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UBU Environmental Limited successfully obtained £140,000 funding to secure a Knowledge Transfer Partnership

Rebecca Murphy-Peers, Owner of Salford-based UBU Environmental Ltd, explains how they successfully obtained £140,000 funding to secure a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University supported by an Innovation Voucher grant from GC Business Growth Hub’s Innovation team.

UBU Environmental Limited (UBU) are the North West's largest operating road sweeper hire company. Based in Salford, the family-run business has over 120 road sweepers operating in the Greater Manchester area. The waste collected is then processed to be treated and disposed of at their Worsley site.

After sorting the waste, UBU can produce soil cake, which can then be recycled and used in tree planting but must currently be sent to a landfill at a high cost to the business.

This challenge prompted UBU to contact the Hub’s Innovation service to explore how to reprocess road-sweeping waste into a product that can be reused rather than sent to a landfill. UBU would also need the Environmental Agency's approval to sell the reclaimed soil as a commercial product.

"We found out about the voucher scheme as we had expressed a prior interest in GC Business Growth Hub's Innovation support. Our business was looking for local support in research and development. ", said Rebecca Murphy-Peers, Owner of UBU Environmental Ltd.

Collecting soil samples

The Innovation Voucher scheme enables small and medium-sized businesses in Greater Manchester to apply for up to £5,000 in match funding, which can not only be used to accelerate the development of innovative products and services but also provides an opportunity to develop a collaborative partnership with a university.

Through successfully securing an Innovation voucher, with support from the Hub, UBU could complete the initial research needed to support an application for further funding and a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Manchester Metropolitan University.

Rebecca explained, "We had a period of time between the potential KTP funding commencement, which we felt we could use to start the background research with Manchester Metropolitan University. The voucher scheme enabled us to start this preliminary work in anticipation of the KTP work and gave us a data set for three months rather than us starting the 12-month reference period after the KTP award subject to its approval."

The Hub's Eco-Innovation team worked with UBU to provide a comprehensive review of their current and future business model. This produced critical action points that needed to be considered in conjunction with the KTP project, giving them a robust long-term growth strategy.

The objective of the collaboration between UBU and Manchester Metropolitan University was to explore the potential to open up a new market to divert the waste from landfills by using recycled soil in environments such as urban tree planting, landscaping and green spaces. If successful, the partnership will become the first of its kind to use reclaimed soil from road-sweeping waste.

"I am delighted that the company's proposal was successfully selected as part of the KTP application process," Rebecca said. "Achieving end-of-waste status for the filter cake will represent a giant leap forward for the industry”.

"We received a great deal of support from our dedicated advisor, Russell Mansfield. This included a full business review and considered aspects such as business planning, intellectual property, environmental impact and areas of business strength and development."

PAS 115 from the treatment plant recovery process at UBU depot

"My highlight has been the reality of the funding being implemented and how this has generated some amazing initial work from our two fantastic students at Manchester Metropolitan University who are working on the backbone of this project. Their academic and personal enthusiasm has been very much appreciated."

"I recommend the scheme as it combines funding with support, which makes the application both valued and considered. It's a very positive process, and we are very grateful to the team of people at GC Business Growth Hub who assisted us on this journey."

Rebecca Murphy-Peers, Owner, UBU Environmental Ltd

Through the KTP, UBU hopes to reduce carbon emissions and enhance their ability to reuse and recycle waste. They are already looking at partnering with local businesses Green Blue Urban and Manchester City of Trees to improve Manchester's urban landscaping, using the recycled soil cake.

The project will not only reduce environmental and ecological impacts – helping to preserve landfill capacity and natural resources – but will also enhance the growth and profitability of a North West waste treatment company.

Contact our eco-innovation team today to find out how we can support your eco-innovation journey, including getting the funding you need to help your business innovate, develop and grow.

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