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Distinctive Sustainability Business Workout

Distinctive Sustainability Business Workout

The West of England Sustainable Technologies Scale-up Programme provides fully funded support to businesses from any sector in the West of England which are already developing a sustainable technology or want to explore how they can be more sustainable by developing new thinking and strategies to innovate and grow.

Developed in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable & Circular Technologies at the University of Bath, the programme launched in 2021 and is set to run for three years.

Two strands of support are available – a Sustainability Workout and/or academic research support from experts at the University of Bath to help develop a new product or to undertake a feasibility study to give a couple of examples. Being part of this programme could also lead to further collaborations and support through SETsquared and the University of Bath.

During the next three years the sustainability workouts will be held over 2-days and delivered by expert facilitators and mentors.

Getting to know your business

Ahead of the two-day workout an introduction meeting is held to welcome company attendees, cover the course content and perform a business model review.  This is a great opportunity for everyone to meet and outline objectives before the workshop.

Six companies from the region joined the first Sustainability Workout which was held at the end of June 2021 and as recommended most sent two – three representatives from their organisation.

What is the content?

The Sustainability Workout is not a traditional webinar. It’s interactive, fast paced and packed with content and practical exercises. It will help you focus not only for your sustainability goals but also for your business model. For anyone considering taking part, here’s an overview of the agenda and content.

Following a welcome and introduction, day one is divided into seven sessions. The initial sessions focus on finding out about each of the company’s business idea and value proposition, before delving into discussions around what sustainability is and why companies should make it a focus. This session also provides a chance for each company to review their sustainability goals which is followed with a peer review session.

The next session maps out what a sustainable economy looks like and outlines the benefits of the circular economy and enablers and barriers of adopting the principles as a business. Then it’s time to start thinking outside the box by looking at avenues to explore and exploit opportunities and business models, utilising the Business Model Canvas as a useful innovation tool.

This session runs up to the lunch break. The downside of virtual events? Everyone has to make their own lunch, but delegates are invited to network online should they wish to.

The afternoon session focuses on looking deeper into the Exploit and Explore boxes of the business model portfolio and introduces participants to the Blue Ocean Strategy and the Four Actions Framework.  Teams work together looking at various case study examples using shift patterns, front stage and back stage disruption to generate at least 1 possible shift to improve the current business model – teams present their ideas back and peer reviews are performed at the end of each of these sessions.

The aim of these afternoon sessions is to demonstrate a number of business model patterns as a basis for stimulating new ideas of ways in which you can evolve or invent new models for your business.

Day two is also divided into seven sessions, starting with a recap session focusing on Business Model Patterns with a review of participants progress.

The next session introduces financial innovation with well-known examples to help illustrate these patterns.

Following a short comfort break participants are introduced to the use of the 7 key questions assessment technique and work on applying it to new or involved business models they had generated in the previous four sessions.  We then go on to identify key assumptions and risks within the new/evolved business model and prioritise these for action.  Peer to peer review time is allocated for all these sessions.

Following lunch, the remaining sessions are focused on testing business ideas and taking action and ownership.

The final session before wrapping up and finishing is a speed mentoring session which provides the opportunity for participants to get focused one-to-one feedback from the programme facilitators and key members of the SETsquared Scale-Up Programme.

Hear from previous participants

Sarah Whelan from Bristol-based company Airway Medical – a company providing sustainable, renewably sourced medical devices – joined the June 2021 Sustainability Workout and this is what she had to say:

“I was expecting two days of workshops around the ‘greenness’ of our company, and perhaps some input into our future manufacturing and distribution plans. What I got was so much more. The workshop facilitates a safe environment to pick apart your business model and put it back together in a way that benefits people and planet, but also in a way that makes sense from a strategic and tactical perspective. The encouragement, knowledge, and skill of the SETsquared team enabled us to consider versions of our business that we wouldn’t have normally entertained, and we have come away energised, enthusiastic, and with a slightly different outlook than when we started. The workout is a fabulous way of sitting with industry experts in a secure environment and seeing how your business could be a kinder, more sustainable, more effective version of itself.”

Tess O’Shea from Seatox, a Bath-based skincare company, signed up to receive support following on from the excellent business support she had previously received through the STBAH programme. Tess was keen to make the most of the fully funded support by joining the Sustainability Workout and follow up support available through the University of Bath. Tess said,

“I found the Sustainability Workout really helpful in delving into the cogs and wheels of my seaweed skincare brand, Seatox. Through the Business Model Canvas exercises, we were able to get expert guidance about scaling up sustainably. I wholeheartedly recommend this course for any purpose-led business.”

Hear from an advisor

Talking about the West of England Sustainable Technologies Scale-Up Programme. Dr Laurent Perge, Innovation Advisor for the programme, says: “I am delighted to see the diversity of companies that are taking part in the programme. As Innovation Adviser in an all-sector programme, my role is to find the right academics for these companies to start a conversation and develop collaborative projects with. Having this diversity of sectors makes my role much more interesting as no day is the same and it is possible to have conversations with companies and academics from, for example, chemistry in the morning, behaviour science and psychology at lunch time, and business and start-up in social ventures in the afternoon. The Sustainability Workout is a great platform for businesses to receive this expert coaching which could lead to additional business support either through research collaborations that I can help with or scale-up support SETsquared can help with.”

Further Sustainability Workout dates are confirmed for October and December 2021 with 2022 dates to be announced soon.

SETsquared have supported thousands of startups to succeed and survive through various workshops & mentoring programmes. Find out more information about this fully funded programme and how it could help shape your sustainable business growth.

Register your interest for the West of England Sustainable Technologies Scale-up Programme

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SETsquared is a partnership between

  • University of Bath
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Surrey