Green programme set for launch

Innovation Birmingham prepares for 2015 launch of its €2 million Climate KIC programme.

The West Midlands 2015 Climate KIC programme of activity will be launched on Tuesday 24th February. Innovation Birmingham acts as the regional hub, which this year has been assigned €2 million to deliver a range of initiatives for Climate-KIC; Europe’s largest public-private partnership focused on tackling climate change.

The main programmes to be launched on 24th February are; Pioneers into Practice – a grant-funded European exchange programme for 50 low carbon specialists; the Low Carbon Accelerator Programme for 30 start-up businesses; ClimateLaunchpad – a programme enabling 10 business ideas to become a commercial reality; and a range of grant-funded education programmes aimed at students, professionals and organisations. Applications are being sought for all of the programmes, with the cut-off date being 23rd March 2015.

35 initial expressions of interest for the Low Carbon Accelerator have been lodged from across the West Midlands in the first few days of the application process being open. It is designed to accelerate the growth of early stage businesses, awarding up to €20,000 of grant funding to each company who successfully progresses through the nine month programme.

The recent growth of the Climate KIC programme enabled Innovation Birmingham to create 10 new jobs during 2014. In 2015, in addition to the main activity programmes, Innovation Birmingham will also be responsible for the delivery of Climate-KIC’s annual Innovation Festival, which will be held at The ICC in October. The event attracts over 500 climate change practitioners from across Europe.

Katharine Fuller, Innovation Birmingham’s Senior Project Manager for EU Projects said: “There are only six Climate-KIC Regional Innovation Centres across Europe, so having one in the West Midlands is a significant asset to the regional climate change agenda. We will be spending €2 million during the course of this year on initiatives that will have a real impact on our environment and the economy.”

Katharine Fuller continued: “The significant increase in the Climate-KIC funding that we’ve been able to secure for the West Midlands is a reflection of the rapid growth of the region’s sustainable energy market. The low carbon agenda is capturing the interest of serial entrepreneurs, as well as prompting industry professionals to step away from a corporate career path and start their own business.”

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “Since the closure of Advantage West Midlands, we have been lobbying our European partners to increase the amount of funding for climate change initiatives across the West Midlands. We are delighted to have secured a record €2million this year to allocate across a number of low carbon projects – and amongst partner organisations – which will support the work of businesses, professionals and students.”

Innovation Birmingham’s Climate KIC West Midlands Regional Innovation Centre is one of six across Europe that are working to develop the low carbon economy within their regions. The other Regional Innovation Centres are located in; Valencia (Spain); Emilia Romagna (Italy); Hessen (Germany); Lower Silesia (Poland) and Central Hungary. The Centres are supported through the Climate Knowledge Innovation Community (KIC) project, which receives funding from the European Commission through the European Institute for Innovation and Technology.

Pic: Katharine Fuller