Plotting our green future
A powerful new project aims to place Lancashire at the heart of the low carbon revolution and a net zero focused drive for Covid recovery.
The official launch of RedCAT - the Lancashire Centre for Alternative Technologies – comes as climate change once again moves up the political and economic agenda.
New government commitments announced just weeks after its launch aim to put the UK on course to slash its carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035.
That requires more electric cars, low-carbon heating, renewable electricity and cutting down on meat and dairy consumption.
The COP26 global summit in Glasgow in Edinburgh in November will also see representatives from more than 200 countries meet to discuss the climate crisis and how to tackle it on a global level.
RedCAT’s mission is simple and focused. It will look to fund new green tech development and drive diversification from the county’s automotive and aerospace industries into low carbon tech, to support sectors and jobs under stress because of the pandemic.
The ultimate vision is to see innovative low carbon products manufactured in Lancashire and exported across the globe to power developing communities.
RedCAT’s work is to build ‘end-to-end commercialisation funding’ and support for those technologies, accelerating that journey through capital investment at every stage – from R&D to demonstration, first sale and onto scale-up.
The ultimate vision is to see innovative low carbon products manufactured in Lancashire and exported across the globe
Those behind the project say that investment will come from a mix of public, private and venture capital and equity sources eager to put their money behind viable tech projects sourced and fully researched by RedCAT.
The vision is for the centre, based at East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce’s offices in Clayton-le-Moors, to eventually operate on a national scale.
The not-for-profit venture, launched in late March, has been pump-primed by £1.5m from the government’s Getting Building Fund.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has high hopes for it and believes it will also play a role in the government’s levelling-up agenda.
Speaking on the day of its launch in late March he said: “The Getting Building Fund at its heart is about creating new economic opportunities post pandemic, and RedCAT will do exactly that.
“By helping to fund and grow the county’s low carbon technologies jobs and expertise, supporting advanced manufacturing and the export of UK designed and built low carbon technology to the world.
“This is exactly what we mean when we look at levelling up, putting Hyndburn and the county at the heart of innovation and development.”
The centre will also partner with the Low Carbon Manufacturing Building Demonstrator at the new Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre coming out of the ground at Samlesbury and with the East Lancashire chamber’s existing low carbon programme in the county, which provides free support for SMEs looking to make the net-zero transition.
Chamber chief executive Miranda Barker believes it will play a vital part in driving a green economic recovery.
She says it will take a partnership approach and adds: “RedCAT’s mission is to ensure support for the manufacture and adoption of low carbon tech across Lancashire to drive economic green recovery and resilience.
“We’re looking to create manufacturing opportunities and jobs in Lancashire and to see low carbon innovation from the county exported overseas as part of the move towards a global net zero carbon future.”
Lancashire’s manufacturers are already looking at ways they can expand into the green energy sector.
Pendle Engineering in Nelson is one of those businesses eager to look at the opportunities. The business has been in existence for more than four decades and has massive experience in a range of sectors including defence, rail and automotive.
Looking at green energy opportunities, managing director Chris Smith has been involved in a low carbon advanced manufacturing group formed in the county to share ideas.
He says the challenge is bringing the manufacturers and innovators together. However, if that happens both have lots to gain.
Chris says: “We can help with product development and scaling up of production. We have the skills here and we are good at making people’s ideas work.
And he has a clear message to those innovators and designers. “Rather than looking outside Lancashire for a production company to help manufacture your new technologies, why don’t you come and see what we can do for you. The opportunity is there, let’s seize it.”
- To read this feature in full and access further Lancashire business news, advice and analysis subscribe to Lancashire Business View magazine or join the LBV Hub from just £2.50 per month. Click here to subscribe now.