Leading the way as environmentally friendly green businesses

Policy makers and researchers came together for a one-day conference hosted by IFB Partner, Middlesex University. The event revealed that Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are leading the way as environmentally friendly green businesses, but desperately need more financial support from the government.

Researchers from the IFB Project, SME Nature Positive Finance, shared their findings with trailblazing UK small business environmental innovators and expert speakers from the British Business Bank, the national Green Angel Syndicate, and NatureMetrics (a global leading UK environmental-DNA measurement company). These groups also shared their views on the role of investment to encourage study of the impact of biodiversity in business and the implications for SMEs.


Professor Robyn Owen at the Middlesex University SME Conference 2024

Professor Robyn Owen presenting at the event


The term ‘SMEs’ refers to businesses with fewer than 250 employees. They make up 99% of the businesses in the UK private sector and account for over half of national jobs.

This ongoing project, which is being spearheaded by researchers from the Middlesex Centre for Enterprise, Environment and Development Research (CEEDR), aims to explore the SME finance market in four high-risk environmental impact sectors: agrifood, infrastructure, fashion and textiles and ecological services technology.

Professor Robyn Owen, who is leading the CEEDR research team, said:

“We believe that the conference raised critical debates for the UK’s transition to a global leading green economy.  Not enough attention has been given to supporting the green transition of UK smaller businesses and there is a shortfall in the finance required to enable them to innovate and become leaders of change to achieve net-zero and to protect the biosphere and nature.

All businesses are dependent upon nature’s services for food, water, energy and health security and there is an urgent need to value nature within business as usual. The conference demonstrated how some UK SME environmental innovators are leading the way in valuing nature, but more government support is required to assist their research and development and collaborative solutions. The conference concluded with a rallying call for the UK government to develop a roadmap for SME green finance.”

The SME Nature Positive Finance Project is a collaboration led by Middlesex University, together with the University of Reading, Centre for Sustainable Fashion at University of the Arts and Kingston University and industry consultants in small business finance.

Further details of the conference are available.