Eco-I North West Low Carbon R&D Programme Set to Boost Net-Zero Ambition
Over 80 North West businesses have signed up to a first-of-its-kind research and development programme for low carbon innovation.

The programme, partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund, will work with more than 300 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the region over the next two years.

Research and development from the sector will support 135 new innovative solutions which will save 3,850 tonnes of CO2.

This is support for businesses to build back better, enabling R&D, and building networks to drive innovation. This is being seen as good for business and better for the environment.

Eco-I North West is a £14 million initiative offering SMEs in any sector the opportunity to collaborate with and access the extensive knowledge base, cutting-edge research facilities, and skills of six of the region’s leading universities – Lancaster, Central Lancashire, Cumbria, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester Metropolitan.

Some of these inspirational stories will be showcased at a free-to-access virtual summit, Disruption, Innovation, Transformation. Climate Change: It’s Now or Never, on Wednesday, October 20.

The upcoming event will discuss core issues in the industry

The two-hour webinar, running from 10 am-12 pm, will include keynote speaker Duncan Pollard, former VP for Sustainability at Nestle and Director of Conservation Practice & Policy at WWF, who will share his expertise on how to integrate, engage, and operationalise sustainable practice in business.

Delegates will then be invited to participate in three themed breakout sessions about nature-based solutions, the built environment, and the circular economy.

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 offering more sustainable choices to customers. But for positive change, we must disrupt and challenge the business as usual mindset.

Sustainability must be at the heart of the post-Covid recovery, not just an add-on. Any business that doesn’t heed the sustainability concerns of staff, customers and investors risk being left behind

Some of the companies involved in the project include Enviroo, which are based in Manchester. specialises in recycling Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). This is the main material used for plastic bottles, and converting it into the raw material for new food-grade packaging, without any waste.

Huge opportunity to showcase innovation

Quadrant heard from Ahmed Detta, CEO & Founder. He said: “Our partnership with Lancaster University through the Eco-I NW programme is the perfect fit for our company. It will give us access to the research body of a prestigious university, and essentially create an R&D arm for our young enterprise, to help us achieve our long-term business goals.

The project will explore behavioural habits and trends that will keep people recycling beyond the legislation of the government and help identify what infrastructure needs to be in place to enable recycling outside the home

National Air Quality Testing Services (NAQTS), based in Lancaster, are also part of the scheme. They provide independent, reliable and holistic air quality information to inform choices and improve quality of life.

It is working with Lancaster University on a project aimed at simultaneously decarbonising buildings, promoting good indoor air quality (IAQ), and reducing the likelihood of airborne virus transmission.

Douglas Booker, Co-founder and CEO, said: “Air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health risk according to the World Health Organisation. Outdoor air quality is typically the focus, despite people spending 90% of their time indoors where the air quality can be worse, in part because energy efficiency initiatives have mandated high levels of airtightness that can trap air pollution indoors.”