Decarbonising technology faster by matching the strengths of SMEs and technology buyers

By connecting SMEs with transformative ideas to large buyers with the capacity to implement them, the SCALE-UP project produced a quarter of a million tonnes of annual CO2 savings through smart matchmaking.

Post originally published on the Interreg North Sea website.

Carbon emissions must decrease 43% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. To respond at the scale required, we need rapid implementation of sustainable innovations that can create impact across many sectors and be scaled up in a short period of time.

SMEs and startups are often the source of the society-changing innovations we need. But they typically lack the financing and capacity to expand their ideas to have a meaningfully-sized impact on the market. This role is more effectively played by buyers of technology, which have the resources and network necessary to make green ideas scale at lightning pace.

To stand a chance of building a greener future in limited time, we need to match the strengths of SMEs and big buyers to get innovative green products to market faster than ever.

This is what the SCALE-UP project helped facilitate. By organising transnational matchmaking events, training SMEs and buyers, and offering business support to newly created collaborations, SCALE-UP accelerated the uptake of innovative green products and services by large technology buyers, activating more than €13 million in investment.

Meet the Buyer – Accelerating decarbonisation through targeted matchmaking and training

The SCALE-UP formula proved very successful. SCALE-UP brought together a total of 92 buyers and 969 SMEs. It involved stakeholders from the seven North Sea Region countries and caught the attention of organisations from a further 18 countries.

But the work done in SCALE-UP was not limited to events. To maximise the chances of a successful partnership between innovator and buyer, pre-event preparation and post-event followup were  carefully managed.

Before the actual event took place, SMEs and start-ups had the chance to receive training on the skills to present their solutions within a strict time limit. After the event, potential buyers chose the most promising solutions, and SCALE-UP partners assisted them in defining next steps and keep conversations going.

Training session for SMEs in Gothenburg, Sweden (SCALE-UP, 2022)

248,000 tonnes of annual carbon savings activated through smart matchmaking

The result of this work is that hundreds of new collaborations were established, most of them transnational. At least 42 green products or services had been adopted by project end, reducing emissions from existing technology by more than 50% on average. In absolute numbers, SCALE-UP contributed to savings of 248,000 tonnes of CO2/year.

Though total investment raised has not been calculated due to confidentiality, €13.6 million of unlocked financing has been announced publicly. Despite the limited data, we can conclude that this is a 5x multiplication of the original ERDF funding for the SCALE-UP project.

Matchmaking continues with the replicable SCALE-UP methodology

Since the end of the project in December 2021, SCALE-UP partners are still implementing the project methodology and working together where possible to host new transnational ‘Meet-the-Buyer’ events. Furthermore, this methodology has also been adopted by cleantech clusters outside of SCALE-UP, such as the International Cleantech Network (ICN).

Learn how you can scale-up decarbonising technology

If you are interested in replicating the SCALE-UP methodology to bring together the best of SME innovation and buyer capacity, contact the Bax & Company team to learn more.

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