Small and medium sized businesses are arguably best placed to develop such radical technologies and it is essential that the conditions are created, through strong policy frameworks, in which such innovation in green technology can thrive. Back in 2007, Demos profiled a group of ‘disrupters’, a small but growing cohort of innovators who were turning their business acumen, creativity and entrepreneurial nous towards the low carbon agenda. One of the organisations profiled, Dynamic Demand, promotes a technology that can help solve the problems of connecting renewable energy to the national grid through smart appliances which smooth spikes in electricity demand by switching themselves off at peak times. Another of the disruptors, Baywind, is now famous as the UK’s first community-owned wind farm and has paved the way for a plethora of similar community-owned renewable energy initiatives.
The Springboard programme is one example of where private sector companies are helping and encourage such disruptive green enterprise. Previous winners of the programme have included a battery management system for hybrid and electric vehicles, a waste reduction technology that both converts landfill waste into building materials and captures the associated carbon emissions. But is this really a role where the private sector should be taking a lead? Is the state providing enough support for low carbon entrepreneurship, or is it shirking its responsibility to facilitate innovation in this crucial sector of the economy? It is these questions and more that we hope to begin to answer through this series of discussions.
Demos, Shell Springboard and New Statesmen are delighted to host a series of events across the three major party conferences this year. These events, entitled Opportunity Knocks, will see panellists debate the importance of bringing small and medium-sized enterprises into a ‘green tech revolution’.
Given that 95% of companies in the UK are small enterprises, it is imperative to engage these businesses in the emerging green economy and foster green entrepreneurialism. This event series will focus on what the government can do to help and encourage small green enterprises, and to what extent big businesses have a responsibility to nurture green SMEs.
Why does Shell run Springboard?
By running Shell Springboards we aim to help early stage companies get a step closer to investment. Many awards are used to prove a concept, ramp-up marketing or build a prototype, but the kudos they get from winning the award form such esteemed judging panels (Lord Oxburgh, Ben Goldsmith etc) makes them more attractive to potential investors.
We are also supporting innovation amongst enterprising businesses in the UK, two qualities core to our business.
How to enter Shell Springboard.
Shell Springboard is a no-strings seed fund that provides a financial boost to UK-based small businesses that have potentially commercial and innovative ideas for products and services that contribute to combating climate change.
These ideas or products must:
- lead to greenhouse gas reductions;
- be commercially viable;
- be innovative.
Launched in 2005, Shell Springboard provides £320,000 a year in awards of £20k, £30k and £40k to selected small businesses. Shell takes no rights or shares in the businesses helped by this programme and judges are not employees of Shell.
Enter online now! www.shellspringboard.org
Applications will be accepted online until 5pm on Friday, 4th November 2011.