The sunniest town in the UK, a stunning coastline and the home of late polar-explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Eastbourne has plenty to be proud of.
And it’s Sir Ernest’s bold vision, leadership and determination that resonate with Eastbourne’s entrepreneurial spirit. Combine this mindset with the South Downs’ breathtaking landscape, and you’ve got the perfect setting for a network of thriving but environmentally-focused businesses that are combining business success with a commitment to protecting the environment for our future generations.
As David Ruddle, Owner of Best of Eastbourne, puts it:
“We get excited by seeing local businesses and the community join forces to help protect our environment in Eastbourne. We’ve got community campaigns such as Plastic Free Eastbourne, as well as local businesses doing great things – like the Sheldon B&B’s drive to reduce their plastic usage.
An eco-friendly way of life is moving higher up the agenda, and it’s great to see business responding and taking the lead. We want to see a business community in Eastbourne that is not only thriving, but also helping to protect the wonderful environment we have.”
A connected platform for business growth
Bringing together the green business community across the South East is the University of Brighton’s Green Growth Platform. With 1,000 members in its network, the team provides vital information, encouragement and support to businesses wanting to green up their processes and products and to innovate to develop the low carbon/cleantech products and services of the future.
Each company has its unique needs, but at the Green Growth Platform, there’s a shared focus on the environment: members are either in the business of developing green-focused products and services, or they’ve joined up as part of efforts to improve the environmental impact of their work.
Members have access to an array of workshops, courses and consultants to provide business and commercialisation support and access to funding, all designed to help build complete business capability.
Amongst a diverse membership made up of approximately 80% small or micro businesses, the most in-demand areas of support are marketing, business planning, finance and innovation support.
Money available for growth
Through the Green Growth Platform, businesses in Eastbourne and the rest of East Sussex are able to access the European Regional Development Fund’s Low Carbon Across the South East (LoCASE) programme. LoCASE gives environmentally focused businesses grants of up to £20,000 to help them grow.
The programme has two parts to it. The first applies to any type of small to medium sized business, and provides money to fund energy efficiency upgrades, such as insulation, lighting and electric or hybrid vehicles.
The second part of the programme gives money to businesses that supply low energy or environmentally friendly goods and services (such as A-rated boilers, recycling services, insulation, LED lighting, renewable energy or environmental advice). The money given to these businesses can be used for a range of business development projects. This can include marketing, new equipment, machinery, IT systems and software, and electric or hybrid vehicles.
LoCASE money doesn’t have to be paid pack, and gives the business a 40% financial contribution to an eligible project, up to a maximum of £20,000.
Money to boost business marketing
The East Sussex green business community has been reaping the benefits of LoCASE, with almost £300,000 been awarded to businesses so far, and Eastbourne has been no exception.
One such business is LED-UK, who design, supply and install bespoke LED lighting systems for businesses. LED systems can significantly reduce energy usage - sometimes by a factor of ten - resulting in lower bills and a lower carbon footprint. LED-UK bring years of installation experience and product knowledge to its customers.
They’ve used money from LoCASE to invest in their marketing strategy, website and an exhibition stand.
Steve Marshall, Director, said:
“LoCASE came at the right time for us. The grant has contributed 40% towards our marketing spend. That is significant input for a small, growing business. We are also benefiting hugely from our Green Growth Platform membership.”
Another Eastbourne business that’s taken advantage is OHM Energy. They provide cost effective renewable energy and heating solutions, specialising in plumbing, solar thermal, solar PV and heat pump technology. They’re one of few companies that specialise in the integration of conventional heating and energy systems, with cutting edge, proven renewable energy solutions.
They’re also using the grant to money to contribute towards their marketing, to help them expand into a new market.
Mark Riminton, Business Growth Manager at the Green Growth Platform, said:
“Marketing can be an ongoing cost for any business, and the opportunity to get a 40% financial contribution in such a key area of the business is too good to turn down. But we’re also seeing businesses in East Sussex getting money for new equipment, business advice and electric vehicles.”
For more information on the Green Growth Platform and the LoCASE business growth programme visit www.greengrowthplatform.co.uk or call the team on 01273 641949.
The Low Carbon Across the South East programme has been funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020. It is a partnership between Kent County Council, East Sussex County Council, Essex County Council, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Thurrock Council and the University of Brighton.