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SMEs leading the charge to net zero with university collaboration

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SMALL businesses in Daresbury are blazing a trail to net zero through a programme giving them free access to world-leading academic expertise and cutting-edge resources.

A2O Technology group and Envo EHS Consulting (Envo), both based at Sci-Tech Daresbury, collaborated with Lancaster University as part of the Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory (LCEI), a business support programme which aims to help reduce their carbon emissions and accelerate growth.

They are among 22 companies in the Liverpool City Region that have so far collaborated with the university to help reduce carbon emissions and accelerate growth.

And with 18 fully funded internships and five part-funded 12-month Masters by Research projects available to the next batch of sustainability-driven SMEs, more is to come.

A2O Technology group is a specialist in developing composite technologies to support the wider use of advanced materials which, being much lighter in weight, significantly reduce CO2.

It used an intern to help develop a new component production process, which will enable efficient operational control using automation.

Chris Berg, Founding Director, said: “LCEI has been a huge help to our business. That additional resource accelerated our development and brought a fresh perspective which, when you are pushing the boundaries of technology, is very helpful.”

Envo EHS Consulting (Envo), provides Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) due diligence, Environmental and Social Governance consultancy and environmental compliance auditing services to corporate clients.

An intern supported the development of a new toolkit to help one of Envo’s clients to achieve environmental and health and safety legislation compliance. The project secured a long-term partnership with the client, and has enabled Envo to build on its service provision of delivering EHS checklists and legal registers to global clients.

Nick Biagetti, Director, said: “As a small organisation our resources are finite so having access to an extra resource to play such a vital role in the project, which equated to several weeks work, was game changing. It enabled the task to be done to a high standard and on time and freed me up to do more high value work. Quite frankly, we wouldn’t have taken on the project without that extra support.”

Another 20 businesses in the region have partnered with Lancaster University through funded research and development projects, ranging from one month to 12-months, and identified areas to reduce their carbon footprint, while others have tested, developed and commercialised low carbon products, processes and services. Collectively, these businesses have saved more than 170 tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Carolyn Hayes, LCEI Project Manager at Lancaster University, a delivery partner for the project, said: “SMEs play a major role in economies worldwide and Liverpool is no exception where they make up 99%* of the business community. It is therefore crucial that SMEs are equipped with the tools and resources needed to make their impact on creating a low carbon future.

“But the most common barrier to SME from taking action is a lack of resources, such as personnel, knowledge and time, and knowing where to start. That is how the LCEI programme can help.

“Our support is designed for companies at all stages of their low carbon journey. We will work closely with them to identify a bespoke course of action harnessing the skills and expertise of undergraduates, postgraduates and world-renowned academics, and leveraging our plethora of world-class facilities.

“I would encourage leaders of SMEs in Daresbury to start a conversation with us about how LECI could help to reduce costs and their carbon footprint, improve performance, and future proof their business in a low carbon future.”

LCEI is a business R&D consortium, backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and led by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) alongside partners Lancaster University and the University of Liverpool.

Since its launch in 2015, the Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory has supported 350 businesses on projects which have saved 10,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases.

For more information visit www.lancaster.ac.uk/global-eco-innovation/business/lcei/ or contact Carolyn Hayes via email c.hayes2@lancaster.ac.uk.


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