Published: 27 September 2011 at 15:18
Anglia Ruskin University-led scheme supports SMEs in the East of England
An exciting programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the East of England Development Agency, and run from Anglia Ruskin University, has been set up to help small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the East of England survive and grow through these difficult economic times.
With 2.8 million Euros to invest, the Low Carbon KEEP (Knowledge East of England Partnership) Programme has already approved 14 grant applications, which in total exceeds £200,000 of support to businesses in the region, and the programme is eager to support many more.
SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy, contributing significantly to GDP and employment. They have a key role to play in driving the UK out of recession, as they are often the most flexible, the most imaginative, and the quickest to respond to changes in the economy.
They are the also the key to the transition to a green economy, with new markets for innovative green and low carbon technologies and processes creating business opportunities for organisations of all sizes.
The Low Carbon KEEP programme offers grant support specifically to help businesses improve their capabilities by working in partnership with UK universities. A recent graduate, who is closely supported by an academic expert, is employed to spearhead a new project.
Projects can run from four to 18 months, the grant covers 40% of the overall cost of the project and almost any collaborative project that delivers a carbon saving can qualify for the grant. The ‘low carbon’ in Low Carbon KEEP can refer to projects that achieve carbon savings within the company itself, carbon saving by their customers, or carbon savings in their supply chain.
This could be development of new processes and procedures within the company that will not only reduce carbon emissions but also reduce overheads, the achievement of environmental accreditation that will improve the company’s procurement success, or even the development of a new ‘green’ product that allows the company to enter new markets and increase profits.
Cross Keys Homes in Peterborough is one of the businesses that has so far benefited from the scheme. The housing association brought in a Low Carbon KEEP associate to project manage the process of achieving the environmental accreditation ISO14001.
Kelly Field, head of communications and continuous improvement at Cross Keys Homes, said:
Dr Tony West, Director of Research, Development and Commercial Services at Anglia Ruskin University, said: