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The inaugural Eco-FORCE programme has been hailed as a huge success, equipping Greater Manchester SMEs with the tools to eliminate waste and grow.

Our first Eco-FORCE programme ended last week with a final session of insightful discussions and learning, where businesses heard from eco-innovation experts and participated in peer led roundtable sessions.

Eco-FORCE launched in March 2023 to support SMEs looking to improve the environmental impact of their products, create a more profitable business model or increase their competitive advantage. 

The bespoke in-person programme gives step-by-step guidance towards new commercial opportunities in expanding ‘eco’ markets, and equips them with the tools to eliminate waste and grow. 

Russell Mansfield, who leads the programme, added: “The first Eco-FORCE was a huge success and went a long way to equipping attendees with the information, ideas and practical actions for them to make the changes needed.

“We had SMEs from a wide variety of sectors, and each session featured lively conversations and an exchange of ideas between the business owners.”

Three half-day sessions – spread over six weeks at the ground-breaking new Green Skills Academy in Trafford – covered essential topics including the drive towards the circular economy, green finance, and supply chain and procurement.

Participants also learnt practical tips on some of the most pressing issues for SMEs trying to meet their net zero targets, such as reducing waste and carbon emissions, and how to avoid greenwashing.

One of the many benefits of Eco-FORCE is that participants are placed in small, dynamic groups of around 10 fellow business leaders, with plenty of opportunities for networking before, during and after sessions.

John Hastings, Founder of Bolton-based Recycle-IT, said: “It was so amazing to be amongst others who want to make environmentally and socially impacting change with what we do. Big thanks to the Business Growth Hub eco innovation team for a great programme – we have come away with actionable plans as well, so it’s win-win!”

Green Finance specialist Dave Seddington who spoke to attendees about raising funds to grow and invest, had some final words for any Greater Manchester SMEs still unsure how to square the net zero/profitability circle:

“Companies can really want to reduce their carbon footprint, but they still need to remain profitable. Sometimes it can seem like it’s either/or, but you can cut your carbon and cut costs.

“The Hub is here to support with getting financing and investment. Taking action to make your business more eco-friendly can require investment to make the needed changes before economies are achieved. That’s where we can help, be it grants, debt or getting you ready for investment and helping you secure that investment.”

If you would like to be part of future Eco-FORCE programmes, check out our Eco-FORCE below for more information and how to apply.

Innovation Finance, Opportunities, Responsibility & the Circular Economy | GM Business Growth Hub


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