35 climate change practitioners to each receive €8,000 on Birmingham Science Park Aston’s Pioneers into Practice programme

Midlands-based climate change practitioners who are either employed or self-employed are being sought to participate in a European-wide exchange programme that pays each participant €8,000.

Birmingham Science Park Aston is tasked with running the Midlands element of the programme, which is fully funded by the Climate Knowledge Innovation Community (Climate KIC). Participants in last year’s programme came from Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Derbyshire, North Staffordshire, as well as the Greater Birmingham area.

The Pioneers into Practice professional development and exchange programme commences in mid-April when each participant undertakes a four-week long domestic placement. The UK-based organisations that participated in the last programme included Aston University, Birmingham City Council, Coventry City Council, E.ON, Enkraft Marketing, International Synergies Ltd, JCB, Northfield Eco Centre and the Centre of Refurbishment Excellence Stoke.

Henriette Lyttle-Breukelaar, Head of Projects at Birmingham Science Park Aston said: “The feedback we received from the last cohort of hosts and Pioneer participants was very positive and prompted us to expand the number of places to 35 for the 2013 cohort.

“This initiative provides a unique opportunity for climate change professionals to undertake highly focused placements and workshops. The participants can then take the invaluable experience to develop new products or services, improve their business, embark on new projects and add more value to their employer. Host organisations in turn have reported the positive impact Pioneers have had on their businesses. During four week placements, significant savings have been identified, new products have been developed, and specific tasks completed – all free of charge to the host company.”

Participants from the Midlands will undertake their four-week overseas placement during September and October 2013. The host organisations will be based in the other KIC participating regions; Valencia (Spain); Emilia Romagna (Italy); Hessen (Germany); Lower Silesia (Poland) and Central Hungary.

Three workshops, bringing the 35 Midlands-based participants together, will be held at Birmingham Science Park Aston during April, June and November 2013. All Pioneers into Practice from across Europe will meet together at the KIC Innovation Festival, being held in Poland at the end of October 2013.

Speaking about her experience as a Pioneers into Practice participant from 2012, Siobhan Hill, Director of Greenhill Consulting said: “As a director of a small company, the programme has shown how I can expand my niche and has helped me see the potential of my business. I am now getting contracts I never got before and feel on the verge of a breakthrough.

“I’m not aware of any other professional development programme on low-carbon innovation.  Pioneers into Practice is a real asset to small companies like mine, and I’ll be encouraging my work colleagues and associates to go onto the 2013 programme.”

The 2013 Pioneers into Practice programme is supported through the Climate Knowledge Innovation Community project, which receives funding from the European Institute for Innovation and Technology.

Interested entrepreneurs can download an application form from the www.bsp-a.com website, or contact Kate Martin or Henriette Lyttle-Breukelaar on katem@bsp-a.com, 0121 260 6000.  The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday 29th March 2013.

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