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Wendy and Eric Schmidt joined Ellen MacArthur to launch the Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship programme at an inaugural Schmidt-MacArthur lecture at the Royal Institution of Great Britain to a 450 strong audience of business leaders, academics, post-graduate students, and entrepreneurs.
The Schmidt MacArthur Fellowship programme brings together post-graduate students and academics from leading universities across Europe, India and the US to focus on a year-long circular economy innovation programme.
Wendy Schmidt, President of the Schmidt Family Foundation, opened the event: ‘This year’s first class of Schmidt-MacArthur fellows, embedded with their mentors in our partner universities in the UK, Europe, the US and India, represent the first wave of what we intend will be a systematic movement of young people, thinkers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and future business leaders who will go into our higher educational institutions and come out from there into the industries and institutions that shape our world.’
Dame Ellen MacArthur, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, explained: ‘We believed very firmly when we kicked off the Foundation in 2010, if we don’t have an entire generation of young people leaving education realizing what’s possible, seeing what’s possible, and then seizing what’s possible, this cannot happen at the scale that’s needed.’
Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, reflecting on the interdisciplinary nature of the fellowship explained: ‘We’re trying to fund people who don’t just work in one thing. A lot of the problems seem to be the stovepiping nature of universities. So if you find these people who can do multiple things, they can solve systemic problems because they can see both sides.’
Wendy’s opening remarks and Eric’s speech was followed by a panel debate discussing the challenges and opportunities offered by a circular economy with some of the leading thinkers in this space including: Janine Benyus (Biomimcry 3.8), Professor Michael Braungart and William McDonough (Co-authors of Cradle to Cradle), Ellen MacArthur (Founder, Ellen MacArthur Foundation), Jeremy Oppenheim (Principal, McKinsey & Company) and Professor Walter Stahel (Founder, Product Life Institute), chaired by Dominic Waughray of the World Economic Forum.
This week sees students and academic mentors taking part in an intensive week-long summer school at Imperial College London before going on to focus on their innovation projects at their home universities. The summer school, designed to bring together the disciplines of design, engineering and business, has involved a hands-on exploration of the circular economy at Europe’s largest hack-space, a product ‘tear-down’ experiment and sessions delivered by core partners; Imperial College London, London Business School and Cranfield University. Participating universities include Yale University, University of California Berkeley & Stanford University in the United States, Euromed Management, Delft University of Technology and MIP Politecnico di Milano in Continental Europe, and India’s National Institute of Design.