South Tyneside Council secures EU funding to build business centre targeting low carbon SMEs
Clean tech startups have been urged to take part in a £5m project designed to nurture low-carbon growth in the North East of England, dubbed “The Green Incubator”.
South Tyneside Council yesterday confirmed plans for a high-tech building to support the growth of up to 42 low-carbon, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME), after securing £2.46m funding from the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Regional development agency One North East (ONE) is providing the remainder.
Firms that set up shop in the Incubator will get advice from local universities and the nearby National Renewable Energy Centre to help steer their growth. As well as targeting clean energy startups, the project’s developers aim to attract SMEs in other low-carbon and environmental sectors, including automotive, e-businesses, product design and marine engineering.
Local councillor Michael Clare said he hoped the project would bolster the council’s efforts to drive a “green industrial revolution”, while Lesley Calder, head of Europe and skills at ONE, insisted business incubators have a track record of boosting SME success.
“Incubators significantly contribute to SME growth and reduced business failure rates, so, combined with the transition to a low-carbon economy, it means that ERDF intervention is helping an excellent project move forward for economic improvement in the North East,” she said.
The incubator will be located on the site of the former blue chip Circatex, which went bust in 2006. Construction work will begin in May, with the building slated to open in 2012. ONE said the incubator will incorporate state-of-the-art clean energy systems and will meet the highest environmental standard of BREEAM.
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