Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in search of financial backing for their low-carbon ideas can now submit their applications to Shell Springboard. In its ninth year, the programme promotes the development of innovative, low-carbon business ideas and gives them the chance to win a slice of £330,000 of “no strings attached” funding. Since 2005, Shell has awarded £2.58million to 71 companies exploring new ways to cut carbon emissions.
With small businesses accounting for 90 per cent of the UK’s £120 billion low-carbon sector, Shell Springboard provides a welcome boost for ambitious UK enterprises pursuing a slice of the global low-carbon sector forecast to be worth £4 trillion by 2015*.
SMEs are poised to lead the way. Research by Shell Springboard and the Carbon Trust published in May 2013 found low-carbon SMEs are almost twice as likely to have export customers as their peers in other industries. This powerful economic status is equally matched by the sector’s drive and ambitions for growth: three quarters plan to raise funding in the next year, and three quarters plan to expand exports into a new market over the next two.
Last year’s winner, Vantage Power, was awarded £40,000 for its innovative hybrid powertrain technology which can be retrofitted to double-decker buses across the UK. While the bus industry is keen to reduce diesel consumption, current hybrid engines designed for new buses can incur substantial costs, and many only offer significant savings over long-distance journeys. Vantage Power’s hybrid system offers a cost efficient way to reduce fuel consumption by £20,000 a year and help buses operating in stop-start traffic in towns cut emissions by 40 per cent.
On winning the award, Alex Schey, co-founder of Vantage Power said: “Since winning the 2013 Shell Springboard Awards, we’ve had a great year. The prize money and national recognition meant we were able to secure additional funding for 2013, needed to enable us to concentrate on building our functioning prototype. We have big plans for our hybrid retrofit engine and Shell’s support for Vantage Power has spurred us on.”
Edward Daniels, Shell UK Chairman and Executive Vice President of Downstream Technology added: “Shell is committed to the twin challenge of reducing carbon emissions while meeting the growing global population’s rising demand for energy. Since 2008, we have invested $2.2billion in developing alternative energies, carbon capture and storage and other CO2 related research & development. However, we also recognise that fledging business can help fast track solutions. Shell Springboard is a celebration of the huge creative potential that dynamic UK SMEs represent.”
To apply for Shell Springboard, please visit www.shellspringboard.org before 5pm on Friday, 13th December 2014. All applicants must be based in the UK, be categorised as an SME by the European definition and have been in business for at least three months.