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Connecting society: New routes to local solutions


David Arscott is CEO of new Partnership member, PyTerra. Previously an architect working in inner city education, In recent years he has been pursuing environmental research through PyTerra. In this blog, David shares his vision for innovative routes to enable local solutions.

From a home in Hartcliffe, it might seem a long way to the city boardrooms of Bristol. Perhaps that could change.

Let’s start with an assumption. Installing low carbon and renewable energy systems across urban communities is a good thing. We are talking about smaller, decentralised systems, not the big solar arrays and wind farms outside our cities.

Decentralised systems, by their nature, are more complex and more costly per unit of energy to develop and operate. It is therefore not surprising that finance is critical to their viability. Seed funding is a key component in this process, where it is used to close the affordability gap and underpin the higher risk of the initial stages of a project. Therefore, the challenge is finding that funding.

A typical example is a housing association in Bristol such as LiveWest, with operations in Hartcliffe & Withywood, one of Bristol’s most deprived wards. Legislation currently does not force developers to provide Net Zero solutions for affordable housing, which could cost £10K per unit. Therefore traditional gas-fired heating systems are specified and no facilities for renewable production or energy storage are provided. The result is that certain parts of the community are excluded from fighting global warming and occupants of these houses are locked into a cycle of higher energy costs and polluted environments.

There is a solution.

Even in these difficult economic times, corporates have control over a large amount of economic capital in Bristol. ONS data shows that earlier in 2020, there were 1,935 businesses each with a turnover of over £1 million and with an annual total in the order of £16.2 billion. Whilst many of these are already making contributions to the welfare of the City and supporting environmental initiatives, what would be possible if a good proportion of these businesses (say 25%) annually committed to buying ESG* sponsorship packages by dedicating 0.5% of their turnover (£20.25 million) to seed funding for low carbon projects? This could provide 15% seed funding, making viable £135 million in projects and unlocking enormous societal and environmental value to the city.

So, what will persuade businesses to change their thinking? Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey revealed that a staggering 91% of the generation would change their brand loyalty for one supporting a cause or demonstrating a social conscience.

PyTerra and The Future Economy Network are now seeking more market evidence that corporates are willing to engage in this type of sponsorship. We are therefore initiating an online questionnaire for all organisations and businesses in Bristol. This is where  fellow members can help. Please either participate in the questionnaire, or forward the link to a contact in Bristol. All organisations are invited to take part, not just corporates. Find the survey here.

*ESG – Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Further reading

PyTerra is an early-stage technology and market-making business. It focuses on breaking down the barriers to economic capital in order to direct it into local communities to help them build resilience. To achieve this, it is developing a platform which matches low carbon and renewable energy projects with corporate ESG sponsorship. For sponsors, the platform offers an effective way to make their brand sympathetic to the environmental concerns of customers and shareholders. PyTerra is seeking a city with whom to partner and help develop this innovative concept and we hope it will be Bristol.


Blog, Climate Action, Energy
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