Creating a thriving zero-carbon economy in Oxfordshire
OxFutures started as a £3.2m project to boost low carbon economic development in Oxfordshire. It is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and run through a collaborative partnership between the Low Carbon Hub, Oxford City Council, the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, Cherwell District Council and Bioregional.
Phase 2 of the programme allowed funding for three years (until 2020) to offer free energy audits to SMEs in Oxfordshire to identify energy saving opportunities, to reduce energy bills and cut carbon emissions. The project had grants available which then part-funded the implementation of the measures recommended by the audit. It also supported innovation by encouraging knowledge sharing between academics, local authorities and SMEs and providing grant support for new low-carbon start-ups, and those developing new low-carbon products and technologies.
A recently-approved extension of the programme means that it will be able to continue for a further three years. The extension will be continued by partners, Low Carbon Hub and Oxford Brookes, who will be able to support the delivery of 45 additional energy efficiency grants for SMEs. New feasibility and implementation grants to support innovation business, product and service ideas will also be supported through the extension of the programme as SMEs and start ups develop new innovative technologies.
The project has, so far, delivered energy audits to over 130 businesses, and funded 28 of them, improving their competitiveness and reducing their energy bills and CO2 emissions. A further 14 innovation companies have received funding to boost Oxfordshire’s development as a UK leader in the new low carbon economy. Knowledge sharing in the sector has been strengthened with the establishment of a new network, Oxfordshire Greentech.
Projects funded so far through OxFutures include:
- Ecosync: a start up aiming, through innovative technology, to reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint of buildings by 40%
- Shed Oxford: a volunteer organisation who received a grant to improve the energy efficiency of their community workshop
- The Folly: a restaurant in central Oxford which received a free energy audit and decided to install an energy saving induction oven to save gas and prevent overheating.