ECO-INNOVATIONat the heart of European policies
The United Kingdom is promoting its eco-innovative small and medium-sized companies through a series of
The United Kingdom is promoting its eco-innovative small and medium-sized companies through a series of “Clean and Cool” missions that take entrepreneurs to explore the cleantech market opportunities in Brazil and the United States.
During 2013, Clean and Cool missions will visit Brazil from 30 October to 7 November, and Colorado from 30 November to 7 December. In each case, up to 20 SMEs will participate. The rationale is that the missions give eco-innovative companies the opportunity to meet investors, customers, partners and suppliers, learn about the Brazilian or US markets and, according to the Clean and Cool brochure, “spend quality time with like-minded and successful innovators and entrepreneurs in the cleantech sector”.
The missions are organised by the Technology Strategy Board (the UK's innovation agency), UK Trade & Investment and private sector partners. The 2013 missions will follow on from a mission to San Francisco in 2012, in which 16 companies participated. The Brazil mission targets companies that offer solutions in water, solid waste, renewable energy, buildings, future cities and agriculture and forestry. For the Colorado mission, the focus is on smart grids, energy storage, systems integration, buildings, transport and solar and wind power.
To participate, companies must submit applications. Most costs of the missions are covered by the organisers, but companies are asked to pay £2500 (€2900) towards flights and accommodation. The missions involve tailored agendas that provide, say the organisers, “unparallelled insights, connections and opportunities”. For 2013, Brazil has been chosen because it is a growing market for cleantech, while Colorado has a burgeoning cleantech industry, especially in sectors such as energy storage.
In terms of results, the organisers have published some information of the impacts of missions in 2008 and 2009 which were aimed at high-tech, rather than eco-innovative, companies. Of the 35 companies that participated in these missions, half secured investment, and 20 percent set up US subsidiaries. The largest single investment secured was $10.2 million.
Participant feedback has been positive. Craig White, director of Modcell, which makes straw panels for use in construction, said that the biggest benefit of a Clean and Cool mission to San Francisco was the realisation of opportunities. “We demystified the idea of working internationally and saw that the legislation that helped drive the market opportunity for ModCell in the UK and Europe, is similar to the emerging legislation in America,” he said. Following the mission, Modcell opened an office in the US.