Over £3 million has been granted to help place the region on the world stage for sustainable innovation.
Funded by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) (£1.5 million) and the Northwest European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (£1.7million) the Northwest Eco-innovation Programme will help hundreds of businesses exploit new market opportunities for more environmentally sound products and services.
The Northwest Eco-innovation Programme was launched on 22nd October at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester with a key note speech from former TV’s Dragons Den investor Richard Farleigh on innovation as key to business success.
The three-year support programme was designed by Lancaster University and will be delivered in partnership with C-Tech Innovation Ltd. It is the first of its kind in the UK and is delivered under the ‘Improving your Resource Efficiency’ product, part of the Government’s Solutions for Business portfolio.
It will provide one-to-one assistance to 480 Small and Medium Sized Enterprises resulting in 240 new environmental products and saving 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. In addition the programme aims to create 107 jobs and safeguard 373.
Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of the NWDA, said: “Businesses in the Northwest can now access this unique support programme which will work with them to exploit the demand for mainstream products and services which have minimal environmental impact.”
Eco-innovation will help SME’s to bring about improvements in products, processes or systems which benefit both the environment and company growth. The project will go beyond the ‘greening’ of existing businesses by aiming to ensure that the environmental impact of products during manufacturing, use and disposal is designed-out as far as possible. It sets out to support businesses looking to seize the opportunities that have arisen from the need to address the challenges of climate change.
The project seeks to support innovation in a wide range of sectors from aerospace and biomedicine to digital/creative and food and drink. Businesses will be given access to a wide range of specialist support including Research and Development expertise provided by Lancaster University’s Environment Centre and Lancaster Product Development Unit.
Dr Mark Bacon, Director of Enterprise and Business Partnerships at the Lancaster Environment Centre, said: “Eco-innovation knows no bounds – from pioneering work with Waitrose on the environmental impact of world food production to the next generation of low carbon technologies.
“Lancaster University is home to one of the largest centres for environmental research in Europe. Our business team can ensure that research and development expertise of the very highest international quality has real world impact very close to home in England’s Northwest.”