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Innovative investment fund helps cut regional carbon emissions

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By 2020, more than 10 million tonnes of carbon are projected to have been saved by new businesses invested in by the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) ground-breaking Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF). Part of the Adapt Low Carbon Group, LCIF was established in 2010 specifically to invest in local businesses whose products or services reduce carbon emissions, and has just completed its first cycle of funding investing, £20.5 million,  alongside a further £49 million from other investors.

“We launched the fund as a way to support promising small and medium-sized businesses in the East of England who might otherwise have difficulty in securing finance,” said Adapt CEO John French. “It’s the only one of its kind and enables innovative and forward-thinking companies, who share sustainability as a core value, to grow and thrive.

“We’ve invested in over 40 enterprises – all of whom provided evidence of their ability to reduce carbon emissions - and are delighted with LCIF’s success. We’re unusual because, as well as providing equity, we sit on the boards of the companies we invest in to provide strategic advice as part of our commitment to nurturing low carbon businesses.”

The investment pot is a mix of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money and private UK and international equity. Companies who’ve benefitted include Solar for Schools (www.solarforschools.co.uk) who enable schools and colleges to generate their own solar energy, Weeding Technologies (www.weedingtech.com), who offer the first commercially viable alternative to chemical herbicides, and GapoGroup Ltd (www.gapogroup.com), whose insulation tape helps households save energy and reduce their carbon footprint by fitting it between rafters in roofs, walls and floors.

“Without LCIF’s financial support, we could not have completed our proof of concept at a time when most investors were abandoning solar in droves,” said Robert Schrimpff,

CEO, Solar for Schools. “Thanks to LCIF, we are now the only commercial entity left helping schools to go solar and have installed a further 400kW this year which will save 200 tonnes of CO2 a year for the next two decades, while inspiring a generation of children to live more sustainably.”

Edward Ward, Managing Director of GapoGroup, added: “Investment raised from the LCIF has allowed us to advance production and meet the ever-increasing demand for Gapotape. Our shared vision for nationwide roll-out will help reduce carbon emissions and increase the energy performance of all homes while eliminating the performance gap one roll at a time.”

Cycle two of the Low Carbon Innovation Fund will be open for applications in early 2017, so if you’re an eligible SME looking for investment, keep an eye on the website. www.uea.ac.uk/low-carbon-fund