By Renewable Energy Focus staff
A Carbon Trust commissioned report, carried out by the Cleantech Group, has found that UK cleantech companies are more confident than a year ago. In addition to a majority planning to increase their workforce, 37% say they plan to expand into new export markets over the next two years.
However, 29% said lack of access to finance was the main obstacle to expansion, and among smaller companies, this share rose to 40%. Overall, 20% indicated they would consider moving away from the UK due to financing problems believed to be lesser in other countries.
Benj Sykes, Director of Innovation at the Carbon Trust, comments: “A thriving UK cleantech sector is essential for green growth in the UK. Our research shows that cleantech innovators are feeling optimistic about their prospects and have ambitious plans for the future. However, access to finance, along with a stable policy environment, will make or break these growth prospects. The sector offers significant growth opportunity and investors should now seize the opportunity of this new industry.”
Highlights from the survey:
- 77% of companies are planning to recruit in the next 12 months
- 37% plan to move into new export markets in the next two years
- When asked to rate their confidence levels on a scale of 1 - 10 for today and a year ago, median confidence has increased from 6 last year to 8 today
- Companies are most optimistic about their growth (28%), technology (19%), government policies and legislation (16%) and their sales pipeline (13%)
- More than half (57%) of companies are planning on raising funding in the next year
- The UK was most cited as a good country to locate a cleantech business, with Germany ranked second and the US ranked third; only 18% would move their headquarters from the UK
- Government support in the UK was cited as a major strength due to legislation (FiTs, carbon targets and sustainable building regulations), and support from agencies
- Weaknesses were financing as the investment climate is currently too risk averse and focused on short-term returns and government support owing to a lack of consistency
- Respondents cited wind and marine energy as the top sectors in which the UK is a global leader
- The main obstacles to growth are market education (33%), finance (29%) and government policy/support (21%)
- Specific skills in demand are engineering/technical (75%) and sales/marketing (32%)
- Most companies listed the UK as their key centre for manufacturing (252), followed by Germany (24 companies) and China (15 companies)
- Only 15% of companies are planning to expand manufacturing to a new country in the next two years
- About half of all companies (51%) outsource manufacturing, mainly to the UK but also to Germany and China
- The US, France and Germany were ranked as the top three export markets today. Of the businesses planning to expand their exports into new markets in the next two years, the US and Europe were ranked as the top two export targets, followed by China
312 UK cleantech companies were interviewed - defined as companies developing and/or selling clean technology products or services.