Environment and Sustainability Institute website

I was delighted to be appointed as the second Director of the ESI in May 2017, and have watched ESI strengthen and grow since it opened five years ago. Although we are still a relatively new institute, the ESI is thriving as a hub of environmental innovation and activity, with world leading academics and researchers focussing on the complex interdisciplinary challenges of protecting and enhancing our environment both nationally and internationally. At the same time we retain our local focus on finding ways to enhance the build the knowledge economy in Cornwall and the South West to the benefit of the environment and local communities.

Professor Juliet Osborne, Director of the ESI

Environment and Sustainability Institute

The Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) is a world-class research institute finding cutting-edge solutions to complex problems of environmental change.

We explore environmental issues using Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as a living laboratory, and taking advantage of the marine and terrestrial environments and local renewables expertise.

Our researchers have backgrounds in Ecology, Renewable Energy, Geography, Medicine, Business, Mathematics, Biosciences, Social and Political Sciences, and Industrial Chemistry.

To date the ESI has attracted research funding in excess of over £32 million.

The ESI is directed by Chair in Applied Ecology Professor Juliet Osborne.

Why we are here?

"The environment is not an abstract theory or an academic discipline. It’s our world as we experience it every day – our air, water and food."

Founder and Past-director of the ESI and award-winning ecologist Professor Kevin J Gaston explains what the ESI is for, and why it matters.

Three central research themes

Our research is interdisciplinary across three related themes:

  • Clean technologies
  • Natural environment
  • Social science and sustainability

Partnerships with local businesses

The challenges we address are global in scale, but we are developing solutions in partnership with Cornish businesses, which has a direct impact on the regional economy.

The ESI business network has 400 members and facilitates collaboration and business growth. We give businesses access to the latest research and work with them to develop new products, processes and strategies. 

Facilities at the ESI

  • ESI DroneLab – a dedicated drone laboratory with heavy-lifting and lightweight aircraft for environmental monitoring
  • Dark room
  • Wildlife pathology laboratory
  • Large research hall and dedicated workshop
  • Creative studio
  • Eight Controlled Temperature (CT) rooms
  • State-of-the-art harmonic radar
  • Lab-rover- a portable laboratory for studying pollinator behaviour
  • Central interactive area comprising a cafe, conference and social space 

The ESI building itself has been designed to be environmentally sustainable, in line with BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ criteria. Its creation has been enabled by a £30 million investment from the EU European Regional Development Fund (£22.9m) and the South West Regional Development Agency (£6.6m).