Companies should be gearing up to take advantage of the “massive business opportunities” being created by the growing market for green technologies in the Midlands.
That was the message for manufacturers at an Environmental Technology Conference in Shropshire who heard they could be missing out on a slice of a multi-billion pound industry in the region by not tapping into the support and expertise available to them.
The conference, organised by the Marches Environmental Technologies Network (metnet) – the business network for environmental technologies in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire – attracted more than 80 businesses to hear what the UK’s top eco-experts had to say on green technologies and how businesses could diversify into the industry.
David Terry, business director of the Renewable Energy Supply Chain, told businesses the sector was worth £8.5 billion a year within the region across a broad range of interest including renewables, water technology, waste management and pollution control.
He said: “There is a vast range of opportunities, the renewable energy sector is growing by 9 per cent a year, the wind sector by 13 per cent and there are opportunities in bio-energy, with the UK generating millions of tonnes of organic waste each year.
“The market is driving change and businesses should be looking to respond to that, we need to be pro-active. Businesses, working with university support, should be getting access to these market places.”
The Environmental Technologies – an Industry for the 21st Century event at Ludlow Racecourse also heard from eight Midlands universities about key innovations in the sector and how businesses could work alongside research and development experts to develop products.
Peter Roach, of the Manufacturing Advisory Service in the West Midlands, said smaller manufacturers in the Marches should be looking at green and sustainable issues as possible new routes to market.
He said: “Energy and low carbon technology is a growing sector, and will be especially so when the construction industry gets back on its feet again. We have a number of universities in this region which are at the forefront of advanced manufacturing of the technologies which support that and we are engaging in transferring that technology and making smaller companies aware of the opportunities in that market.
“Manufacturers should be looking at the environmental technologies sector, evaluating it and taking the opportunities while they are there.”
Keynote speaker at the event was Chris Hines, a former director of the Eden Project, who told businesses environmental technology was not just about renewables and wind farms.
He said: “It’s great to see the renewable energy sector driving forwards, we need this to happen, proposals like off-shore wind turbines, and we need it urgently because we’re playing catch up. But efficiency has to be the first step, it’s about getting more out of what we have and we have plenty.”
Chris urged major manufacturers to share their technology, saying the design and technology capabilities of companies like BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce could be invaluable to helping solve major environmental issues.
Businesses which would like more information on the environmental technologies sector and opportunities available can contact metnet on (01584) 838248, email email@example.com or log on to www.met-net.co.uk