A successful new bid to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Norfolk County Council (NCC), with support from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), will see at least £22 million invested in small and medium-sized businesses active in the East of England.

This new programme, which was already in development before the Coronavirus outbreak, forms a key part of the Hertfordshire Growth Package and will invest in businesses developing products and services that will have a beneficial environmental impact.

Managed by cleantech merchant bank Turquoise, the Low Carbon Innovation Fund 2 (LCIF2) will invest in SMEs across the Hertfordshire LEP, New Anglia LEP, and Greater Cambridgeshire and Peterborough LEP areas. The fund is powered by the three LEPs’ European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) programmes, with nearly £3m investment provided by Hertfordshire LEP.

Investments will range from £25,000 up to £1 million for a variety of early and growth stage businesses from a range of different sectors. The fund is looking to invest in a wide range of businesses making an impact on greenhouse gas reduction, either through the development of technologies, products and services.

The fund will assess suitable investment opportunities on a case-by-case basis, investing £11m of public funds from the ERDF, and helping to mobilise at least the same amount in matching private co-investment. At a time when many other early stage investors may be holding back from making new investments, the Low Carbon Innovation Fund 2 is open for business and welcomes new applications.

The first three investments have just been approved for businesses developing paper based packaging, electric vehicle range efficiency software, and fast-recharge technology. Further details of these innovative technologies will be announced soon.

LCIF2’s Fund Manager, Turquoise, has a strong track record in Energy, Environment and Efficiency ventures, having previously acted as fund manager for the first Low Carbon Innovation Fund initiative (LCIF1). LCIF1 invested £21 million alongside £55m of private co-investment in the region between 2011 and 2015, helping make the region one of the most active cleantech venture areas in the country.

Paul Witcombe, Head of Enterprise & Innovation at Hertfordshire LEP, said: “We are delighted to launch this initiative, part-funded by nearly £3m of ESIF investment from Hertfordshire LEP, and driven by a tri-LEP partnership with a shared vision to accelerate the shift to a low carbon economy. The fund, which has been four years in the making, comes at a crucial time to support local businesses that may otherwise struggle to cope with the current economic climate, and are developing the innovative products, services and technologies that will make a lasting contribution to the county’s environmental and economic health.”

Ali Naini, Managing Director of Turquoise, said: “The original LCIF initiative demonstrated the rich variety of world-class clean technologies being developed in this region. It also proved the benefits of providing public support to such ventures through investment rather than grants. LCIF2 is designed to extend and improve that experience for the benefit of a wider range of entrepreneurs and technologists in the region, whilst also helping Britain stay at the forefront of global developments and markets in environmental technologies.”

Cllr Graham Plant, Deputy Leader of Norfolk County Council and Cabinet Member for Growing the Economy, said: “Working together to enable this important fund to be made available across the East of England will enhance the region’s position as a leader in low carbon innovation. Climate change could have a major impact on Norfolk, and we are keen to do anything we can to mitigate the risks.”

Learn more about the fund at www.lowcarbonfund.co.uk.

Learn about other funding opportunities live now from Hertfordshire LEP's £3.28m COVID-19 Business Support Package to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic within the county. 

You may also be interested in learning about the Clean Growth Fund: a £40m fund for low carbon innovators across the UK seeking investment capital to rapidly drive their businesses forward. The fund is run in partnership between BEIS and CCLA, a leading UK fund manager, and represents an important vote of confidence in the UK’s low carbon sector, especially amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19.