The £1.37m three-year programme developed by the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University will help participants to maximise new technical and commercial opportunities from various innovative low-carbon sources.

Aston University vice chancellor professor Alec Cameron said: “This new support programme is focused on deploying our UK-wide expertise in encouraging small and medium sized businesses to expand their horizons for their own benefit and that of the Midlands region. It is also about developing new opportunities in emerging and disruptive marketplaces.” 

‘Significant opportunities’

EBRI will run a series of workshops and seminars across the Midlands to provide businesses with specialist expertise about advanced thermal technologies and biological conversion processes.

The initiative builds upon the success of a similar EBRI project that supported more than 200 organisations from 2012 to 2015. According to Aston University figures, the economic benefit of that programme included more than £9m in Gross Value Added (GVA) and Research Development and Innovation (RDI) growth of above £500,000.

“This is a very exciting initiative,” EBRI project lead Tim Miller said. “EBRI’s focus on business along with a well-established track record in applied research and technology allows us to offer some very significant opportunities for companies in the region.

“We can help businesses take advantage of our expertise on how, for instance, to turn waste products into energy, to produce new high-value materials from waste which can then be commericialised, as well as to manage their own energy use and generation better, using advanced control systems to optimise heating, cooling and electricity.”

Leading university  

Aston is one of the UK’s most ambitious universities when it comes to environmental and energy performance, working towards a target to cut emissions 53% by 2020 on a 2005/06 baseline.

Speaking to edie last year, Aston’s energy, environment and sustainability manager Andrew Bryers said that an increased effort to implement energy efficiency measures across the University’s various departments had ignited a behavioural shift in how both staff and students view ‘sustainability’.

The students’ shifting attitude was highlighted at the launch of Aston University’s Carbon Week. Attracting around 2,000 second-year students, the Week was dedicated to understanding the challenge of climate change and the requirements of a low-carbon economy.

Aston is not the only academic institution to receive EU funding for sustainable purposes following the Brexit referendum. In August, the University of Surrey was handed a €762,000 grant to conduct research into the development of smart cities and the environmental impact of a cleaner aeronautics industry.

George Ogleby

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