Shell launches new digital tool to springboard low-carbon start-ups into green markets

A new digital tool has been launched by Shell's business development platform to create a route to market for innovative, low-carbon small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through a variety of sources totalling £157m in value.

Shell Springboard has launched the Access to Finance Navigator to identify funding opportunities for SMEs in the cleantech and sustainability sectors by using a list of questions to connect smaller companies with 84 low-carbon funding sources. These sources include governmental organisations, venture capital funds and crowdsourcing platforms.

Shell UK’s executive vice president for downstream technology Erik Bonino said: “Shell Springboard provides low-carbon entrepreneurs with a vital foothold on the funding ladder, but for many this is just the start of a journey to secure the finance they need. Finding people or organisations to support new businesses is complex and time consuming.

“To help navigate the funding landscape, we developed the Access to Finance Navigator with experts in finance and the low-carbon sectors. Alongside our wider enterprise development programmes, this provides the type of support low-carbon businesses in the UK are seeking.”

With the 84 funding sources representing £157m in total value, SMEs can establish their needs in regards to stages of development and financial requirements to streamline the process for rolling-out innovations and products.

A previous, joint report from Shell Springboard and Imperial College London highlighted the difficulty for SMEs looking to access finance in the UK. The report found that US funding equivalents generated 50% more revenue, while only 3% of UK start-ups develop into “midsized ventures” – compared to 6% in the US.

Circle of life

One of the biggest opportunities for SMEs to accelerate production within the sustainability sector could come through utilising the growing traction behind circular economy models. Liz Goodwin, the now-departed chief executive of WRAP, provided new evidence of how the circular economy is beginning to make a big difference for small businesses across the UK.

To push closed-loop models within SMEs further, Scotland’s circular economy body Zero Waste Scotland launched an £18m fund to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) explore and pioneer ways to develop a circular economy.

The Carbon Trust has also provided SMEs with a route to market, through a £7m Green Business Fund that offers expert advice and increased opportunities to improve energy efficiency within smaller companies.

For SMEs that are yet to get their innovative concept off the ground, edie spoke to legal experts from CLT and Pennington’s on how to overcome four key barriers and turn concepts into reality.

Matt Mace

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