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In conversation with: Tolu Omideyi, Low Carbon Sector Advisor at GC Business Growth Hub

Tolu discusses how SMEs in Greater Manchester’s attitudes towards sustainability have changed in the last 5-10 years, and how the green tech and services sector can overcome its challenges to grow and help the region to achieve its net zero targets.


When and why did you join GC Business Growth Hub? 

I’d heard about the Hub when I moved back to the North West but I only became fully aware of its impact when I joined and spoke to businesses that were using its services. I’d spent 20 years in environmental management consultancy, but I hadn’t experienced the kind of support that the Hub was providing to help businesses thrive in the Green Technologies and Services sector before.

The challenges of helping green businesses to grow and achieve market share, while encouraging other businesses to diversify into the sector and linking supply chains to net zero targets really attracted me to the role. I’ve been working with the Hub for around two and a half years now and I haven’t seen that type of support being offered by anyone else in the UK, so it’s a pretty unique role, too!

What is your role and what are your responsibilities?

Businesses in green tech and services don’t always realise that they are eligible for support or take advantage of the networking opportunities that are available in this space, so identifying and signposting them to the support that we can offer is a big focus for us. Many of the people that we speak to are highly qualified in environmental science with years of experience in low carbon etc., so giving them access to market intelligence and trends is one of the most valuable services that we provide to them.

We also share data with our local authority partners to help them understand the creation of green jobs across Greater Manchester. By identifying the gaps and opportunities in the supply chain across the region, they can allocate more resources towards education or industry engagement around green tech and services in each borough.

Ultimately, we help businesses to ensure that they are positioned as effectively as possible in this space and that they can access the networking and collaboration opportunities that are right for their business. From business planning to sales objectives and recruitment, we ensure that every aspect of their growth trajectory is set up to unlock their potential. One of the key benefits of working with the Hub is that businesses rarely have to explain their technology to us – we can always understand what they’re working with and how best to support them on their growth journeys!

 

How have businesses in Greater Manchester’s attitudes to sustainability changed over the last 5-10 years?

In the last five years, we’ve received less questions around whether climate change is real and more around what business leaders can do about it, which is clearly a positive step forward! Regional factors such as the Greater Manchester Green Summit, the five-year environment plan and the aim to reach net zero by 2038 have helped to focus everyone around common goals, alongside national events such as COP26.

When it comes to sustainability, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority is one of the region’s biggest strengths. All of the local authorities work well together and have a real passion for the climate agenda. Each borough is doing something brilliantly, so it’s crucial that we continue to share best practice with each other to continue growing the green tech and services sector and take even more businesses with us on that journey. 

What challenges are businesses in the Green Technology and Services sector facing? How is the Hub helping them to overcome those challenges?

Green tech and service businesses often approach us wanting to launch a new product or service or improve their turnover, but they don’t always know the best way to do so. We conduct a diagnostic to understand what they want to achieve, identifying strengths and opportunities in their sales, marketing and go-to-market approach. We can also conduct research into their customers and competitors to help them gain a competitive advantage in the space. Once we’ve completed the diagnostic, we can signpost those businesses to appropriate one to one support around business planning or enrol them on training workshops and courses.

Educating potential buyers of green tech and services is another challenge that we and our solution providers face. To achieve net zero, it’s vital that businesses follow a clear strategy and install the right solutions at the right time to maximise their return on investment. At the Hub, our Resource Efficiency and Journey to Net Zero services are helping those buyers to build proper strategies around zero carbon, so that they can engage with our solution providers more effectively.

 

How can collaboration help businesses to achieve their sustainability goals? How does it strengthen the Hub's offering to those businesses?

Collaboration is vital for businesses that want to unlock their potential, and this is especially true in the green tech and services sector. For example, our Low Carbon Network is an online database of more than 500 companies that can share their products and services, access new tender opportunities and track market intelligence through the network.

At the Hub, we already collaborate with large corporate buyers, but we’re keen to build even more relationships with those businesses to help them access the incredible supply chain of green tech and services organisations that we have access to here in Greater Manchester. By working with those large businesses and building relationships with large construction and development firms, we can ensure that the green tech and services sector continues to thrive in the region, ultimately making it a better place to live and work for everyone.

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