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Sustainable Business Network
The Guildford Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is a collaborative venture between Zero Carbon Guildford and the University of Surrey's Research & Innovation department.
The SBN aims to cut through the confusion that small & medium sized businesses (SMEs) face in trying to be more sustainable. Working with our partners we're trying to make it as easy as possible for any SME to create a carbon management plan, allowing them to build resilience to the medium and long term threats posed by a changing planet. The benefits of creating these plans for your business include:
Cost savings on many aspects of your operations
Attract & retain the highest calibre of employees
Get new business! 88% of folks want more sustainable products
Be a preferred net zero supplier in B2B value chains
Be prepared for law changes on carbon reporting
What are we offering?
Wherever you are on your sustainability journey, the SBN and its partner organisations offers a fantastic package to make the process as easy as possible. Trained facilitators from Surrey County Council can help you build a decarbonisation plan in the most compact course available - all for free! You'll get lifetime access to the only free Science Based Targets initiatives SBTi) calculator available.
Once you take the course and identify your emissions hotspots we can link you up with LoCASE, who can matchfund 40% your decarbonisation and sustainability initiatives, up to £20,000!
The SBN then provides the mentoring, expert advice, and local support from other Surrey SMEs who have been in your shoes. And if you have a problem to solve, or a product or idea to develop, then our links with University of Surrey's knowledge exchange programme can help you get that idea to market!
Fiona Ball, Group Director of Bigger Picture, Sky's sustainability arm, speaks at our sold out launch event
Background to the Guildford SBN
Between 20-30% of the borough’s carbon emissions are attributable to business, a trend largely replicated across Surrey. We aim to help businesses lower that contribution in meaningful and significant ways that deliver genuine decarbonisation strategies. Alongside this we aim to provide pathways that can help businesses adopt a sustainable approach to their business activities, helping to ensure staff satisfaction as well as long-term resilience to a changing planet.
Sustainable Business Networks exist in some format across the country, including neighbouring Sussex and Hampshire - but surprisingly, no such network exists in Surrey! During 2021 the University of Surrey’s Living Lab undertook extensive research on the enthusiasm for such a network locally, and found that there was overwhelming support for the establishment of an SBN, particularly amongst small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Despite a vast majority of businesses wishing to take steps toward decarbonisation and improved sustainability, the resounding feedback was that SMEs simply don’t know where to start. The SBN will therefore aim to cut through the noise and gimmickry that can sometimes accompany such strategies, to help businesses focus on their main sustainability objectives, and highlight the most impactful ways to achieve these. In line with the results of the Living Lab research, the SBN will have 4 main objectives.
Goals Of The Sustainable Business Network
In line with the University of Surrey's feasibility study, and the ongoing baseline research of the Sustainable Business Network team, we have set the following 4 objectives for the network;
Providing pathways for businesses to reduce their emissions and increase their sustainability through interactions with University researchers, sector experts, grant makers and each other
Make Guildford an appealing place for sustainable and innovative enterprises and start-ups to flourish
Platform the work already being done on sustainability by local businesses, inspiring others to follow suit whilst creating a collaborative network of motivated businesses
Provide a convening platform for University of Surrey staff to conduct knowledge exchange with businesses with UoS initiatives, research labs, and the new Sustainability Hive
The SBN programme supports your business in all the areas needed to build a sustainability action plan
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Who Is The Network Open To?
We are keen to engage businesses of all sizes and across all sectors. We recognise that from a practical perspective SMEs based in Surrey, and with 10-250 employees are the most likely to engage, but we will happily help anyone from sole traders to large corporations.
We want to ensure that the SBN is a tool for knowledge exchange, emissions reductions, and cohesion building within Surrey's communities. One which can help us both mitigate and adapt to a changing planet. Therefore we are keen to help any business which demonstrates genuine commitment to the strengthening and development of a strong and resilient local economy, which can help to build self-sufficiency, and which is committed to becoming an integral part of its local community.
Both ZCG and UoS are based in Guildford, making the borough the obvious location for us to launch the network. However, we welcome participation from businesses in Woking and Waverley during this early phase, and aim to expand across Surrey once we find our feet. So please do get in touch with us if you’re keen to stay in the loop as we grow.
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