The number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are innovating in low-carbon technologies has doubled in the last two years, rising from 37% in 2011 to 76% in 2013, according to new research.
A study entitled Low carbon entrepreneurs: the new engines of growth, conducted by the Carbon Trust and Shell Springboard, has revealed that start-up SMEs are pushing for a greater share of the £3 trillion global low-carbon sector.
The study, which blends quantitative data analysis of 1,855 low-carbon SMEs with surveys of around 200 low-carbon entrepreneurs, also found that SMEs targeting international markets for low-carbon products had increased to 76%.
Over the next two years, it says, firms plan to expand their exports to include the US (15%) and Germany (12%). Estimated to be worth around £3.3 trillion, this value of the global low-carbon economy has been predicted to grow to £4 trillion.
Almost 2,000 low-carbon SMES were mapped across the UK, and valued at around £120 billion, with hubs for innovation in London, Cambridge, Southampton, Leeds and Oxford.
Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, said, “The low-carbon economy is already a real engine of growth for the UK economy.
“It is worth more than £120 billion in annual sales and employs almost 1 million people.
“This new research indicates that the sector is looking to expand further and is targeting vital exports as it does so.”
The report also found that 60% of low-carbon SMEs in the UK were planning to create new jobs over the next 12 months.