Kent SMEs - particularly in Canterbury, Swale and Gravesend - to get help to reach net zero after £500,000-plus secured from government


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The county's small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) are set to benefit from more than half a million pounds to help them tackle climate change.

The money was secured after a joint bid to the government's Community Renewal Fund by the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and the University of Kent.

The University of Kent's Canterbury campus
The University of Kent's Canterbury campus

It will run until June 2022 and primarily focus on three pilot areas - Canterbury, Swale and Gravesend - although SMEs across the county will be able to access the support.

As a result, the Net Zero Pathway for Change will provide firms across the county with free access to carbon reduction advisors, workshops, university collaboration through innovation grants and funding to help support the implementation of carbon reduction activities.

Jo James, CEO at the chamber, said: “Every businessperson I have spoken to now has climate change foremost in their mind and there is a desire and a sense of urgency to get things done.

"However, after a turbulent 18 months and continued instability in certain sectors, small businesses have needed more than just facts and figures to help them make a difference. This programme will give businesses the practical financial support and relevant guidance they need to implement carbon reduction activities. We’re delighted to be working with the University of Kent again on this vital programme and proud to be leading the way.”

The programme sits alongside the already successful LoCASE (Low Carbon Across the South East) project delivered by Kent County Council.

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Jo James
Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Jo James

With access to academics, student workshops and grant funding, the university will play a significant role in helping SMEs develop new products, processes and technology that will support the long term needs of our climate.

Carole Barron, director of knowledge exchange and innovation at the university, added: “There has never been a more important time to move forward the net zero agenda with COP26 highlighting the significant amount of work that needs to be done to reach our carbon emission targets.

"The Community Renewal Fund will act as a catalyst for change in the region. Our Net Zero Deep Dive Training Programmes are designed to change hearts and minds on what ‘net-zero’ means and the challenges – from technological, to moral, to achieving it.

"The programme will target the hardest to reach group of small businesses who lack the absorptive capacity to recognise the value of net zero, assimilate it, and apply it to their environment. Immediately following the training, our academic experts will contact the businesses attending the sessions to identify innovative interventions to drive net zero changes.”

The Net Zero Pathway for Change will run until June 2022 and whilst primarily focused on activity in three pilot areas of Canterbury, Swale and Gravesend, businesses from across Kent will be able to access the support.

The funding comes after a number of protests while COP26 has been taking place in Glasgow. Photo: Markus Spiske
The funding comes after a number of protests while COP26 has been taking place in Glasgow. Photo: Markus Spiske

For more information, email climate@kentinvictachamber.co.uk.

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