‘Its time Norfolk sold its green credentials’, Norfolk Future50 companies told

Future 50 breakfast at Centrum. Photo: Bill Smith

Future 50 breakfast at Centrum. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

Small firms should seize the opportunities being presented by the greening of the economy - that was the message delivered to EDP Future50 businesses during a special event at the new Centrum Building at Norwich Research Park.

The new facility aims to bring together businesses and academic expertise to turn ideas into commercial reality. But yesterday's meeting heard how SMEs could also take advantage of the growing green economy.

Martin Sleeuw, commercial manager for the UEA's Centre for the Built Environment, said sustainability change was being driven by regulation and the need to reduce costs. But there was also an increasing 'competitive advantage' to sustainability as it can make a business more attractive to potential customers and supply chain partners.

He highlighted the successful example of Norwich-based ABC Taxis which had introduced a fleet of green vehicles after tendering for contracts with corporate clients that insisted it used low-carbon vehicles.

'There are market opportunities,' he said. 'If you look at the growth of the low carbon economy the sector is worth in excess of £122bn per year. It has been growing despite the recession.'

He said with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership seeking to draw 25pc of the low carbon sector to this region firms looking to develop low carbon products or develop low carbon practices were in prime position to capitalise on the growth of the sector.

'If you can identify those market trends then you are in a win-win situation,' he added.

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James Griffiths, programme manager for Innovation Funding for the Adapt Group highlighted the investment opportunities available through its Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF).

'We want to encourage businesses that may not see themselves as low carbon to become more efficient,' he said.

Find out more about LCIF at www.lowcarbonfund.co.uk/LCIF. Are you greening your business? Call Shaun Lowthorpe on 01603 772471 or email shaun.lowthorpe@archant.co.uk