Approved – 4 March 2010


An innovative Gateshead company is set to spread its environmental know-how far and wide with the help of a £50,000 investment from regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers.

The Environmental Academy is a leading supplier of online and classroom-based environmental and energy management training courses and consultancy services, and is recognised within the industry as a UK centre of excellence.

It is primarily using the new investment from Evolve Finance, NEL’s debt and mezzanine finance division, to develop new programmes on its e-commerce platform, which will enable them to offer an expanded portfolio of courses to both domestic and overseas customers.

And the company is hoping that the growing demand for its expertise, especially from industries with high sustainability requirements, such as oil and gas, will eventually lead to an expansion of the 12-strong team based at Gateshead’s Watermark development.

Founded by experienced business manager and entrepreneur Rita Callender in 2006, Environmental Academy works across a wide range of industrial sectors, and is focussing on developing its work around the high level ISO 14001 environmental and BS EN ISO16001 energy management accreditation.

Its courses are fully accredited by a number of UK Awarding bodies, including the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment and the Institute of Leadership and Management, which help clients develop their own environmental management systems to international standards.

Rita Callender says: “The importance, awareness and understanding of environmental matters amongst the business community has increased exponentially since I began working in the field more than a decade ago.

“Environmental Academy has succeeded by helping companies meet their obligations in this area, often making significant cost savings for them in the process, and we know that there are even greater commercial opportunities out there for us to address.

“Offering our courses online provides maximum flexibility for our learners, and means they can be accessed and implemented anywhere - and as we don’t need to travel to make them available, it has the added benefit of minimising the carbon footprint of our operations, something which is obviously very important for our company.

“As well as targeting domestic markets, we will also be placing greater emphasis on English-speaking markets overseas, such as Australia and South Africa, where similar environmental requirements clearly exist, and we can also see a time when we will need to translate our training courses into other languages to take them to places like China.

“We knew we needed to get a new funding stream into the company to put our new development plans into action, and were also looking for some business mentoring support alongside the investment – NEL has provided both of these, and have been very helpful through the process of getting their investment on board.”

Simon Johnson, senior investment executive at Evolve Finance, adds: “Environmental Academy offers impressive expertise in an expanding niche market, as well as a clear vision of how it will make the best commercial use of this over the coming years, and their developments plans made a compelling investment case to us.”

Malcolm Page, Deputy Chief Executive of One North East, says: “Raising the awareness of environmental and sustainability issues is becoming increasingly important in the business community.

“I’m pleased to see that our funding is not only helping firms make better choices when it comes to their every day operations, but it is also supporting a forward-thinking company such as the Environmental Academy carry out an exciting new stage in its history.”

For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit or contact Barrie Hensby on 0845 111 1850.
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For further press information, please contact Julian Christopher at Footprint Public Relations on 07891 005034 or via

Notes to Editors

Evolve Finance is the specialist debt and mezzanine finance division of NEL Fund Managers Ltd, which is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Services Authority, and which is a member of the British Venture Capital Association.