Methods for embedding micro-businesses in change for Net Zero

What is the project doing?

MicroSEM is a project led by a team at the University of Sussex Business School, which aims to understand how to better engage with the UK’s smallest businesses, micro and small businesses (up to 49 employees), for supporting their transition to Net Zero.

In the UK, small and medium size businesses (from zero to 250 employees) collectively emit around half (43-53%) of UK’s business sector carbon emissions, however 76% of SMEs are yet to implement decarbonisation strategies with only 3% having measured their carbon emissions to set reduction targets. The existing literature on SME and Net Zero argues that 34% of businesses are more likely to not be prepared for transitioning to Net Zero, suggesting these are often the smallest businesses.

Current academic discussions on SME decarbonisation in the UK suggest that micro and small businesses (up to 49 employees) remain an understudied area of research. We are creating outputs of this project including a video and tools for better approaching micro and small businesses in relation to Net Zero. These will be available for members in December 2022. In this event we will share lessons learned, opportunities to get involved and seek member input for the project.

Why is this needed?

September and October.

  1. Continue the interview process to reach at least 15 SMEs. November
  2. Conduct focus group session with selected SMEs November and December
  3. Co-creation of tools and guides for engagement of SMEs with Net Zero
  4. Dissemination of tools through social media
  5. Online training events.

How can members get involved?

We have submitted a follow up research project (January to June 2023) for Aspect funding in which we have invited the University of Reading to participate in.

We are also drawing on the Methods for Change research and will be getting in touch and engaging with ASPECT’s Business Engagement Community of Practice to recruit participants, co-produce outputs and disseminate key learnings.


Ralitsa Hiteva, Senior Research Fellow, University of Sussex

Franco Gonzalez, Research Assistant, University of Sussex


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Net zero, small and micro businesses, step-by-step guide, net zero pathway map

28 July 2023

Engaging small and micro businesses with net zero  

Report and Step-by-Step guide that helps to understand and accelerate engagement of micro and small businesses with Net Zero.

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