£134 million boost to help UK businesses build back greener

Published by Jake Standing on 9 November 2020

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Businesses across the UK are set to benefit from £134 million investment, enabling ground-breaking clean growth projects to develop new technologies and secure new jobs.

Each business can receive up to £175,000 of the £134m investment, as part of the government’s commitment to build back better by supporting UK risk takers to bring their novel ideas to market.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund, delivered through Innovate UK, is a cornerstone of the £1.25 billion investment package announced by the Chancellor in April to help ambitious, innovative businesses survive and thrive during the current pandemic.

Current companies benefiting from the grants cover activities such as:

  • Developing unique technology allowing for autonomous underwater inspections of large offshore wind turbines, enabling safer and more efficient maintenance.
  • Using artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor the condition of beer kegs, reducing the amount of waste each year.

Developing an advanced bio-refinery turning seaweed into food and compostable packaging products, reducing plastic waste and creating new jobs.

Sustainable growth: Building back better

We recently hosted a webinar ‘Looking ahead… to a future with purpose’, and since then we have fielded questions from business owners on how they even start their sustainability journey. It is such a broad topic, covering start-ups as well as established businesses, but we believe there are three main areas that should be focussed on to get started.

Assess your current processes

Mapping out your business processes is a good place to start, whilst noting down the primary objectives of each process. Think about what it is your business does and take note at each stage of key attributes such as time, cost, emissions and waste. Then consider whether the same processes can be achieved in a more efficient way – what areas need to change first to create the greatest improvements?

An energy audit will also be useful to assess your greenhouse gas emissions and give you a baseline from which to improve upon. There are 3 main areas of emissions:

  • Scope 1 – All direct emissions. This is generated from activities of an organisation directly such as company facilities and their fleet of vehicles.
  • Scope 2 – Indirect emissions. This is from energy purchased and used by the organisation (electricity for example).
  • Scope 3 – All other indirect emissions. This occurs from sources that the organisation does not control completely – such as employee commuting, production of purchased goods and the disposal of sold products.

In most cases, reducing your carbon footprint also means a reduction in overheads as waste is eliminated from your processes. Take, for example, the simple act of installing energy efficient light bulbs – this reduces ongoing overheads and carbon emissions at the same time.

Finally, involving your leadership team in this process will not only help with some of the more detailed elements of the process maps, but will also engage them to look for greater efficiencies within their responsibilities.

Consider Innovation and commercialisation support

Clean Growth UK (CGUK) is a pioneering, university-led innovation network of forward-thinking green businesses. They strive to do all they can to ensure the next generation has a planet on which they can prosper. This means connecting climate-conscious businesses with the resources they need to innovate and grow.

Being part of the CGUK network is free, and gives you access to an abundance of material to assist with your business growth through clean innovation. They also run free collaborative workshops for any SME leader who wants to adapt the way they work, and is developing new clean green products, services or processes. This generally covers the following topics:

  • Energy saving and generation
  • Process automation
  • Clean and green new product and service innovation
  • Supply chain management
  • Business energy and productivity auditing
  • Staff engagement and business strategy
  • Access to grant funding

There any many workshop programmes that are facilitated by CGUK and you can search for the next programme here.

Search for available grants and funding

Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency, a non-departmental public body operating at arm’s length from the Government as part of the United Kingdom Research and Innovation organisation. This body continues to offer grants through ‘competitions’ which look to solve key innovative challenges in various sectors. Search for a suitable competition to apply for here.

Low Carbon Across the South East (LoCASE) have also recently launched a new round of funding which will stretch from Essex through Kent to the whole of Sussex and Solent region. There are two grants available:

  1. Business Growth Grant up to £10k for green/clean focussed businesses (i.e. they are delivering a green service or have green products or processes).
  2. Energy Efficiency Grants up to £10k for energy or resource efficiency projects.

The grant will cover up to 40% of the cost of items and businesses can register for eligibility here.

There are also many lending options available as financial institutions carve out specific ‘green loans’ to use against qualifying expenditure. It is worth talking to your bank to find out what they are doing in this respect.

How can we help?

We have a huge amount of experience on assisting with grant applications, preparing business plans and projections for investment readiness, funding advice and maximising R&D tax reliefs from innovative expenditure.

We can also help with the process, whether that be mapping from where you are now to where you want to be, or to hold accountability sessions to ensure you are realising the benefits you had planned.

Please do get in touch with your usual Kreston Reeves contact or me here to see how we can help you and your business on your sustainable innovation journey.

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