SCOTTISH proptech firm arbnco has been awarded phase one funding for the Government innovation competition Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency (BASEE).

Arbnco, the only Scottish company to receive the funding, will be developing a Digital Energy Efficiency Platform (DEEP) to improve energy efficiency across the 5.7 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the UK.

SMEs account for 99% of businesses in the UK and are responsible for over 50% of energy use. DEEP is aiming to eliminate the common barriers they face in tackling energy efficiency, such as high upfront and transactional costs, economies of scale and difficulties accessing finance.

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The aim of the Government’s BASEE competition is to accelerate the growth of the energy services market for SMEs by driving down transaction costs and promoting third party investment in small-scale energy efficiency projects. BASEE is making available £6m of funding – across phase one and two – for innovative, scalable business models or solutions that facilitate investment for small energy efficiency retrofit or refurbishment projects in commercial and industrial buildings in the UK. So far, 14 organisations, including arbnco, have been awarded funding of up to £100k for phase one. The second phase is awarded in 2020 where up to five organisations will be awarded up to £1m each.

Andrew Stewart, research and development manager at arbnco, outlined how the project could open up access to energy efficiency projects. He said: “SMEs account for over half of the UK’s energy use, but when it comes to energy efficiency projects, they are often hampered by a lack of expertise or capital. Finance remains a key stumbling block. Small businesses may have a fear of getting into debt and banks also have a reluctance to lend on small projects.

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“DEEP aims to increase accessibility and help SMEs identify the quick wins that could reduce energy bills and increase carbon savings. We want DEEP to be a one-stop shop for businesses to identify and prioritise energy efficiency projects, and find the appropriate finance and best supplier for the chosen retrofit project.”

Arbnco’s digital platform, DEEP, will generate a list of energy efficiency measures for SMEs, including costs and finance options, and a business case for implementing energy efficiency.