Biosphere Foundation partners with Siemens to accelerate digital transformation of natural capital sector

12 July, 22

The Biosphere Foundation, the non-profit trading arm of the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, has teamed up with Siemens to launch and globally scale the market infrastructure to transformation the natural capital sector.

The North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in South West England covers an area larger than Greater London. Biosphere Reserves are a UNESCO designation like a World Heritage Site, but rather than protecting a cultural or heritage asset, they protect internationally important ecosystems.
The partnership has created two critical infrastructure platforms to redirect private investment into the environment and climate markets:

1. The Natural Capital Marketplace, as an online trading platform to provide the market infrastructure to connect landowners, investors and ecosystem service customers (such as Carbon credits and Biodiversity Net Gain Credits).

2. The Smart Biosphere Digital Twin, providing the infrastructure to create as an ecosystem digital twin to monitor, report and validate impact in the environment, bringing together IoT sensors in the environment, big data, machine learning and earth observation. It seeks to bring the benefits of ‘Smart city’ technology to the rural and marine environment.

The Natural Capital Marketplace has been developed over two years with funding support from the Environment Agency and HM Government and has already launched across Devon, with rollout plans across the UK.

Smart Biosphere is in pilot stage on a 5km river catchment in North Devon after 18 months of development with funding support from Heart of the South West LEP, South West Water and HM Government.

Both solutions are built on Mendix™, Siemens’ industry leading, all-in-one, low-code application development platform to create a customer portal that enables local farmers, landowners, and carbon/biodiversity credit customers to purchase offsets online. Smart Biosphere additionally benefits from Siemens Industrial IOT framework – MindSphere®- to collect, secure and structure data from multiple sensors and sources within the physical environment, water, and ground-based assets.

Siemens technology has enabled the Biosphere Foundation to accelerate time to market by 65 per cent (Smart Biosphere) and 72 per cent (Natural Capital Marketplace). The solution also enabled quicker decision making based on IoT data analysis results.

Rob Passmore, Commercial Lead at the Biosphere Foundation, said: “Redirecting private investment to accelerate the rollout of nature-based interventions – such as tree planting and peatland restoration – are critical to addressing the 1.5oC climate challenge. To date, we believe the market has lacked the necessary infrastructure to aggregate projects up to investment scale and manage their delivery with low transaction costs and high consistent and validation of outcomes. The solutions we have created with Siemens directly address this market barriers and represent a significant step forward for the sector.”

Passmore added, “the Siemens technology provided us with a critical competitive advantage. It not only collapsed time-to-market dramatically but also enabled ideas to be realised by their creators, which has resulted in improved product quality and usability. Now we can move faster, work with smaller development teams due to improved communications, with lower costs. This means less time raising capital and more time on business delivery.

We asked what was next for the Biosphere Foundation; “in a word scaling! We are thrilled to have signed a strategic partnership with Siemens who supports our vision and ambition. Our focus now is to ramp up ESG impacts by rolling out our nature-based solution infrastructure to new geographies.”
The Biosphere Foundation partnered with Siemens Digital Industries Software to leverage Siemens Xcelerator- a rich portfolio of technology and solutions for manufacturing including MindSphere®, the industrial IoT as a service solution and Mendix™, the low-code development platform to accelerate its digital transformation. Xcelerator provides an enriched ecosystem of industrial solutions and capabilities.

Alan Wardle from Siemens, said: “By leveraging the strengths of MindSphere® and Mendix™, Siemens was able to make the Smart Biosphere capable of turning concepts into insightful actions. Collecting data through the internet of things (IoT) with a growing sensor network and various sources led to better analytics. Several of our divisions collaborated to get the desired results as part of this project.

The developers now have a single interface to work with and the operating team have the strength of MindSphere to fall back on for security, data acquisition and operational reporting.”

The Biosphere Foundation leverages technology to create scalable and credible market infrastructure that connects institutional level investments with nature-based interventions to address climate change, restore nature and create community prosperity.

“This three-year partnership is the result of a growing relationship between Siemens and the Biosphere Foundation since 2019. The solutions combine market infrastructure, green finance, complex Big Data and AI with enormous potential to create genuine innovation and change for the UK’s rural and coastal economies, communities, and environment said Passmore.”

Rob Passmore will be a panellist at Transform2022 on July 13 sharing the Biosphere Foundation’s experience in digital transformation on the main stage in the What’s next in tech? session.

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