Staffordshire organisations join forces to connect businesses with free support on their sustainability journeys

Sustainable energy farm.

Staffordshire Chambers, NatWest, Keele University and non-profit The Globe Group CIC have joined forces in an innovative project designed to put the environment at the forefront of regional innovation.

The partnership means that local businesses banking with NatWest can now benefit from access to Keele University’s Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEND), a programme that supports Staffordshire-based SMEs looking to reduce their energy consumption and lower their carbon emissions.

A launch event, organised by the Chamber on February 9, includes a tour of the Low Carbon Energy Generation Park and SEND control centre at Keele University, followed by a climate and energy crisis roundtable discussion where businesses will have the opportunity to ask questions and seek support.

The four organisations came together at the Staffordshire Climate Expo, organised by The Globe Group, and are now inviting local businesses to the February launch event at Keele University.

With the ongoing energy crisis, many businesses are concerned about their rising energy costs and the roundtable is an opportunity for SMEs to discuss their business needs and find out more about the fully funded SEND research projects on offer, which aim to find affordable and practical solutions for SMEs.

NatWest’s Springboard to Sustainable Recovery 2022 report highlights the key role that SMEs can play in decarbonisation and the UK reaching its net zero goals, while also cutting their own energy costs in the process.

The report reveals that if energy prices remain elevated, installing on-roof solar panels could pay back 25% faster today than in 2021, while installing a heat pump now would pay back in half the time that it would have taken just a year ago. It also highlights that meeting net zero targets is predicted to bring a £175billion revenue boost to the UK economy between now and 2030, with SMEs in a prime position to capitalise on this potential.

Dipesh Mistry, chair of NatWest regional board in the Midlands and East, said: “On paper we’re all very different organisations, however we’re all united by a desire to address climate change and have a positive impact on the environment, while supporting the local business environment thrive.

“As a bank, we know that as well as challenges, the journey to net zero holds real opportunities for SMEs who are known for innovation, creativity and tenacity. By partnering together with other like-minded organisation, we hope to offer local businesses a really exciting opportunity to gain valuable independent insight into unlocking the growth opportunities that the move to net zero brings.”

Julian Read, SEND Programme Manager at Keele University, said: “Partnering with the NatWest, Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and the Globe Group presents an amazing opportunity to reach out to organisations as they start to understand their transition into sustainability, smart energy and understanding net zero, providing the knowledge they need to make vital organisational decisions in a challenging economic environment.

“Since we started our sustainability journey, Keele has become sector-leading in environmental education, as well as conducting world-leading research into environmental sustainability. We’re keen to share our experiences with other organisations to help advance their sustainability journey.”

Tom Nadin, Head of Projects and Business Services at Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Staffordshire Chambers is delighted to be working with Keele University, NatWest and the Globe Group to support Staffordshire SMEs on their journey to net zero. A collaborative approach to climate change is crucial in helping local businesses work toward a greener future.

“We have launched a series of events that will give local firms the opportunity to hear from each partner about the sustainable opportunities for businesses and the associated finance options.

“Businesses are welcome to join us for the first session with Keele University and enjoy a tour of the Low Carbon Energy Generation Park and Smart Energy Network Demonstrator control centre, followed by a round table discussion where you will have the opportunity to ask any questions and seek support for your business.”

Pam Sheemar, Director of Commercial Banking in Stoke and Staffordshire, NatWest, brought the four organisations together after hearing about the challenges business customers are facing. Pam said: “I’d encourage any local businesses that would like some support with their sustainability journey, or those with an interest in developing new sustainable products and services, to come along and find out more about the help and guidance on offer from our innovative partnership with Keele University, Globe Group and Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce.”

Sign up for the roundtable event and tour on Thursday 9 February, here.

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