Impact, Highlights and the Future
Supporting SME opportunities in Bioenergy, Bioproducts and Energy Systems
PRACTICAL HELP FOR BUSINESS
In 2016, EBRI was awarded a £2.74m project ‘Business Investment in Research’ jointly funded by the EU European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and Aston University.
The main objective of this three year initiative was to accelerate small business innovation in the application of energy, energy systems and bioproducts to drive new growth, employment and export opportunities in the West Midlands and beyond.
Results and Impact
The Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI), previously known as the European Bioenergy Research Institute, at Aston University appointed Focus Consultants to undertake an independent assessment and evaluation of the project. Their findings are summarised over the next few pages, providing an insight into project performance, effectiveness and value for money, as well as its potential impact on shaping future business support.
The EBRI project was designed to provide practical solutions for businesses in the West Midlands to explore the growing ‘Energy-from-Waste’ and Energy Systems markets, and the opportunities they offer. Business decision makers were able to benefit from:
- Bespoke guidance through the EBRI ‘Value from Waste’ Master Class
- Testing and analysis of materials
- Assessment of business proposals
- Analysis of supply chain opportunities
Help given – a statistical summary
- 4,126 hours of business support provided by EBRI.
- 172 West Midlands businesses assisted.
- An average of 24 hours of support provided to each business.
- 103 businesses received over 12 hours of support, amounting to 3,727 hours of support.
- This equated to over 36 hours of support per business, or 300% of what was required to hit the ERDF minimum business support requirement.
- The actual cost per business support output was £12k. The projected budget cost allocated for each output was £34k.
Achievements against targets
The EBRI project overperformed against the required number of ERDF outputs as detailed in the table below.
Working with businesses
During the three years of the programme, EBRI offered companies a variety of options to help them develop new products and services – ranging from events focusing on how to access funding, two-day Master Classes, through to bespoke market and technical evaluation reports.
An independent survey was issued to all of the businesses that received support from EBRI to gain their feedback. The key findings from the survey respondees are listed below:
A number of beneficiary case studies illustrate the wide-reaching impact EBRI has had on project participants, with one business for instance forecasting that as a result of their involvement with the project they will recruit approximately 50 new staff.
According to the independent summative assessment and evaluation of EBRI’s project, the potential direct and indirect impacts of the project over the next two years are estimated to be:
* This is the estimated potential total direct and indirect employment created over the next two years as a result of the project. Calculations are based on the following: average number of jobs predicted to be created by businesses who took part in the project (based on data from a business survey) multiplied by the total number of businesses supported by the project. The calculations also take into account deadweight, displacement and use Type 2 Multipliers.
** A simple measure of GVA has been used – the estimated turnover created by the additional employees in the new posts created though the EBRI programme.
According to the independent evaluation report, the EBRI project has delivered a number of benefits not only to local companies, but to Aston University, the West Midlands community and beyond.
In order to produce the independent evaluation a number of key external and internal stakeholders were interviewed to determine the impact of EBRI’s support.
Drawing on the success of this project, EBRI has announced a new three year ERDF project which will build and develop on the findings of the independent evaluation report. This new initiative will support access to Low Carbon research and innovation in West Midlands businesses commencing July 2019.