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Cable confirmed as top speaker, market leaders scoop hat-trick, casino firm shows its hand, cab making to get motoring again, ale empire expands, and prison threat for banking crimes >> Cities go head to head

Paul Hutchens, centre, with Lord Karan Bilimoria, left, and Shalini Khemka

>> Solar star shines Renewable energy pioneer Paul Hutchens has been named ‘Midlands Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the 2013 Midlands Business Awards. Paul, of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, set up the renewable energy firm Eco2Solar in 2007, providing solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and heat pump system installations for a broad range of commercial, social and domestic clients throughout the West Midlands and UK. The company enjoyed record growth last year with turnover well in excess of £5m. Paul said: “This is a reflection on the hard work of every member of the Eco2Solar team, which is making a significant contribution in promoting clean energy and reducing the carbon footprint of the region.” Paul accepted his accolade from Shalini Khemka, chief executive of award sponsors E2Exchange, and guest speaker Lord Karan Bilimoria, during an award ceremony in February at the Hilton Metropole Hotel, Birmingham.


Teams from Birmingham and Coventry will be competing for the attention of international inward investors at MIPIM 2013, the world’s leading real estate show in Cannes, France. Held from 12-15 March, nearly a dozen top companies will be representing Birmingham, including Nikal, GVA, DLA Piper Argent, Brindleyplace, Bruntwood, Jaguar Land Rover, Miller Developments, Rider Levett Bucknall and Willmott Dixon. Led by inward investment programme Business Birmingham, the delegation will promote development opportunities to an international audience of nearly 20,000 from 83 countries, including investors, business bosses, property experts and architects. Business Birmingham’s investment director Wouter Schuitemaker said: “MIPIM provides us with an invaluable opportunity to engage directly with people who influence where global organisations should be locating and investing.” Birmingham is hosting a number of high-profile events with its partners throughout the event – with topics including its progressive transport infrastructure and the investment opportunities in key sectors such as life sciences. The delegation will also present the latest research comparing Birmingham’s new economic zones with other international locations. Meanwhile, the University of Warwick and Coventry University have both joined Coventry’s MIPIM delegation.

>> New pastures await Tickets have gone on sale for bmi regional’s three new direct routes to Gothenburg, Lyon and Toulouse from Birmingham Airport. The direct flights


start on Monday 13 May, with six flights a week on each route. Fares start from £59 each way. Cathal O’Connell, chief executive of bmi regional said: “Our choice of destinations is based on business and leisure customer demand. “Toulouse is a significant base for the aerospace business, Gothenburg and Lyon are home to major car manufacturing sites as well as high-tech industries. These three European cities are great destinations for leisure customers as well.”

>> Cable confirmed Vince Cable tops the bill at a transatlantic business conference in Birmingham in May. The secretary of state for business, innovation and skills will address a gala dinner being staged by the Midlands Chapter of the British American Business Council as part of its threeday annual conference. The dinner takes place on Thursday 16 May, in the Banqueting Suite at Birmingham Council House in the middle of a series of special events, meetings and conferences. Cassie Muir, the BABC’s executive director said: “We are delighted to have secured such an important member of the Government for the gala dinner. His presence will be greatly appreciated by our transatlantic audience and anything a government minister has to say impacts in UK-USA relationships.” The BABC, part of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group, has secured major sponsorship by JLR, United Airlines and Birmingham Airport for the conference, which will welcome guests from 18 BABC chapters in the USA and Canada. The theme of the event will be ‘Strategies for success in tomorrow’s economy – design, advanced manufacturing and professional services’.