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Businesses can access grants and support to recruit and upskill graduates to become sustainability advocates

The SiE programme takes a comprehensive approach to reducing a business’ carbon emissions in all areas, and that includes people - the core of any organisation.

This support is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The Sustainability in Enterprise (SiE) programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supports small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a range of funding and practical support to reduce their carbon emissions.

One element of support is the opportunity for businesses to receive a grant that can help them to hire a recent university graduate. Alongside this, the Sustainability Community Lab (SCL) is a new early careers development programme that aims to nurture their staff to become sustainability advocates within the business.

With a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) citing “Code Red for Humanity” and another UK poll having found that just one in ten SMEs are measuring the carbon footprint of their operations, there’s an ever-increasing demand for business sustainability support

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Why is this relevant to SMEs?

Nottingham Trent University (NTU), the University of Nottingham, Nottingham City Council, and other local authorities within Nottingham are working in tandem towards Nottingham’s 2028 carbon neutral pledge, with the aim to become the UK’s first carbon neutral city.  

To achieve these ambitious targets, alongside the universally increasing demand for support from SMEs around business sustainability, Sustainability in Enterprise aims to help businesses reduce their footprint and save on costs, whilst maintaining overall competitiveness.

The Sustainability Community Lab is a great opportunity for those of us who want to learn about sustainability to do so in a reliable, trustworthy setting - allowing us to get to know experts in the field, other individuals working towards sustainability and other businesses who share our values and goals. I want to join the Lab to hopefully gain a deeper education on how to make my workplace more eco-friendly and sustainable and learn how to translate sustainability across more areas of my professional life.

Nikki McCaig, on a graduate placement at Studio Seventeen

How NTU can help small businesses reduce their carbon emissions

The SiE programme takes a comprehensive approach to reducing a business’ carbon emissions in all areas, and that includes people - the core of any organisation.

With the ever-increasing desire from graduates to work in companies which have strong social and environmental policies, NTU's Employability team are supporting SMEs to create sustainability-related employment opportunities for graduates, working within the philosophy that every role can be 'greener', no matter the remit, industry, or experience level.

The talent grants available offer businesses funding up to 40% of a graduate’s salary for the first three months of their employment. To be eligible, the graduate must start employment no later than 1st March.

The Sustainability Community Lab (SCL), closely modelled upon one of NTU’s previous initiatives – the Innovation Community Lab (ICL) – is an early careers development programme aimed at equipping graduates currently employed in business with the necessary tools and skills to effectively promote sustainable practices within their work environment.

The SCL programme consists of a series of workshops which feature transformative learning activities and peer networking to foster knowledge exchange between businesses. The programme will cover:

  • Holistic and intersectional sustainability: exploring sustainability theory; helping graduates to develop sustainability mindsets, understanding the breadth and depth of sustainability and how it intersects with human and business activity.
  • Sustainability in business: broadening understanding and relevance of sustainability in an economical and business context, utilising tools available to assess business sustainability, applying critical thinking and analysis to business case studies, recognising opportunities to innovate and drive strategic change.
  • Sustainability advocacy: embedding sustainability into business culture, effectively advocating and framing issues around sustainability with key stakeholders, the use of social media and content creation.

The SCL aims to provide a peer learning community to graduates employed in SMEs in the Greater Nottingham area, and nurture them to becoming sustainability advocates within the local business network, working collectively towards low-carbon growth.

With graduates seeking greener job opportunities, businesses which implement sustainable practices will make themselves more desirable to future cohorts of graduates, supporting with long-term business innovation and growth.

Please contact Vicky Harvey (Sustainability and Employer Engagement Coordinator) for more information about the talent grant and SCL.

Who is eligible for this support?

Support available through the Sustainability in Enterprise (SiE) programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). ERDF helps local areas to stimulate their economic development by investing in pro-jects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community re-generations.

Support is only available to SMEs based in the Greater Nottingham (SUDS) area (view eligibility map).

SMEs are defined as:

  • less than 250 employees
  • annual turnover under EUR 50 million OR
  • an annual balance sheet less than EUR 43 million

For more information about the programme in general, or to make an enquiry, please contact

Businesses can access grants and support to recruit and upskill graduates to become sustainability advocates

Published on 18 October 2021
  • Category: Business; School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment; School of Art & Design; Nottingham Business School

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Sustainability in Enterprise team