One of the things I like about setting up new organisations is creating the culture. In the creation of the last few organisations this has involved really pushing levels of transparency, building on what happens in other types open development. Herein is a copy of (most of) the internal newsletter I shared with the team this month. I’ve taken a view on what might be considered ‘private’ and redacted accordingly.

tl;dr — Lockdown started on 26 March. On the first of April we officially (i.e. funded) started work building a new organisation. Over the following 12 weeks we built a team of over 20 people, launched initiatives with global partners & got them to engage on a weekly basis and won a national competition to explore rebuilding our national energy data infrastructure. We have a lot more to be announced in the coming weeks—sign up for updates at http://eepurl.com/gx5TyX

3 JULY 2020

“I thought it might be good to send a summary on what we’ve been doing at the end of our first formal quarter of existence.  It has been, shall we say, “quite busy” over the last 12 weeks?

This will be an incomplete summary, but I wanted to reflect on a few things and highlight some very important news.

1. Team

Believe it or not, we now have a core Icebreaker team of 20 people: our Icecore team. This is quite a remarkable feat given the circumstances that 2020 has thrown at the world. I’m also very pleased that we have a 50:50 gender balance (including leadership and board).

I am very conscious that we’ve not been able to all meet each other in one place at the same time (even online) and so we are going to hold our first ‘virtual team offsite’ on July 14 from 2-5pm, followed by the consumption of things that you may wish to consume.  This will be our first opportunity to take stock of what we’ve all been doing as a team and plan for the future.

In addition, our SERI Partners add (at least) another 20 people to our broader constellation and the Open Energy project has a further 10 at-work. Our Advisory Board adds a further six, and we are working to better join up our thinking and communications with them so that we can make the most of their wealth of experience in supporting us.

We can reasonably claim to have a constellation of over 56 people working directly on impact. This is quite an achievement for just 12-weeks of operation. 

And during a global lockdown. 

2. Comms

We had a great session at London Climate Action Week yesterday [archive here] with over 300 people registered and 170 actually turning up. We brought in speakers from Lloyds, Arup and NASA/NOAA. We are in conversation with ■■■■■ about what may happen at ■■■■■ next year and are already in various UN reports. Our work is in the Climate Financial Risk Forum recommendations led by the FCA. 

Building on the successes that I will describe below, we will be substantially ramping up our communications efforts over this year.  The programmes, partnerships and initiatives that we are engaged with are pushing our reputation out into the world in a very material way—and changing the way people think. We will invest heavily in amplifying our work. 

Equally, we will significantly increase our investment in developing the underlying work to both establish and maintain a position as an organisation that delivers tangible outcomes—these are themselves, of course, the fuel for impactful stories. 


Today, we have successfully completed our Q1 independent audit, covering over £■■■■■ of spending since April. In addition, we held our first formal review with our UKRI monitoring officer, which also went very well. Our summary slides of that presentation are here (■■■■■ not public a selection of outputs are included below):

Our Product innovation, Policy and regulation, Systems and standards strands are all progressing well and we reported no changes to milestones or timelines (in spite of COVID) although we have now obviously added it to our risk register (it didn’t exist when our bid was written).

The teams are gearing up to our first major partner ‘show & tell’ on Tuesday, which will bring together the work of the working groups over the past months. In addition, the research team have been exploring initiatives used to measure industry and company net-zero efforts.

4. Open Energy

In June we added a £130K (ex VAT), 6-week contract into the mix to lay the foundations for what could be the future of energy data in the UK. We are working with partners Open Climate Fix and PassivSystems who, combined, add an additional team of 10 for that project. 

We’ll be submitting our Phase 1 report at the end of next week and hope to be shortlisted into Phase 2. We are up against Siemens and a company called Electron in this work. If successful, we will embark on a £216K, 3-month piece of work and, if that works, up to a further £750K.

5. Funding 

SERI is a £1M programme and our UKRI grant covers 70% of what we spend on it. We are grateful to have had early membership provided from our flagship corporate members, Arup, Agvesto, DAIS and our other commercial members who are joining via this programme.

This week, ■■■■■ have signed-off our first grant, for ■■■■■ which specifically addresses (and is equal to) the match funding for SERI for its duration.

This is really fantastic news and paves the way for us to establish long-term funding by giving confidence to commercial partners and opening up other grant sources (NB: it also means we must raise match funding each year for it at that the ■■■■■ level).

■■■■■ additional section of things that we can’t yet make public.

We will continue to develop our work on:

1. Data infrastructure and governance

Rapidly galvanizing efforts to unlock access to Shared Data and develop impact-focused, profitable and/or value-generating tools and services for our partner.

2. ■■■■■

■■■■■ [Ed: is this too much of a tease? ]

3. Policy

Developing policy positioning, learning materials and a framework for policymakers.

4. Communications

Developing clear, cohesive and inclusive language and communications to bridge across sectors, enabling collaborative and open transformation towards Net-Zero.


One of our new team members mentioned to me that they really “felt the pace” at Icebreaker.

This is something I’d like us to maintain while balancing our wellbeing: please look after your own energy and help your colleagues do the same. We cannot sprint a marathon and this is a long-haul project which will have many challenges. 

However, embracing the right pacing will enable us to achieve the unimaginable. 

We are 12 weeks old. We have raised over £■■■■■ against major pieces of work and have a strong pipeline for more.

We have a direct Icecore team including dozens of domain experts and over 400 more on our mailing list who we will be engaging in our development over the coming months. 

Please take some time to reflect and enjoy this moment and, as we gather our thoughts towards the 14th July, please also imagine what might be possible. 

Let there be no poverty of ambition.