On Thursday 27th June, the STBAH held their second event in their series of sustainable economy events.
The breakfast meeting took place at the Engine Shed in Bristol and saw a number of delegates attend the event which topic was focused on Keeping Products and Materials in Use.
Dr Sophie Parsons, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Bath opened the event with her keynote on “the role of materials in our transition to a low carbon economy”.
Sophie discussed the sustainable systems research she has been exploring and explained how materials efficiency plays a crucial role as renewable energy in our transition towards a low carbon economy. Human behaviour and acceptance of changes and policies is also needed and better metrics are required to capture economic, environmental and social value.
Sophie went on to explain that better metrics are needed to enable a circular economy and making this more accessible to SME’s and technologies at the early stages of commercialisation.
Transition needs to be underpinned by policy support and engagement from consumers.
Fundamental to our understanding of sustainability in this area is a systems approach which includes the whole value chain.
Next up was Dan Hird, Head of Corporate Finance from Triodos Bank - Europes’s leading sustainable ethical bank. Dan explained how Triodos only support organisations whose objective is to create positive social, environmental or cultural impact and went onto talk about different investor routes - highlighting some of the pros and cons, which was definitely of interest to delegates attending.
Dan then highlighted a couple of successful crowdfunding case study Triodos Bank have supported. Fishtek Marine, a Devon based fishing technology business wanted to raise £900,000 for product development, IP protection and marketing for reusable fishing gear - thus reducing mass plastic consumables - 100% of funds were raised.
Another successful case study Dan talked about is that of Bristol Wood Recycling Project - a social enterprise waste wood collection service where everything is re-used or re-cycled - nil to landfill. Through Triodos crowdfunding site, funds were raised in 3 weeks to enable them to purchase freehold premises.
Following on from Dan’s presentation we were join by Robert Quarshie, Head of Materials at Innovate UK who discussed points on what the government are doing about plastics and the investment behind it, through the Plastics Research & Innovation Fund and the Commonwealth Marine Plastics & Innovation Framework.
Robert encouraged everyone to sign up to the UK Circular Plastics Network who are aiming to bring together the diverse users of plastic products and realise the best outcomes for eliminating plastic waste through a programme of networking and knowledge sharing events and related support activities.
Highlighted through his presentation was the academic work already happening and the Plastics ‘Creativity’ research of £8m funding available, as well as other current and new funding available in this area. Robert then went onto discuss future innovations and potential solutions such as smart plastic packaging and how it is reported that the UK will lead the world in development of sustainable packaging thanks to up to £60m of new government funding.
Delegates then heard from two start up companies who have been receiving the free business support through the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub operating in this field.
Pinweld who are all about ‘repair’ and not one use, are in their final round of investment for their polymer weld technology - specifically focusing on the automotive industry and repairing bumpers, body parts and headlights rather than disposing of them when damaged. David Wright talked about the successes of the businesses over the last year and their future plans and developments.
Founder, Steve Sliney of CollectEco a Bristol based company who manage the process of re-useable kit donated from businesses help re-home surplus furniture and equipment to charities, schools, voluntary groups, the NHS and other good causes. Steve highlighted the success stories and items donated to date and the need for donations of surplus kit from organisations so they can pass it on to those who desperately need it.
There was time for a quick panel round up Q&A session focusing on regulations and consumer change which brought up some interesting points and debates.
Delegates rounded off the event with some great conversations and networking over a coffee and pastry!
The third event in this circular economy series will be held on Wednesday 18th September at the Engine Shed in Bristol the topic is Regenerating Natural Systems and registration is free for all and now open:
If you’d like to learn more about the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub to see if you are eligible for this free business support, visit the website, here.