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Sustainability West Midlands

SWM News November 2020: The potential for the Low Carbon Sector

Our economy has undoubtedly taken a battering over the past nine months and with Brexit to come, the future looks equally challenging. But what about the low carbon economy? Is the picture as bleak or are there signs of promise?

The national focus on a green recovery from Covid-19, including the recently announced ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Revolution’, means opportunities for the LCGES sector and we’re working on this for a range of customers.

recent study from the Midlands Engine sets out the economic impact of Covid-19 on the LCEGS sector. The sector has grown its GVA by 26.6% since 2010, compared to 5.6% growth for the UK, and accounts for 5.1% of the total Midlands Engine economy. The majority of these businesses are small or even microenterprises. Businesses have been forced to furlough 20.8% of eligible staff, totalling 12,000 employees. Whilst job postings for the sector saw a reduction of over 30% between March and May, they recovered by August 2020.

Through funding from BEIS we have been commissioned by the Midlands Energy Hub, working in partnership with kMatrix Data Solutions, to provide a Midlands wide analysis of the LCEGS sector. We will assess changes to the sector over the past three years and look at the impact of Covid. Across all nine Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) we will provide key data for the sector, and enrich this data through extensive stakeholder engagement. When we publish the findings in March, we hope they will help in identifying the support needed to grow essential skills in the sector, and lead to more jobs and growth in our region, addressing many recommendations of the Midlands Engine report above.

Through our literature review, the evidence is clear. The LCGES sector plays a significant and growing role in the Midlands economy. It is a sector that encompasses all organisations but particularly small, innovative enterprises. The potential is huge. It is only by targeting our collective support at building the right skills in this sector that we will harness this potential. With a region of diverse strengths including energy, construction, advanced manufacturing, agri-tech and mobility, this support must be evidence based and locally relevant.

Join us at our Annual Conference this Thursday where we focus on the green recovery and discuss how we can take learning from 2020 to move towards our Roadmap targets including all of these sectors, with a focus on jobs and skills. We’ll be ‘In Conversation with Shaun Spiers’, Executive Director at the Green Alliance and Chair of Greener UK so this is one not to miss. Registrations close at 5pm today!

Read 'Our Comment' for a more detailed overview of the Low Carbon Sector and ways to get involved.

Anna Bright, Chief Executive, on behalf of the team at SWM

Funding Opportunities

  • By 30 November 2020. Veolia has set up The EnviroGrant Scheme for projects that will improve the local environment or the local community with grants of up to £1,000 available.

  • By 1 December 2020. Veolia is also looking for businesses to provide innovative solutions on various issues related to pollution prevention through its VIA programme. 

  • By 3 December 2020. The GBSLEP’s Pilot Low Carbon Grant Fund can fund market research and studies up to £35,000 for SMEs developing low-carbon technology projects in the region.

  • By 4 December 2020. Phase two of the Green Homes Grant LAD scheme has launched, with a further £300m available for local authorities to bid for funding for projects until March 2022.

  • By 9 December 2020. UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £10 million in grant funding for innovation in electric vehicle battery technology as part of the Faraday Battery Challenge.

  • By 13 January 2021. SBRI has launched a competition whereby organisations can apply for a share of £3 million to remove harmful pollutants from homes.

  • By 13 January 2021. UK registered SMEs that are transforming food production towards net zero can apply for a share of up to £5 million in grant support from the ISCF.

  • By 20 January 2021. Businesses specialising in smart and sustainable plastic packaging can apply for a share of up to £2 million from the ISCF as part of the SSPP challenge.

  • By 29 January 2021. Staffordshire not-for profit organisations can apply for £1,000 through the Community Climate Action Fund to reduce the county's contributions to climate change.

  • By 5 February 2021. BEIS are looking for potential suppliers for the GGR Technologies Innovation Competition for £75-£250k aiming to develop greenhouse gas removal technologies.

  • By 30 June 2021. The Worcestershire Natural Networks project aims to boost biodiversity in an ERDF-funded venture which includes our members Worcestershire County Council.

  • By 31 December 2021. Businesses in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent can benefit from free energy audits and 60% grant funding towards energy efficiency measures.

  • By 31 December 2021. Marches Renewable Energy Grant Scheme allows eligible applicants to apply for a 50% grant for the installation of renewable technologies. 

  • By 31 December 2022. GBSLEP Habitats Grants Programme is focused on reducing dereliction and the improvement and development of natural habitats. 

  • By June 2023. Coventry City Council has extended a further £8.1 million of funding to support small and medium-sized business in Coventry and Warwickshire.

  • By 2025. The Severn Trent Community Fund is open for applications to support community groups making a difference and to help with the recovery from Covid-19.

  • Monthly. Monthly themed funding is available for Birmingham based projects that aim to deliver positive change.  

  • On-going. Applications are open for four ‘green social prescribing’ pilots as part of a £4.27 million project to improve mental health and wellbeing in communities hardest hit by coronavirus.

  • On-going. A recycling Fund for Communities is now available from Veolia. It is worth up £50,000 in total and is offering grants of £2,000.

  • On-going. £12 million is available under the Green Recovery Challenge Fund as part of flagship UK PACT programme, with target countries in Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • On-going. The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) is a £10 million programme which supports rural communities in England to develop renewable energy projects.

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

Over the past year, we have promoted approximately £1bn of accessible funding.

Upcoming SWM and Member Events

  • Keele University is hosting an online event on 1 December introducing the world of energy sustainability and the challenges it faces.

  • SWM is chairing a keynote session at Solar & Storage Live, the UK’s largest renewables expo taking place online over 2–4 December.

  • Flood and Coast 2020 is hosting its second session on 9 December called 'Climate emergency: global leadership on adaptation' hosted by Emma Howard Boyd.

  • CREST@UCS, EBRI and Worcestershire County Council run funding opportunities for SMEs will be showcased at a Green Grants for Growth online event on 9 December.

  • Energy Systems Catapult is delivering a local authority workshop on 10 December, to highlight the tools available to deliver Smart Local Energy Systems developments.

  • Severn Trent will feature at the next SWM and Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands Innovative Low Carbon Working Group meeting on 15 December.

  • CREST@UCS is launching the PLASTICS netWORK on 20 January 2021, a new exciting forum for businesses across the plastics supply chain to communicate, meet and learn.

  • Climate Change Solutions has revised the date for the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells ‘The Time is NOW’ conference to 9 March 2021 with programme details released closer to the time.

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

Other SWM and Member Updates 

  • SWM say a fond farewell to our outgoing Chair, Tim Haywood, and our Sustainability Adviser, Tom Hendy. Thanks to you both for your support over the past few years. You will be missed.

  • SWM welcome our new Chair, Andrew Pollard. We're excited to work with Andrew and know that his expertise and track record will be a huge asset to our team and stakeholders.

  • SWM welcome our new Young Director, Hannah Smith, Environmental Planner at Arup. Hannah joins us as our fourth Young Director for a development role on our board. Welcome to the team!

  • SWM and kMatrix data systems have been commissioned by the Midlands Energy Hub to deliver a Midlands wide study into the Low Carbon Environmental Goods & Services Sector.

  • AceOn has been awarded £130,000 under the Sustainable Innovation Fund to trial new technology to make use of second hand batteries from electric buses. 

  • AceOn is recruiting two new entry level positions for a Battery Electronics Assembler and and an Electronic Designer to join their team.

  • Aston University is reaching out to SMEs to offer the ERDF programme “Smarterials” to promote functional materials and help companies develop their business through a partnership.

  • Aston University has been awarded The Guardian 'University of the Year' for their commitment to sustainability, graduate outcomes and their diversity and inclusion activities. 

  • Bryt Energy has launched its exciting new sustainability programme, 'Bryt by Nature' which underpins their sustainability efforts.

  • Contented is working towards a target operating model for organisations involving a series of private learning events. If your organisation would like to get involved please get in touch

  • Energy Systems Catapult is running the 'Innovator Challenge' to help 18 SMEs gain access to energy system expertise and help the West Midlands lead in developing Net Zero energy.

  • Severn Trent is looking for organisations to work with to help develop new green recovery projects  to support communities by improving the environment.

  • Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council has received £6,591,000 of HNIP grant funding to help support its net zero targets and the delivery of affordable, low carbon heating. 

  • University of Birmingham has been awarded the Business Collaboration Award for their work with Porterbrook to fit an old electric train with a hydrogen fuel cell.

  • WMCA will receive a £13 million government grant that will benefit The Starley Network of safe cycle routes across the West Midlands

  • WMCA have released their Health of the Region report that has led to West Midlands organisations pledging to take more than 50 actions to root out regional health inequalities.

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

  • Committee on Climate Change is hosting The Sixth Carbon Budget Launch on 9 December which will set out the detailed pathway to meeting the UK’s Net Zero target in 2050.

  • Innovate UK has released short guides in their newsletters containing tips and tricks to help make your journey to funding as easy as possible. 

  • Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands is recruiting a Network & Partnership Manager to join its dynamic team. Apply by 11 December.

  • Venturefest West Midlands is taking place on 28 January to provide businesses a chance to exchange ideas for collaboration, particularly in the fields of science and emerging technologies. 

  • CWLEP is funding The ibd Peer Networks which will allow SMEs to receive support to grow and develop their organisation for future success.

  • Midlands Engine has released a survey for businesses, leaders and academics in the energy sector to gather thoughts on energy capacity, challenges and opportunities in the Midlands. 

  • The Government has published a new Roadmap to a better, fairer farming system in 'the most significant change to farming and land management in 50 years.'

  • Other Government announcements this month include an extension to the Green Homes Grant and the bringing forward of the phase out of petrol and diesel cars to 2030.

  • Smart Home Connected & Assisted Living 2021 is planning to take place at the NEC from the 9-10 March 2021 which will include panel debates, seminars and much more. 

  • sbef 2021 Forum is taking place The Belfry, Wishaw on 18-19 March 2021. It will hear from leading experts in sustainability about their plans and developments for the future.

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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