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Net zero takes centre stage at Business Innovation South Expo

By Sam Pither
28 June 2022
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Business Innovation South Expo will offer companies and organisations advice on how to cut their carbon footprint.

The South’s annual STEM technology showcase is hosting an expert panel to discuss the latest corporate response developments to climate change.

This will run alongside a dedicated exhibitor zone featuring providers of eco-friendly products and services together with researchers focused on environmental innovation.

Expo organiser Lara Bull said: “Given the climate crisis, achieving and demonstrating sustainability is now an essential element of corporate strategy and social responsibility, and rightly so.

“We will be highlighting the latest thinking on how to address climate change. This will be hugely relevant to expo attendees, who represent many kinds of companies and organisations across all industry sectors.”

The expo is taking place at Portsmouth’s Lakeside North Harbour business campus on September 14. Organisers aim to champion the role of science, technology and innovation across the full range of business operations. This will include resilience building, growth planning, collaboration, cyber security and sustainability. 

Experts on the sustainability panel include Dr Renata Konadu of the Southampton Business School at the University of Southampton.

One of the UK’s certified ‘sustainability professionals’ under the Global Reporting Initiative, an independent standards organisation, Renata helps SMEs in various sectors to prepare sustainability reports for customers, staff, investors and other stakeholders.

Renata said: “Many companies don’t know how to measure their carbon footprint and need help to gather data on their emissions. Others are doing incredibly well but need training in how best to present their progress.

“Conforming to GRI standards can help focus the mind and paint a much clearer picture of where grants and loans applied for are going to be used.”

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Also on the panel is David Wilshin, carbon and procurement specialist at Auditel, a Winchester-headquartered company which helps clients achieve independent verification of carbon neutrality.

David said: “We will be discussing grants, government innovation subsidies underpinned by tax relief, and how to reduce indirect spend to help fund your net zero journey.

“These are all practical, robust approaches to reducing carbon emissions and highly recommended if you don’t want to be accused of greenwashing.”        

Joining Renata and David on the panel are Professor Ian Williams, an expert in applied environmental science at the University of Southampton, Dr Matt Montgomery, Head of Climate Action at BCP Council, and Stephen Kirk, Climate & Sustainability Ambassador at the Institute of Directors.

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Among the exhibitors highlighting progress with sustainability is the Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) at the University of Portsmouth.  

Scientists there are developing industrial-scale solutions through the re-engineering of naturally occurring enzymes that can break down, digest and recycle some of the most commonly occurring plastics responsible for global pollution.

These include polyethylene terephthalate (PET), used to make single-use drinks bottles, clothing and carpets.

CEI received investment for a new Industrial Engagement Hub from the government’s Getting Building Fund through the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and is already attracting global interest in its work.

Rory Miles, Innovation Fellow for the CEI, said: “These new facilities will help us to bridge the gap between our current fundamental research, and the creation of practical and scalable enzyme-enabled technologies for recycling and upcycling plastic waste.

“The CEI innovation team is looking forward to engaging with businesses at the Business South Innovation Expo, exploring opportunities to collaborate to drive sustainability through research and development in biotechnology. “

Also exhibiting is Absolar, a spin-out enterprise from the University of Southampton based on the Southampton Science Park.

Absolar will highlight its use of advanced technology including AI to provide remote solar surveys that help make homes and businesses more energy efficient.

Director Nic Cory said: “The Business Innovation South Expo gives us the opportunity to showcase our work contributing to sustainable cities and communities across the south and build relationships with current and potential clients genuinely interested in creating a more sustainable business community.

“That’s why we’re exhibiting for the second year in a row, with a particular focus on how solar can help businesses cut costs and carbon footprints.”

Ferry operator Wightlink will be among the exhibitors making their first appearance at the expo.

Representatives will be discussing progress with their Green Solent Project including the use of hybrid energy systems. 

David Williams, Wightlink’s Head of Marketing, said: “Climate change is happening, and we want to be part of the solution. That’s why we initiated our Green Solent Project, to protect the land, air and sea that surrounds us.

“Our vision is to remove 25,000 tonnes of carbon per year by 2030, delivering on our pledge of net zero emissions within the next decade.”

The organisers will be expecting an increase on the 69 exhibitors who attended last year's showcase.

Read more: Southampton: BIS Expo 2021 – 69 exhibitors showcase latest technology, products and services