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START2ACT Report Summary

Project ID: 696069
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.3.7.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - START2ACT (Engaging European Start-ups and Young SMEs for Action for Sustainable Energy)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2017-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Research in recent years has shown that around 20% of energy, which is currently consumed, can be saved through measures targeting behaviour change (1),(2). In the EU, the collective environmental impact of 20 million SMEs is massive, contributing to 64% of environmental impact (3). Therefore, active engagement of start-ups and young SMEs is essential in order to reach the 20-20-20 EU goals (4) and there is market potential for almost all enterprises to cost effectively reduce their energy consumption (5).

START2ACT aims to unleash the potential of energy savings at European young SMEs and start-ups via behavioural change actions. Through a set of innovative training and capacity building measures, the project aims to trigger action to implement energy efficiency measures by young entrepreneurs and their emerging enterprises as well as by the owners and staff of young SMEs at their offices.

Office equipment is the fastest growing energy user in the business world, consuming 15% of the total electricity used in offices, which is expected to rise to 30% by 2020 (6). START2ACT aims to trigger the use and uptake of the many available tools and solutions offering a great potential for energy and money savings in offices. In addition, START2ACT aims to increase sustainable procurement of office equipment, including the selection and furnishings of premises, and goods and services. In so doing, START2ACT will sow the seeds of a sustainable energy culture in start-ups and young SMEs.

SMEs are an important pillar of our society as they account for more than two thirds of employment in the EU (7). Increasing the energy efficiency of the backbone of our future business landscape in the EU at a very early development stage of an enterprise represents considerable value for economies, the society and enterprises themselves. In addition to cost savings, energy efficiency produces other benefits that can help businesses grow and develop, for example by improving productivity, profitability and competitiveness and product quality. Moreover, by reducing reliance on energy imports and lowering environmental impacts, the value not only to business but also to society can be increased.

(1) EEA, 2013: Achieving energy efficiency through behaviour change: what does it take? EEA Technical Report No 5/2013
(2) Dahlbom B. et al. 2009: Changing Energy Behaviour - Guidelines for Behavioural Change Programmes. IEE BEHAVE project
(3) 45 Calogirou C. et al. 2010: SMEs and the environment in the European Union, PLANET SA and Danish Technological Institute, Published by European Commission, DG Enterprise and Industry.
(4) IEE CHANGE project, 2010: Final Report - Promoting Intelligent Energy to SMEs.
(5) IEE ENGINE project, 2007: Energy Efficient Technologies for Industry and Best Practice. Case study brochure
(6) Carbon Trust 2006: Office equipment Introducing energy saving opportunities for business. CTV005 Technology Overview

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

To understand the motivations, interests and needs of European startups and young SMEs on energy efficiency, a baseline survey was conducted early in the project. The survey was administered in all participating START2ACT countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the United Kingdom) and examined potential barriers and facilitators of startups and young SMEs regarding energy efficiency, and provided a deeper understanding of the psychological processes around energy conscious behaviour. The survey results were instrumental in helping the project partners in designing the training and capacity building activities for young SMEs and startups.

The core training and capacity building activities targeted at young SMEs and startups started with the development and launch of the Interactive Energy Saving Platform hosted on the START2ACT website. This online platform gives users the possibility to enhance their knowledge on energy efficiency at work through interactive and entertaining tools (E-learning, Competition) as well as a more comprehensive content repository (Knowledge Base).

In addition to these online tools, face-to-face activities were also launched. Energy Efficiency Business Breakfasts were held with young SMEs in eight START2ACT countries, providing them with information on energy management at offices and an action plan to help save energy. To date, 33 Business Breakfasts have been held with the participation of around 600 participants from more than 200 companies. Feedback received from the events indicate that the majority of participants received new information (82%) and feel more motivated (88%) to act for energy efficiency in their companies.

To allow the partners to effectively implement the on-site capacity building activities for young SMEs and the energy-conscious startup mentoring programme, a Training of Trainers (ToT) event was held. The partners were introduced the START2ACT Training Kit and the Handbook, and have been equipped with the knowledge and skills to train young SMEs and mentor startups in the upcoming period of the project.

As START2ACT's target groups for its activities are young and dynamic people, dissemination and communication aspects in the project are of high importance and can strongly affect the success of the training and capacity building activities. Accordingly, dissemination and communication activities in START2ACT started from the very beginning of the project and helped maximise the project’s visibility and spread pertinent information on its goals, activities and results. A distinct visual identity was developed to foster recognition of START2ACT as a brand and to be commonly used by all the partners in all communication and dissemination activities.

All partners have been making efforts to reach out to the target groups in their countries, and the central START2ACT dissemination and communication strategies have greatly supported these efforts. The project partners are working hand-in-hand with relevant stakeholder organisations such as chambers of commerce, business associations, startup support centres, incubators, and other umbrella and interest organisations to ensure that the projects activities are promoted widely.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

START2ACT will lead to increased energy efficiency and energy savings at offices and will trigger the market uptake of energy-efficient solutions, tools and products for offices via changing the behaviour of owners and the staff of young SMEs and start-up entrepreneurs. A spill-over effect is also expected at household level given that those people engaged at the workplace will be stimulated to take action and make investments also at home. Although the majority of the core training and capacity building activities in START2ACT are yet to be implemented in the second period, START2ACT has already made progress towards achieving its expected impacts in its first 18 months as its activities have led to energy savings. Apart from implementing its targeted training and capacity building activities, the project actively communicates its messages on the importance of energy efficiency and sustainable energy to broad audiences, including the general public, through a set of dissemination actions. In so doing, START2ACT is generating a wider societal impact and contributing to reducing Europe's carbon footprint and achieving the EU's energy and climate targets.

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