Develop finds out more about a new funding scheme for low-carbon businesses
There are many sources of investment and funding available to developers, but one new scheme is as much about helping the environment as it is about businesses.
Adapt’s Low Carbon Innovation Fund, run out of the University of East Anglia, is designed to promote clean business practices and help firms that use them grow.
Available to small-to-medium-sized enterprises within the East of England – that’s Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Essex – the Fund has now turned its attention to the games industry.
“We are particularly interested in games. software start-ups and established businesses because gaming has a strong background in the UK that needs to be supported,” says project officer Sam Burton.
“With the industry opening up for independent publishers and developers there are opportunities for smaller companies to come to the fore. We believe there are many talented gaming companies who would be suitable for the Fund and we would be delighted to hear from them.”
The Fund offers a wide range of investments – from £10,000 up to £1m – to studios of all sizes, be they start-ups or established developers. These investments are also designed to help businesses expand or update their equipment and processes, particularly if it brings the company into line with the fund’s low carbon ethos.
“Companies applying need to have a commitment to the low carbon ethos of the Fund,” Burton says. “This could mean operational changes to the way a business is run, paperless offices, conducting meetings via Skype, thinking about power usage or other ways to improve resource and energy efficiency. It could also include carbon-reducing impacts through gaming content.
“The business must also be able to secure co-investment from the private sector to match the amount requested from the Fund. This means that we need a pound-for-pound match with private co-investment. This could be from another VC fund like ours, high net worth individuals, founders’ own investment or from friends and family.
“The application process involves a web enquiry form, followed by conversations about the business plan with a member of our team. We go through a process of due diligence with all companies that apply, which includes looking at the management team, business plans and financial information.”
So why dedicate an entire funding initiative to the low carbon cause? Burton says it’s important for everyone to think about their impact on the environment.
“Often small changes in business operations can add up to make big carbon savings, and in many cases this will translate to financial savings too, so it can only be a positive change,” she says. “The LCIF is able to assist firms in looking at their operations.
“Small changes can all add up to significant carbon savings. Looking at the energy that is used, be it in terms of server/data resources to being vigilant and turning off equipment and lights when they are not being used, to doing something as simple as putting in low energy light bulbs. Thinking about whether meetings can be conducted using Skype or FaceTime rather than making unnecessary journeys – all of these small and easy changes do have an impact.”
Adapt’s smaller investments scheme, which offers between £10,000 and £75,000 to games studios, provides a business mentor that can advise not only on how to implement low carbon practices but also broader business plans and help in the search for potential co-investors.
“Access to finance in the current climate can be difficult for any company, particularly those working in the creative industries,” she says. “Start-ups and smaller businesses typically find it more difficult to raise finance than more established businesses since traditional sources of support such as banks require proof of consistent revenues and securable assets.
“The LCIF can offer businesses investment that will enable them to grow and develop.”
The variety of companies Adapt’s LCIF has invested in include a banjo manufacturer, an opera and digital music magazine Electronic Sound (pictured). It is now actively searching for games companies to join this roster.
To find out more about the fund and how to apply, visit www.lowcarbonfund.co.uk.