An exciting new commercial concept is emerging in East Sussex - the Enviro21 Innovation Parks put sustainability at the heart of business.
The Enviro21 Innovation Parks are a series of high-quality, sustainable business parks that are being created by development company Coastal Innovation. Surrounded by beautiful Sussex countryside near England?s south coast, the Parks will create a thriving community of dynamic, like-minded businesses at the forefront of the fast-growing environmental technologies sector.
Keith Sadler of Coastal Innovation explains: ?The first Enviro21 Innovation Park is due to be completed by winter 2009/10. This is a ground-breaking initiative and we?re welcoming contact from organisations that share our vision and want to be part of the Enviro21 movement ? companies that are determined to put sustainability at the heart of their business.?
Artist?s impression of the Queensway South business park
WHAT ENVIRONMENTAL COMPANIES NEED
To help shape the creation of the Enviro21 Innovation Parks, Coastal Innovation first undertook detailed research into the environmental technologies sector and what its constituent businesses need in order to develop to their full potential. Companies in this field tend to be young, ambitious, highly-skilled and with a strong international outlook, and the study underlined just how significant the growth potential of this industry is ? at a time when most other business sectors are decidedly shrinking.
The worldwide environmental tech market has been forecast to grow to just under $800bn by 2015. Figures from 2005 for the UK alone show that the sector turned over in excess of £25bn ? that?s roughly the same as pharmaceuticals and aerospace ? employing 400,000 people in 17,000 companies. Anecdotally, one company surveyed by Coastal Innovation said it expected ?rapid growth?; another that it has ?far more work than we can take on?. One organisation said that it had gone from £2m in turnover to £6m in the last year alone. Another said that: ?We?ve been growing dramatically. In the first four years we were doubling our turnover, before settling down to around 25% annual growth.?
While the general economic climate has deteriorated since the time of the study, all the signs are that the enviro-technology sector is holding up well. The research carried out also provided fascinating insights into the attitudes and requirements of such forwardlooking businesses. Of greatest relevance, unsurprisingly for firms operating in the environmental sector, those surveyed indicated that sustainable business practices are vital to them ? and all the more so if they can come with cost savings rather than increased investment.
One firm said that ?on a scale of one to ten, it [sustainable business operations] is a ten?; another that ?it?s the heartbeat of our business?. A third remarked: ?Our MD is keen to the point of driving us nuts ? he looks at everything and how we can be greener.? A fourth explained: ?It?s vital to us because of the business we?re in. We?re extremely aware of our carbon footprint, although it?s difficult to reduce.?
The vast majority of companies surveyed, however, commented that, while they perform well on the ?easier? aspects of sustainability such as recycling, their existing business premises hold them back by being far from ?green?. In addition, the research highlighted that companies in this sector feel it?s important to be able to work in an attractive natural environment; to forge R&D links with technology-focused universities; and to be surrounded by like-minded companies.
The Enviro21 Innovation Park project addresses these factors directly and provides the kind of environment within which these companies can thrive.
FIRST INNOVATION PARK
Construction of the first of the Enviro21 Innovation Parks is already well under way at a site called Queensway South, on the outskirts of Hastings. Several linked additional Parks are scheduled to join it over the next 10 years. At Queensway South, flexible workshop and office premises are being created, to a distinctive architectural design.
Coastal Innovation?s Keith Sadler explains: ?In keeping with the Enviro21 ethos, the premises are being built in an environmentally-friendly manner and will have a host of sustainable, low-energy features built-in. These will not only minimise the business park?s impact on the environment, but will also provide low running costs for the business occupants.?
Initially, Coastal Innovation is creating four business units on the site, offering between 5,000 and 13,000 sq ft of space. Split 35/65 between office and manufacturing facilities, these premises are scheduled to be completed by winter 2009/10, after which further units will be developed to take the Innovation Park to the next stage.
The business units? features include:
Proposals are also being progressed for a two-megawatt wind turbine on the Innovation Park. Extensive meteorological investigations have demonstrated that the site?s wind profile is ideal for a turbine, which would generate significantly more energy than the Innovation Park would use ? making the site better than carbon neutral.
INNOVATION, DEBATE, KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AND MORE
The project, however, is about more than creating the latest standard of sustainable premises. On the same site, construction is under way of ?The Exchange?. Sadler explains: ?As a stylish meeting and exhibition venue and a sustainable restaurant, The Exchange will become a focal point for networking, debate, collaboration, innovation and knowledge transfer ? for the Enviro21 Innovation Park?s occupants and any other businesses wanting to get involved.?
The Exchange will showcase the latest developments in energy and environmental technologies to demystify these complex fields. The exhibition area will have interpretive displays to demonstrate the techniques used within the business park, as well as other advances in technological products.
TAILORED BUSINESS SUPPORT
A range of business services and networking groups is being planned to support the Enviro21 business community ? with an Energy & Environmental Technologies Cluster group already launched. This Cluster has attracted interest from businesses across a number of environmental sub-sectors ? from product design to waste management, construction reuse, manufacturing and renewable energy. It has 130 members and is growing steadily.
In addition, members of the Enviro21 programme will be able to work with the area?s many existing business networks, higher education institutes and other support providers ? including University Centre Hastings, University of Brighton, Business Link, Train to Gain, EnviroBusiness, the Energy Savings Trust, the Carbon Trust and the South East England Development Agency.
The Enviro21 Innovation Park concept, with all its elements, is firmly taking shape and embracing the ecorevolution. While the premises, services, amenities and interest grow on a weekly basis, however, for Coastal Innovation the underlying philosophy remains the same. ?We feel strongly that sustainability needs to shift from being a charitable add-on to become an integral part of every business ? simply because it makes good commercial sense,? says Keith Sadler.
By taking this principle to heart, the Enviro21 programme is set to help lay the foundations for many of the next generation of British business success stories.?
For more information on the Enviro21 programme,
contact Keith Sadler at Coastal Innovation on:
Tel:+44 1424 723 153
Added the 31 August 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-1