More than 80 North West businesses have signed up to a first-of-its-kind research and development programme for low carbon innovation.
Eco-I North West is a £14 million initiative offering SMEs in any sector the opportunity to collaborate with and access the extensive knowledge base, cutting-edge research facilities, and skills of six of the region’s leading universities – Lancaster, Central Lancashire, Cumbria, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester Metropolitan.
The programme, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, will work with more than 300 SMEs across the region over the next two years, supporting the development of 135 new innovative solutions which will save 3,850 tonnes of CO2.
Some of these inspirational stories will be showcased at a free-to-access virtual summit, Disruption, Innovation, Transformation. Climate Change: It’s Now or Never, on Wednesday, October 20.
The two-hour webinar, running from 10am-12pm, will include keynote speaker Duncan Pollard, former VP for Sustainability at Nestle and Director of Conservation Practice & Policy at WWF, who will share his expertise on how to integrate, engage, and operationalise sustainable practice in business.
Pollard said: “The business community has the power to influence the effects of climate change, through its operations, supply chains, and offering more sustainable choices to customers. But for positive change we must disrupt and challenge the ‘business as usual’ mind set.
“Sustainability must be at the heart of the post-Covid recovery, not just an add-on. Any business that doesn’t heed the sustainability concerns of staff, customers and investors risks being left behind.
“SMEs are the lifeblood of our economy and offer something very special to help deliver solutions to tackle the massive challenge of climate change. Without the scale or complexity of large corporations they can move quickly to try new things and are efficient in the way in which they use resources.”
“With more than 560,000 SMEs operating in the North West, now is the time for this crucial collective to rise up and embrace the opportunity.”
Among the businesses already signed up to Eco-I NW are: Fibrestar Drums, based in Stockport, a manufacturer of fibre drums; Biotech Services, based in Sandbach, a manufacturer exploring the use of extracted organic production waste to create new products such as fabrics, regenerative medicine, biodegradable packaging and batteries; Designed Network Solutions, based in Northwich, a specialist in water supply challenges, developing network designs and software solutions; Enviroo, based in Manchester and building its first recycling plant in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, a specialist recycling plastic bottles into the raw material for new food-grade packaging; National Air Quality Testing Services (NAQTS), based in Lancaster, an expert in air quality monitoring technology and testing services; REPIC, based in Bury, a provider of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) producer-responsibility compliance solutions; Barker and Bland, based in Penrith, a leading provider of peatland restoration services; Kerax, based in Chorley, a wax manufacturer innovating with hydrogenated vegetable waxes and solutions; CO2 Extraction, based in Morecambe, specialists in the extraction of high value bio-active compounds and oils from botanicals; Stopford Projects, based in Ellesmere Port, an international energy and environment consultancy developing a process which enables sustainable waste management and low-carbon energy generation; and Silverwoods Waste Management, based in Altham, Lancashire, an industrial waste recycling specialist, is researching the sequestration and capture of carbon within agricultural soils.
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