A new £800,000 programme of support that will benefit small businesses and help get young people into green energy jobs has been announced by Freeport East this week.
To mark the announcement, a special event was held on Tuesday 27 June at Suffolk New College’s Net Zero Skills Centre in Ipswich, which is training the next generation for careers in green energy. Support will be split into two areas.
The Freeport East Clean Growth Fund is aimed at providing financial help to local businesses working in clean energy and Freeport East’s target sectors. The Freeport East Innovation and Skills Fund will have a specific focus on communities that lack support and will enhance existing facilities and services provided by innovation centres, universities, colleges and local training centres and their connections to businesses.
The support will be targeted at sectors where Freeport East sees the opportunity to build economic clusters, such as in clean energy, green hydrogen, advanced logistics, digital and agri-tech. Successful businesses will receive financial support through the Freeport East Clean Growth Fund to help them to scale up. Freeport East also provides unique opportunities for businesses to improve their visibility in overseas markets and attract investment.
The growth fund has been set up to help small and medium sized businesses invest in growth, from up-skilling and hiring new staff through to new product development, increasing exports and expanding capacity.
Meanwhile, the Freeport East Innovation and Skills Fund will help meet the growing demand for a green energy workforce in the region. This could go towards improvements such as new facilities or services that train and upskill.
Steve Beel, Chief Executive of Freeport East, comments: “A core element of what we have been set up to do is to boost skills and innovation particularly in supporting emerging clean energy sectors such as green hydrogen. By supporting local talent through our new growth funds, we hope to build on an already vibrant ecosystem that fosters local and national economic growth, and long-term success.
“The East of England is a thriving green cluster but we need to link opportunities into harder-to-reach areas of our local communities. Ensuring that we encourage collaboration within the energy industry and other growth sectors, while supporting new local innovators and getting people into jobs will be critical.”
Alan Pease, Principal and Chief Executive of Suffolk New College, said: “This announcement is great news for industry and learners. The Freeport East funds will help to bolster the East of England’s reputation as a skills hub of clean technology, renewable energy and innovation.”
Freeport East works with a range of partners that are major employers in the region such as ScottishPower. A world leader in renewable energy, ScottishPower is currently undertaking a feasibility study for a 100MW green hydrogen production plant at the port of Felixstowe in partnership with Hutchison Ports.
Peter Jones, Green Hydrogen Business Director at ScottishPower, said: “Innovation is a key component of the energy transition and a growing green hydrogen economy can play a key role in decarbonising hard-to-electrify sectors like heavy transport and industrial processes.
“ScottishPower is excited to show yet another good example of using our extensive renewable energy output to support the ambition to decarbonise the area in and around the UK’s largest container port.
“We welcome Freeport East’s support programme at an exciting time for the green hydrogen economy as it will help towards equipping people with the necessary skills needed for green energy jobs.”
Those interested in applying still have an opportunity to help shape what the final package could look like. They can contact Freeport East to express interest during July and August before the programme kicks off fully in September. Applications for the funds will open in September 2023 with the first tranche to be announced in December.
For further information on the Freeport East Clean Growth Fund and Freeport East Clean Growth Fund please visit www.freeporteast.com