The British Business Bank’s regional funds – the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) – have enabled more than £50m of investment, including from the private sector, into small businesses in the Midlands and North of England to reduce their carbon footprint and develop innovative solutions to tackling the climate emergency and reaching net zero.
The Midlands Engine 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. The D2N2 LEP has contributed £11.75m of its ERDF to the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.
Highlighting a commitment to contribute to funding the future of the low carbon and green economy, since launch the NPIF and MEIF have, in total, supported 45 businesses in their mission to drive the UK’s net-zero and wider sustainability agenda forward.
Recognising the power of these businesses in contributing to the regional green economy, NPIF and MEIF are working with fund managers, Combined Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, growth hubs and regional stakeholders in the public and private sector to deliver finance from the Funds and private sector investors.
Following the Sixth Carbon Budget published by the Climate Change Committee in December last year, the UK Government has agreed a revised target of reducing national emissions by 78 per cent by 2035, which will be enshrined in law by the end of June 2021. Several Northern and Midlands’ localities and sub-regions have made commitments to reaching the targets much sooner.
The Midlands is a region with significant capability in energy, enabled by its strategic location, industrial heritage and as a leader in innovation. The power and fuel industries have evolved to respond to emerging needs, with advanced technologies powering growth.
The region aims to leads the way in the green growth and low carbon transition, notably by its current work in developing sustainable solutions, such as East Midlands Development Corporation, Freeports and a focus on offshore wind and hydrogen, battery technologies, carbon-neutral transport, decarbonisation and zero-carbon growth.
By progressing net-zero targets, the West Midlands Combined Authority estimates that 21,000 new jobs could be created in the region over the next five years, or 92,000 by 2041. Further analysis also reveals that increased demand for renewables and low carbon technologies could enable the Midlands to tap into a larger pool of 1.7 million new green jobs – half of which are likely to be located in the Midlands, North and Scotland.
One example of an investment made by the MEIF supporting the low-carbon agenda in the West Midlands is a £250k funding package for Earth Rover. The Shropshire start-up is using cutting-edge technologies to help farmers improve crop yields and reduce food waste.
In the East and South East Midlands, the fund also recently provided £130k to Lincolnshire-based Exuvi8 Ltd which specialises in designing and deploying energy-efficient data centres.
Patrick Magee, Chief Commercial Officer at the British Business Bank, said:
“Through the British Business Bank’s regional funds, we are actively supporting businesses that are contributing to the UK’s low-carbon agenda. In the Midlands, finance from the MEIF is enabling businesses to create and commercialise new sustainable technologies, become more sustainable or energy efficient, while also helping wider industries to decarbonise.
“Our intention is to continue utilising both the MEIF and NPIF to help green and sustainable businesses grow in the Midlands and North. We recognise the potential of these businesses in not only helping the UK hit net-zero, but creating new jobs and economic growth.”
Sir John Peace, Chairman of the Midlands Engine, said:
“SMEs make up 99.6% of companies operating in the Midlands. The lifeblood of our economy, they will underpin our region’s recovery from the pandemic, allowing us to build back better, stronger and, crucially, greener. They must be enabled to thrive and to this end we’re trialling new models of sustainable finance, such as green bonds, to unlock green sector funding and support our businesses.
“The Midlands Engine is the first pan-regional partnership in the UK to propose how stakeholders from right across our region will come together to deliver the Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. Our own forthcoming Ten Point Plan for Green Growth in the Midlands Engine will enable us to develop our post-Covid-19, post-EU-exit economy in a sustainable way that also addresses inequality and the levelling up agenda. It is how we will effectively accelerate our, and the UK’s, path to net-zero.”