Energy Innovation Agency hosts successful ‘Net-Zero for Greater Manchester’ Event.

  • Friday, July 21, 2023
  • Posted By The Growth Company

The Energy Innovation Agency was delighted to welcome around 100 highly influential innovators, partners, businesses, and end-user organisations from across the Greater Manchester region and UK to hear about the challenges of reaching Net Zero, and filling the Green Skills gap, and how innovation can support organisations on their journey to Net Zero.

Hosted by Greater Manchester Business Board (LEP)’s Green Lead Steve Connor at Bruntwood’s Circle Square in Manchester, our event also gave attendees plenty of opportunities to network with innovative businesses with access to green solutions, as well as with end-users, keen to decarbonise their organisations and deploy green technology solutions within their buildings and help rapidly accelerate the commercialisation of green technologies.

David Schiele gives an introduction to the Energy Innovation Agency.

The event kicked off with an introduction from the Agency, our aims, and objectives, and how we’re actively working alongside the  latest and greatest energy solutions, connecting them with a growing group of end-users to help tackle Greater Manchester’s energy challenges.

One of the Agency’s primary objectives is to create a clearer pathway to commercialisation, making it easier for innovators to bring their ideas to market. By encouraging cross-sector collaborations, the Agency endeavours to assist green tech from across the region in overcoming their biggest energy challenges. The Agency also plays a role in instilling public confidence in new technologies; by showcasing successful projects and demonstrating the positive impact of these innovations, it helps build a trust and support for sustainable energy solutions within the community.

“In our view, the race to net zero is simple – it’s about welcoming innovation…Though success will only be achieved when these solutions are economically attractive against at least some of the fossil fuel alternatives. Unless these Net Zero innovations are competitive, they aren’t going to work in the long run. Broadly, our role is one of facilitation, support, advice, and access. There is a massive challenge, and we’ll try to play our part to make it happen.”

Peter Emery Chair of the Energy Innovation Agency

Pictured left to right; Sarah Bateman, Aisling McNulty, Ben Peace, Richard Hagan, and Steve Connor.

The first panel discussion of the day addressed Greater Manchester’s Energy Challenges. Panellists included: Sarah Bateman, CEO of Unify Energy, Ben Peace, Net Zero Principle at The Growth Company, Aisling McNulty, Development Director at Bruntwood Works, and Richard Hagan, Managing Director of Crystal Doors. Steve Connor facilitated the panel and guided the conversation. Throughout the session, the panel delved into the challenges faces by businesses in embracing green technology. Key challenges included, the limited availability of investment opportunities and accessibility to green solutions, the lack of comprehensive knowledge regarding green technologies, and the difficulties that businesses encounter in finding the right support to implement these technologies. The discussion served as an insightful session to explore potential solutions and initiatives that could accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices across Greater Manchester.

“Accessibility is the big issue. There aren’t enough solutions in the market for SMEs to access. We’re operating in a really tough economic climate and the last thing companies want to do right now is focus on something they don’t need to do until 2030. Innovation as a word and concept may be scaring people. We are living in tough times and people will be risk averse.”

Sarah Bateman CEO of Unify Energy

Pictured left to right; Roosevelt Alexander, Rory Matthews, Dr Marilyn Comrie, and Chris Fletcher.

The second panel discussion focussed on was about how a Carbon Neutral Greater Manchester would address the Green Skills Gap. Joining Steve Connor on the panel were: Rory Matthews, Senior Policy and Partnerships Officer for Low Carbon at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Roosevelt Alexander, Senior Director at The Growth Company’s Green Skills Academy, Dr Marilyn Comrie, CEO of the Manchester Innovation Activities Hub, and Chris Fletcher from the GM Chamber of Commerce. The panel discussed the Green Skills Gap and how Greater Manchester has great potential due to its pioneering devolution deal and explored strategies to enhance diversity within this space and effectively engage with and involve youth from diverse backgrounds in pursuing Green Careers. This discussion was tied into the benefits of The Growth Company’s Green Skills Academy, the Manchester Innovation Activities Hub, and the newly established GMLSIP (Green Manchester Local Skills Improvement Plan) and technical education plan.

“What we might see down the line is the wave of enthusiasm of young people driving the change like never before. At the moment, we’re at local minimum but we need to invest more to unleash some incredible solutions… The devolution deal will be important in understanding the challenges at a local level and not having a one size fits all approach that isn’t tailored to a locality and isn’t generic across Greater Manchester.”

Rory Matthews Senior Policy and Partnerships Officer for Low Carbon at the GMCA

Daniel Dickinson.

Our Business Development Lead, Dan Dickinson, facilitated the afternoon’s session, introducing Innovate GM and The Built Environment Demonstrator Fund. Dan gave an overview of the fund, explained which innovators/businesses would benefit the most from it, and showed them how they can get involved.

Following the close of the main event, some innovators were given the opportunity to pitch their energy solutions to a diverse group of decision-makers and end-users, representing the public and private sectors in Greater Manchester who are looking to decarbonise and invest.

“We have an opportunity with the Energy Accelerator to both de-risk the adoption of innovative decarbonisation projects for Greater Manchester-based organisations, and to help innovators to achieve a big step in their product commercialisation journeys. Our ambition is for these pilot projects to result in much larger decarbonisation across the region. We’ve already heard from a number of energy innovators and forward-thinking GM businesses aiming to be part of the project, and welcome expressions of interest from anyone wanting to learn more!”

Daniel Dickinson Business Development Lead at the Energy Innovation Agency

“The value of the networking that the Agency provides is really, really important, its what binds everyone together, it brings innovators, end-users and our partners together around the challenges that Greater Manchester faces in decarbonising “.

David Schiele Director of the Energy Innovation Agency

About Energy Innovation Agency

The Energy Innovation Agency (The Agency), a unique partnership between the public, private and academic sectors in Greater Manchester (GM), formed in 2021, is tasked with accelerating carbon emission reductions in GM and transitioning the city region to a carbon-neutral economy by 2038.

The Agency is supporting energy innovators with innovative low-carbon (LC) solutions to scale their businesses and connecting them with end-users in GM to increase the deployment of LC solutions.

To find out more about the Agency, and what we do, visit our website.