Neil Horsley describes his business in 10 minutes
What's the name of your company?
CleanTech Business Ltd
Where are you based?
Antenna Centre, Nottingham.
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Who owns the business?
The company is privately owned with two shareholders, one of whom is me.
How long have you been going?
What does your business do
CleanTech Business is a "plans, programmes and projects" business which specialises in the emerging low-carbon and renewable-energy sector. We mainly do feasibility studies and project management for local authorities and also work with businesses in the energy sector to help them obtain grants and investment finance.
How many people do you employ?
CleanTech Business (www.cleantech-business.com) is a loose network of associates with expertise spanning most aspects of the emerging low-carbon sector. This enables us to assemble teams around specific project assignments on an "as and when" basis rather than having the overhead of a large staff complement.
Who are your customers?
A mixture of businesses and local authorities. We have recently been commissioned by Notts County Council to develop the next phase of its Economic Growth Plan. The city council has also retained us to work on a number of energy projects following the work we did for it on the Nottingham Smart Energy Future Cities feasibility study. Other current projects include contributing to a joint study of business enterprise centres in the Creative Quarter and various funding bids for major local low-carbon companies.
How have you been doing so far?
It's been going really well, much better than I anticipated if I'm honest. The people involved with CleanTech Business have worked in Nottingham for more than 20 years and the contacts and networks we have collectively built up are proving to be invaluable.
What sort of recession have you had?
As we only began trading last year we've missed the worst of it (hopefully).
How has your business changed since it began?
The original business plan bears no relation to how things have developed but maybe that is to be expected. We've ended up doing far more projects in the public sector than I expected and one thing seems to have a strange way of leading to another…
What are your plans for the future?
It's early days yet, so more of the same over the next year. I also chair and run the GreenTech Business Network, a forum of companies working in the low-carbon sector, which has mushroomed over the last year. Browne Jacobson has recently signed up as our major sponsor so we are working on various ideas as to how to grow the network and offer more to its members.
What's the best thing about your business?
Probably the breadth of expertise and experience that we can assemble to work on specific projects.
What's your biggest threat?
Not being prepared to say "no" to new work and becoming over-stretched to the point where we don't do what we said we would do.
And your biggest opportunity
There is a massive opportunity emerging, driven by the combination of rising energy costs, concerns over energy security and climate change. Experts are talking about the need to invest £200bn over the next 15 years to keep the UK's lights on.
We are beginning to see the start of major investments in the UK's creaking energy infrastructure trickling down to create new markets relating to making, saving and storing energy.
It surprises me that many companies often still see the low-carbon sector as being about environmental issues, which doesn't interest them, rather than a major emerging business opportunity.
The other thing we have noticed is that many large organisations have made "savings" by parting with their most experienced staff and have now lost their "institutional memory".
As things start to pick up, they are having major capacity issues which, in my view, will create significant opportunities for small companies with access to the right skills.