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Sustainability West Midlands

SWM News February 2019 - Innovating to meet the challenges of the future

The Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands (IAWM) recently celebrated its first birthday. It was established last year as a bottom-up Alliance of diverse organisations active or interested in science and technology based innovation across the West Midlands with the following objectives:

  • Building and maintaining a thriving innovation ecosystem.
  • Stimulating and catalysing a pipeline of collaborative innovation activity.

Just like SWM, the IAWM exists to support organisations to catalyse positive change for the benefit of the West Midlands. Whilst we focus on sustainability and IAWM focuses on innovation, there is clearly crossover between these two broad areas. Indeed, 'unsustainable innovation' is not something that really exists. Which is why, over five years ago, SWM and IAWM (in its former guise of Birmingham Science City) joined forces to help inject innovation into the low carbon sector and strengthen the ecosystem that exists to support this.

SWM's key role is to support the Innovative Low Carbon Working Group (ILCWG) and the associated quarterly meetings which focus on IAWM's two aims, specifically benefitting cross-sectoral organisations operating in the low carbon space. A recent first birthday survey of stakeholders facilitated by IAWM suggested that 90% of respondents rated the content of the meetings as good or very good. Indeed, as the ILCWG Chair said recently:

“I find the ILCWG one of the most useful and enjoyable networks that I belong to" - Mike Woollacott, Greenwatt Technology.

This is an exciting time for the IAWM, not least evidenced by the publication of the forthcoming West Midlands Industrial Strategy which will show how strongly innovating across all sectors, including low carbon, is integral to the future prosperity of our region. To have a role in helping to shape what this looks like is a privilege.

There is no doubt that technological, product and service innovation is needed to meet the social, environmental and economic challenges of the future - and we're proud to continue to work in partnership with the IAWM to contribute to this.

Alan Carr, Senior Sustainability Adviser (SWM) and Low Carbon Policy and Partnerships Manager (IAWM), on behalf of the SWM Team

Funding opportunities

  • By 6 March. Businesses can apply for funding that support the design, build and manufacture of zero and low emission vehicles and technologies.

  • By 6 March. Applications are open for the Heat Network Investment Project providing £320 million of capital funding to gap fund heat network projects in England and Wales.

  • By 13 March. The UK Government has announced up to £2m funding for firms who can develop solutions to the worlds growing ocean plastic crisis.

  • By 25 March. The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has announced funding to tackle the inequalities caused by climate change.

  • By 17 April. An SBRI competition is open providing the opportunity for organisations to demonstrate innovations on the railway in relation to improving resilience and environmental impacts.

  • By 18 April. The government’s FleX competition supports the development and demonstration of innovative solutions to value and trade flexibility and this latest call focuses on energy.

  • By 25 April. There are various Horizon 2020 calls open at present focusing on the development of battery technologies.

  • By 1 May. Highways England is investing up to £20 million for solutions that focus on how digital technology can improve air quality on UK roads. 

  • By May 2019. SMEs can benefit from the Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (KRISP) to help develop products, processes or services.

  • By June 2019. Businesses in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent can benefit from a £5m funding pot towards expanding business premises or renovating under-utilised areas.

  • By October 2019. SMEs can obtain free energy audits and 40% grant funding towards energy efficiency measures in Greater Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country.

  • By June 2021. The Worcestershire Natural Networks scheme aims to boost biodiversity in an ERDF-funded venture which includes SWM members Worcestershire County Council.

  • On-going. The Community and Environment Fund is to provide benefits to communities along the route disrupted by the construction of HS2.

  • On-going. BEIS funding of around £162m is available in industrial research and innovation, including Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS).

Over the past year we have promoted >£750 million of accessible funding.

Upcoming SWM and member events

  • University of Wolverhampton is organising a lecture on 4 March by Dr Iza Radecka, focusing on research regarding plastic waste and biodegradable polymers.
  • International Synergies is jointly running a free sustainability breakfast on 7 March focusing on how businesses can collaborate to reduce waste.
  • The Universities of Warwick and Coventry are running a Green Week between 4 and 10 March and are looking for organisations to exhibit for free at their Sustainability Market on 9 March.
  • sben will be raising awareness of the Green Business Fund and their Low Carbon Business Evolution Programme at an event on 14 March.
  • Aston University is running an event on 14 March where eligible businesses can receive dedicated support from energy experts and world-class academics to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • SWM, in partnership with the Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands, is running the next Innovative Low Carbon Working Group meeting, hosted by our members Systra, on 19 March.
  • Climate Change Solutions will be running its Hydrogen and Fuel Cell conference on 19 March focusing on the future use of hydrogen in vehicles. 
  • Severn Trent is running a Refill Birmingham Action Day on 21 March to encourage local businesses to sign up as water bottle refill stations and reduce plastic bottle use.
  • Worcestershire County Council is running a Business Energy and Innovation Conference on 20 March, where you can hear about low carbon innovative technologies and grants available.
  • SWM is supporting an event on 21 March with the Innovation Alliance and Construction Industry Training Board focusing on how digital technology can benefit the construction sector.
  • Aston University is running a workshop on Low Carbon Logistics for Sustainability on 21 March in Birmingham.
  • SWM will be exhibiting at the Midlands Expo on 27 March, aimed at helping start-ups and SMEs overcome business issues and improve their sales.
  • Meres and Mosses Business Environment Network and CREST are running a sustainable supply chains event on 3 April in Shrewsbury looking at the lifecycle of products.
  • sben is hosting a plastic thinking event for world plastic day on 5 June to encourage behaviour change around plastic consumption and waste, and improving these.
  • SWM is a partner in June's Flood & Coast conference, aiming to deliver excellence in flood  management. We will be exhibiting across the three days.
  • SWM's Members' Only Summer Social takes place on 25 June, hosted by Ricoh UK Products Ltd. The event will provide exclusive networking and partnership development opportunities!

A full list of upcoming events is available here as well as our full member list here.

Other SWM and member updates

  • SWM welcomes Charlotte Thiery-Weetman, Programme Manager in electric mobility at Cenex, as our new board member.
  • SWM and Groundwork West Midlands have produced the latest quarterly Environmental Legislation update.
  • SWM has recently published two case studies of our work reflecting our support towards the clean energy agenda, both inside and outside the West Midlands.
  • SWM has written a commentary on the West Midlands Rail Investment Strategy, setting out the 30-year plan for the region and identifying the key sustainability challenges.
  • SWM has published its latest environmental report reflecting our performance on energy and transport emissions.
  • SWM board member Matt Beveridge has been nominated for an AUDE award for emerging talent in the University Estates sector.
  • Severn Trent has been awarded fast-track status for their 2020-2025 service plan, with commitments to reducing bills and improving investment.
  • Severn Trent has partnered with the Refill initiative, a fantastic new scheme which gives you free and easy access to refreshing tap water when you’re out and about.
  • The Flood & Coast Excellence Awards will be held at the Flood and Coast 2019 Conference, celebrating innovative projects that have tackled flooding issues.
  • CR Plus has given their view on decarbonisation, demonstrating the large long term financial benefits to businesses.
  • Ecuity has written a blog to alert people to policy that should be looked out for in the coming year regarding energy and the environment.
  • Energy Systems Catapult and the UK Science & Innovation Network are offering an opportunity for six British cleantech companies to participate in the Cleantech Forum Europe.
  • Keele University's Students' Union has opened a new Zero Waste Shop on its campus, open to all students, staff and visitors.
  • University of Warwick has set up a new initiative called Warwick SEED, a society that promotes social impact careers and global collaboration.

SWM members can send their events, research or other contributions to to be included in the next newsletter. Not a member? There are many advantages to SWM membership; find out more here.

Other news and events

  • The Climate Change Committee has produced a report on the status of UK Housing and its adaptability to Climate Change as well as impact.
  • The Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust is advertising for a new CEO for the group to provide leadership for members, volunteers and staff.
  • Nottingham City Council is advertising for Regional Senior Energy Project Officers to be part of the cross-LEP Midlands Energy Hub.
  • The Black Country Technical Assistance team is advertising for a new Black Country ERDF Programme Manager with applications closing on 3 March.
  • BVSC has published advice on how to nominate individuals for honours and awards, especially as the West Midlands is so underrepresented in this area.
  • UK Government has set out its guarantee for EU-funded programmes if there's a no deal Brexit after 29 March.
  • UK Government is currently consulting on a new drinks container return scheme to be implemented across the country. The consultation closes on 13 May.
  • Solihull Borough Council is running a Green Business Fund Workshop on 25 April in Birmingham to support small and medium-sized businesses.
  • IAWM, with Innovation Birmingham, is once again running Venturefest West Midlands on 4 July gathering entrepreneurs and investors from across the region.

For a full list of all our upcoming events, visit our events page here. For news items, visit our news page here.

We hope you enjoyed reading our newsletter. If you would like to subscribe to our newsletter, are interested in becoming a member or have news stories, events, case studies and reports, please visit our website or contact us. In order to avoid this email going into spam, please add us to your contacts list.

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