Lancashire firms urged to make use of these green grants for innovation

Lancashire businesses looking to develop new eco-friendly products and services are getting help from a green innovation fund launched to help transform their ideas into reality.

By Tim Gavell
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 12:30 pm

Businesses, charities and social enterprises in the county can get up to 60 per cent funding towards projects worth £25,000 to help them deliver sustainable products, processes or services.

The £400,000 grant scheme is managed by Eco-I North West, a £14m research and development programme which gives SMEs access to a regional knowledge base, cutting-edge research facilities and skills involving six of the region’s leading universities including UCLan, Lancaster, Cumbria, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester Metropolitan.

Since its launch two years ago, more than 100 enterprises, including 36 here in Lancashire, have collaborated with universities to test their ideas which could help solve global challenges such as water supply and quality, waste, energy, resource efficiency, natural capital, air quality, and food security.

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Andy Pickard, manager of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation which delivers the Eco-I NW green funding scheme

The grants aim to accelerate these low carbon innovations from research to commercialisation by match funding prototypes, pilots and demonstration systems.

Andy Pickard, manager of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, which delivers the Eco-I NW programme, said: “Eco-I NW opens up such a huge academic regional resource to SMEs. It offers the opportunity for the North West to create an ecosystem which accelerates our transition to a low carbon economy.

“I would encourage leaders of SME enterprises in the North West to talk to us about how Eco-I NW could help to reduce costs and their carbon footprint, improve performance, and future proof their business in a low carbon future.”

Arid Agritec, a crop manufacturer based at the University of Lancaster, is working with Eco-I NW to develop its algorithm-based technology to improve consumer safety and reduce waste in global fresh produce supply chains.

Dr Wagdy Sobeih of Lancaster-based crop specialist Arid Agritec

Dr Wagdy Sobeih said: “Eco-I NW has provided us with invaluable support via funding and coding expertise which has allowed us to build a demonstration app that will allow us to secure full investor funding and bring our technology to the global market within the next two to three years.

“Every year between 2-2.5 per cent of all fresh, high-value fruit and vegetable products fail maximum pesticide residue testing as they enter the EU-UK market.

"This represents millions of tonnes of food being destroyed at border checkpoints leading to food waste on a truly industrial scale every year.

“We’ve been developing and testing a highly novel algorithm-based approach which will soon allow growers to predict the breakdown rate of their pesticide product for any crop at any location in the world in any and all growing systems via a simple, predictive app service."

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