The Bluetech Award: Tackling Air Pollution with Innovative Clean Air Technology

Air pollution is the world’s largest environmental threats, responsible for up to 9 million deaths worldwide every year according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions share the same root cause, namely, the burning of fossil fuels. Achieving clean air targets will require radical reform of energy structures, industrial structures as well as cleaner modes of transport and more energy efficient buildings. Progress in these areas would go a long way in curbing climate change.

Like many other developing countries, China is facing severe air quality problems. Around two-thirds of China’s cities do not meet basic air quality standards. While the Chinese Government is strongly committed to addressing air quality, identifying the best clean air technologies from around the world and ensuring that they suit the needs of potential users and business partners in China, are two significant challenges that first need to be addressed. That is why in 2015, the Bluetech Clean Air Alliance (BCAA) established the Bluetech Award. The Award aims to bring advanced international clean air technologies to China to tackle country’s air pollution problems.

The annual award invites submissions for clean air technologies from across the globe. Its aim is to identify cutting-edge, high-performance technologies that are financially viable and have a proven pacity to improve air quality.

The BCAA has developed a rigorous assessment methodology based on practical, real-life results, to ensure technologies are selected on an objective and scientific basis. The methodology combines document review, expert analyses, on-site examinations and lab tests.

Winning technologies benefit from BCAA support in accessing business, research, and governmental resources to help accelerate their rapid application and development in China. Support includes:

  • Intellectual property (IP) capacity building and high-quality patent strategy development;
  • Real world technology demonstration in China;
  • Matchmaking with potential business partners and investors;
  • Organization of relevant online and offline promotion activities.

Since 2015, more than 300 technologies from over 20 countries have been assessed through the Award and BCAA has established an international network of more than 100 collaborators. In that period, 28 Bluetech Awards, 14 Bluetech Future Stars have been selected from six technology fields: Monitoring, Ultra-low Emission Control, Coal Pollution Control, Indoor Air, Control of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and Diesel Engine Pollution Control.

Many of the award-winning technologies are now being used in China and elsewhere and have contributed significantly to air quality improvements while also helping to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Innovation and IP rights

The Bluetech Award is a social innovation that is designed to tackle a global environmental challenge. On the one hand, the program enables the collaboration of multiple stakeholders, including technology companies, local government agencies, investors, industrial clients, experts, and media, around the topic of air pollution; on the other hand, it promotes efforts to solve the challenge of air pollution through the application of best-available technologies verified by an innovative assessment method. The Bluetech Award Program was nominated and shortlisted for the University of Harvard’s Roy Family Award for Environmental Partnership in 2018.

Bluetech patent incubation and protection program

To promote rapid and high-quality development of the clean air technology sector in China, in 2017, BCAA launched a Patent Incubation and Protection Program for Bluetech Award winners and other relevant clean technologies. The program helps to promote IP awareness among green technology providers, particularly in terms of enabling them to leverage the commercial value of their patents, through green technology transfer, for example.

In July 2018, BCAA became a WIPO GREEN strategic partner. WIPO GREEN is an online marketplace for green technologies administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Raising IP awareness around green technologies

Keenly aware of the importance of raising awareness among green tech companies, business incubators and investment funds, BCAA regularly organizes training programs and panel discussions on IP. For example, in June 2019, BCAA organized a training event that brought together senior IP and clean technology experts technology from academia, around 40 technology companies, investment funds and incubators.

Pilot schemes to leverage the value of patents

To facilitate the rapid development and uptake of the clean technologies identified through the BlueTech Award, BCAA has developed a series of so-called “High-Value Patent Cultivation Pilot Schemes.” Under these schemes teams of IP professionals and environmental experts work with innovative green technology companies advising them on how to develop a patenting and commercialization strategy, and on how to upgrade their innovation systems and establish effective IP management systems.

Bluetech Collaboration Network

The Bluetech Award now boasts an international network of collaborators from 20 countries. We highly acknowledge the support of the following organizations:

  • China Association of Environmental Protection Industry – Committee of Vehicle Emission Control
  • China Association of Environmental Protection Industry – Committee of VOCs Pollution Control
  • Chinese Society of Environmental Sciences – Professional Committee for Pollution Prevention and Control of Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Xiamen Environment Protection Vehicle Emission Control Technology Center
  • The Chemical Industry and Engineering Society of China – Water Borne Coatings Committee
  • China Electric Vehicle Charging Technology and Industry Alliance
  • China Highway And Transportation Society
  • 3iPET International Platform for Environmental Technology
  • TEDA Low-carbon Economic Promotion Center
  • China Machinery & Environmental Industry Development Center
  • ESCO Committee of China Energy Conservation Association
  • IE Expo
  • Japan International Cooperation Agency
  • Japan External Trade Organization
  • IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute Beijing Representative Office
  • Air & Waste Management Association (US)
  • US-China Clean Tech Center
  • UK Trade & Investment
  • Clean Air Alliance UK
  • VERT Association (Switzerland)
  • Swiss Clean Technology Association
  • World Future Council (Germany)
  • France Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Clean Cluster Denmark
  • China Culture Desk (Austria)
  • Italian Chamber of Commerce
  • International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health (Australia)
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Australia)
  • New Zealand Trade & Enterprise
  • International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (Republic of Korea

Environmental impact

Many Bluetech Award-winning technologies are being used successfully in China and elsewhere. Some technologies have produced significant direct impact in reducing air pollution, some have helped to greatly reduce CO2 emissions and other enabling technologies (such as monitoring technologies) are contributing indirectly to improving environmental

A call to action

To celebrate World Intellectual Property Day 2020 and raise intellectual property (IP) awareness among green innovators, investors, start-ups, and other stakeholders, BCAA is joining ranks with the WIPO Office in China, the Beijing Municipal Intellectual Property Office, and Beihang University, to deliver a training program on "IP for Green Innovation".

The program is designed to help China’s green-tech practitioners acquire a better understanding of the IP strategies employed by international high-tech enterprises to:

  • become familiar with various approaches to IP finance;
  • explore green-tech transfer best practices; and
  • learn more about the international IP system and how it may be of use to them.

International and domestic experts from green industries, and IP and legal sectors will engage with some 100 trainees from various green technology stakeholder groups.

The event is being supported by: the National Energy Conservation Center; the China Association of Environmental Protection Industry; the Green Finance Committee of China Society for Finance & Banking; and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

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