Environmental businesses in Shropshire and Telford must prepare to meet growing demand for their products and services by developing and innovating, delegates to a key conference heard.
Expanding markets for renewable energy in homes and businesses will require businesses fit for purpose in terms of both technology and longevity, leaders of the sector from across the region were told at the metnet conference, held at Ludlow Racecourse.
Almost 100 delegates from across the Marches area took part in a day of presentations, networking and seminars aimed at creating links in the industry but also helping them to develop as effective businesses.
Mandy Stoker, chair of metnet in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin and owner of Shrewsbury-based E4environment, said: “The environmental technologies sector has huge momentum now. Interest continues to grow among both consumers and businesses in a range of renewable technologies. What we have to achieve as a sector is to ensure we are prepared to meet their expectations.
“We need to have a steady flow of good people with the right skills and we have to ensure the renewables businesses that often grew out of a passion for the subject are now also robust, customer-focused organisations. This is a technology and business sector coming of age and the topics we have focused on for this year’s metnet conference acknowledge that.”
Delegates were given access to in-depth knowledge of opportunities for accessing grant funding and taking part in public sector tendering processes, along with key business skills such as improved communications and networking.
They also received a motivational boost from key speakers. Author, business advisor and academic, James Bannerman, gave a session on creativity and lateral thinking in business, while journalist and adventurer, Andy Pag, regaled them with inspirational tales of travelling the world on recycled chip fat and cocoa butter, in vehicles salvaged from scrap yards.
Steve Lewis, director of Telford-based Environmental Waste Management Services, said the event was an ideal way for his business to make contacts that will help it to move forward. He explained: “I’ve come here to explore grant support and grant funding. We’ve got some extremely good ideas and I’m here to networkand talk to people about them.”
Mr Lewis’s aim was to build connections with organisations represented at the event, such as Innovation Networks, part of Coventry University, to help research and develop a unique piece of machinery that would increase his company’s processing efficiency and allow it to create more jobs.
Conference organiser and metnet project manager, Patricia Head, said: “The buzz around this year’s event was that of an industry sector that can feel its momentum. People were embracing the messages of creativity, while also seriously taking on board the opportunities put before them for growth and development through support and learning. It’s a high point of our year to get them under one roof and exciting to think what might come about thanks to the connections made at this event.”