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Sustainable business is continually evolving and as a retailer we have a responsibility to play our part in its ongoing development. With the vast array of social and environmental challenges currently facing us on a national and global scale, working collaboratively with sustainability specialists and other peer organisations, such as the UK Green Building Council and Innovate UK, is a key part to the success of Plan A. 

An example of such collaboration is our work with Ecobuild – the UK’s largest built environment event for construction, design and energy – on the Big Innovation Pitch. This competition, held in the main arena during Ecobuild, provides an exciting platform for engineering companies of all sizes to pitch their innovative products to a professional panel, with the hope of winning the opportunity of working with the M&S engineering team. The last two years have seen a wide range of excellent competition submissions covering innovations we may not have heard about otherwise. Endotherm Enterprise won the first Pitch in 2015. Their product is a fluid that is added to a wet heating system, saving up to 15% on heating bills. This year’s winner was Waterblade with their innovative water-saving device.

Endotherm is now in our New Engineering Technology (NET) process and has been trialled in 25 stores, and a NET trial for the Waterblade product is due to start imminently. NET is M&S’ research & development system of tracking all new engineering innovations. It helps us to follow the progress of new product research and capture learning outcomes for technologies and solutions, as well as providing a fair platform for suppliers to present the benefits of their products or services to M&S. The winner of the Big Innovation Pitch 2017 will also be entered into NET so that we can fully assess the suitability of their winning product for trialling within the M&S store estate.

We are proud to be able to say that our involvement with the Big Innovation Pitch has resulted in real companies providing real solutions to real problems that we as a retailer face. Given these past successes, we are excited to be teaming up with Ecobuild for the third year running on the Big Innovation Pitch and are calling all sustainability innovators out there – we want to hear from you! The competition offers a fantastic opportunity for companies working within the sustainability innovation space to present their solution to an M&S panel and potentially win the opportunity to work with us on a larger trial and roll out, helping us achieve our Plan A goals, and gaining a platform to reach out to other organisations to help them achieve their sustainability objectives 

The Big Innovation Pitch is now open for applications, so if you are a company with an innovative energy or water saving solution, please apply. We are particularly interested in hearing from companies who can help us reduce our resource consumption with products which are scalable and easy to retrofit. More information and the online application for can be found at

The deadline is Sunday 22nd January and I, for one, am excited to see what fascinating, sustainable technologies are being developed out there!

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