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Low carbon and renewables are big business

This week is Low Carbon and Renewables week at the International Festival for Business (July 14th to 19th.)

The 50-day long festival, taking place in Liverpool, is aligned with achieving the government's target of rebalancing the economy and fulfilling its export and investment objectives. Each week is dedicated to covering a topic that's critical to business development and economic growth.

With the new European Union Energy Efficiency Directive having recently gone into effect, there is an increased emphasis on the role of the business community to make a shift towards more sustainable practices. In addition to new government targets and requirements, the way sustainability initiatives are being viewed is also changing.

The UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study 2013, which surveyed 1,000 CEOs across 103 countries and 27 industry sectors, found that 84% of participants believe that business should lead efforts to define and deliver sustainable development goals.

Corporate social and environmental policies are becoming increasingly accepted not only as being “the right thing to do,” but rather, as one of the critical determining factors of business continuity and future success. Business and sustainability are inextricably linked and, despite the challenges and barriers, companies are motivated to develop and adapt to the social and environmental agenda.

The IFB Low Carbon and Renewables themed week explores this topic with a series of different events. The week begins with a Green business showcase, where organisations of all different sizes are given the opportunity to demonstrate their green credentials and best business practice to other companies, organisations and charities who are looking for more sustainable options. The showcase includes networking sessions, presentations and information all aimed at assisting companies to adopt more energy efficient business practices.

Also on the calendar is a panel discussion, bringing together leading individuals from both manufacturing and renewable energy to discuss how high energy users can successfully deliver low carbon projects. The discussion will focus on four key areas: financing options, technology options, government policy and demand vs supply in order to provide insight into all of the resources that are available to help businesses develop and implement their sustainability strategies.

Along similar lines, there will be a breakfast debate with subsidiaries of multinational energy, political leaders from Local Enterprise Partnerships and environmental consultancies on current opportunities in low carbon infrastructure. This event will  be centred around disseminating information about the untapped natural assets of the UK and more specifically the Northwest. It will also look at how these assets can be developed and sold to overseas sovereign investors and utilities companies.

Both the panel discussion and the debate seek to remove some of the mystery surrounding the development of low carbon initiatives by sharing innovation, experience and best practice. This is aimed at opening these opportunities up to businesses of all different sizes.

Another key event on the itinerary is “Clean and Cool,” the week’s Meet the Buyer and showcase Event. This event will provide an opportunity for buyers from large companies who are seeking innovative low carbon solutions to connect with SME suppliers and financiers. The event will provide a platform for networking and the exchange of ideas between companies, research organisations, financiers and venture capitalists as a means to gain insight into new technologies and the potential for funding and commercialisation.

Additionally, there will be a series of parallel sessions composed of a number of 15 minute pitches in four categories: IT & Communications Innovation, Energy Storage Innovation, Distributed Generation Innovation and Innovation in Resource Efficiency. Presenters will put forward their product or service and outline the function, scalability and funding opportunity before a panel of judges. The best innovation in each category will be awarded a prize at the end of the day.

Other events scheduled for the week include the Low Carbon Vehicle-Ride and Drive Event, where BMW will showcase their iMobility vehicles, a showcase of new business opportunities in heat, power and transport through hydrogen and fuel cells, and an informational session on low carbon housing retrofit.

The development of the renewable energy industry is rapidly becoming a regional, national and global priority and the Northwest is well placed to become a hub of innovation within Europe. Through the open exchange of ideas and best practice sharing, cities like Liverpool and Manchester are set to lead the way.

For a full schedule and more information visit the International Festival of Business Website