Green Business Clubs – Business Productivity and Environmental Support Programme

The aim

The aim of the project is to develop a six-year support programme to help small to medium businesses in the West Midlands improve their productivity and environmental performance through reducing risks and saving costs.

The scope

The audience is small and medium businesses within the six West Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas. The majority of these businesses will have already committed to collaborate with others through their membership of local green business clubs, business chambers, science parks, and supply chains for local or international businesses.

Help would be provided by reducing businesses risk through the implementation and update of environmental management and quality systems, legislation updates, and climate resilience support.

Help would be provided by reducing businesses costs through the identification and implementation of measures to address energy, water, waste, carbon, and transport costs.

The activities

Marketing and coordination of good practice events

This would be building on the existing West Midlands Green Business Club Network to ensure that there was complete coverage of the LEP areas of a private sector led local business to business club focused on productivity and environmental performance.

The clubs would expand their local reach, relevance and impact by expanding their work with other local businesses to business networks. Collectively the clubs, which already represent thousands of businesses, would improve their regional and national impact by advising, coordinating and promoting other business support programmes, holding joint training events and helping their members share good practice with other businesses.

Business diagnostic and support

This would be delivered through an initial online or telephone review to identify the type of help required. The agreed action plan could include signposting to an existing support scheme, attending a relevant workshop, meeting another businesses willing to share good practice, or a visit from a specialist business advisor to provide an agreed consultancy service.

The outputs and results

In terms of EU funding requirements the overall outputs and results would be:

  • Number of enterprises receiving support
  • Greenhouse gas savings (through energy, waste, carbon and transport reductions)
  • Additional renewable capacity installed

Based on over 2,000 businesses receiving some form of support over the period, some of which  achieved some form of carbon saving, then depending on the type and size of business this could produce an additional £4-10m of business benefit.

The budget and timescales

The project is being developed as part of the new EU funding programme. Therefore it is proposed to start in 2015 with the first two years focused on expanding and growing the green business club coverage and activity.

By the end of 2015 the existing eighteen West Midlands green business support programmes will have ended and therefore the degree to which this project will signpost to new providers or address gaps will be finalised. From 2016 to 2020 the business clubs events and new business support will be delivered.

Estimated costs at this stage vary depending on how much depth of business support, such as consultancy, will be required after 2015, and the number of LEPs supported. Ideally the programme would support all 6 West Midlands LEPs, but as a minimum at least 3.

At this stage it is estimated at a minimum of £200,000 per year. The match funding required by the EU funding would be secured either through ‘in-kind’ contributions from partners, businesses matching the consultancy advice, and the alignment of existing funded providers.

The partners

SWM has developed this project as part of the West Midlands Low Carbon LEP Leadership Network work programme. This has included extensive stakeholder workshops and a joint statementwithin the six LEP EU strategies on which cross-LEP low carbon priorities to work on together. This project is one of them. Our role within the project would be to lead on the marketing and coordination activity through expanding our existing activity and support for the West Midlands Green Business Club Network

Groundwork West Midlands is a member of SWM, and would be the overall project manager and accountable body. They would also run the business diagnostic and support service.

BESST, SBEN, and the other Green Business Clubs would help deliver the marketing and coordination of good practice events. Also some of their members could be procured to help deliver some of the required business support.

Sustrans, CENEX, International Synergies, Briars Associates, and ORA are SWM members and they would help bring their existing funded support and offer specialist consultancy advice within the business support service.

Black Country LEP has expressed an interest in leading this and several other of the cross-LEP low carbon programmes on behalf of the other five West Midlands LEPs. In the same way other LEPs are leading on other cross-LEP themes such as access to finance.

Further information

For any overall project queries, or if you are interested in aligning your existing business support service or want to be considered as a future provider please contact Groundwork West Midlands.

In terms of how to set up a green business club, network or event programme within your LEP area please contact SWM We will also be working closely with Groundwork West Midlands as we develop this programme.

Project updates

4/7/13, 20/8/13, 25/11/13, 4/6/14, 9/9/14 – Stakeholder workshops with LEPs, local authorities, business support providers, and green business clubs.

25/9/14 – Update project page and West Midlands European Service circulates to all the LEPs together with other cross-LEP programmes.

25/5/15 – Outline application submitted by Groundwork WM supported by SWM and a consortium of delivery partners for £1m of EU funding to Black Country LEP and Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP. Approved to go to full application and links made to local growth hubs.