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Thursday, July 25, 2024

47 Lancashire companies help R&D programme cut 3,850 tonnes of CO2

Eco-I North West creating ‘melting pot of disruptive innovation’ through 180 business-university collaborations

A programme funding and enabling 47 Lancashire companies to collaborate with universities to tackle climate change is on target to cut 3,850 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

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 47 in Lancashire, to create new sustainable technologies, products and services to accelerate the green economic recovery.

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.

The success of the programme and its future vision were the focus of an event at Lancaster University called ‘Journeys to Net Zero: Collaboration Showcase’.

More than 200 stakeholders heard from speakers such as Michael Pawlyn, designer of the Eden Project in Cornwall, journalist and author John Robb, Camila Rock De Luigi, the architect behind Eden North, and Professor Jess Davies, Director of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation at Lancaster University, before presentations from some of the SMEs already partnering with universities through Eco-I NW.

LiNa Energy, an innovator in high performance solid-state sodium batteries based in Lancaster, is working with Lancaster University on creating a rapid quality control test for electrolyte quality in batteries to improve production processes, and reduce waste and cost.

Richard Dawson, Chief Technology Office, said: “Eco-I NW has enabled us to have simple and flexible access to leading academic experts and equipment at an attractive cost to the business. It also allows for the development of skills in the researcher that can add to the business.”

National Air Quality Testing Services (NAQTS), an expert in air quality monitoring technology and testing services, based in Lancaster, is working with Lancaster University on a project aimed at simultaneously decarbonising buildings, promoting good indoor air quality (IAQ), and reducing the likelihood of airborne virus transmission.

Douglas Booker, Co-founder and CEO, said: “We are delighted to be working with Eco-I North West and Lancaster University to design and test new networks of sensors to manage these equally important goals of energy efficiency and indoor air quality.”

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.

“The key message that came from our showcase event is that 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.”

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