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Funding and opportunities

Looking to finance your idea? Loans and overdrafts are the most common ways to raise finance. This section looks at the available schemes and opportunities that may provide suitable when seeking to raise monies to take your innovation to market.

Finance schemes
Tender opportunities
Other opportunities


Finance schemes

Energy entrepreneurs fund
Low carbon innovation has been given a big injection of cash with the launch of a £16million fund for entrepreneurs to develop new ideas. The first phase of the Entrepreneurs Fund, part of a £35 million fund announced earlier this year, is now open to applications. There is up to £10 million available to support energy efficiency technologies such as building control systems, advanced lighting systems, and space heating and cooling technologies. There is also up to £6 million available for power generation and energy storage technologies including fuel cells, biomass boilers and heat pumps. The aim of the funding is to speed up the development of low carbon technologies towards commercialisation, helping cut carbon in the UK, supporting jobs and creating export opportunities.

Grant funding to reduce supply risks
The Technology Strategy Board will run a funding competition and offer grant funding for feasibility studies into the re-design of products, components and systems to retain material within the economy over several cycles of use. The feasibility projects must be business-led and may be collaborative or led by a single company. All must involve a distinctive design contribution. Grants will not exceed £25,000. The competition is open to all UK companies and has two rounds. The first opens on 29 October 2012 and applications must be received by 12 December 2012. The second round opens on 11 February 2013 and applications must be submitted by 27 March 2013.

£1.25 million energy-efficient computing competition
Funding through the Energy-Efficient Computing Competition will be provided to meet the costs of feasibility studies to encourage technologies which can reduce the energy burden of computing and communications devices and systems. Supported projects will explore the feasibility of redesigning devices or writing software to reduce and manage energy consumption by these devices and systems. This initiative will be open to all UK-based companies and research organisations. Projects must be led by a business, of any size, and be undertaken by a consortium comprising at least two partners (either academia or business). Consortia are likely to comprise organisations with multi-disciplinary expertise. It opens on 8 October 2012 and applicants must register interest by 28 November 2012. The deadline for the receipt of applications is 5 December 2012.

New £5 million fund launched for community businesses
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has launched the Community Business Loan Fund (CBLF) to help potential and existing social entrepreneurs who are unable to access finance through normal mainstream channels. The £5 million Fund offers financial support for the purpose of starting or expanding a community-based business. RBS expects to support in the region of 1,000 businesses through the scheme. Eligible businesses can apply for loans of between £30,000 and £500,000. Community Development Finance Institutions, which allocate funds to other firms, may apply for loans of between £200,000 and £1 million. To be eligible for funding, the organisation must have clear social or environmental objectives and reinvest profits for a social purpose. 

Crowd-sourcing site offers new funding model for green start-ups 
A new social enterprise platform that lets people support small businesses and entrepreneurs trying to solve some of the world's most pressing challenges has been launched. Peoplefund.it provides direct funding to projects and businesses and offers other benefits and discounted services to socially-motivated and eco-friendly projects.

New Wood fuel woodland improvement grant
A new grant aiming to increase the supply of wood from under managed or inaccessible woodlands in England for renewable energy purposes has been launched. £10 million of funding is available across England for work completed and claimed by 31 March 2014. The grant offers 60 per cent towards the cost of work and doesn't take account of the timber income that results. The scheme is open to applications in all areas of England. Applications are accepted on a first come, first served basis while funds remain. Claims must be submitted by 28 February in the correct claim year and the final deadline for claims is 28 February 2014.

Barclays £100 million energy fund for farmers
Barclays Bank has created a £100 million fund designed to help farmers meet the costs of renewable energy initiatives like wind farms, solar panels, organic waste power and hydro plants. Research undertaken by the bank showed that agricultural businesses are keen to benefit from government support tariffs. More than a third of farmers would like to install renewable energy projects on their land during the coming year, and hope to generate average annual returns of £25,000.

Carbon Trust low carbon finance scheme
This scheme is available to all kinds of businesses and organisations. Financing can be arranged from £1,000 and there are potentially no upper limits. The dedicated low carbon finance scheme will enable UK businesses to invest in cost effective energy efficiency equipment or other low carbon technologies, such as new efficient lighting, cavity wall insulations and biomass heating.

Department of Energy and Climate Change
Find out how incentive schemes such as the feed-in tariff, renewable heat incentive, and the Green Deal can help you to offset capital costs and access applicable various grants, loans and award schemes.

Part of the European Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP), this £200 million Eco-Innovation programme supports eco-innovative products and services in Europe and helps businesses overcome barriers that may hamper commercial success. Calls are held every May.

Green Grants Machine
A free and comprehensive source of information on grants, loans, awards and other funds available to help your business go green.

Shell Springboard 
The Programme provides a financial boost to a small number of compelling business ideas from across the UK that address climate change. Applications will be considered if the product or service will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, is commercially viable and is innovative.

The Virgin Green Fund
An independent private equity firm investing growth capital in the renewable energy and resource efficiency sectors in North America and Europe, deploying growth capital in product, equipment and service companies with proven commercial success.

Green Deal initiative for businesses
This financial support scheme, which is designed to improve the standards of insulation and heating for business properties throughout the UK, is expected to launch in October 2012. The scheme will offer finance or loan support for business owners to improve the property that they own through energy efficiency measures. This finance is in effect a ‘free loan' for the installation of energy saving improvements which will be charged back through the property energy metering. Small and large businesses located and operating in the UK will qualify for the scheme. The applicant must be a landowner or alternatively, rent the business premises in which they operate.

$5 million low carbon infrastructure fund
The Carbon Trust and GE have announced a new $5 million business incubation fund targeted at companies developing low carbon infrastructure technologies. The incubation fund will be targeted at new low-carbon technologies in the area of infrastructure applications. The Carbon Trust will work with GE to identify and evaluate early stage companies, then incubate and invest in those with the most potential. It is part of the $200 million GE ecomagination Challenge, a global open innovation initiative with Venture Capital partners that launched in 2010 to find and fund the best ideas around clean tech technology.

Tender opportunities

Get information on community research and development programmes and find out how to participate in research programmes financed by the EU, find partners, and share ideas.

European Commission climate change tender webpage
Worth keeping a check on, the European Commission publishes its tender specifications relating to climate change on this webpage. It is also worth checking previous calls for tenders, also available on the webpage, to get an idea on the type of work they have previously commissioned.

Researching tender opportunities
Find key sites where public sector contracts may be advertised.

Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) 
Get free access to business opportunities. It is updated five times a week with approximately 1, 500 public procurement notices from the European Union, the European Economic Area and beyond.

Other opportunities

Climate change schools: a corporate social responsibility project to support
The business case for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has never been stronger and more clearly understood. Benefits range from increasing profitability and competitiveness to improving reputation, staff and consumer loyalty and maintaining public goodwill. The Climate Change Schools Project offers you the opportunity to engage directly and heighten the visibility of your brand with schools, young people and communities, and associate it with your CSR aims and objectives. With multiple awards under its belt, the Project is an educational programme that has seen over 100 schools and thousands of young people participate in over 50,000 hours of climate change related activity since 2008. Aiming to put climate change at the heart of the national curriculum, the project is helping schools become 'beacons' of positive climate change action in their local communities. Contact Dr. Krista McKinzey, Climate Change Schools Project Manager, on 0191 370 6205.

Groundwork North East environment advice club
Working in partnership with the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), Groundwork North East is to help small and medium-sized enterprises improve environmental management systems. The Environmental Management System (ISO14001) Implementation Club initiative, which has secured government funding, will assist 10 manufacturing companies - with fewer than 250 employees - across the North East and Cumbria. It will take participants through a seven-month programme that will lead to improved environmental management and resource efficiency. 

Tees Valley Best New Business Awards
The aim of the Tees Valley Best New Business Awards is to showcase businesses and honour them for their hard work. The 2012 awards categories include an Environment Award. Businesses based inside the Tees Valley that have been set up within the past three years are eligible to enter. The deadline for receipt of entries is 5 October 2012 and the awards will be held at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough on Monday 25 February 2013.

Ashden Awards 2013
The Ashden UK Awards want to hear from businesses that are making progress in saving energy, generating renewable energy or promoting behaviour change. Entry for the Awards is free, and winners will receive up to £20,000 as well as national media exposure; a short film about the work; and will become part of the Ashden prestigious alumni network. The closing date for applications is 30 October.

Help to develop innovative business ideas 
Did you know that Newcastle City Council's Library Service, Northumbria University, Newcastle University and the British Library are working together to develop a new service for innovative businesses and entrepreneurs in North East England? The Newcastle Business & IP Centre, planned for launch next year, will be the first centre outside London to help businesses grow by providing them with the information, skills and resources crucial to success. In the lead up to this, a series of events, workshops, public talks and one-to-one coaching sessions, are being held where experts will share their knowledge of business development and intellectual property.

New environmental technology verification programme launched
A voluntary programme aiming to provide independent verification of the performance of new environmental technologies has been launched by the European Commission. The Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) pilot programme aims to reduce the risks and increase confidence of the first purchasers or investors in a new technology by providing reliable, science-based information on its performance. It will help: companies that are developing innovative environmental technologies; manufacturers wishing to prove the reliability of performance claims; and technology purchasers identifying innovations that suit their needs. It will initially cover: water treatment and monitoring; materials, waste and resources; and energy technologies.

Small businesses urged to get their views heard on Green Deal 
Climate Change Minister Greg Barker is urging small businesses to get their views heard on the Government's multi-billion pound Green Deal energy efficiency programme, which launches later this year. The Government has said it expects the Green Deal to kick-start a £14 billion investment programme over the next decade in energy saving upgrades to households and businesses and it wants small and medium sized businesses to play a major role in delivering the scheme. It also wants to see small providers of the Green Deal to benefit from up to half of the ECO's £1.3 billion annual budget. It believes this will make the ECO more cost effective for consumers, encourage competition in the market and ensure smaller Green Deal providers aren't crowded out.

This section is updated regularly. Please email jennifer.atkinson@climatenortheast.com if you have any feedback or suggestions.


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ClimateNE brings together a range of organisations committed to taking action to tackle the causes and effects of climate change in the region