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Caerphilly company helps resell assets of over 60 UK universities, institutes, and hospitals

Universal Resource Trading Ltd, trading as UniGreenScheme, is an award-winning asset resale service based in Pontygwindy Industrial Estate in Caerphilly, started by Welsh founder Michael McLeod. The company has been in operation since 2015, originally launching as a student start-up.

The company collects, stores, and sells unwanted and redundant laboratory equipment from universities and returns a share of the profits back to the institutions. To date, about £450,000 has been invested back into institutions, with about £3 million saved for institutions in equipment costs. As well as this, by preventing equipment from being sent to waste disposal, UniGreenScheme has also saved roughly 2.5 million kilograms of carbon emissions.

Ben Glazier, Co-Founder and Director at UniGreenScheme, said “Environmental factor aside, giving a share of profits back to institutions means we’re putting funding back into things like cancer research. We’re extending the life of products and helping smaller labs that aren’t as well-off as bigger or more well-funded labs, so they can also get research done.”

The company employs 20 staff and turns over £1.5 million a year, and currently works with over 60 UK universities, including institutions in other countries, with 60% of products sold being exported. They have also provided equipment to film and TV prop companies, with their equipment being featured in productions such as Star Wars: Andor and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.

After identifying a suitable premises within Caerphilly County Borough in July 2020, UniGreenScheme approached CCBC in October of the same year for a grant to support their move from Torfaen. The company was awarded £10,000 from the Caerphilly Enterprise Fund (CEF) to achieve this. This amount was 50% match funded by UniGreenScheme, and the grant helped with refurbishment of their new premises, including new lighting.

Since moving to Caerphilly, the business has created 5 new jobs, and in April 2022, UniGreenScheme were awarded another 50% match funded CEF grant of just over £9,000 to help complete a mezzanine area at their premises.

In May 2023, UniGreenScheme received £3,750 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).  This grant was 50% match funded by UniGreenScheme and dedicated towards the company through Caerphilly County Borough Council’s intervention of the UKSPF. The grant helped towards the company attending a prestigious conference in Bath, where they can attend as a headline sponsor and get a 10-minute slot to speak to showcase their company. This is a key opportunity for the business to speak to over 300 key decision makers in their sector. They are also looking to produce a video to be able to play to showcase their operation.

Michael McLeod, Co-Founder and Managing Director of UniGreenScheme, said “The support from Caerphilly Council helped us completely transform our equipment refurbishment facilities, allowing us to improve the quality and efficiency of the work carried out by our team.”

“This support came at a critical time in our business when we were growing very rapidly but had limited financial resources available and so it was crucial to enabling success and scale-up. We are delighted with the results and the entire application process was straightforward. We are very grateful for the support.”

Cllr Jamie Pritchard, Cabinet Member for Prosperity, Regeneration and Climate Change, commented “It was great to meet with representatives of UniGreenScheme to hear about the support they have received in generating further business growth. The company works with 22 of the 24 leading Russell Group universities in the UK as well as numerous research institutes, hospitals, and private sector clients. Brilliant work all round”.

UniGreenScheme are looking forward to continuing to grow their business and expand to work with different sectors. Michael McLeod commented “Up until now, we’ve only worked with university sector equipment, but we are rapidly expanding into the private sector now as well with many large clients using the service.”
“Going forward, growth-wise, the issue is space. We’re looking to grow our operations space. Beyond that, we’d like to continue growing the team, and in the next 5 years if things go well, we should be able to turnover £8 to £10 million a year with about 50-60 staff in our team.”