Pioneering hub launched to fast track low carbon and sustainable tech firms

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The UK’s first business acceleration hub dedicated to helping set up and grow a new generation of innovative small firms in the sustainable technologies sector has been officially launched in Bristol.

The Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub has been set up by the University of Bath but will operate across the West of England. It was officially unveiled at an event staged at Bristol’s Future Economy Centre by Low Carbon South West (LCSW). 

Its opening this month underpins the West of England’s reputation as both a magnet for sustainable and low carbon businesses and as a centre for innovative technology.

The hub aims to develop more than 130 small and medium-sized businesses over the next three years. These firms will all be dedicated to harnessing technology to tackle some of the key issues in the low carbon and sustainable sectors, from transport and power to the way homes are built.

They will receive mentoring from experts in areas such as finance and law to help fast-track their innovations to market.

They will also be encouraged to establish lasting research partnerships with the University of Bath, generating economic growth in the region and delivering on the government’s Industrial Strategy. Launched in November, this placed ‘clean growth’ among the priorities for the future of UK industry.

The hub, which is operated by the university’s Research & Innovation Service and supported by LCSW, is being funded by nearly £750,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Firms taking part will be encouraged to develop sustainable models and become market ready in areas such as low carbon services, low carbon products, sustainable chemical technologies and the sustainable built environment.

Project lead and director of the university’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT), Prof Matthew Davidson, said: “Low carbon and sustainable technologies are a research strength of this university.

“Not only will this business acceleration hub enable us to collaborate more effectively and with additional businesses, but they will be businesses which are highly innovative with strong growth potential. Having this network available is an important asset for us.” While it will be based in the University of Bath’s existing city centre innovative unit, many participating businesses will be virtual members.

LCSW general manager Matt Tudge said the organisation was excited to be supporting the project.

“The Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub is exactly the kind of offering that will continue to build on the West of England region’s reputation for world-leading innovation in sustainable technologies and supporting the continued growth of the wider low carbon economy,” he said.

The Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub (STBAH) Programme will offer a portfolio of targeted and tailored resources to help high-growth companies grow even faster, with access to investment, customers and R&D grant funding. 

Academics from across the University of Bath’s departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Architecture & Civil Engineering, and the School of Management, are also key partners on the project.