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Local businesses urged to accelerate net zero journey with university R&D programme

Glossop and Tameside businesses are being urged to sign up to a university R&D programme to accelerate their journey to net zero.

Eco-I North West, a large-scale research and development initiative, supports small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) from any sector to develop low carbon innovations in partnership with six of the North West’s leading universities – Lancaster, Central Lancashire, Cumbria, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester Metropolitan.

Launched in 2020, the three-year programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), is now working with more than 180 SMEs across the region, including 37 in Greater Manchester, to create new sustainable technologies, products and services to accelerate the green economic recovery.

Among them are Fibrestar Drums, based in Stockport, a manufacturer of fibre drums innovating with new materials and solutions which will have a lasting impact on the environment.

With a year remaining, Eco-I NW is on target to help 369 businesses to develop 135 new innovative solutions and remove 3,850 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, supporting the UK government’s target of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Eco-I NW is now looking to connect with the next wave of businesses offering access to fully-funded interns from a pool of highly motivated and talented students across the six universities, match-funded postgraduate researchers for more long term projects, and capital grants to fund prototypes, pilots and demonstration systems.

Andy Pickard, Manager of Eco-I NW and the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, said: "This first two years of the Eco-I NW programme have been extremely challenging in view of the pandemic, which highlights the incredible achievement that we have managed to support 180 businesses to lead the region’s transition towards a low carbon economy. 

“Eco-I NW is doing fantastic work to create a melting pot of disruptive innovation, driven by conversation and collaboration. However, to achieve the rapid transition to more sustainable economies and societies in the face of the climate emergency, we need to grow our network of collaborators.

"The North West has the knowledge, people and industry to be world-leading in the transition to a better economy which is sensitive also to the needs of the environment. And with more than 560,000 SMEs in the region, the opportunity for this crucial collective to create green growth is immense. 

“This is why I would encourage any small or medium business in the region, whatever their sector and whatever stage of their journey they are on, to make contact with the Eco-I NW team.”

For more information, visit https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/global-eco-innovation/business/eco-i-nw

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