EU-backed project leaves green economy with fresh shoots

Over 300 businesses, agencies and social enterprises in Wales have benefitted directly from a project to develop a sustainable Green Economy in Wales and Ireland.

The Green Innovation Future Technologies Project (GIFT), run in Wales by Bangor University, has enabled small businesses to make sizeable steps towards sustainability, by up-skilling the vital small and medium sized enterprises, which are so important to the Welsh economy.

Funded with €2.3 million from the Economic Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg IVA programme, the GIFT project and the Green Innovation Network has focussed on promoting sustainable development in the areas of the Green Economy, Green Tourism, Waste Management and Green Technology.

Launched in October 2011, the pioneering project has seen collaboration between Bangor University, Waterford Institute of Technology and University College Dublin, Ireland as well as leading a lively network of interested businesses and enterprises, a model now being adopted in Europe by the Green Economy Coalition.

Dr Gareth Griffiths who led the multi-disciplinary project and is based at the University’s Business School said:

“The project has shown that there is great scope to build further on the green economy both in north west Wales and in Ireland, we’ve seen companies take the necessary steps to ‘green’ their businesses and enter new markets. Our case studies have shown how investing in sustainability also means investing in profitability.”

One of the businesses to have benefitted from taking part in the project is Penrallt Coastal campsite in Tudweiliog, Gwynedd. The campsite, which already has

Green Dragon accreditation for their environmental sustainability, have this year extended their on-site facilities with a second ‘Pilgrim pod’ and a Yurt.  

Pete Wilkinson of Penrallt Coastal Camping explains:

“We’re keen to capitalise on the Wales Coastal Path, and re-establishment of North Wales Pilgrim Way, from Holywell to Bardsey. Our involvement with the GIFT project gave us insight and encouragement and gave us more confidence to make things happen; and also to think beyond our own interest. We have been networking with many other interested parties locally and further afield and as a result, discussions are being held about formally creating a network of Pods along the Llŷn Coastal Path and Pilgrim route- to this end, our involvement with the GIFT project has been an invaluable enabling process.”

But the project isn’t confined to tourism by any means, and includes companies as divergent as RL Davies, one of north Wales’ principal building contractors, Rehau, who have a factory at Amlwch, employing 150 people and TYF Adventure, pioneers of coasteering in Pembrokeshire, who have now branched out into education.

An event to celebrate the success of the project and network, and bringing all the organisations involved together, takes place on October 9th.

Publication date: 7 October 2014