COLLABORATIVE groups of small- and medium-sized businesses could have access to up to £40,000 of funding through a new initiative aimed at making them more resource efficient. Resource Efficiency East has announced a new Business Clusters Project to inc

COLLABORATIVE groups of small- and medium-sized businesses could have access to up to £40,000 of funding through a new initiative aimed at making them more resource efficient.

Resource Efficiency East has announced a new "Business Clusters Project" to increase the productivity and competitiveness of SMEs in Huntingdonshire. It is inviting funding proposals from applicants representing groups of at least 25 SMEs based in the East of England, with up to £40,000 being made available to each successful project.

Antony Gough, director of the Resource Efficiency East (REE) programme, said: "While it is clear that small businesses benefit from one-to-one support, such as REE's free on-site Business Resource Review, there is obvious potential to improve resource efficiency on a collective basis by working with businesses that are connected in some way."

The project hopes to use a "one-to-many" approach can be used to generate cost savings and environmental benefits, such as reduced energy use and carbon emissions. The clusters may be formed by businesses co-located in the same geographical area or business parks, businesses from the same industry sector, or business groups facing similar issues such as waste disposal.

In such instances there can be significant efficiency gains for joint approaches to resource management.

It is envisaged that a total of four projects will be supported across the region, with up to a maximum of £40,000 being made available to each project. Successful applicants will contract with REE to deliver the project as part of the wider programme. Projects will run between January 1 and December 31 2010.

INFORMATION: Full details of the application process and criteria are available at http://work.2cs.com/resourceefficiency/business-clusters-project.asp or by contacting Business Clusters co-ordinator Guy Robertson on 07827 322535 or www.resourceefficiencyeast.org.uk/business-clusters-project.asp