St Helens businesses invited to free Eco-I North West virtual summit

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Dr Yagya Regmi, researcher at Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Center

Eco-I North West is a research and development initiative that provides hundreds of companies with the opportunity to access the vast knowledge base, cutting-edge research facilities and skills of six of the region’s leading universities – Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores, Manchester Metropolitan, Lancaster, Central Lancashire and Cumbria.

The program, which is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), will work with more than 300 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region and across sectors over the next two years, supporting the development of 135 new innovative solutions that will save 3,850 tonnes of CO2.

More than 80 companies from across the region and from all sectors have already signed up for the program, which offers funding opportunities and innovation support to enable them to pilot, prototype and demonstrate new technologies, as well as business opportunities. leadership development, workshops and networking.

Some of them will share their inspiring stories during an open access webinar, Disruption, Innovation, Transformation. Climate change: it’s now or never, Wednesday October 20.

The two-hour summit, which will run from 10 a.m. to noon, is aimed at SMEs, researchers and academics based in the Northwest interested in the net zero carbon agenda, and will be hosted using ‘an interactive online platform.

The event will kick off with keynote speaker Duncan Pollaty at Nestlé and Director of Conservation Practice & Policy rd, former VP of Sustainabiliat WWF, who will share his expertise on how to integrate, engage and operationalize sustainable practices in companies.

Delegates will then be invited to participate in three thematic breakout sessions to discuss shared challenges and opportunities and to hear about some of the companies working with Eco-I NW:

Nature-Based Solutions, hosted by Helen Wilkinson of Lancaster University Management School, will hear Barker and Bland talk about their innovative work with the University of Cumbria on peatlands and Biotech Services, which is working with Lancaster University to research how biomaterials can be used for new biotechnology applications.

Built Environment, hosted by the University of Liverpool and John Moores University of Liverpool (LJMU), will hear from Dr Ariel Edesess, a low-carbon technology researcher at LJMU who is studying practical ways for companies to implement measures against climate change, and Dr Steffen Heinig, senior lecturer at LJMU with expertise in real estate management and investment. Meanwhile, the focus will be on the potential of 3D printing as a sustainability disruptor in the construction and civil engineering sector.

Circular Economy, will hear Dr Yagya Regmi, researcher at Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Center, which focuses on solutions to decarbonise the energy sector, Dr Rhiannon Hunt, Circular Economy Manager at Manchester Metropolitan University, working on a series of innovative waste reduction and reuse projects, and Professor Karl Williams, director of the Center for Waste and Resource Management at the University of Central Lancashire, researching new solutions to better use resources to mitigate carbon impacts.

Speaking ahead of the event, Duncan Pollard said, “The business community has the power to influence the effects of climate change, through its operations, supply chains and by providing more sustainable choices to customers. But for positive change, we need to disrupt and challenge the “business as usual” mindset.

“Sustainability must be at the heart of the post-Covid recovery, not just an addition. Any business that ignores the sustainability concerns of staff, customers and investors risks being left behind.

“SMEs are the lifeblood of our economy and offer something very special to help provide solutions to meet the massive challenge of climate change. Without the scale or complexity of large companies, they can move quickly to try new things and are efficient in how they use resources.

“With more than 560,000 SMEs operating in the Northwest, the time has come for this crucial collective to stand up and seize the opportunity.”

The event will be chaired by Professor Jess Davies, Director of the Center for Global Eco-Innovation at Lancaster University, said: “This virtual summit will be the first time that all key partners involved in Eco-I NW have been able to come together to ask the tough questions about how we can tackle major global challenges such as water supply and quality, waste, energy, resource efficiency, natural capital, quality air and food security.

“Eco-I NW is the first project of its kind to open up such a vast regional academic resource to businesses and offers the Northwest an opportunity to take the lead and benefit from the transition to a low carbon economy.

“I would encourage small and medium-sized business leaders in the Northwest to register for the event and come to understand how Eco-I NW could help them and the planet.”


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