Firstly, a HUGE thankyou to all the local businesses that joined us for the official launch of the Sustainable Business Network. We were at full capacity with the event selling out. (sign up for the next event before it sells out!). Hopefully this demonstrates the commitment that local businesses have to playing their part in Surrey's plans to be a leader in building a resilient local economy, and in adapting to the climate crisis.
Once again we were joined by 3 fantastic speakers:
Dr Stelvia Matos - Head of the UoS Centre Of Social Innovation Management
Hannah Keartland - Outsourced Chief Impact Officer
Fiona Ball - Group Director, Bigger Picture, Sky
Stelvia talked us through what the UoS Business School can offer, and crucially, how to avoid some of the pitfalls and unintended consequences of innovation (cue discussion of Thomas Midgley, dubbed 'the world's most harmful inventor', and the brains behind leaded petrol AND CFCs! Cheers for that Thomas).
We discussed TCOS - the framework used to help map and predict these innovative uncertainties, and ensure that innovators are asking the correct questions to deliver a valuable, usable product:
Does it work?
Domain of scientists, engineers
Is it commercially viable?
Domain of marketing, business analysts
Does the org. have the complementary assets/ capabilities to appropriate the benefits?
Domain of the strategists, business development experts
Is it acceptable to civil society?
Domain of ??
Through the University of Surrey, businesses can access a range of support to help deliver innovative solutions that benefit the wider SME community. If you've got an idea for a product or service, then there are various ways the University can support you...
Knowledge Transfer Partnership: (or the shorter Accelerated Knowledge Transfer), which help established SMEs to deliver a product or service which is close to commercialisation
Innovation Vouchers which give SMEs access to UoS state of the art facilities and cutting edge academia
Set Squared Incubator which supports early-stage science & tech ventures
There's also graduate placements which can support SMEs, so get in touch with us today if you want to be referred to these great support programmes. Drop SBN offcier Jane an email and tell us which support offer you'd like to be referred to! firstname.lastname@example.org
After a lively Q&A with Stelvia we heard from the SBN team, who laid out the plan for bringing together all the support on offer. We aim to help Surrey businesses take ownership of their carbon management plans, and as such we're teamed up with Surrey County Council to deliver the Net Zero 360 course, which helps you understand where your emissions are coming from, and how to cut them - and cut operating costs and build resilience along the way!
Alongside this course, the SBN will offer practical support through events and workshops, whilst LoCASE provide financial assistance up to £20,000 of matchfunding, and the Uni of Surrey offer their knowledge exchange programmes.
Finally, we heard from Fiona Ball, who ran us through Sky's plans for their Net Zero targets.
Fiona told us that Sky is already carbon neutral, but plans to be net zero emissions by 2030. A whopping 87% of Sky's emissions are Scope 3 emissions, broken down to 50% in the use of home products, and 37% in their procurement arm. (If you don't know the difference between carbon neutral and net zero, or you're scratching your head at 'scopes', then you're not alone! Bhe Net Zero 360 course is a great way to learn, and the next cohort start 25th Oct, register here.
Fiona's plans for a giant like Sky of course included some aspects which many SMEs might not have the clout to replicate. But the levers of change which Sky have highlighted can be applied to any business. And what's really motivating for smaller businesses is that they can be far quicker at implementing some of these strategies than most large businesses.
Around 99% of businesses in the UK fall into the SME category, and if it's tempting to think of a large business as a tanker that takes forever to turn around to respond to the climate crisis, then our SMEs can be viewed as a flotilla of speedboats, far more agile and responsive to the current situation, and which can play a hugely important role in reducing the 25% of Guildford's emissions which come from business, whilst helping to build a resilient local economy.
Where some of these levers of change may have seemed confusing or unachievable, we hope that the SBN can help provide you with the clarity and connections to start employing some of these crucial change strategies.
Most importantly, for all of us, was the closing discussion around what Sky and other businesses can do to spread the word about the impacts of the climate crisis.
The key takeaway is that peer to peer influence is by far the strongest factor in engaging people. Shared values and identity are strong drivers within our brains, and we all have the opportunity to help spark collaborative action on protecting our communities, our businesses, and our families from the worst of a changing planet, by understanding how our words can have an impact.
Every conversation you have as a business or individual is an opportunity to spell out to your peers that whatever it is that they most cherish, it hangs on us tackling the climate crisis. Each step you take towards increased sustainability has far wider-reaching implications than just the carbon saved by those actions - IF you talk about why you're doing it. Find shared values with people, tell them why tackling climate change is important to protecting those values, and what you're doing about. This, perhaps above all else, is how we can rapidly catalyse the momentum we need to ensure we are at the forefront of using local organising and solutions to tackle global crises.
Clean Growth UK's NET ZERO 360
Join us for the 2nd cohort of Net Zero 360 - the most compact way to learn how to build a carbon management plan. Cut your costs and improve sustainability and resilience, whilst managing your overwhelm! REGISTER HERE
‘Net Zero 360 course was super informative and great value to the business. If everybody had that education, people, would save fortunes’. Gary Kemish, Fresh Gym, Shepperton, Surrey