.

You can find out more about the Living Lab activity that is already underway at Begbroke, and about what is planned for the future, from the in-depth article that the Innovation team within Research Services recently published. There is also a programme of events and activities designed to engage local people of all ages with the science that goes on at Begbroke and the wider benefits it brings – look out for more of these over 2024.

Oxford University Development (OUD), a joint venture between the University and L&G, applied for outline planning consent for the masterplan that sets out the vision for Begbroke Innovation District last year, and a decision from Cherwell District Council is expected later in 2024. University staff who would know more about the University's plans should consult the Begbroke Innovation District page on the Estates website.