As a result of the RASLRES and BioPAD projects, a number of needs were identified around the areas of developing renewable energy businesses and supporting micro business and SMEs in this sector. A project concept called ‘Generating Renewable Energy Business Enterprise (GREBE)’ was developed. GREBE will focus on the challenges of peripheral and arctic regions as places for doing business and help develop renewable energy (RE) business opportunities provided by extreme conditions. It will support successful development of SMEs and start-ups in this sector through analysis of advanced RE options, expert business mentoring, transnational models of successful growth strategies, policy analysis and information on funding mechanisms for businesses and support agencies.
Challenges including a lack of critical mass, dispersed settlements, poor accessibility and vulnerability to climate change effects are well recognised. GREBE will equip SMEs and start-ups with the skills and confidence to overcome these challenges and use place based natural assets for RE to best sustainable effect.
GREBE will enable local entrepreneurs and SMEs to grow their business, to provide local jobs, and meet energy demands of local communities. A comprehensive approach that advocates a supportive and innovative policy framework and promotes awareness of funding schemes is required. GREBE will support diversification of the technological capacity of SMEs and start-ups so that they can exploit the natural conditions of their locations. RE tailored, expert guidance and mentoring will be provided to ensure SMEs and start-ups have the knowledge and expertise to grow and expand their businesses.
GREBE will provide a platform for transnational sharing of knowledge to demonstrate the full potential of the RE sector by showcasing innovations on RE technology and strengthening accessibility to expertise and business support available locally and in other NPA regions. By facilitating access to similar SMEs and start-ups, research institutes and technological experts, networking and learning opportunities will arise, with new skills and methods of doing business shared.
The project partnership includes the eight partners from six countries, Western Development Commission (ROI), Action Renewables (NI), Fermanagh & Omagh District Council (NI), Environmental Research Institute (SCO), LUKE (FI), Karelia University of Applied Sciences (FI), Narvik Science Park (NOR) and Innovation Center Iceland (ICE). The budget for this IS €1.77 million over three years, commencing 1st September 2015. The project is funded by the Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme (http://www.interreg-npa.eu/).