Our second NICE conference – and first of 2023 – was held on Tuesday 20 June 2023, from 9.00 to 15.30, at Thor Park (3600 Genk), in the heart of the knowledge triangle Eindhoven – Leuven – Aachen, in Belgium.
The conference focused on the topic of SME low-carbon entrepreneurship and business attraction, exploring both challenges and opportunities in supporting the sustainability of new and developing companies emerging in this decarbonisation context.
Particular focus was given to the services, infrastructure, business promotion and training provided by science parks and regional policy authorities to support SME development in low-carbon activities. Speakers included NICE partners and representatives from policy and cluster organisations from various countries/regions, who highlighted their experiences from different contexts.
Key and emerging challenges and questions were highlighted for future work and discussion, such as:
- How have low-carbon entrepreneurship and sustainability-focused SMEs evolved in recent years? What motivates them?
- What enables and incentivises low-carbon entrepreneurs and SMEs to contribute to sustainable transitions e.g., policy frameworks, funding mechanisms, capacity and skills development, and other cultural and social factors?
- What more needs to be done to create the right enabling environment and what should be the approach e.g., involving entrepreneurs and SMEs?
- Are there examples of where approaches to low-carbon entrepreneurship and SMEs have worked particularly well? Why?
- What more can be done to help low-carbon entrepreneurs and SMEs measure their impact and contribution to sustainable transitions?
The event was successful in bringing NICE partners and other organisations together to discuss common issues and develop perspectives for joint work.
- Challenges and issues for supporting low carbon entrepreneurship and SMEs (CEP & EPRC)
- Building low-carbon networks between companies and universities – presentation 1 and presentation 2 (CleanTech, Germany)
- Energy Transition in Western Macedonia and online tools for evaluating SME investments – presentation 1 and presentation 2 (Local Government Association of Western Macedonia, Greece)
- Supporting SMEs in transitioning away from coal (SZ REDA, Bulgaria)
- Thor Park today and in the future – property, services, and training supporting low-carbon entrepreneurship (Thor Park, Belgium)