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New ₤400k green innovation fund to boost Liverpool City Region SMEs in the race to net zero

A new green innovation fund has been launched to help Liverpool City Region SME's from all sectors transform their ideas into reality in the race to net zero. Businesses, charities and social enterprises can get grants towards projects which create more sustainable products, processes or services. It is part of Eco-I North West (NW), a ₤14 million research and development programme which connected SMEs to a Regional knowledge base, cutting edge research facilities and skills involving 6 of the Region's leading Universities in:- Lancaster, Central Lancashire, Cumbria, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester Metropolitan.

Companies already involved in the programme include:-

Infinities Global, based in Liverpool, is a technology start up specialising in marine energy.

EFG UK is an interior solutions provider, based in St Helens.

The grant scheme, that is managed by Eco-I North West (NW), gives SMEs, charities and social enterprises, access to a Regional knowledge base, cutting edge research facilities and skills, providing them with 60% funding towards projects worth ₤25,000 to help them deliver sustainable products, processes or services. Since its launch 2 years ago, more than 100 enterprises, including 17 within the Liverpool City Region, have collaborated with Universities to test their ideas which could help solve global challenges such as:- water supply and quality, waste, energy, resource efficiency, natural capital, air quality, and food security. These new grants will accelerate these low carbon innovations from research to commercialisation by match funding prototypes, pilots and demonstration systems.

Andy Pickard, Manager of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, which delivers the Eco-I NW programme, said:- "Eco-I NW opens up such a huge academic Regional resource to SMEs. It offers the opportunity for the North West to create an ecosystem which accelerates our transition to a low carbon economy. This is a scheme which should allow businesses to access grants quickly and try new things. I would encourage leaders of SME enterprises in the North West to start a conversation with us about how Eco-I NW could help to reduce costs and their carbon footprint, improve performance, and future proof their business in a low carbon future. More than 100 enterprises from a wide range of sectors, disciplines and project themes are already collaborating with the partner Universities and could double their potential return on R&D investment. These grants will further support those already working with the Universities, and expand the benefits Eco-I NW can offer to even more SMEs to bring to market even more sustainable products, processes or services."

Infinities Global, based in Liverpool, is a technology start-up specialising in marine energy. It has been working on R&D in affordable and sustainable green energy solutions. Dr Dapeng Gu, Co-Founder and CEO of Infinities Global, said:- "Current developments in marine energy are still at the early stages and lagging behind solar and wind energy. Conventional marine systems have low efficiency and high cost which prevents successful application at an industrial scale. 1 of our innovative solutions is a hydraulic marine energy system offering better efficiency at lower cost. We are working with Simon Baker, a PhD researcher at Lancaster University under the supervision of Prof George Aggidis and Dr Sergio Campobasso, to optimise the system with a focus on the energy transmission mechanism and energy storage solutions. We are working in full speed to address the key engineering challenges of the new technology aiming at industrial application and commercialization in the near future."

EFG UK is an interior solutions provider, based in St Helens, that specialises in workplace consultancy, interior design, office furniture supply and installation into workplace and education environments across the UK. It is working with Lancaster University to develop a carbon measurement tool for its furniture and operations, and delivering suggestions for change and investigating potential supply chain improvements. The aim is to build a best practice framework which will support other organisations to become carbon net zero.

Jennifer Wakefield, Marketing Manager, said:- "Transparency in decision-making is key to reducing the impacts of commercial interiors and the team at EFG UK are passionate about helping our clients make considered decisions through the design process. Currently, it is very difficult to find practical guidance as to how a business can begin to measure the carbon impacts of furniture and so, there is no 1 system or framework to depend on. We are determined to make a positive contribution by expanding our portfolio of sustainably designed products even further. Our project with Eco-I North West will be a catalyst for this and we are all very excited. We feel that manufacturers and suppliers can play a key role in contributing towards a wider societal movement to tackle the challenge of climate change and intend to deliver real progress for our sector, clients and planet alike."

Eco-I NW aims to work with more than 300 SMEs, supporting the development of 135 new innovative solutions which will save 3,850 tonnes of CO2. To find out more about the programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), visit:- Lancaster.AC.UK.

Reintroducing culture to the lives of City's most vulnerable

Reintroducing culture to the lives of City's most vulnerable Tag - When Another Dragons Roar aims to address young people's mental health issues.

LIVERPOOL is launching a unique events programme designed to enrich the lives of those hardest hit by the Pandemic. A brand new community programme will slowly reintroduce culture into the lives of clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) individuals and those who have been shielding during the Pandemic, and those who have experienced mental health challenges, bereavements or even financial hardship. The City Council funded initiative aims to reduce social isolation and loneliness, promote improved wellbeing and empower residents who have been adversely impacted by Covid19. The activities on offer range from performances in the grounds of care homes, cinema screenings for those who have been shielding, aerial productions that explore mental health and creative workshops which will give young cancer patients the chance to mix with others after periods of isolation.

Liverpool City Council's Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy, Councillor Harry Doyle:- "Now restrictions are lifted, many of us take for granted the ease in which we are returning to 'normal' life, but for so many this is an incredibly daunting time and the thought of mixing with other people, going to the theatre or enjoying artwork in a gallery is unfathomable. This is a beautiful, and moving, programme which will reconnect some of our most vulnerable residents with culture, build their confidence and essentially bring some much needed joy into their lives. Once again, our creative sector has excelled itself in stepping up to the challenge and providing a series of events which will be transformative for so many."

The events will be delivered by arts organisations across the City and highlights include:-

Cinema Nation CIC will be working with local partners in the County District, North Liverpool, to create a series of community screenings both online and in person for residents who have been in isolation throughout the Pandemic. It will offer a safe environment for those taking their First steps back into society.

Theatre company Nwoko Arts will produce a 30 minute show consisting of dance, music and mime. The multi sensory show will be aimed at care home residents and will take place inside the home or in its grounds. As part of the creative process, the memories and hopes of the care home residents will be recorded and used in the final performances.

'Me Vs Me' will see aerial experts Wired Aerial Theatre will touring the City's Secondary Schools and exploring the subject of mental health and celebrating the resilience of the human spirit.

A series of high quality music activities and events from the Liverpool Philharmonic will give CEV residents free access to concerts, in-person and online, and the funding will also allow for the creation of drop in music sessions Music Mondays which will allow residents to connect with others and boost wellbeing through music. Sessions run from February 2022 to July 2022.

Altered Scale Theatre will create a fun, magical show that investigates different ways of expressing and dealing with personal anger and anxiety. The show entitled:- 'When Another Dragon Roars' is aimed at young people shielding in Key Stages 1 and 2.

Merseyside Dance Initiative will encourage people with Down syndrome to take part in accessible dance classes.

National Museums Liverpool is offering community groups the opportunity to come together and process the events of the last 2 years through free creative workshops, producing their own:- 'museum in a box.'

The award winning LIMF Academy introduced Changing the Narrative to support musicians on their mental health and wellbeing journey. Aimed at 18 to 30 year olds, the free programme builds confidence and explores how they can move forward with a fresh focus and renewed energy in their careers and personal life.

dot-art has created online art classes for adults, children and families to enjoy.

Workshops facilitated by the Bluecoat Display Centre team will see them join forces with the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre's dedicated Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) unit, to create a series of tailored craft workshops at TYA led by professional local artist/makers to benefit the young cancer patients. It will provide a supportive environment to develop, share and create and act as a relaxing distraction from treatment that allows young people to feel like themselves again.

'DaDaFest' will bring together disabled people in Liverpool to share their experiences of shielding. Working with artists their stories will be transformed into poetry which will then be discovered via QR codes across the City.

Liverpool City Council's Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health, Councillor Frazer Lake:- "Liverpool has a very high proportion of people at risk and throughout the Pandemic it was devastating to see our high rates of infection and death. We still have around 46,000 people who are classed as high-risk, so it's no surprise there is some trepidation now that Covid19 regulations have been lifted. Considering what Liverpool has experienced over the past 2 years, this is a hugely important community engagement programme. The benefits of integrating culture into people's lives are well documented, it improves mental health, boosts morale and the benefits of that feel good fActor should never be underestimated. I'd like to thank all those involved and I look forward to hearing more about the projects throughout the year."

Michael Pierce and Monika Rodriguez, Cinema Nation CIC:- "Our projects have 2 strands: Returning to Community Cinema and Shield Circles, the First focused on making it easier for people with vulnerabilities in County ward to attend events, whilst the 2nd will see artists and cultural workers who have experienced shielding; coming together to work on an art piece. The Culture Liverpool funding has allowed this project to become a reality for those of us who have been affected by shielding the most."

Karen Podesta, Head of Programme for Merseyside Dance Initiative:- "We're delighted to have the support of Culture Liverpool at a time when our Dance, Health and Digital focus is growing to reach, and boost the mental and physical wellbeing of communities across the City. We're looking forward to introducing our Connect and Move libraries project and classes for those living with Down syndrome to our programme over the coming months."

The programme will be delivered throughout the year and the latest details can be found on the Culture Liverpool website. This site will be updated as each project progresses. This announcement comes weeks after the launch of the Culture Collective campaign which sees Liverpool's arts organisations come together to show off the City's impressive cultural credentials. To find out more and to watch the official music video soundtrack head to:- VisitLiverpool.Com.


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