What it's like to work at the Impact LabPublished: 8th September 2019

The Impact Lab is a three-year, collaborative project, sourcing expertise from seven partner organisations, to support Devon-based small businesses to develop and build their environmental or big data ideas.   In this series, we explore what project life is like for members of our team.

Dr Maria Athanassiadou and Theo McCaie are Scientific Systems Managers, employed by the Met Office.

As the newest member of the team, Maria was delighted to find a role that enabled her to use her expertise in support of projects that align with some of her personal interests and passions:

"I joined the Impact lab after a long career as a research scientist, working with data and models to solve problems - a scient to data to business approach.  The Imapct Lab has enabled me to reverse this process, and appreciate its benefits - we start with the business and learn about their problems or ideas, before providing scientific and technical experise to address them.  For me, the biggest asset of the Impact Lab is the diversity of knowledge and expertise. We work closely as a team to really create value from environmental data and science."

Theo has been part of the Impact Lab project since it began, in January 2018:

"Working on this project puts me on the front line with small and medium enterprises (SME) in the region, addressing challenges that matter to them and the community. When I work with a business, they don't just get my technical expertise and experience, they can also access the great wealth of knowledge in the Met Office and world-leading research from the six other partner organisations. I specialise in helping companies extract value from environmental science datasets, that are rich in information but highly complex . The Impact Lab addresses a skills gap that would otherwise prevent this value from being realised. For example, I worked with an SME that had an idea to solve the highly damaging environmental issue of sewage overflow. The environmental science dataset they needed to test and develop the concept was freely available, however the SME wasn't aware of it, and didn't have an employee with the skills to use it. We solved the issue, working closely with experts from the University of Exeter, and the Met Office. We produced a suite of tools that could model a range of scenarios, which enabled the SME to pitch to investors and customers. Crucially, the SME gained valuable skills and experience, as well as hard tools that have greatly influenced the decisions they make for the future of their business."

Please contact us to learn more about how the Impact Lab can support you with your idea - [email protected]org.uk