If you are a supplier of eco-friendly, low carbon or sustainable goods or services, you are certainly not alone. You are part of a large, successful and growing sector of the economy.
The Low Carbon Business Network is fortunate to work closely with the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce (EMC) to support suppliers of low carbon and environmental goods and services (LCEGS for short). A recent EMC survey of local businesses found that 3 in 10 businesses in our region supply some form of goods and services with an environmental benefit and 10% of SMEs derive 50% or more of their turnover from green goods or services.
This reflects national research that shows the low carbon economy has grown by around 5% every year since 2008 and is worth in excess of £128 billion annually, or 8% of the UK’s GDP. In 2015, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills estimated that low carbon business was worth more than double the UK’s auto manufacturing industry and generated five times the value of Aerospace and more than double the value of the Pharmaceuticals industry.
This picture is complicated, however, because for every business explicitly supplying low carbon products (like A+ rated LED lighting from BB Lighting in Matlock), there are many more rooted in traditional sectors like tourism, offering services that reduce the carbon footprint of their clients’ activity (such as off-grid Eco-pods in the Peak District, for example). Some of these companies may not even consider themselves to be a ‘low carbon business’, never mind show up in Government statistics.
For this reason LCEGS has been described as an ‘umbrella sector’. The nature of this sector means that it is difficult to gather a comprehensive picture of its scale and the opportunities and challenges faced by SMEs. Research does tell us that LCEGS SMEs find it difficult to access finance and funding for innovation and hard to establish a foothold in export markets. It also tells us that although LCEGS SMEs are often unaware of the support available to them, successful businesses are commonly connected to Universities and other technology centres in one way or another.
This is where the Low Carbon Business Network comes in. We provide business support for SMEs in Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire that supply any form of goods or services that create an environmental benefit. We can signpost grants and funding opportunities, help SMEs gain environmental accreditation, and provide support for R&D, product design, marketing, tendering, intellectual property and a host of other business needs. The Network also helps small businesses collaborate on bigger bids and projects as well as giving access to some of the region’s largest procurers of low carbon and environmental goods and services.
If you are looking for help with ‘green growth’ then please get in touch. We are also always looking for great local success stories to celebrate the success of our local low carbon and environmental businesses – whatever form that may take.