Robb Cunningham: University event will help green businesses to grow

Robb Cunningham is project and communications manager for Green Growth Platform.
Robb Cunningham is project and communications manager for Green Growth Platform.

From helping us to breathe cleaner air, reducing waste, saving energy or improving biodiversity, local businesses can be the drivers of huge positive change across our city and beyond.

That is why it is so encouraging to see a growing and vibrant community of businesses across Sussex combining commercial success with protecting the environment for future generations.

The green roof on top of the University of Brightons Checkland Building in Falmer

The green roof on top of the University of Brightons Checkland Building in Falmer

These green businesses not only come from a low carbon or environmental sector but can be a more traditional business with a green focus to what they do – such as a commitment to using recycled materials or an energy efficient manufacturing process.

Many of these forward thinking companies will gather in Brighton on February 23 at Green Growth 2017, a one-day conference where they will hear from speakers from global businesses that are leading the way in sustainability – such as Mike Barry, sustainability director at Marks and Spencer – and from smaller businesses that are pioneering innovative solutions to environmental problems and sustainable business models. Delegates will be challenged to think differently and be given access to business tools to help them to grow and further fine tune what they do.

The conference is hosted by the University of Brighton’s Green Growth Platform which supports green businesses in Sussex to grow, develop new products and services and improve their business operations.

The platform has a growing membership of 750 member businesses from across Sussex, who have access to a range of free or heavily subsidised support services themed around business growth support, innovation and research and development, networking and skills.

High growth businesses in low carbon and environmental sectors can access free one-to- one business support bespoke to their needs.

They are supported in a range of areas, including digital strategy, market research, brand positioning within a particular market, sales strategy, how to win large contracts or advice on raising finance.

Every business needs to know its market inside out in order to be commercially successful, but many may not have the technical expertise or resources to fully develop their ideas. Working with university academics on part-funded innovation projects can unlock the potential of an idea and help make it happen.

One member business worked closely with an electrical engineering expert from the university to develop Powerdiverter, a solar energy storage product, into a technically feasible product that is now commercialised and sold globally. Another business worked with the University’s product design specialists to develop, test and fine tune prototypes of Waterblade a water saving device, which helped the invention advance from a homemade prototype to a market-ready product which is now selling to blue chip companies.

For more information on Green Growth 2017 and other Green Growth Platform and University of Brighton services, visit www.greengrowthplatform.co.uk

Robb Cunningham is project and communications manager for Green Growth Platform.