SMEs in Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire and Liverpool can access part-funded innovation support for low carbon ideas, with broader fully-funded support available in Greater Manchester.
Through Lancaster University’s Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, SMEs with a low carbon innovation idea in Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire and Liverpool can apply for part-funded research and development support.
The aim is to help companies that have ambitions to develop a new environmentally-friendly product, process or service but lack the in-house research expertise to pursue their idea.
SMEs receive support in the form of researcher or student placement projects between 6 months and three years in length, supervised by university academics.
Previous projects have ranged from an environmentally-friendly de-icer treatment for aircraft to automatic heating and lighting controls for homes.
The Universities of Chester, Cumbria, Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores are also partners in the programme.
Anne Suddes, Eco-Innovation project manager at the University of Cumbria, said: “We know that small and medium sized enterprises have to work hard to maintain their competitive advantage in the development of new, low carbon products and processes.
“What we’re able to offer is tangible help – either with academics or students from the university – to help an idea become a reality.”
In Greater Manchester, broader environmental business support is available to SMEs on a fully-funded basis from the Business Growth Hub.
SMEs can access one-to-one support from expert advisors to help identify and implement opportunities where eco-innovation could transform their existing products, packaging and services, or drive the development of new offers.
For example, A&D Sports, a designer and manufacturer of high-end gym equipment in Rochdale, received support to improve the efficiency of their packaging for overseas markets. The support resulted in a 500 per cent improvement in packing optimisation and an 80 per cent reduction in related transport emissions.
Companies can also access intensive or light-touch support to reduce their energy use in day-to-day operations.