Launch of Renewable Business Portal at the successful seminar “From resource to sustainable business” & GREBE policy workshop

The GREBE project successfully organized – in cooperation with the IEA Bioenergy Task 43 – the joint seminar “From resource to sustainable business” and the GREBE policy workshop. Both, seminar and policy workshop took place on the 9th of February 2017 in Joensuu, Finland.

The goal of this seminar was to discuss the topics and aims of GREBE and IEA Bioenergy Task 43 presenting and elaborating key aspects and opportunities from the resource to a sustainable business for sustainable energy. The joint seminar “From resource to sustainable business” included discussions of the more than 40 participants around the topics “Biomass Feedstocks for Energy Markets”, “Generating Renewable Energy business”, “Mentoring & support for RE business” and “Global energy markets & opportunities for sustainable business”.

A key milestone for GREBE was the launch of the Renewable Business Portal. Transnational sharing of knowledge is a key part of the GREBE project and therefore the portal provides a platform to demonstrate the full potential of the renewable energy (RE) sector and showcase innovations in RE technology. The Virtual Energy Ideas Hub enables connecting renewable energy businesses to develop new opportunities locally, regionally and transnationally.

The GREBE policy workshop after the seminar focused on energy policy and promotion of renewable energy. The GREBE policy workshop dealt with current issues from the Finnish and North Karelian point of view. There was active participation from regional stakeholders as well as from international participants (IEA Bioenergy Task 43 & GREBE). The results of the workshop will be utilized in drafting the roadmap towards an oil-free and low-carbon North Karelia 2040.  Details of this will be included in our next e-zine.

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Alternatively, participants had the opportunity to join an excursion in the Joensuu region visiting first the company Kesla Oyj and then the Sirkkala Energy Park.  The successful day ended with a joint dinner. The event was co-organized by the GREBE partners Luke and Karelia UAS.

The GREBE Renewable Business Portal can be found under: www.renewablebusiness.eu

The GREBE Project meets in Finland

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The GREBE project partners are holding their fifth partner meeting this week in a very cold (minus 25oC) Joensuu, Finland.   The Western Development Commission and the Finnish partners Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) and Karelia University of Applied Sciences have been working together to prepare a programme to fit in as much as possible.

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The first part of our partner meeting was held today where we discussed plans for rolling out our Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme to the partner regions. The meeting will continue tomorrow where discussion on other work package activities will take place. Our meeting is taking place in Metla House where LUKE are based. Then on Thursday we will hold a joint seminar with IEA Bioenergy Task 43 ‘From Resource to Sustainable Business’.  On Thursday afternoon, we will hold two parallel sessions of either site visits to Kesla Forest Technology and Sirkkala Energy Park or a GREBE Policy Workshop.  We will have details of our activities in future blog posts and our next e-zine.

GREBEs Entrepreneur Enable Scheme to be rolled out in Spring 2017

Within the GREBE project, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) have been responsible for the work around the Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme (EES).  Over the last 18 months, we have been busy procuring the services of mentors, recruiting businesses (12 within the FODC region) and implementing the scheme. With almost 94% of the mentoring sessions in the pilot region now complete, the GREBE project is about to roll-out the EES to other partner regions.  Aimed at businesses that are either currently active in the Renewable Energy sector or wish to become involved in the sector through innovate approaches or business diversification, the purpose of the scheme is to provide business supports to assist those chosen to be involved.

The GREBE project will target businesses in the following areas and in the following numbers:

  • Western Development Commission – Ireland – 10
  • Environmental Research Institute – Scotland – 5
  • Karelia University of Applied Sciences – Finland – 3
  • Narvik Science Park – Norway – 10
  • Innovation Centre Iceland – Iceland – 5

The businesses will be able to avail of support around a range of areas that they will identify themselves.  In addition to sector specific Renewable Energy expertise, they may require expertise relating to Access to Finance, Business Growth, Human Resources issues, or any aspect that is relevant to business development.  Mentors with the appropriate expertise will be assigned to work with the business to address the identified area(s) and to deliver a bespoke support package. The level of support is up to 6 days of mentoring which can be delivered over a period of time commensurate with the business need.

The Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme will be launched in Finland next week as part of our forthcoming Partner meeting , within a policy workshop “From resource to Sustainable Business”.  This public seminar will take place at Metla-talo, Yliopstokatu 6, 80100 Joensuu and you can register for the event here

Some information on the participant companies in the Northern Ireland pilot can be found in our e-zines on the publications page of our website http://grebeproject.eu/publication/

 

The GREBE Business Supports Catalogue

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This GREBE Business Supports Catalogue has been developed following a review of Renewable Energy business support funding mechanisms and funding options available to support the development of renewable businesses in the NPA region.

It provides information on the funding mechanisms currently available in the partner regions (Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Scotland).  The information will be useful to both funding agencies (e.g. business support agencies and municipalities) and to SMEs giving details of funding options available in their regions.

The main focus is on public body support for renewable businesses but both private sector and social investment options have been included where appropriate. The supports included are for SMEs and Micro businesses but also include options for those SMEs expected to grow rapidly (e.g. High Potential Start Ups).  The business support funding mechanisms considered vary from standard ‘hard’ business support options (e.g. loans and venture capital) to softer supports (e.g. innovation schemes, business partner search supports etc.)

A short introduction on the methods and types of supports in each partner region is provided.  Information for each partner region is it then organised under the following categories:

  • Financial Support (grants, loans, equity investment)
  • Taxation or welfare supports or concessions for businesses
  • Soft supports e.g. mentoring, training, specialist advice, networks
  • Research and Development Supports
  • Social and Community supports (focused on not for profit)
  • Other- e.g. Incubation space or office space etc.

Within each of these categories there is considerable variation in the ways different funding options are implemented and these differences will impact on the success of schemes. We hope that by using this catalogue those who seeking funding and support for renewable businesses will have a clear portfolio of options which are available to them.

In the future the information in this catalogue will be used to create a web based tool allowing users to search for available funding options and to consider different types of funding available in each region.  The catalogues is available on the GREBE project website here

OASIS Plaza scoops a major award at the CEEQUAL 2016 Awards in London

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The OASIS Plaza in Omagh (Omagh Accessible Shared & Inclusive Space) has scooped an Outstanding Achievement Award at the CEEQUAL 2016 Awards held in London on 28-29 November 2016. The OASIS Plaza project beat off stiff competition from several nominated projects to take the outstanding achievement award in the category for ‘Community and Stakeholder Relations’.

The £4.345m project, which was officially opened by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council in June 2015 and was funded through the EU Peace III programme, managed by the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB), was designed by McAdam Design and built by FP McCann Contractors. The Outstanding Achievement Award for Community and Stakeholder Relations recognised the contribution of both the design team and the finished build and in particular the involvement of the local community, school children and companies from the project’s construction to its finishing touches.

CEEQUAL is the evidence-based sustainability assessment, rating and awards scheme for civil engineering, infrastructure, landscaping and public realm projects. It promotes and celebrates high environmental and social performance in the specification, design and construction of civil engineering works. The CEEQUAL Outstanding Achievement Awards recognise and acknowledge projects that demonstrate pinnacle best-practice performance and highlight some of the top sustainability achievements by civil engineering projects in countries around the world.

The Judging Panel described the OASIS project as having a “great concept” with the potential to really make a difference. The Panel Members stated, “This Scheme has made a big statement on how to bring communities together – it is a landmark in the development of community interaction. All sections of the community and stakeholder groups were engaged in all aspects of the project, from development to delivery.”

The OASIS Project includes a riverside pedestrian and cycle path along the banks of the River Strule, a Plaza, a link across the Strule River with a new pedestrian/cycle bridge and an elevated walkway into Omagh town centre. The Project has successfully joined the town up logistically and reduced the need for car travel. It segregates traffic and pedestrians, provides green spaces, and encourages trade in the town.

The aim of the OASIS Project is to enhance the physical and psychological links between disparate communities in Omagh Town. It provides safe, neutral, shared open spaces that increase opportunities for interaction through work and recreation. It reclaimed underused and unwelcome spaces and previously inaccessible lands within the town.

Since its official opening the OASIS Plaza has been the venue for several large-scale events, such as the St Patrick’s Day Festival, the Mid-Summer Carnival, the Halloween event, and other sporting events such as the Irish National Cycling Championships in 2015. Notably the Peace Pledge Project, launched in September 2015, witnessed 46 schools from across the Omagh area, representing primary, post-primary, controlled, maintained, integrated, Irish medium and Special Needs placing 46 stainless steel peace pledge plaques at the Plaza, each bearing a pledge to work towards peace and respect.

Speaking after the Awards Ceremony, the Chairperson of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Mary Garrity said,

“I was absolutely delighted to be a member of the Party representing the Council at the Awards Ceremony in London and to receive the Community and Stakeholder Relations Outstanding Achievement Award was the icing on the cake. Given that the CEEQUAL Awards are recognising projects from around the world, we were delighted that the OASIS Plaza had been shortlisted but to actually be a winner was absolutely amazing and testament to the outstanding work of the collaborative efforts of the Council, the Design Team and the Contractors. I wish to personally thank and congratulate McAdam Design and FP McCann for the sterling work they undertook with the Council to make the OASIS Project an internationally recognised shared space and CEEQUAL Award winner. I would also like to personally thank the Council’s Director of Regeneration and Planning, Ms Alison McCullagh, for her involvement and dedication to the project.”

Christmas Greetings from the GREBE Project

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From all of us at GREBE Project, we wish all our followers a very Happy Christmas & all the very best wishes for 2017.

2017 will be a busy year for GREBE, and in February will we have our next partner meeting in Joensuu, Finland where we will launch our online knowledge sharing platform. We are joining with IEA Bioenergy Task 43 to hold a joint seminar on Thursday 9th February ‘From resource to sustainable business’.  Further details on this will be available in January on our website http://www.grebeproject.eu/ and social media.

Growth strategy guidelines for SMEs and micro-enterprises and a report identifying technologies which can be transferred from areas of best practice to areas where renewable energy uptake is low will also be published in February.  Later in 2017, we will roll out of Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme in Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Norway and Iceland.

Please continue to follow our project and share with your colleagues and friends !

GREBE E-Zine No. 3 is launched

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The GREBE Project has launched its third e-zine to showcase the activities and ongoing goals of the project.

Over the past couple of months, we have continued to carry out the project activities and meet our objectives. This e-zine will highlight details of our Summary Report on the relevant policy initiatives in the partner regions and showcase of eleven examples of best practice policy initiatives, our Business Supports Catalogue for Renewable Businesses and details of four participating companies in our Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme. To read our e-zine, please click here

We would like to wish all our readers a happy Christmas and the very best wishes for 2017.