Meet the green businesses in Wales striving for zero emissions by 2050


Jo Ashburner, Red Dragon Flagmakers

For the first time, Wales has ‘a credible, feasible and affordable path to reach net zero emissions by 2050’, as recently recognised by the Climate Change Committee in its progress report. Yet this goal will only be achieved through the hard work and commitment of numerous groups – in the words of Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths, “we have to mobilise a collective effort involving communities and businesses as well as government at all levels.” 

At MADE Cymru (a suite of EU-funded projects supported by the European Structural and Investment Funds through the Welsh Government and delivered by University of Wales Trinity Saint David), we’re proud to support many of the businesses contributing towards Wales’ net zero emission target. From eco-friendly working practices to innovative marine energy projects, the network of businesses we work with provide a hopeful reminder that a greener future is possible. 

Making waves in renewable technology 

Pembrokeshire has the highest concentration of wave resource in Wales, providing a significant opportunity for development of the industry. The Welsh Government has already noted its support for developing renewable energy projects. Wales has wave and tidal stream export market potential of £76 billion (Marine Energy Wales – State of the Sector Report 2020). Lord Peter Hain, a former energy minister, has said that Wales could be a world leader in marine energy and should make the industry a priority.    

One company that’s working hard to ensure this is Bombora, whose innovative mWave™ product produces environmentally friendly, consistent and cost-competitive energy for commercial power generation in coastal locations throughout the world. Bombora’s is currently focusing on a two-and-a-half-year, €20 million project to design, fabricate and test the first 1.5 MW mWave™ prototype in Wales. The project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund though Welsh Government.  

MADE Cymru Research Officers are working collaboratively with Bombora to develop and test a key component for the device, rationalising the manufacturing method and reducing the manufacturing costs of the component. The team are also committed to ensuring that the improved component could be manufactured here in Wales. 

The combined industry and technological knowledge of the team at Bombora, coupled with the research ability and advanced technology available to those working with the Advanced Design Engineering (ADE) team at MADE Cymru, will achieve an improved component by the spring of 2021. 

“Our partnership project with ADE could have game-changing implications for the cost of energy and speed up delivery times for our utility scale mWave energy converter product,” says Chris Williams, Commercial Manager at Bombora. 

“This is an excellent example of how sectors are collaborating to achieve net zero. By bringing innovative technology developers together with academia, our research not only supports Wales’ transition to a low carbon future; it also strengthens the country’s position as a global frontrunner in wave energy generation.” 

Bombora’s Fixed Bottom mWave can deliver a reliable, renewable, cost-efficient electricity source at megawatt scale and is a global frontrunner in wave energy conversion technology.

Green businesses built for social purpose

A student of MADE Cymru’s International Innovation Masters programme, Jo Asburner is an entrepreneur who is quite literally flying the flag for green manufacturing practices in Wales. 

As the managing director of Red Dragon Flagmakers, Jo’s mission is to help people of all backgrounds become skilled workers – her team has upskilled and trained over 300 people since 2015 – all financed in-house using profit from sales revenue with no grant funding. 

Jo believes that working with sustainability and innovation can have a positive impact on business as well as the planet. “We have always tried to keep waste to a minimum, both by working to a ‘just in time’ model when ordering in supplies from UK suppliers and also by hoarding the scraps in colour coordinated transparent boxes until they really are too small to use and then creating cushions to fill with the waste,” says Jo. 

“We are also making significantly more products using biodegradable textiles such as linen and cotton than we were 10 years ago, and this is as much in response to customer demands as it is to the increasingly limited colour spectrum available in the standardised MOD (Ministry of Defence) fabrics used when making quality traditional stitched flags.  We’ve been consciously moving towards the eco element of the textiles we use and methods we implement as standard – alongside our social and community value missions – for quite some time, originally deciding to break away from conventional use of industry standard polyesters as it cramped the very creativity which makes us a successful custom flagmaker. We recycle packaging, use paper and card received with deliveries and reuse with the addition of recyclable starch poly pockets when shipping out our finished goods.  The majority of our electricity comes from the solar panels on our factory and our staff room and offices are an homage to recycling and upcycling in the ‘make do and mend’ spirit.” 

These principles align well with MADE Cymru’s commitment to delivering permanent and sustainable benefits through the work we do. By attending sessions with innovation experts from Europe, Asia, America and Australasia, entrepreneurs like Jo gain valuable and varied insights into the processes and ideas that shape modern businesses around the world. Such insights have a direct and positive impact on the manufacturing businesses we work with, leading to processes that do less harm and more good for people and the environment.  

Our Upskilling for Industry 4.0 and Innovation Management courses and Advanced Design Engineering (R&D) initiatives are available now – fully funded for eligible companies in Wales.
From remote learning opportunities to hands-on support with prototyping, our experienced team is on hand to help you embrace sustainable and innovative manufacturing in your business.