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Back to News Grant Peggie, director at British Business Bank, at the launch of the Northern Powerhouse

14th June 2021

Driving a low carbon economy across the Northern Powerhouse


Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

Grant Peggie, Director at British Business Bank on how the Northern business community is helping to drive the low carbon economy:

As the UK continues on its journey to build back better from the COVID pandemic, attention is firmly on the low carbon and renewable energy agenda and the necessary steps needed to hit the ‘net zero’ by 2050 goal. This recovery period presents a unique opportunity to not only make significant changes and collectively back the green agenda, but also to champion the small businesses that are driving change.

As we look towards a green future, the British Business Bank, through its regional funds including the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) and Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), is directly supporting regional business communities, having facilitated over £50m of investment into small businesses looking to tackle the climate crisis.

A 2019 report from NP11 predicted that businesses in the North could reduce the region’s carbon emissions from 50 per cent by 2032, against 2005 levels. Across the North, it is predicted that low carbon businesses will contribute £2bn GVA to the UK economy by 2050, while creating almost 100,000 new skilled jobs in the green economy. What’s clear, is that the Northern Powerhouse has the opportunity to be a leader in sustainability and we’ve already seen a wide range of green initiatives across the region, driven by small businesses, Combined Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), and Growth Hubs.

In the North West, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has made climate action a key priority; setting out a long-term vision to be carbon neutral by 2038. Supporting local businesses, the GC Business Growth Hub’s ‘Journey to New Zero’ is aimed at SMEs who are at an early stage on the path to net zero emissions, providing free advice via online workshops, one-to-one advice and shared learning.

The Leeds City Region LEP is also supporting low-carbon innovation through its Energy Accelerator, helping to drive energy efficient projects forward. In 2019, the Humber LEP set out ambitious plans to achieve net zero by 2040, including the creation of a “Net Zero Commission” made up of leading academic and business experts from across the Humber. The York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership is also driving innovation in the area through its Local Energy Strategy, which aims to create a resilient low carbon economy, along with economic growth, job creation and export opportunities.

Meanwhile, Sheffield City Region is home to a thriving low carbon and renewable sector, which employs over 12,500 people and contributes £570 million to the economy – demonstrating the positive impact that green innovation can have on local prosperity, as well as our environment.

Businesses have a crucial role in shaping our sustainable future, and, at the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, we are seeing fast growth across businesses with a low-carbon focus. One example is Slingshot Simulations, a Leeds-based start-up and global pioneer in the field of ‘digital twin’ technology. Its technology allows businesses to create a virtual model of an object or location to test new and more sustainable models and is being used to explore how traffic congestion and air pollution can be reduced in York, Leeds and Hull.

The business originally benefitted from £750,000 investment from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance and the University of Leeds, and recently raised a further £1.5m of investment from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, to help roll out its innovative technology to more businesses.

Improving the region’s energy infrastructure credentials, Tees Valley-based Cenergist works with public and private clients across the globe to assess and improve energy and water efficiencies. Not only is this helping its clients operate more sustainably, but it is creating new financial savings along the way. The company secured a £750,000 investment from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance back in April 2020 and continues to grow in the region. Alongside the launch of new revenue streams, it is delivering new jobs and recently opened a new call centre in Billingham, Tees Valley.

These are just two of many examples of smaller businesses in the North that are creating a greener, cleaner future for the UK. In the coming months and years, as momentum builds in delivering a greener economic recovery it’s important for businesses to have access to funding and support especially if they are working on low-carbon projects or seeking to adopt more sustainable business practices. By working together, there’s no doubt that businesses and the public sector can deliver a low-carbon future across the regions.

You can find out more about the work of the Northern Powerhouse Fund in this area in the upcoming free Low Carbon Champions: Driving forward a Green Revolution webinar.

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.


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