Isle of Man: Clean Tech Industry Opportunities On The Isle Of Man

Last Updated: 2 November 2010
Article by Stephen Savage

On 31st August 2010 the Department of Economic Development of the Isle of Man Government sought an 'Expression of Interest to Tender for the Design, Finance, Build and Operation of a 20MW Wind Farm in the Isle of Man'. Interest in this potential development has been significant.

This latest step by the Government reinforces moves in the Isle of Man to embrace renewable sources of energy and support the advancement of so called 'Clean Tech' Industries.

Existing Projects

Recent history shows that the Isle of Man has positioned itself well to both lead the way with current innovative technologies and also encouraged the expansion of the local Clean Tech Industries.

In 2003 the Isle of Man constructed an 88MW capacity combined cycle gas turbine fired power station which, together with the 6MW 'Energy from Waste' plant constructed in 2004, has resulted in the production of grid electricity some 20% cleaner than the UK grid. In consequence island CO2 emissions have been substantially reduced and a large proportion of the waste the population generate is incinerated. All good news for the environment.

These moves have recently been complimented by the commitment in May 2010 by Tynwald (the Island's Parliament) to pursue a policy of meeting a renewable energy target of 50% of the Island's electricity being generated from renewable sources by 2015.

These very public commitments by the Government to support of renewable energy have resulted in an environment conducive to the development of the Clean Tech Industry. Already the Island is home to over 40 Clean Tech companies, of which 8 are listed on AIM with a collective valuation, as of August 2009, in excess of £800 million.

Even the annual Isle of Man TT Races have recognised the potential in pursuing a Clean Tech approach with the world's first zero carbon, clean emission motorbike grand prix (TTXGP) taking place in 2009. This was followed by 'TT Zero' in 2010 which will now form part of the annual TT Race schedule.

Why Clean Tech IOM?

The Isle of Man has already nurtured and grown a highly diverse economy which includes specialism in areas such as space exploration, e-gaming, shipping and aircraft registration and management, aerospace and high tech manufacturing, and film. The increasing efficiency of existing forms of renewable energy production and the introduction of new energy production technologies mean that the Clean Tech industry is set to expand significantly in the next 10 to 20 years. The Isle of Man has recognised this upcoming expansion and is keen to further develop the Clean Tech sector; a sector which fits well with the existing efficient high-tech business environment.

A number of factors are already in place which provides advantages for development of Clean Tech business within the Isle of Man. They include the following:

1. A pro-entrepreneur business friendly Government:

Through various departments the Isle of Man Government has a breadth and depth of experience in sectors relevant to Clean Tech businesses, whether it be industry, environment, transport or utilities. Access to this experience, as well as to Government ministers and decision makers, results in excellent support being provided for any new business. Grant funding is also available: up to 40% of a project's costs can be available for qualifying businesses. The government has also created a dedicated Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) which provides a "soft landing" for new investors in high tech businesses through a package of pre-start and initial start-up facilities.

2. A highly efficient and clear tax environment:

The Isle of Man has an attractive tax environment for investors. Corporation tax in the Isle of Man is 0%, enhancing investor returns. Additionally there is no Capital Gains Tax (CGT). The lack of CGT will be particularly attractive for Clean Tech businesses keen to protect valuable intellectual property (IP). IP, being a capital asset, can be subject to CGT in many jurisdictions when sold; not so in the Isle of Man. This circumstance beings potential benefits to companies registering IP on the Isle of Man before exploiting it in other jurisdictions. Another consideration for new business in the Clean Tech sector is the fact that research and development expenses are tax deductable, so offering further significant savings to start ups.

3. Easy access to financial and professional services:

The Isle of Man already has a wealth of experienced legal, financial and corporate service providers. These experts can provide advice and assistance in setting up and managing tax efficient corporate structures. Good networking options are also available evidenced by the existence of a Clean Tech Sector Forum at the Chamber of Commerce providing access to existing Isle of Man Clean Tech businesses;

4. A Clean Tech focused business environment:

The Manx Electricity Authority (MEA), being the Island's vertically integrated electricity provider, can provide test facilities for certain Clean Tech technology experimentation. It can also provide technical advice on the integration of a project with the Island's energy network. The Isle of Man is blessed with excellent natural resources, with one of the best wind resources in the British Isles and wave and tidal ranges offering good R&D potential. These aspects together with access to 12 miles of territorial waters means that the Island can act as a good 'test bed' for renewable technologies, as it did for the first 3G mobile communication technology. The existence of a highly skilled workforce (particularly in the precision manufacturing sector) and the excellent government maintained infrastructure, fixed assets, buildings and systems will provide Clean Tech businesses with further reason to consider setting up in the Isle of Man.

5. An excellent telecommunications infrastructure:

A multiple self healing, ultra-high bandwidth fibre optic telecoms route loops to and through the UK and Ireland. This provides businesses with the reliability demanded for efficient and effective telecommunications.

6. Quality of life:

The business economic advantages offered by the Isle of Man are complimented by the Island offering an unrivalled quality of life. Short communication times, low crime, excellent standards in health and education, an array of cultural and recreational pursuits are all attractive lifestyle features. These combine with excellent transportation links to the UK and Ireland in making the Island a highly desirable place to live and work.

7. Corporate Structures Options:

Last, but by no means least among the factors which provide an advantageous environment to the Clean Tech Industry, are the corporate options available to businesses. In particular, the New Manx Vehicle (NMV), a new company structure implemented in 2006 provides a legally robust yet flexible and easy to administer company format. The NMV compliments the other company structures available in the Isle of Man, including those incorporated under the 1931 to 2004 Acts and under the Limited Liability Company Act 1996. These combine to give prospective new Clean Tech businesses a number of suitable of options when considering which corporate model to pursue when commencing or relocating in the Isle of Man.

With these advantages in mind, established and newly emerging or expanding companies in the Clean Tech sector may well do themselves a disservice if they fail to consider the benefits in relocating or establishing themselves in the Isle of Man.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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