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CREST meeting

Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Centre for Research into Environmental Science and Technology (CREST), offers fully funded support to SME’s (Small Medium Enterprises) who want to reduce their environmental impact or innovate and develop new products or services.

Longmynd Travel, based just outside Shrewsbury, provides professional coach travel for business and private clients. As a response to Net Zero, staff wanted to understand the alternative fuel marketplace for coaches, which is distinct to that for buses.

Initially, CREST academic experts completed research into alternative fuels and their suitability to be used either alongside or as a replacement for a standard diesel combustion engine.

Due to the costs associated with switching over to alternative fuels, the CREST team wanted to find the firm some financial assistance. Birmingham Clean Air Zone had grants available that could be used by SMEs in the West Midlands to help upgrade/ retrofit existing vehicles or purchase/ lease new vehicles. Vicki Ayton, Business Development Manager, supported Longmynd Travel with the March 2022 application that saw the comapny being awarded £45,000.

CREST also works with LOCOP from Worcestershire County Council to increase the support available for businesses that want to develop low carbon technologies.

The Low Carbon Opportunities Programme (LOCOP), managed by Worcestershire County Council in partnership with Shropshire Council and CREST, and funded by the European Regional Development Programme, can offer up to £50,000 for innovation of low carbon products and services. SMEs can apply for grants for up to 40% of the costs of eligible capital or revenue projects. 

Jane Yardley, Leading Research Fellow, has so far supported four companies with their applications, with them receiving a total of £98,800 to develop products and services. Examples include an intelligent water valve that prevents flooding of properties, which would reduce the amount of flood damage and thus the embedded carbon in both the damaged and replacement construction materials; an innovative new pallet wrap that required testing and analysis to prove to customers that it is as reliable as traditional products, and an alternative beer container to replace single use glass or plastic kegs.

One of CREST’s business networks, the Shrewsbury Geospatial Group (SGG), developed by Pascale Bodevin, Business Development Officer, focuses on advancing the uptake of geospatial technologies by organisations and individuals. A crucial part of achieving this objective is to support access to funding that facilitates projects, enabling collaboration between academia and industry. CREST supported Sylvan Resources in accessing €10,000 (approx. £8,500) via the PARSEC accelerator. This funding is to support organisations with the development of Earth Observation (EO) based products to solve food, energy or environmental issues.

Katharine Bevan, Project Manager, at CREST said: “It has been incredibly satisfying to work with these businesses to help them make real changes that improve their sustainability. We are always keen to hear from eligible businesses to see how we can help sustainability projects to succeed.”

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