Issue date: 15 August 2013
The Environmental iNet, one of three innovation support projects led by UWE Bristol, has now amassed over 1,200 network subscribers. The venture was set up in 2011, along with similar projects in Microelectronics and Biomedical Sciences, with the specific intention of assisting regional businesses in realising their potential through sharing expertise and knowledge. The Environmental iNet has now provided over 400 businesses with one-to-one support, with over 260 receiving 12 hours or more.
One of the businesses that has, and will continue, to benefit from one-to-one support is Stirling Dynamics Ltd, a well-established and highly innovative Bristol-based small and medium enterprise (SME) that has developed a customer base in both the UK and overseas. As a result of an increased focus on monitoring and engineering services for the marine renewables and 'waste to energy' markets, Stirling Dynamics has engaged with the Environmental iNet on a number of occasions over the past two years.
“Innovation, competitiveness and connectivity are the areas in which we are highly successful and continuously seek improvements,” says Peter Stirling, the company's Energy Systems Business Manager. “In achieving sustained performance across all three, the support we have received from the Environmental iNet has been valuable and well received.”
After attending the project's launch event, a 'technology road mapping' session for businesses and academics held in Bristol, and an iNet seminar on sustainable technology in Exeter, the company went on to commission a free of charge 'QuickMark' market intelligence report, produced by UWE and funded by the Environmental iNet.
This strategic marketing document led to Stirling Dynamics staff participating in one of the iNet's two-day marketing workshops, aimed at providing delegates with a grounding in various business strategy models and assisting them with the creation of their own bespoke planning document.
In addition to delivering intensive one-to-one support to over 400 growing businesses, the Environmental iNet, in partnership with UWE Bristol, has launched a range of events and initiatives aimed at increasing regional innovation and employment.
From its 'Green Intern' scheme in collaboration with UWE Careers, which part-funded 8 week internships for clean technology SME's, to the provision of the University's bespoke 'QuickMark' market intelligence reports, these programmes have had a positive impact on the South West's environmental sector.
“Our most successful offering has been the marketing strategy workshops organised and delivered by UWE's Applied Marketing Group,” says Professor Martin Bigg, Director of the Environmental iNet. “Feedback was continually indicating that marketing strategy was an area in which our innovative, research-focused clients needed assistance and UWE Bristol possessed the expertise to help us meet this clear need.
“102 representatives from 96 different organisations attended our first five workshops, held in Bristol, Swindon and Paignton, and with more workshops scheduled for later this year we are anticipating that even more South West businesses will benefit.”
The iNets are supported through funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).