Businesses, charities and social enterprises in Liverpool city region can now access a £400,000 innovation fund to support their net zero carbon innovations. Tony McDonough reports
A new £400,000 green innovation fund has been launched to help businesses in the Liverpool city region turn their net zero carbon ideas into reality.
Eco-I North West (NW), a £14m research and development programme, is offering up to 60% funding to businesses, charities and social enterprises towards projects worth £25,000 to help them deliver sustainable products, processes or services.
Since its launch two years ago, Eco-I North West (NW) has supported more than 100 enterprises, including 17 in Liverpool city region. It offers access to the facilities and expertise of six universities – Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores, Cumbria, Lancaster, Central Lancashire and Manchester Metropolitan.
Firms have collaborated with the universities to test their ideas which could help solve global challenges such as water supply and quality, waste, energy, resource efficiency, natural capital, air quality, and food security.
These new grants will accelerate these low carbon innovations from research to commercialisation by match funding prototypes, pilots and demonstration systems. Andy Pickard, manager of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, which delivers the Eco-I NW programme, said: “Eco-I NW opens up such a huge academic regional resource.
“It offers the opportunity for the North West to create an ecosystem which accelerates our transition to a low carbon economy. This is a scheme which should allow businesses to access grants quickly and try new things.
“I would encourage leaders of SME enterprises in the North West to start a conversation with us about how Eco-I NW could help to reduce costs and their carbon footprint, improve performance, and future proof their business in a low carbon future.”
Eco-I NW aims to work with more than 300 SMEs across the North West region, supporting the development of 135 new innovative solutions which will save 3,850 tonnes of CO2.
One company that has benefited from the initiative is EFG UK, an interior design and office furniture supplier and installer based in St Helens. It is working with Lancaster University to develop a carbon measurement tool for its furniture and operations, and delivering suggestions for change and investigating potential supply chain improvements.
Marketing manager Jennifer Wakefield said: “Transparency in decision-making is key to reducing the impacts of commercial interiors and the team at EFG UK are passionate about helping our clients make considered decisions through the design process.
“Currently, it is very difficult to find practical guidance as to how a business can begin to measure the carbon impacts of furniture and so, there is no one system or framework to depend on. We are determined to make a positive contribution by expanding our portfolio of sustainably designed products even further.
Infinities Global, based in Liverpool, is a technology start-up specialising in marine energy. It has been working on research and development in affordable and sustainable green energy solutions.
Dr Dapeng Gu, co-founder and chief executive, said: “Current developments in marine energy are still at the early stages and lagging behind solar and wind energy. Conventional marine systems have low efficiency and high cost which prevents successful application at an industrial scale.
“One of our innovative solutions is a hydraulic marine energy system offering better efficiency at lower cost. We are working with Simon Baker, a PhD researcher at Lancaster University under the supervision of Prof George Aggidis and Dr Sergio Campobasso, to optimise the system with a focus on the energy transmission mechanism and energy storage solutions. “
To find out more about the programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), click here.