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Manufacturers among first to sign up to low carbon R&D programme

Posted on 19 Oct 2021 and read 499 times
Manufacturers among first to sign up to low carbon R&D programmeSME manufacturers are among the first to sign up to a first-of-a-kind research and development (R&D) programme for low-carbon innovation.

Eco-I North West is a £14 million initiative offering businesses 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 small- and medium-size enterprises (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.

This support is to help businesses to “build back better”, enabling R&D, and building networks to drive innovation, which is good for business and better for the environment.

Among the 80-plus businesses signed up to Eco-I NW is Fibrestar Drums, based in Stockport, a manufacturer of fibre drums innovating with new materials and solutions which will have a lasting impact on the environment.

Managing director Colin Pardoe said: “For the last two years we have been innovating to produce Europe’s first conical and nestable 100% fibre (kraft) container primarily for the agricultural sector which is edible by livestock with no waste, as well as having 66% less CO2 than a plastic pail and helping soil enrichment which also acts as a carbon sink.

“Working with Lancaster University through the Eco-I NW programme we are driving that innovation forward to explore how we can apply our product to other materials for applications in other sectors.

“It is an exciting opportunity to access world-class academic expertise and facilities for innovation and develop solutions which will have a lasting impact on the environment, while supporting the growth of the business.”

Ahmed Detta Enviroo, based in Manchester, specialises in turning plastic bottles into the raw material for new food-grade packaging, is also developing low carbon innovation. Ahmed Detta, CEO and founder (pictured left), said: “Our partnership with Lancaster University through the Eco-I NW programme is the perfect fit for our company. It will give us access to the research body of a prestigious university, and essentially create an R&D arm for our young enterprise, to help us achieve our long-term business goals.”

Others manufacturers signed up to Eco-I NW are: 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; Chorley-based Kerax, a wax manufacturer innovating with hydrogenated vegetable waxes and solutions to reduce the energy and CO2 emissions involved in transporting wax products; Morecambe-based CO2 Extraction, a specialist in the extraction of high value bio-active compounds and oils from botanicals; Altham-based Silverwoods Waste Management, an industrial waste recycling specialist, is researching the sequestration and capture of carbon within agricultural soils.

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, tomorrow (20 October 2021).

The two-hour summit, running from 10am-noon, will include keynote speaker Duncan Pollard, former VP for Sustainability at Nestle and director of conservation practice and policy at WWF, who will share his expertise on how to integrate, engage, and operationalise sustainable practice in business.

Delegates will then be invited to participate in three themed break-out sessions about nature-based solutions, the built environment, and the circular economy.

Businesses will also learn about the funding opportunities and innovation support to enable them to pilot, prototype and demonstrate new technologies, as well as opportunities for leadership development, workshops, and networking.

Mr 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.”

The event will be chaired by Professor Jess Davies, director of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation at Lancaster University. She said: “This virtual summit will be the first time all the key partners involved in Eco-I NW have been able to come together to ask the difficult questions about how we can approach key global challenges such as water supply and quality, waste, energy, resource efficiency, natural capital, air quality, and food security.

“Eco-I NW is the first project of its kind to open up such a huge academic regional resource to businesses and offers the opportunity for the North West to take the lead and benefit from the transition to a low carbon economy.

“I would encourage leaders of small and medium sized enterprises in the North West to sign up to the event and come along to understand how Eco-I NW could help them, and the planet.”

To register for Disruption, Innovation, Transformation. Climate Change: It’s Now or Never, visit the website: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/disruption-innovation-transformation-climate-change-its-now-or-never-tickets-170309043935