The smart money is moving in floods towards sustainable business ideas.
With new domestic supports like Sustainable Nation Ireland and generous grants being awarded by the EU, the time has never been better for Irish businesses to go green.
A sustainable Ireland
The green economy is growing worldwide, with a new generation of investors looking towards sustainable businesses with lower risk ratings and healthier long-term upsides than traditional investments. Ireland’s potential to develop a thriving green sector has long been discussed, and the newly launched Sustainable Nation Ireland is aiming to help Irish businesses make the most of the green opportunities available to them.
Created from the merger of Green IFSC and the Green Way (off the back of the Irish Government’s IFS 2020 strategy) Sustainable Nation Ireland will back long established Irish businesses and startups, so long as they are developing solutions to tackle the key issues of population growth, urbanisation, rising consumption of scarce resources and reducing carbon emissions.
A report released this time last year by the Washington-based Center for International Environmental Law warned that the risks attached to investments in fossil fuels are severely underrated, and even went as far as to say that the continued miscalculation of the risks associated with climate change could trigger the next major financial crisis.
Stephen Nolan, the chief executive of Sustainable Nation, has said that the shift away from these kinds of investments into greener, more sustainable businesses have already begun. “It is clear that the world’s capital markets and major global investors have woken up to the challenge of climate change, environmental sustainability and the role of finance in helping solve society’s problems,” says Nolan.
The potential benefits for Ireland from this movement are significant. “This shift presents a great opportunity for Ireland. Now is the time to capture it.”
The next generation
Sustainable Nation isn’t the only one offering assistance to Irish entrepreneurs in the area of sustainability. The EU’s research and development programme, Horizon 2020, recently granted funding to three Irish companies based in Limerick, Dublin and Galway.
The grants are awarded to help fledgeling companies get their research ready for commercial exploitation, and the programme so far has raised a total investment of nearly €135 million for close-to-market, innovative companies.
Limerick’s MAC will receive funding of almost €1.6 million for its project around renewable energy stability in the electricity grid. Dublin’s OpenHydro will net approximately €3 million for its wave energy project while Galway’s ÉireComposites cost-effective blades for wind turbines have netted them €2.7 million.
Cleary, the investment dollars and supports are out there for Irish entrepreneurs who are willing to be innovative and most importantly, think green.