EBRI’s business support boosts the low carbon economy during challenging times
An independent study has forecast that the work of Aston University’s Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) will generate over £23 million gross value added (GVA) for the West Midlands economy over the next two years.
To date, EBRI’s business support programme has helped over 450 small and medium sized businesses to expand their horizons for their own benefit and that of the Midlands region.
It is projected that EBRI’s support will have created over 525 jobs and over £50 million in regional impact (GVA) from 2011 to 2025.
An independent assessment and evaluation of the work of the Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University in Birmingham – undertaken by Focus Consultants – has forecast the creation of more than 291 jobs and the generation of over £23 million gross value added (GVA) for the West Midlands economy over the next two years.
Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), EBRI has run three consecutive projects since 2011 to help small and medium-sized enterprises in the West Midlands develop new products and services from unwanted material, such as manufacturing, agricultural and food waste, and to assist organisations address their sustainability goals.
The latest study produced by Focus Consultants provides an insight into the performance of the project which ran from July 2019 to June 2023, including effectiveness and value for money, as well as a selection of case studies featuring companies from a wide range of industry sectors such as brewery, seaweed harvesting, marketing, plastic manufacturers, timber suppliers and renewable energy technologists.
The report highlighted the success of EBRI in meeting its business support targets through a particularly challenging period of uncertainty caused by the pandemic and economic turbulence. By quickly adapting its business support model at the start of lockdown in 2020 to offer virtual low carbon challenge consultations and sustainability health checks to businesses, EBRI was able to deliver valuable advice to companies who were looking to address a variety of challenges including how to reduce waste, energy costs and carbon emissions, diversify into new markets, and meet corporate sustainability goals.
The evaluation reveals that EBRI’s series of ‘Sustainability, Energy and Bioproducts Master Classes’ which were held around the West Midlands as the country emerged from lockdown in 2021 and 2022, were extremely well-received by entrepreneurs and business decision makers. 92% of attendees rated the events as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very Good’.
To date, EBRI’s business support programme has helped over 450 small and medium sized businesses to expand their horizons for their own benefit and that of the Midlands region, and it is projected that EBRI’s support will have created over 525 jobs and £50 million in regional impact (GVA) from 2011 to 2025.
Tim Miller, Director of Engagement at EBRI, said:
“It’s great to see the positive impact our support programme has had on businesses over the past few years to help them on the path to net zero. The evaluation reveals the wide-reaching success we have had on the West Midlands economy and growth of commercial opportunities linked to low carbon goods and services.”
The latest project which ran from 2019 to 2023 received £1.75m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
Following on from EBRI’s ERDF business support programmes, EBRI has announced it will be building on its existing research facilities and business support experience to lead the region’s Biochar CleanTech Accelerator as part of the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator. The project was set up with the aim to secure commercial contracts for low carbon products worth over £200 million, to be made by a regional industrial cluster. It is hoped that the development of a low-carbon business cluster in the West Midlands will open up new domestic and export markets to help rebuild the region’s engineering and manufacturing status.