More funding for 'low carbon' research

SMALL and medium sized businesses carrying out “low carbon” research and development in the East of England are being invited to apply for an extra �5.

SMALL and medium sized businesses carrying out “low carbon” research and development in the East of England are being invited to apply for an extra �5.5million in grant funding.

The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) has secured the additional finance under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Competitiveness Programme to supplement support already available.

Grants from �5,000 to �250,000 are available for entrepreneurs or smaller companies seeking to develop technologically innovative products or processes with the potential to reduce carbon emissions.

Eligible projects can include the development of a basis prototype, full assessments of the technical and commercial feasibility of new ideas and the development of a pre-production prototype of a new product.

Richard Ellis, chair of EEDA, said: “Today's announcement is a big step towards creating a thriving network of innovative low carbon businesses operating successfully across the East of England, the UK and abroad.

“The East of England is one of the UK's leading economic areas and our goal is to capitalise on the region's strengths in ideas, innovation and enterprise and to demonstrate national leadership in the field of low carbon technology and solutions.”

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The additional funding for research and development grants is part of a larger package of support that EEDA is bringing together to maximise the potential of the region as it makes the transition to a low carbon economy.

This will include a �20m low carbon venture capital fund, also supported by the ERDF, to plug the current gap in finance for early-stage start-ups, and a further �7m grant scheme to support the exchanging of new commercial ideas between businesses and academic institutions.

In all, more than �50m will be available by the end of this year to help firms wanting to seize low carbon opportunities in the East of England.

Mr Ellis added: “The East of England accounts for 10% of UK exports from the low carbon and environmental goods and services sectors, a global market set to grow exponentially. The industry in the region is worth in excess of �10billion, backed by links to world-class universities and research institutes working on low carbon issues.”

Barbara Follett, Minister for the East of England, said: “Our future prosperity relies on a low carbon economy and we must seize the opportunities offered by this money to create new jobs and new skills.

“This new investment reinforces the extensive support already provided by the East of England Development Agency to encourage the growth of innovative and competitive enterprises in the region.”

For more information about the grants available and a online application form, visit www.eeda.org.uk/finance/lowcarbon .