Tag Archives: Carbon Plan

Government Dragon’s Den for SMEs?

By Tony Collins

The Cabinet Office is enabling SMEs to pitch ideas to civil servants on how they could save money or do things more efficiently.

The Cabinet Office says its Innovation Launch Pad is part of a series of measures to make it easier for SMEs to work for government.

SMEs can submit their business ideas until 22 April.

The best ideas will be picked by a community of civil servants and, “after intensive mentoring from some of Britain’s foremost entrepreneurs, those that demonstrate the highest impact will be invited to present their ideas at a ‘Product Surgery’  in the summer”, says the Cabinet Office.

Downing Street will also host a reception for those with the best ideas. The aim is to “stimulate new open competitions in Government markets in which these suppliers will be able to participate”.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said:

“SMEs can offer Government more innovative, more flexible and more cost effective products and services, but we know they often find it difficult to bring their ideas to our attention.

“Through the Innovation Launch Pad, we will get better value for Government and support small business. Government needs more online engagement like this.”


28th March – 22nd April – Business Idea Submission Phase

During the first phase SMEs are invited to enter business ideas. Anyone who has registered will be able to comment on ideas submitted. SMEs will be able to modify their ideas at any time during the first phase in response to comments received.

23rd April – 29th April – Final Comment Phase

Time for comments on ideas submitted near the end of the submission window.  During the final comments phase no new ideas will be accepted.

2nd May-27th May – Voting Phase

Civil servants will vote on ideas using the voting options on the site.  Only those who have registered using legitimate, verified civil service email addresses can vote.

30th May – 1st July – Selection & Presentation Phase

The final selection of ideas will take place and mentoring will be undertaken with those SMEs submitting the best ideas. They will then work with the Cabinet Office’s team of volunteer entrepreneurs on preparing their final presentations for the Product Surgery.


Those ideas that demonstrate the highest impact will be invited to present their ideas at a Product Surgery in the summer. Downing Street will host a reception for those with the best ideas.


Innovation Launch Pad.

FAQs and the “How it Works” pages.

Eco-Xchange plan set to offer greener commuting alternative

  By David Bicknell

The Government’s new Carbon Plan has insisted that if we are to see large-scale take-up of electric vehicles as a major form of road transport, developing a charging infrastructure will also be vital and the Government has committed to mandating a national recharging network. By June 2011, the Government will produce a strategy setting out how it will promote the provision of nationwide recharging infrastructure.  And we can probably expect something to emerge about low-carbon transport in the Budget this week.

The reality is that travelling into and around towns has never been more expensive or congested. Fares are increasing three times faster than inflation on public transport that is overcrowded and unreliable. Electric and hybrid cars will reduce emissions and pollution, but issues of congestion and parking in urban conurbations will prevail.

Public transport can be modernised and capacity increased to a point, but this will demand massive investment and space within cities is already at a premium for houses and office space, without additional demands from the transport infrastructure.

A new paper from the influential Eco-Xchange group, which sets out to look at green ‘in black and white’  argues that a different approach is needed that looks at the complete picture and provides a solution that is cost effective, flexible, environmentally responsible, and takes into account the specific issues of inner-city travel.

 The paper, ‘Why Commute When you can ComOOt’, argues that two wheels are better than four when it comes to getting from A to B in over-crowded city environments. By providing a range of electric powered two-wheelers from pedal bikes to motorbikes aimed specifically at getting the workforce to work, Eco-Xchange  argues it will be possible to save on public transport subsidies, reduce congestion and lower carbon emissions.  The ComOOT plan also includes secure parking and charging facilities, and the maintenance services needed to keep the wheels of business turning.

There is evidence that Olympic organisers and Transport for London are increasingly worried about the demands that the Games will place on London’s transport infrastructure and have suggested that visitors should not rely on public transport to get them to the Games’ venues in a timely fashion. At the same time, City businesses are also concerned that the additional demand on, already overcrowed, roads and rail services will lead to severe problems for their workforce and disruption to their business.

The average range of the bikes proposed would allow a comfortable return journey from the West End to the main Olympic site near Leyton.   

There is an element of social enterprise to the scheme too because Eco-Xchange argues that ComOOt  will provide a wide range of jobs covering everything from general servicing and support to general operational management, set up on a social enterprise basis, under a  Community Interest Company model.  The focus will be on offering a range of apprenticeships and vocational training as well as operational jobs at local and national level. 

According to Eco-Xchange, ComOOt is an ongoing project and will require R&D in all areas to improve the system over time. This will particularly suit those just starting out in the workplace who will benefit from  gaining qualifications and training on an ongoing basis in the new and growing industry sectors in the Cleantech and Greentech economies. 

Eco-Xchange acts as an interface between buyers and suppliers to develop and improve the adoption of ecoproducts in the business environment. It is acting as consultants to ComOOt, helping both to source the various components needed for the service, and to develop business plans and promote this excellent idea for inner-city travel. As part of the promotion of ComOOt Eco-Xchange has assisted with, and sponsored a paper that sets out the concept and looks for a founding partner or sponsor to help develop the scheme.

Anyone wishing to know more about ComOOt (or about Eco-Xchange) please contact enquiries@eco-xchange.com.

Coalition Draft Carbon Plan is released

By David Bicknell

As mentioned yesterday, the Coalition said it would be unveiling a Carbon Plan this week, effectively a Government-wide plan of action on climate change, including domestic and international activity, which sets out department by department, actions and deadlines for the next 5 years.

It has now released the Plan, which is available here.  The Carbon Plan presents ongoing and planned cross-Government action on climate change with specific deadlines providing for both internal accountability and public transparency. Quarterly updates on progress against actions within the Plan will be published on the No.10 website.

The Plan sets out what has to happen and by when if the Government is to live up to its green ambitions, meet tough domestic carbon targets and encourage greater action internationally. It is focused on the jobs and economic opportunities of the low carbon economy and on policies that will help insulate Britain from future energy price shocks.

Libyan oil worry prompts Coalition to step up ‘Green’ strategy including new ‘Carbon Plan’

By David Bicknell

Reports over the weekend suggest that the government is expected to take steps – possibly in the Budget on March 23rd –  to ‘wean’ the country off oil,  amid fears that the Libyan battle for power  has created uncertainty over fuel supplies, and left consumers  facing a further rise in fuel prices.

The reports suggest every government department will be told this week to comply with a new national “carbon plan” aimed specifically at “getting off the oil hook”.

The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, told the Observer that the UK had no option but to speed up efforts to move away from oil. “Getting off the oil hook is made all the more urgent by the crisis in the Middle East. We cannot afford to go on relying on such a volatile source of energy when we can have clean, green and secure energy from low-carbon sources,” he said. “The carbon plan is about ensuring that the whole of government is engaged in a joined-up effort to lead us into a low-carbon world.”

One of the options being mooted is a nationwide strategy to promote installation of infrastructure for electric cars by June. It is also expected that new deadlines will be set for building low-carbon homes, and that a firm starting date of September 2012 will be established for a new “green investment bank” to become fully operational.

The Carbon Plan will be launched this week by  the Prime Minister, his deputy Nick Clegg, who is said to be driving the creation of the green investment bank,  and Huhne.

The Carbon Plan is being published in draft form ahead of a final version in the autumn, and will be updated annually. It will be unveiled as the centrepiece of a week of “green announcements” by ministers. The progress made by each department will be published quarterly on the 10 Downing Street website.