An independent assessment and evaluation of the work of the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University – undertaken by Focus Consultants – has forecast the creation of more than 150 jobs and the generation of nearly £20 million gross added value (GVA) for the West Midlands economy over the next two years.

Focus Consultants was appointed to work with the team at EBRI to understand the impact of the team’s Business Investment in Research Project on both local SMEs and also the wider West Midlands economy.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the project helped small and medium-sized enterprises in the West Midlands to develop new products and services from unwanted material, such as manufacturing, agricultural and food waste.

The study undertaken by Nottingham-based Focus Consultants, which specialises in economic impact assessments and ERDF summative assessments and evaluations, provides an insight into project performance, effectiveness and value for money, as well as helping to shape future business support programmes being developed by the team.

The Business Investment in Research Project, which ran from 2016 and 2019, was designed to support the development of a regional bioenergy supply chain and the promotion of innovative, new bioenergy technologies by providing practical solutions for businesses to explore the growing ‘energy from waste’ and energy systems markets, and the opportunities they offer. Companies were able to benefit from specialist support, cutting-edge technologies and bespoke events.

Partner at Focus Consultants, Heather Frecklington, who heads the Economic Development Team, said: “The evaluation compiled by Focus Consultants reveals the wide-reaching success the project has had on the economy, the low carbon agenda and the business community in the West Midlands.

“It forecasts significant job creation and an important boost to the regional economy.”

The project received £1.37m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

Supported by the work undertaken by Focus Consultants, EBRI has now announced a new three-year ERDF project which will build on the findings of the review. This new initiative will support access to low carbon research and innovation in West Midlands businesses beginning July 2019.

Focus Consultants, which also has offices in London, Leicester, Newark and Boston, specialises in securing funding for projects, economic impact assessments, regeneration strategies, research and feasibility strategies.

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