Scotland opens up ‘circular regions’ funding to drive SME resource revolution

Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change, Environment and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham has this week announced a targeted funding call to better support the nation's SMEs in embrace the shift to a circular economy.

In a speech made yesterday (6 October) on the second day of the Scottish Resources Conference 2016, Cunningham outlined the ‘circular regions’ funding from Zero Waste Scotland, which is urging local enterprise agencies to identify and implement innovative circular economy ideas developed by SMEs.

“Our circular economy strategy is called making things last – now we need to make things happen,” said Cunningham. “I want to congratulate Zero Waste Scotland and the enterprise agencies in developing their partnership and encourage them to maintain and develop it.”

This circular regions regional funding programme is part of an £18m circular economy investment programme being managed by Zero Waste Scotland, using funding from the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Funding is available to local consortiums where the lead partner is an MSE. Applicants can bid for funding for two separate stages: first to identify business opportunities locally and second to work to develop those opportunities with local businesses and supporting them through to full implementation.

Grants available under the Circular Economy Investment Fund are for a minimum of £20,000 and a maximum of £1,000,000.

This funding call builds on a pilot initiative last year with Glasgow Chamber of Commerce which completed a ‘circle scan’ of the regional economy to identify potential business growth opportunities, including a collaboration with Jaw Brew – an independent craft brewery and local bakery Aulds to develop a beer made by using waste bread.

Commenting on the funding call, Zero Waste Scotland chief executive Iain Gulland said: “This approach for regional SMEs will accelerate a circular economy throughout Scotland by helping businesses be resource efficient and by opening up collaboration opportunities.

“Our programme will deliver a step change in the scale, range and depth of existing resource efficiency work across all business and social economy sectors in Scotland.”

“The [Glasgow] project has proven very successful to date and other cities and areas have expressed an interest in replicating this approach.”

This is the latest in a line of various structured grants from Scotland’s Circular Economy Investment Fund. These funding schemes focus on priority commercial and industrial sectors including the bio economy (food and drink); built environment (construction and demolition), and energy infrastructure (oil and gas decommissioning, renewables, transmission).

Earlier this year, a coalition between the Scottish Government, public sector agencies and sector specialists announced a similar green initiative focused on providing funding support for low-carbon infrastructure initiatives in Scotland.

Luke Nicholls & Alex Baldwin

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