A NEW £400,000 innovation fund has been launched to help Knutsford businesses transform their ideas into reality in the race to net zero.

Businesses, charities and social enterprises can get up to 60 per cent funding towards projects worth £25,000 to help them deliver sustainable products, processes or services.

The grant scheme is managed by Eco-I North West, a £14 million research and development programme which gives businesses access to cutting-edge research facilities and skills at six regional universities.

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So far, more than 100 enterprises, including 12 in Cheshire, 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.

Stopford, an international innovation, consulting and projects company, in Mere, is benefitting from innovative research.

This company develops disruptive technologies to serve the requirements of the low-carbon and circular economy sectors.

This includes Plasmergy, its novel Microwave Induced Plasma (MIP) gasification process.

Dr Ben Herbert, technology and innovation director at Stopford Projects, said: "Plasmergy has the potential to provide the clinical waste management sector with an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable alternative to incineration.

“Through enabling the highly efficient generation of energy from clinical waste, Plasmergy also presents the medical sector with an opportunity to reduce grid-based energy demand, further facilitating decarbonisation.

"We are currently working with Jayan Suthar, a PhD researcher at Lancaster University, on a research project which seeks to integrate the Plasmergy gasification process with a solid oxide fuel cell to enable the highly efficient generation of low-carbon energy.

“By combining the two technologies we aim to develop a process that is unique in both scale and efficiency, enabling sustainable waste management and low-carbon energy generation."

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, said: “Eco-I NW opens up such a huge academic regional resource.

“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.

For more details visit lancaster.ac.uk/eco-i-nw/capital-grant-scheme/