Supporting industrial SMEs in Europe to advance their sustainability and improve investment readiness.
WHO WAS THE CUSTOMER?
Horizon Europe funded project featuring 14 partners across 12 European nations. UKRI has funded the UK based partners on this project.
WHAT WAS THE BRIEF?
Driven by the necessity for global businesses to transform their products and operations in support of a net zero carbon future, many investors are adjusting their strategies to target only businesses who embrace sustainability to be part of their investment portfolios. This is as much about environmental responsibility as it is about de-risking investments and protecting themselves from businesses who do not have an eye on their long term sustainable future.
Unfortunately, many SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises), lack the vision, resources, capacity or support to transform their businesses through innovation, digitalisation or environmental stewardship. As such, they risk being precluded from essential capital that would enable them to grow. We are already seeing examples where investors are turning companies down for investment due to a lack of a plan or strategy on how to establish low carbon, low waste and resource stable businesses.
This project aims to support these businesses through the development of an ecosystem that combines business assessment tools, roadmapping sessions, development of action plans and delivering training modules In targeted areas. It will lead to the assessment of over 2000 SMEs and unlocking of funding for 20 SMEs.
WHY WERE HSSMI BROUGHT IN?
HSSMI were asked to be a partner on the project due to our previous experience in delivering sustainability and digitalisation assessments for a range of business types, to provide a link with UK businesses post Brexit, and to gain access to our IP on existing business assessment tools we’ve developed.
WHAT DID HSSMI DO TO DELIVER THE RESULTS?
HSSMI is responsible for developing an assessment tool focused on three key criteria – innovation, sustainability, and investment. These three criteria have been incorporated into an online assessment tool to enable user-friendly and efficient evaluation.
The completion of the evaluation will deliver results and information for SMEs including
a roadmap or action plan. This will help the consortium to evaluate the type of trainings required to advance the current state of SMEs and select SMEs for receiving potential investment. HSSMI are also supporting the trainings offered by the STAGE project consortium across topics such as life cycle assessment, digitalisation, and circular economy.
WHAT WERE THE OUTPUTS?
We are 1 year into the project. The tools and online platform to enable virtual business assessment have been developed and we are ready to go live with the first tranche of SMEs. We expect to assess up to 1000 SMEs in the next year and begin to deliver direct training to the businesses inducted onto the program.
WHAT IMPACT DID THIS MAKE?
With the support of the assessments delivered, roadmaps generated and trainings provided, we aim to enhance the inducted businesses’ approaches to achieving long term financial and environmental sustainability. In doing so, we expect to open the door for investment for some of the most ambitious SMEs across Europe.
Moreover, as our bank of data on various businesses’ innovation and sustainability readiness grows, we will be able to take synthesised data from the assessments and generate insights on, e.g. archetypal maturity, strengths, weaknesses and gaps of certain sectors, business types or regional areas. This data can ultimately be used to inform what policy or support instruments can be developed and put in place for tackling identified gaps / challenges, leading to better adoption rates of sustainable practices.
BELOW ARE THE KEY ASPECTS OF THE STAGE APPROACH TO ADDRESS THE SUSTAINABILITY NEEDS OF SMEs:
- Sustainability Ecosystem – Our digital ecosystem is designed to address the sustainability needs of European industrial enterprises, providing incentives and support to make businesses agile and green.
- Innovation and Sustainability Assessments Combining market-leading tools of our consortium partners, we provide enterprises with cutting-edge Innovation, sustainability, and technology assessments.
- Training and Support – We provide European industrial enterprises and sustainability advisors with online and onsite access to advanced technologies innovation and decentralised open-source sustainability training courses and support.
- Sustainability Centres – By enhancing the current collaboration of key EU sustainability and innovation actors, we are promoting a large number of sustainability centres to incentivise sustainable transition for thousands of European industrial enterprises.
Access to Finance – If required, we can facilitate easy access to funding for the most promising industrial enterprises to support their sustainable transition to agile and green enterprise.
(Our approach. | STAGE.)
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