‘Pivotal’ green growth funding creates 220 jobs in the South

Future South exhibitor Jason Bentley of The Recycled Assets Company

Companies spearheading a £36.5 million boost for green business in the South will be discussing their successes and challenges at a forthcoming conference and expo.

Around 220 jobs have been created at more than 130 low-carbon firms under investment channelled through Future South, a partnership of businesses leaders, technologists, academics and local authorities.

Its annual conference at Winchester Guildhall will showcase how recipients of green growth grants, loans and other much-needed funding are moving ahead with their expansion plans.

New product development and job opportunities at small and medium-sized enterprises will be a particular focus of the event, which has former Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable as keynote speaker.

Grant recipients include the Hampshire food packaging specialist KCC. It helps retailers to replace petroleum-based plastics and aluminium foil used in ready-meal trays with a 100% compostable alternative. To service demand, the company is opening a 7,500-sq-ft office and production hub in Eastleigh.

Kevin Clarke, Managing Director, said: “Green growth funding was pivotal in helping us push through development and production plans. The grant helped make our product more credible with major retailers in the UK who have taken an interest in what we are doing. We’re now opening a production line to manage output for a blue chip US chain which is in turn creating jobs for British companies who make the specialised manufacturing equipment we have designed to suit our process. The funding we’ve received is helping with our strategy to create valuable jobs and exports and make a major splash in the marketplace.”

Other funding recipients include The Recycled Assets Company, a fast-growing social enterprise that provides relocation and logistics support. Among its services, it helps business clients clear out furniture and equipment and convert confidential waste into energy-efficient, burnable briquettes.

Also receiving a grant has been SEaB Energy, an anaerobic digestion specialist. Based on the University of Southampton Science Park, SEaB employs 22 people and exports its waste-to-energy technology to Portugal and the USA.

Chief Executive Sandra Sassow said: “Our grant has been vital for the growth of the company. It provided us with a catalyst to establish a prototyping and production facility with a small laboratory where we can run our own experiments on anaerobic digestion. It enabled us to create seven new jobs and ramp up production of our Flexibuster system which we have now started exporting. This is already producing energy from waste at a supermarket in Portugal.”

The average salary of the 220 jobs so far created under funding distributed by Future South is £30,000 a year. The partnership has attracted more than £30 million in government and private investment and created Greentech South, the UK’s first ‘environment and energy cluster’, a dedicated EU-recognised network designed to support low-carbon business.

Alongside the annual conference at Winchester Guildhall on Friday, 4 November, 2016 is an exhibition of smart green technologies under development or already on the market.

As well as SEaB and The Recycled Assets Company, exhibitors include the Southampton-based Bowman Power Group which designs and manufactures technology to improve the fuel efficiency of diesel generators worldwide.

Future South Chairman Stewart Dunn said: “Our work is all about encouraging a partnership approach to sustainable energy and innovation across the South. We’re thrilled to be welcoming contacts old and new for what we fully expect will be a fascinating day of presentations, networking and exhibitions.”

The memory of David Green, one of the founders of the partnership, is being honoured with the launch of an award in his name. Entrants working on innovations in the low-carbon field may be individuals, businesses or community groups. The winner will be announced at the conference, which is this year sponsored jointly by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks.