A pilot project in Glasgow – the first of its kind in Scotland – will see nature-based businesses and organisations receive expert support to help their development and growth, creating more jobs in the green economy and helping the city to meet net-zero targets.

This project – the Nature-Based Accelerator Programme – is now open to applications, and is a three-months, fully-funded (worth over £1500 to each successful applicant) programme aimed at individuals, enterprises or community groups who have a business or social enterprise idea that uses nature directly or indirectly.

This support would be available for a wide range of activities, including beekeeping; carbon offsetting; ‘green’ roofs; greenspace management; eco-tourism; food or other community growing schemes; skills training; and tree-planting enterprises, plus many more.

The programme will encourage both a more resilient local nature-based economy in Glasgow, and also develop innovative ideas in this economic sector as well as improving and maintaining the city’s open spaces.

At the end of the programme, the participants will have: a clearly defined value proposition; a clear understanding of potential customers; be part of a strong peer network; identified the social, economic and environmental benefits their idea can deliver; and understood their business model and its financial viability.

The deadline for applications is 21 May. A wider programme is expected to begin around the time of COP26 in Glasgow later this year.

The project is coordinated through Glasgow City Council’s Connecting Nature project, with partners The Melting Pot, the Centre for Civic Innovation, and Glasgow Caledonian University.

More information on the project, including details on how to apply for support, is available at: https://good-ideas.org/nature-based-accelerator/.

A World Economic Forum report (Executive Summary) suggested that actions to take nature-based solutions into account could create $10 trillion annually in business opportunities: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_Future_Of_Nature_And_Business_2020.pdf.

Sean Vincent Kelly, Senior Connecting Nature Project Officer at Glasgow City Council, said: “After several months of planning with our expert partners, we are very excited to finally open our nature-based accelerator programme to applications. This is a real opportunity for budding nature-based entrepreneurs in Glasgow to get valuable support to grow their enterprise ideas and help us make a real contribution to more local and nature-friendly economies.”

Professor Cam Donaldson, Pro Vice Chancellor of Research and Yunus Chair at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “The launch of the Nature-Based Accelerator, in partnership with Glasgow City Council’s Connecting Nature programme, Glasgow’s Centre for Civic Innovation and The Melting Pot, is a perfect example of civic partnerships for the Common Good, reflecting the strategic commitment of Glasgow Caledonian University to addressing the Sustainable Development Goals  through our range of research, teaching and community engagement activities. This also ties in well with Glasgow Caledonian having been endorsed by the European Union as the lead organisation in establishing a UK Competence Centre for Social Innovation in partnership with other key players, both here in the UK and internationally. Such partnerships and new ways of working place Glasgow at the forefront of the Social Innovation ecosystem in the UK.”

Siobhan McQuaid, Associate Director Research, Trinity College Dublin / Connecting Nature Joint Co-ordinator, said: “As we emerge from Covid and the conversation switches to ‘building back better’, increasing evidence is emerging of the potential of nature as an engine for sustainable economic and jobs growth.  From landscape architects to urban gardeners, in Connecting Nature we are committed to supporting nature-based enterprises that contribute to the economy, communities and the planet.”

More detail on the Connecting Nature project is available at: https://connectingnature.eu/about.