We’ve calculated your carbon footprint. We’ve identified how you can reduce it. We’ve helped you access matched grant funding to make you a more efficient, more sustainable business. But what then? If there’s a way for innovation to drive further efficiencies in your business, Eco-I North West could be the answer.

Sustainability, to reuse a well-worn cliché, is a journey. For many Lancashire SMEs it starts with a call to MaCaW. A carbon audit and subsequent report sets the business on a clear path towards understanding more about its carbon footprint and how to reduce it. Then a matched grant of up to £15,000 part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) makes it easier (and much cheaper) for those SMEs to install clean technologies.

Yet the carbon a business generates comes from more than the energy it uses. Switching every light to LED and using renewable energy to power your processes is a big step – but what about the processes themselves?

That’s the point at which MaCaW would typically refer you to Eco-I North West.

Introducing Eco-I NW

Eco-I NW is a £14 million research and development project led by Lancaster University and delivered by a consortium of six North West universities including the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). Unlike MaCaW, which is a UCLan project focused squarely on Lancashire-based SMEs, Eco-I NW benefits businesses across the region, from Cumbria to Cheshire.

MaCaW’s remit is to help businesses understand their carbon footprint and reduce the carbon they emit through resource efficiency and identifying low carbon energy alternatives. Eco-I NW effectively helps businesses innovate carbon out of their products, processes and operations. You can find more about it here.

Although the work of Eco-I NW is available as a standalone service and doesn’t have to be connected with MaCaW, numerous Lancashire SMEs have found it the natural next step on their sustainability journey.

What does Eco-I NW do?

Suppose you’re a Lancashire business with a product that is resource intensive to produce, and you suspect things could be done more sustainably. Or perhaps the product is already reasonably sustainable but the process of manufacturing it, or of packaging or installing it aren’t.

Through Eco-I NW, you can access research, development and innovation expertise that can help you improve the carbon footprint of what you do and/or how you do it and quantify the carbon saving between the old and new.

The support may come in the form of a three-month innovation project, an academic internship or a master’s by research (that is, a master’s degree achieved through a project rather than being taught). The nature of the support is determined by and tailored to your business and the sustainability challenge or opportunity you face.

What might that look like on the ground? Right now, UCLan has academics working with local businesses on issues like heat recovery, sustainable packaging and innovative ways of recycling plastic waste. But these really are just examples. If there’s a carbon benefit to applying R&D to your products, processes or operations, and providing the project reduces your carbon (as opposed to enabling you to reduce carbon for someone else), it could be within Eco-I NW’s remit.

What’s the benefit?

Greater sustainability and a lower carbon footprint are powerful enough incentives to explore options with Eco-I NW – but they’re just the start. Because the whole point of the project is innovation, you potentially get to be a leader in your industry in the area of research you choose. That can bring powerful business and reputational benefits.

Depending on the innovation, you may find the results help to reduce costs or boost efficiency (or both). And if you are a supplier to larger organisations that are working to improve the sustainability of their supply chain, this research can provide powerful evidence of your credentials.

Start your journey

Call MaCaW now for a free carbon assessment and report. That can unlock up to £15,000 of matched funding to improve your energy efficiency. Then, if there’s potential for Eco-I NW to benefit your business, we’ll refer you on so you can take the next step in your journey.

To make a start, please contact us now. Or talk to Eco-I NW direct.

MaCaW is a UCLan project, an industry and academic collaboration funded by the ERDF and supported by Boost, Lancashire’s business growth hub.

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