Have you finally been able to abandon your kitchen table and return to the office yet? It seems that many companies are still not sure what to do about their offices. If you read our feature on the future of workspaces (on page 84-88), there is a real difference of opinion. Most are hedging their bets, saying that staff can go back if they want to, but can still work from home.
Our bet is that most of us want to return to the office, albeit perhaps not five days a week. We miss the social banter, the afterwork drink and the physical interaction and collaboration. Really innovative ideas don’t seem to come as regularly when Zooming colleagues from a laptop balanced on pyjama’d knees because you can’t be bothered to get dressed or clear the breakfast things off the kitchen table.
However, most businesses seem willing to be guided by their employees and perhaps this is all part of the growing trend we’re seeing across many companies which really want to recognise and celebrate the value of their employees.
In our Sustainable Futures section of this issue (pages 64-66) we shine a light on B Corps.
Not heard of them? The B Corp movement began in the USA in 2006. Certified B Corps are businesses which meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance people, profit and purpose. The UK is now home to the second largest B Corp community in the world, and we talk to some of them about why they decided to become accredited to this new standard.
Going somewhere? I wish …
Are you looking forward to international travel? The only holiday I’ve taken in the
last 18 months was three days in Wales last September. Now I love the Welsh hills and valleys, I spent every summer holiday there from aged 0-15, but it does seem to rain a lot. More seriously, while the last year proved that doing business internationally successfully no longer necessarily means jumping on planes every week, there really is no substitute when researching new markets to visiting them in person and getting under the skin of their culture in order to really understand their needs and capabilities.
In our main feature, Global Intent (on pages 10-15), we look at where the opportunities lie for international expansion. The feature looks at the UK’s top export markets, where to go for help and hears from successful exporters. Don’t let Brexit difficulties put you off, it’s a big, wide world out there and the “Made in Britain” brand retains a lot of international cachet.
This quarter our daily news website was packed full of reports on companies across the region being sold or acquiring others. It got us thinking – How do you go about selling your business? Our feature (on pages 68-74), looks at key issues a business owner needs to know if they are considering selling their business.
Across the rest of this issue we celebrate business success and innovation throughout the region, and there’s certainly plenty of it about.
We can’t wait to kick start our programme of events later this year, and we’ve got lots of ideas up our sleeves to get everyone out meeting each other again, in person, safely. There is no substitute for getting together and we’re overdue two Business & Innovation Magazine anniversary parties, so watch this space.
Enjoy this issue of our magazine and if you have a story you think we should cover, or a topic you feel needs airing, get in touch.
In our next issue:
A main topic for our July issue will be Tech for Good. We report regularly on how technology is changing lives for the better, and our feature will bring all this together – who’s deploying technology for good and where to go for help in bringing your idea to reality.
If you think your tech business is making the world a better, fairer, more creative place, we want to hear from you.Nicky Godding Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher Kirsty Muir Commercial Director and Co-Publisher
Welcome to our second, post pandemic published issue, stu ed full of features, advice and inspiring stories from companies large and small
SOLIHULL NUTRITION COMPANY IN MULTI-MILLION-POUND SALE TO US SNACK GIANT
A Solihull performance nutrition company has sold a significant majority interest in the business to American snack giant Mondelēz International.
Grenade is one of the category leaders in high-protein bars, and its Carb Killa has been the best-selling product in the segment since 2016 with a growing presence in the UK and availability across other regions including North America and Asia Pacific.
According to some reports the deal values the business at £200 million.
Grenade was founded by Alan and Juliet Barratt in 2010 to create an iconic weightloss product. Grenade’s first product was so effective, a friend described it as explosive, “like a grenade”. This product became Thermo Detonator and the brand name, Grenade, was born.
Alan said: “When Jules and I founded Grenade from our spare bedroom with a budget of £500, we dreamt of building a brand available globally. This partnership with Mondelēz International gives us access to enormous resource and capability to help make those
aspirations a reality and I couldn’t be more excited about our future growth and continued innovation.”
Mondelēz International plans to operate Grenade separately to nurture its entrepreneurial spirit and maintain the authenticity of the brand, while providing resources and international scale to help accelerate growth. The current senior leadership, including Alan, will continue to run the business from Solihull and retains a minority equity interest in the company.
Grenade exports to more than 50 countries and has appeared in The Sunday Times Fast Track Top 100 for seven consecutive years since 2014. The business currently employs 83 people.
WANT A NEW CHALLENGE? BUY A VINEYARD
If the pandemic has made you disillusioned with your job, why not buy a vineyard?
A Worcestershire vineyard is up for sale after owner John Ballard, who established the Sixteen Ridges Vineyard in 2008, decided to step back from the farming life.
Sixteen Ridges produces the grapes for red, rose and sparkling wine which are made by Haygrove Evolution in Ledbury and sold under the Sixteen Ridges brand.
John is marketing the 12-acre vineyard and the remainder of the 120 acre farm at Shrawley which he has farmed for more than 50 years through Fisher German.
John said: “We really had no choice but to diversify as we are not a large farm. We have also been involved in dairy and a wide range of arable over
the years, and with more unusual crops such as asparagus and salad onion.
“We opened a farm shop, sold dried flowers and also ran a variety of courses. We developed a successful wedding venue, and originally we thought that would be the perfect platform for us to market wines produced on site.”
Sadly John’s wife Anne, who ran many of the non-farming ventures, died in 2006. The family sold the wedding venue but held onto the vineyards.
“We had intended to produce wine and we have what is needed to do that, but the partnership with Haygrove Evolution has proved mutually beneficial and the wines are highlyregarded,” John added.
The farm also includes agricultural buildings, 62 acres of arable land and woodland.
Tom Pike, of Fisher German who is handling the sale, said: “Church Farm is a very good example of rural entrepreneurship. The Ballard family have used the assets of their land to create a valuable crop which provides a very good income alongside more traditional farming.
“Sixteen Ridges is nationally renowned for producing some of the best wines in the UK and much of that is directly attributable to the work at Church Farm.”
OXFORD NANOPORE EYES LONDON LISTING LATER THIS YEAR
One of the UK’s most exciting tech companies based at Oxford Science Park, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, is to begin preparing for a potential initial public offering.
Oxford Nanopore, originally spun out of Oxford University in 2005, was declared a “unicorn” (a company valued at more than $1 billion), in 2018. Last October it announced its latest fundraise of £84.4 million in new capital.
In a statement it said that while the timing of a potential IPO is dependent on market conditions and other matters not fully within the company’s control, at this stage
the company expects that the IPO would occur in the second half of 2021 on the London Stock Exchange.
Oxford Nanopore’s ambition is to be a global company that enables the analysis of anything by anyone, anywhere.
The year 2020 was transformative for Oxford Nanopore as it helped scientists around the world sequence the Covid-19 virus, helping continual surveillance. Around a fifth of the SARS-CoV-2 virus genomes in the global database GISAID were generated on one of its devices, with nanopore data uploaded by scientists from more than 85 countries.
AND Digital secures £8 million funding from BGF
Gloucester Services has been named Britain’s best service station (while Bridgwater in Somerset has been ranked the worst) according to a new survey from consumer champion Which?
Gloucester received the top score of 86 per cent, scoring five stars for cleanliness, range and quality of its shops and food outlets, as well as its range of facilities.
Gloucester M5 Services Northbound opened to the public in 2014, followed by the launch of its sister
Southbound services the following year. Located between Junctions 11a and 12 near Brookthorpe, this is the latest accolade in a raft of national and local awards won by the services since they opened.
Dedicated to local food, farming and the surrounding community, the services’ farm shops are packed with locally produced food, and the cafés serve homemade dishes created from locally sourced produce.
The services work with more than 200 South West suppliers.
Reading and Maidenhead-based tech consultancy company AND Digital has secured an additional £8 million in equity investment from the Business Growth Fund (BGF). This follows an initial £11 million worth of funding from BGF at the start of 2020.
BGF’s fresh capital will be used to fasttrack expansion in the Benelux region in Europe, as well as further offices (known as ‘clubs’) in Scotland and Manchester.
In addition, the company will focus on growing existing clubs in Leeds and London. AND Digital will also invest in increasing its cloud engineering capabilities, aiming to add 300-400 new high-paid digital jobs.
Founded in 2014 by Paramjit Uppal, CEO, AND Digital’s clients now include British Airways, Premier Inn, Costa Coffee and the People’s Postcode Lottery, as well as disruptive start-ups and scale-ups like Gousto (a unicorn) – plus government departments including HM Courts & Tribunal Service.
In Gloucestershire not all motorway services are the sameGloucester Services on the M5 Dr Gordon Sanghera, CEO at Oxford Nanopore with a MinION, the company’s real-time device for DNA and RNA sequencing.
WOMEN SECURE FUNDING TO DEVELOP THEIR INVENTIONS
Computer expert’s breast-feeding support app wins national award
Dr Chen Mao Davies, who has created CGI technologies for Oscar and BAFTA-winning films (including Gravity), won her award for her unique breastfeeding support app.
LatchAid deploys 3D interactive and artificial intelligence to help mothers learn vital breastfeeding skills.
Chen, who is based in Cirencester, has spent 15 years undertaking commercial and academic research and development in computer graphics and computer science.
However, LatchAid, was born out of Chen’s struggles as a new mum. “I was determined to breastfeed my child,” says Chen, “but nobody told me how difficult and painful it could be.
“It went on for days with mastitis and thrush; mum and baby crying during feeding time and I felt such a failure. The baby’s weight dropped, and I developed postnatal depression.”
Chen pulled through thanks to an understanding health visitor and other mums who had suffered similar experiences.
“As a technologist, I was shocked by the lack of innovation in this space. We had once a week peer support groups – but what about 2am when you’re lonely and in pain?”
Chen built her app helped by an “army” of female colleagues; top lactation consultants, marketing specialists and women that she worked with when developing CGI technologies for the film industry.
LatchAid can now provide detailed 3D animations to mothers. Mums can also engage with LatchAid’s AI-powered chatbot.
If the chatbot can’t provide the answer, a lactation expert will step in. Mums can also use the app’s peer support network.
Other winners of the Innovate UK programme from across the region include Professor Helen Maddock who founded
InoCardia as a spin-out from Coventry University to make drugs safer through an innovative approach to testing their impact on the heart.
Helen said: “This award will give me more confidence in my abilities as a leader and tech innovator and help to raise the company’s profile.”
Three Bristol women win Innovate UK awards
Georgia Barrie’s Learn.ink platform is based on her experience of building digital products for developing countries and rural populations. Learn.ink was born out of a realisation that the technology they were creating for small-scale farmers could be applied to a much wider variety of sectors. The platform provides an affordable digital training platform able to turn static training content into engaging learning experiences.
Caz Icke, a neurorehabilitation physiotherapist, won her Innovate UK award for a customisable rehabilitation wearable technology through her digital health start-up SoleSense.
Her innovation uses wireless pressuresensing insoles which can be used by clinicians during therapy and by patients independently. Feedback will provide instant performance analysis and activity tracking to motivate self-exercise.
Alice Stephenson will use her award to develop artificial intelligence offering legal advice through her alternative law firm Stephenson Law. In conjunction with building a content platform for start-ups, her project focuses on building an AI-powered interface which answers legal questions with straightforward answers.
Five women from across the region have each secured £50,000 in funding thanks to winning this year’s UK Women in Innovation Awards. They are among just 40 nationwide award winnersDr Chen Mao Davies Professor Helen Maddock Georgia Barrie
GLOBAL INTENT – SEIZING INTERNATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
As the UK continues to painfully extract itself from the EU, where are the new overseas opportunities for the region’s businesses? And what is the future for foreign investment into the region?
It’s been a very tough few months for the region’s exporters. While the government and the EU ﬁnally secured a deal on Christmas Eve, the following months have been anything but easy for beleaguered businesses seeking to trade from across both sides of the Channel.
However, after a disastrous January, it seems that trade is recovering. We look at where future international opportunities lie
New research from Barclays Corporate Banking has revealed that the “Made in Britain” tag could be worth an additional £3.5 billion to exporters.
In a study of more than 10,000 people across 10 markets (USA, Republic of Ireland, France, Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, UAE, India, China and South Korea), Barclays asked how much extra they’d be willing to pay if products such as food and drink, clothing and cars bore a Union Jack kite mark. The results revealed that consumers are willing to pay a premium for products made in the UK because they hold them in high regard.
Consumers in populous, far-flung markets are prepared to pay most for British-made goods.
Those in India lead the way, being prepared to pay an 11.8 per cent gross premium for products made here, followed by the United Arab Emirates, the USA, South Africa and China.
In a boost to the UK’s automotive sector, 15 per cent of those surveyed described it as “the best in the world” and, on average, said they’d be prepared to pay a premium for British-made cars.
The government has also just published the conclusions of its Integrated Review, which addresses national security, foreign policy and its approach to the global economy.
The review reveals that the government wants closer links with more far-flung countries, which could help British brands access these markets.
However, the UK’s more traditional trade partners will also continue to back British, the Barclays research revealed, albeit admittedly to a lesser extent. Out of the £3.5 billion of additional income identified for British exporters in the markets surveyed, £1.2 billion would come from the United States, £543 million from France and £538 million from Germany.
‘Made in Britain’ still counts as a premium
The UK’s top export markets in 2019 and 2020
£20 million SME Brexit Support Fund opens
Smaller businesses can now apply for grants of up to £2,000 to help them adapt to new customs and tax rules when trading with the EU.
The £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund enables traders to access practical support, including training for new customs, rules of origin and VAT processes.
Small and medium sized-businesses that trade solely with the EU – and are new to importing and exporting processes – are encouraged to apply for the grants.
To be eligible, businesses must import or export goods between Great Britain and the EU or move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
UK government secures bilateral trade agreements
By the end of March this year, the UK government had agreed bilateral trade agreements with 66 non-EU countries, plus the EU. Together, total UK trade with these countries was worth £890 billion in 2019.
The government says that its newly independent trade policy is already creating jobs in the UK and it is committed to seeking agreements with countries covering 80 per cent of UK trade by the end of 2022.
Current top priorities for the UK are negotiating trade deals with the US, Australia and New Zealand, and accession to the CPTPP, (The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership). This is a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
BRISTOL BUSINESS SEES SIGNIFICANT OVERSEAS GROWTH
Luxury fabric exporter from Tewkesbury ﬁnds success in Japan and the USA
Tewkesbury-based fabric retailer Alice Caroline has seen turnover rise to almost £1.4 million in the 12 months to January 2021, of which more than half were export sales.
A Bristol business exporting well known UK food and drink brands has experienced significant growth in overseas sales over the last year.
British Corner Shop provides products from the likes of Walkers, Tetley and Heinz to expats and other customers across the world who have an appetite for UK cuisine.
Despite global restrictions hitting many of its export markets, revenues quadrupled on a monthly basis during the pandemic, thanks to help from the
Department for International Trade.
Mark Callaghan, Managing Director at British Corner Shop, said: “If it wasn’t for the help of UK Export Finance and the Department for International Trade, we would not have secured the custom of some businesses in key markets, and that would have set us back significantly.”
The company’s export turnover in the US reached £4 million in 2020, an increase of 146 per cent from 2019, while exports increased by 112 per cent in France, its second biggest market.
Alice Caroline was founded by Alice Garrett after a life-long passion for Liberty fabrics led to her creating handbags for student fairs, before selling the fabric on Etsy, and then eventually setting up her own business from home.
The company sells curated packs of fabric, quilting kits and patterns with its two biggest markets being the USA and Japan.
The company saw sales rise by 26 per cent over the pandemic, which it attributes to people taking up more stay-at-home hobbies.
Overseas manufacturers should reconsider the UK
Redditch-based multi-temperature supply chain company
Oakland International is encouraging overseas manufacturers to rethink the UK as a solution to their border challenges and expensive transport costs.
With around half of the company’s trade coming from overseas manufacturers, Oakland International believes there are opportunities for manufacturers located outside the UK to consider moving part or all of their
manufacturing operations to the UK.
Oakland International’s CEO, Dean Attwell, said: “The UK has fantastic retail channels and probably the best supply chain network in the world.
“According to recent DEFRA stats, the UK is around 64 per cent self-sufficient in food. The debate over the need for food security needs to be tied into the need for some types of food to travel such as milk, water, eggs etc.
They can all be produced in the UK within regional supply chains and would drive significant environmental benefits and ultimately deliver against the sustainability agenda.
“Supermarkets have a major part to play in driving sustainability as they are the custodians of many brands’ frontline consumer engagement and have a role in upselling the benefits of sourcing locally and buying British produced and manufactured products.”British Corner Shop enjoys growth
DOING BUSINESS IN A TIME OF CONSTANT CHANGE
Businesses have had to respond to the impact of Brexit in different ways according to the nature of their trade and structure, with some looking at domestic measures and others looking at restructuring overseas.
Chris Mould, corporate partner in the Cheltenham oﬃce of Crowe, a national audit, tax, advisory and risk firm, looks at the effects after Brexit on trade.
The likely tax benefits will be that Freeports are treated in much the same way as a customs warehouse. Although located in the UK, they are outside of the VAT and customs area. As a result, goods can be moved in and out of Freeports, to and from locations around the world, free of any import obligations (i.e. import VAT, duties and associated paperwork). We would expect items sold while within a Freeport to also be free of VAT.
SMEs with less than 500 employees and annual turnover of less than £100 million can apply to HMRC for grants of up to £2,000 to help understand the implications of Brexit further or seek professional guidance. Applications will close on 30 June 2021, but may end earlier if all the funding set aside by HMRC has been allocated.
Full details of the grants can
VAT and Customs Duties have been key for the majority of businesses, including the additional costs associated with new obligations, processes and paperwork. Many domestic businesses now see setting up operations outside the UK as a key part of their plan. Crowe’s national VAT team has been working intensively since January this year with our partners at Crowe Global to help businesses set up operations in other territories.
As well as looking at overseas measures, businesses should consider domestic solutions. The UK Government announced the creation of eight English Freeports as part of the spring Budget. These Freeports are sited at East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe, Harwich, Humberside, Liverpool City, Plymouth, Solent and Teesside.
Although Freeports are indeed topical, businesses should also consider other ways they can cost-effectively manage their new obligations and achieve Duty savings.
Crowe offers Brexit health checks to business clients, which provide a bespoke review of their financial situation.
This can help identify whether unexpected costs or liabilities have crept in during Quarter 1 of 2021, while all eyes were focussed on understanding and adapting to the new rules. For most, it should be possible to mitigate or minimise issues arising, enabling trading to get back close to pre-Brexit/pandemic. Where that is not possible, setting up new structures or supply chains is the next stage in the process.
found at: www.gov.uk/guidance/ grants-to-help-small-and-mediumsized-businesses-new-to-importingor-exporting
We are living in times of constant change, with new and difficult challenges arising from Brexit. Discarding commercial opportunities because of the paperwork involved is not a practical option. We are here to help; focussed on ensuring business clients benefit from opportunities and incentives already available - and those to come.
If things have not been running as smoothly as expected, or you still have unanswered questions as to how your organisation should be dealing with supplies in a post-Brexit world, we would be happy to discuss them with you.
For advice and guidance on international trade issues, including VAT and Customs, please contact Chris Mould, Partner at Crowe in Cheltenham on 01242 234421 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
All businesses have faced unexpected challenges over the last year. Brexit coupled with national lockdowns has increased the complexity of a constantly changing trading environment.
Kidderminster comms agency sets its sights on USA
Worcestershire-based creative communications agency DRPG has bought London screen content agency A-Vision, which does 90 per cent of its business in the USA. The acquisition will support the opening of DPRG’s new offices on the East Coast of the USA later this year.
Wireless Logic’s international sales soar
Berkshire-based tech company Wireless Logic saw international sales growth per annum rise more than 107 per cent last year.
The company, located at Hurley between Reading and Maidenhead, reported total sales of more than £91 million, of which international sales were almost £40 million. In January, the company further expanded in Europe, buying Com4, a Norwegian mobile virtual network operator. This latest acquisition follows the purchase last year of companies in Germany and The Netherlands.
Coventry agritech business sees global growth
Despite the pandemic, 2020 was the strongest year yet for Coventry-based hydroponics business HydroGarden. The company, which now does business across the UK, Germany and South Africa, turned over just under £42 million last year.
In early 2020, HydroGarden bought leading German hydroponics wholesaler Grow In. In the run-up to the Brexit deadline this proved a crucial decision. By having a mainland Europe base for its EU operations, HydroGarden could adapt rapidly to the changing landscape of trade between the UK and the EU. As international travel became diﬃcult thanks to the pandemic, HydroGarden’s existing presence in Germany made it simpler for its European business to continue as usual.
Where to go for exporting help in the region
Bristol & Gloucestershire
Oxfordshire EV manufacturer delivers ﬁrst consignment to Norway
Electric Assisted Vehicles, the Oxfordshire manufacturer of ultra-lightweight commercial vehicles, has despatched its first consignment vehicles to Europe for deliveries in Germany and Norway.
“Brexit has not been without its challenges,” said Leigh Barmby, the company’s Chief Operating Officer. “Like many British brands, we’ve had to adjust to the huge amount of new administration in our purchasing and for the EU export process. What was a straightforward procedure for delivering to Europe has now become as complex as exporting to the USA. But we’re learning the new ropes which is essential as we’re market leaders in micro-mobility, and sales to Europe have increased significantly over the last few months.”
Business West offers a wide range of advice and support to businesses of all sizes and from all sectors wishing to export. Visit www.businesswest.co.uk/export for full information Or contact
The Department of International Trade, Leigh Court, Abbots Leigh, Bristol BS8 3RA Tel 01275 370944
Worcestershire & Hereford
Coventry & Warwickshire
Oxfordshire & The Thames Valley
The Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce delivers international trade support across the two counties to businesses of any size (from start-ups and SMEs to larger corporates) and in any industrial sector to new and experienced exporters.
Department of International Trade West Midlands
75 Harborne Road, Birmingham B15 3DH Tel: 0345 222 0159
The Department for International Trade South East International Trade Team supports small to medium-sized businesses in the South East to develop their international sales. The teams help businesses in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
Call 0330 300 0012 or email email@example.com
The Department of International Trade
GLOUCESTERSHIRE BIDS FOR FUSION ENERGY POWER PLANTBy Ian Mean, Gloucestershire
director of Business West and a board member of GFirst LEP
The West of England could become home to a technology park and power plant generating climate-friendly electricity following the submission of a bid proposal to government to host a fusion power plant here.
If successful, the bid will bring billions of pounds of investment and thousands of jobs to the region.
A partnership of local authorities, development bodies, landowners and the training and education sector have identified land in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire for this potentially groundbreaking project, and has submitted it into a national selection process
Fusion is the power that drives our sun, forcing hydrogen ions together to produce huge amounts of energy.
I hesitate to say this is not my description but that of Professor Tom Scott, an expert on nuclear fusion at the University of Bristol and director of the South West Nuclear Hub on which Business West is a partner through Nuclear South West.
We are a world leader in nuclear fusion, and now the UK Atomic Energy Authority is seeking to harness its power.
The technology is called STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production), and the government aims to support it with
£220 million over the next five years. The aim is to build the world’s first fusion power station by the 2040s.
The exciting bit is here in Gloucestershire. We hope that our Western Gateway partnership bid will lead to that power plant.
a key architect of the bid, said: “Many communities will vie for the opportunity to host this project and the South West Nuclear Hub believes our region is well placed. If you want to build a fusion power station, you need people and a supply chain that know how to do it.
The plant and associated businesses, training and technical facilities would be built on land at two, near-adjacent, former nuclear power station sites at Oldbury-onSevern and Berkeley.
It would be expected to be operational by 2040, with much of the supporting ecosystem being developed in the next two to 10 years.
The bid to build was submitted on March 30 and we all have our fingers crossed that our bid will pass the “showstopper assessment” in May. And why shouldn’t it?
Professor Scott, RAEng Professor of Materials at the University of Bristol and
“The South West is the only region in the UK with this capability due to the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset and previously, Berkeley and Oldbury nuclear power stations,” he added.
“This region has unique resources to make STEP a locally sustainable proposition – from the redundant Magnox power station sites across the region to the steel foundries of South Wales and the lithium extraction ventures in Cornwall.
“This is nationally unique”.
If you want to build a power plant that runs at temperatures hotter than the sun, you need experts. And we have them.
“Many communities will vie for the opportunity to host this project and the South West Nuclear Hub believes that our region is well placed ...”The former Berkeley Nuclear Power Station in Gloucestershire on the River Severn
At Barnwood in Gloucester, experts operate out of EDF Energy’s fleet headquarters overseeing the operation of our existing nuclear power stations which are the only high temperature reactors in the world.
What has impressed me about the bid is how quickly all the local authorities have come together as one to back it.
And our MPs are lining up behind it too — their support at Westminster is going to be vital in the lobbying battle with government.
In a letter to Andy Bates, Innovation Lead for Nuclear South West at Business West, Mark Harper, the Forest of Dean’s MP and chair of the South West Group of Conservative MPs, said: “There is strong support for the project among South West MPs.”
He continued: “As Parliamentarians, we recognise that securing a site in the South West will bring much-needed positive benefits for all constituencies and that it will hopefully be a major contributor to a net zero carbon energy future – a key part of the government’s ambition to build back better and greener after the pandemic.”
do think this is a new dawn”
Kevin Hamblin is the visionary chief executive of the SGS College Group, which owns the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park at Berkeley, part of the bid site.
He said: “In the 1960s, Berkeley was one of the world’s most advanced scientific research establishments.
“What I would now like to see – and it is almost a romantic feeling – is that the Berkeley site becomes the innovation and research establishment for something that is brand new, as it was in the 1960s with nuclear.
“I do think this is a new dawn.”
Every expert I talk to gives the Gloucestershire bid a great chance of going through to the qualifying stages this month. It’s thought there may be more than eight
bids in total, and understandably politics could well play a big part in the final selection of the successful site, which will be announced by the government around December next year.
Will the government’s Levelling Up mantra kill our fusion bid?
That’s the million-dollar question. My view is that with the Western Gateway partnership with South Wales, and the Midlands Engine also behind us, we will win through to the next stage of the competition.
For too long, the South West has been starved of major infrastructure support from government.
I believe our time has come. And as Kevin Hamblin says: “It’s a new dawn”.
We have everything crossed.
How nuclear fusion works
Nuclear energy harnesses the power of atoms. The UK’s nuclear power stations operate nuclear fission, which releases heat energy by splitting atoms. Fusion is the combination of two lighter atoms into a larger one. Fusion is what powers the sun and scientists across the world are seeking to achieve nuclear fusion on earth. The aim is for a tokamak reactor to heat plasma up to 100 million degrees Celsius, seven times hotter than the centre of the sun. This is the fusion threshold at which hydrogen atoms can begin to fuse into helium, unleashing non carbonemitting, virtually limitless energy.
WE PRIDE OURSELVES ON A HIGHLY PERSONAL SERVICE, STRONG VALUES AND NEW IDEAS
We are a team of 380 business advisers and chartered accountants in Gloucestershire and we are proud to be part of the local business community.
Opening our doors over 100 years ago, our experts have been providing specialist accountancy, tax, audit and business advice to individuals and businesses of all shapes and sizes from start-ups through to large corporates.
There is no doubt that the past year has dramatically changed the way business is conducted, but we have adapted and worked with our clients to respond effectively and continue to look forward to supporting them with their #BusinessForTomorrow.
No matter the size of your business, there is no time like the present to reflect and identify the positives that have come out of 2020 and to plan how to capitalise on these throughout 2021 and beyond.
With 2020 firmly behind us, a global recovery is high on everyone’s agenda…
It has been quite remarkable to see the perseverance, determination and sheer indomitable spirit in those we work with, and those within our own business too. We have all had to make decisions quickly and adapt without much time for thought. There are great positives to be taken from this.
Many experts are expecting a dramatic return in confidence and a strong rebound to get underway from the spring as the economy is gradually re-opened.
Furthermore, we are excited to see and work with the new generation of entrepreneurs who have been driven by the disruption and the need to develop new products and services. It is an interesting time for many businesses, and we look forward to working with them.
If you would like more information about building your #BusinessForTomorrow, please get in touch with any of our team.
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SCOTT LAWRENCE PARTNER
I am head of a 46 person team that focuses on business advice, audit and tax for all local, national and international businesses, no matter their size, structure, or stage in the business lifecycle. I have nearly 30 years’ experience advising corporate clients, family businesses and entrepreneurs from various industries.
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RYAN HANCOCK DIRECTOR
I have almost 30 years’ experience dealing with corporate clients, many of which are owner managed. With a growing and successful local economy, the team I work with are continually in demand, providing a friendly and efficient compliance service, adding value wherever they can.
I’m really proud to coach a successful local minis rugby team and can often be found cheering on the Cherry and Whites.
I specialise in assurance and financial reporting services for mainly owner-managed businesses and subsidiaries of overseas companies. I am a member of the firm’s technical committee and I provide technical support to clients on a wide range of financial reporting matters.
Having (gracefully) retired from cricket but still playing the odd round of golf, I now enjoy cricket and football mostly from the comfort of the sofa.
RHIANNON HOOPER DIRECTOR
I work with businesses of varying sizes and use my experience to provide tailored management accounting solutions. I also advise on the implementation of accounting software and systems including Xero and Sage.
Outside of work I enjoy supporting my family with their equestrian endeavours usually taking on the role of groom.
PAUL FUSSELL PARTNER
I have specialised in buying and selling businesses, fundraising, and mergers and acquisitions since 1998. I have recently been pleased to lead the Hazlewoods Corporate Finance team to being named a top 10 M&A adviser across the UK in 2020 as well as completing deals valued at over £1 billion for the first time in 2019.
Away from work I love to spend time with my family and watching rugby.
REBECCA COPPING DIRECTOR
Having joined Hazlewoods in 2018, I have worked on a large number of private company, family business and corporate audits, and various inbound subsidiaries. I have a particular interest in companies in the Food and Drink industry.
Outside of work you can find me cycling, running and spending time with my young family.
FELICITY SANG DIRECTOR
I have experience across a wide range of sectors and clients, from manufacturing to recruitment agencies, including corporate and family businesses. My key area of interest is investment trusts and the financial reporting requirements of listed public liability companies.
I have a keen interest in arts and crafts – either making something at home or seeing how it should be done at art galleries and exhibitions!
EMMA BOUTCHER ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
I work with a wide variety of small and medium sized businesses at varying stages of the business lifecycle. I provide a complete service to my clients including business accounts and tax compliance, ad-hoc business advice, tax planning and personal tax services for the owners.
Veloci-Tech…Helping tech companies accelerate their growth
Veloci-Tech based in Cheltenham, helps dynamic IT businesses grow and develop, by providing cloud-based accounting, strategic support, and up-to-the-minute financial information.
Danielle Cole is the founder of Cole Accounting in Cheltenham, a successful, family run accounting firm for entrepreneurial SME businesses.
Danielle set the company up nearly ten years ago and has grown the business from a small company that was all-consuming and struggling to generate a healthy profit, to increasing profit ten-fold and into a highly eﬃcient company delivering sound financial support, compliance and reporting for a range of companies.
With a strong team in place, over the last two years, Danielle has been able dedicate her time to growing the business, a perfect situation to be in and one which has been key to the business surviving through 2020.
During this time Danielle and the team at Cole Accounting have helped a number of successful and ambitious clients in the tech industry to grow and deal with the financial challenges that growth can bring. Working with rapidly growing tech companies and Danielle’s experience of transforming her own business, provided her with strong insights into the unique challenges that growth and scaling brings.
It was this that inspired Danielle to want to help more tech businesses to grow and scale without becoming overwhelmed, and making expensive mistakes by not controlling cashﬂow and here Veloci-Tech was born.
A sister company to Cole Accounting, Veloci-Tech, will build-in all those financial
insights and experiences, combined with proactive financial planning and decision making.
To achieve that support we have created a Veloci-Tech Business Accelerator combining a team of growth experts in operational, strategic and commercial activities alongside the financial.
The Veloci-Tech Accelerator Program
“Tech companies aren’t like other businesses. With clients relying on you to keep going, day in, day out, you’re at the sharp edge of technology – fast-paced, responsive and ﬂourishing”
“Tech businesses operate very di erently, but have one thing in common, they understand the value of up-to-the-minute ﬁnancial information and forward looking ﬁnancial planning”
As an outsourced part of your team, Veloci-Tech will help your business plan for funding, investment, avoid the usual pitfalls of growing and most importantly, avoid the risks of developing the product and service without focussing on the business at the same time.
Veloci-Tech will help you grow safely and increase the chances of success financially, but to be truly successful, good financial planning needs to be supported with commercial, operational and strategic support too. Ensuring that as business owners, you are strategic as the business grows but do not become overwhelmed operationally is key.
This unique business accelerator within Veloci-Tech, is specifically designed for owners of dynamic tech companies looking to scale their business profitably and sustainably.
The team at Veloci-Tech will work closely with business owners to really understand their business, find out what they want to achieve both professionally and personally, identify any roadblocks they are coming up against and then formulate an action plan, mapping out the journey you need to take to achieve these goals.
Not only will we provide all of the strategic financial direction you need, but also consultant led strategic, commercial, technology, operation, planning, governance and business support to develop the business. We can also can assist with expert consultants in other areas of business, such as recruitment, legal and HR, where needed along the way. The accelerator will significantly enhance the chances of success with your company and increase sustainability, revenue and profitability in a way that an outsourced FD alone cannot achieve.
Want to know how we can help your business?
Let’s talk. Contact Danielle or the Veloci-Tech team on 01242 371 317 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
“At Veloci-Tech, we only deal with ambitious, UK-based tech companies, so we understand the challenges you face and the need to react quickly to grasp opportunities as they arise.”
GLOUCESTER CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER SEES BUSINESS ALMOST DOUBLE
A Gloucester construction equipment manufacturer saw business almost double and expand globally in 2020.
Wheatway Solutions manufactures an attachable bucket that fits on to earth diggers such as excavators, tractors and loaders, which sorts the earth into soil, compost and aggregates.
The company has now designed the attachment needed to fit the Gyru-Star onto the digger, which was previously outsourced.
Engineer Colin Smith established Wheatway Solutions more than 10 years ago.
The business now has six production sites and has worked with Gloucestershire Growth Hub to build its growth strategy based on innovation of products with potential to sell internationally.
Colin secured his first international deal in Sweden, which enabled the business to move into its first large industrial unit.
He said: “We tend to work with entrepreneurial dealers who are younger and smaller. They have more tenacity, more drive. Whilst it’s a risky strategy, it’s paid off for us.”
This strategy saw him risk a six-month sale or return option to an international client which resulted in the client becoming one of Colin’s largest accounts, delivering a minimum of £500,000 per annum in business.
He tackled Brexit by opening a warehouse in Belgium last November, allowing Wheatway to miss the port queues.
The Growth Hub has been one of the most helpful resources to grow his business. Colin said: “They have an extensive
network. If I didn’t know something, they would connect me with someone that did and that has been a huge help in building the business.”
Wheatway Solutions has its sights set on the Rising Sun economies and further developing the USA markets.
Cheltenham tech company wins award for ageing app
The woman behind a Cheltenham tech company that develops software allowing people to visualise themselves as they age, has won a Best Businesswoman Award.
Changemyface makes software for education, science, health, pensions and human resources companies. Its apps, which have been downloaded more than a million times across the world, help reveal the effects on the human face of lifestyle choices such as drinking, smoking, tanning, diet, stress and pollution.
Businesswoman Auriole Prince, founder of Change My Face, won best woman in science technology engineering and maths in the Best Business Women Awards, a national competition founded in 2015 by entrepreneur Debbie Gilbert. Change My Face provides its face
changing technology as a B2B SaaS (software as a service).
Auriole said: “My background is not in science and maths, but in art. During my career as a forensic artist for missing people, I trained with the Medical Artists’ Association of GB and the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, USA.
“Art and science became inextricably linked and grew into Change My Face, which is creating artificial intelligence and machine learning models using developers to create a way to visualise your future self with the effects of your lifestyle.
“Seeing oneself in the future can have an incredible impact sparking behavioural change. We have also built software for interactive exhibits at science museums in the US and Scotland and currently at the We The Curious science and education centre in Bristol.”
Some of Auriole’s early projects were for TV lifestyle programmes such as Embarrassing Bodies. Her first major project was for the Scottish Government – The Drinking Mirror app was launched in 2013 and has amassed more than 500,000 downloads.
End of an era as Mitsubishi pulls out of UK and EU markets
Cirencester-based Mitsubishi Motors will become an after-sales only business, following Mitsubishi Motors Corporation’s shock announcement last July that it was pulling out of the UK and European car markets.
Last summer, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation announced it was freezing the introduction of new vehicles in Europe, including the UK. The automotive manufacturer, a member of the auto alliance of Nissan Motor and Renault SA, said that it had no choice but to reduce its fixed costs by 20 per cent and focus on investment in core markets where it sees potential.
Mitsubishi cars have been imported into the UK by the Cirencester-based Colt Car Company since 1974. The company, which had no prior inkling of the announcement, had been turning
over more than £500 million annually and employed around 350 people. For years it was one of Cirencester’s biggest employers. In November, the company put its headquarters, built on a six-acre plot on the edge of the town, on the market for £12 million.
The Colt Car Company was originally formed as a joint venture company owned 51 per cent by a consortium (Colt Automotive Ltd), and 49 per cent by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. The chairman and chief executive was Michael Orr, who had worked for Alfa Romeo and then BMW as National Sales Manager. While on a fact-finding trip to Japan he was asked to take on the import of Mitsubishi Cars.
For the first few years, Mitsubishi were sold in the UK under the “Colt” marque until rebranding to Mitsubishi,
which then brought the marque in line with the rest of the world. It remained a 51/49 joint venture between Colt Automotive Ltd and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation until 2008. Since then it has been a wholly owned subsidiary of MC Automobile (Europe) NV (MCAE).
In April Mitsubishi auctioned off its UK heritage ﬂeet in a specialist online auction.
RECORD SALES FOR MOTORSPORT COMPANY AS LOCKDOWN GIVES ENTHUSIASTS TIME TO PLAY
Gloucester based Forge Motorsport is enjoying sales up 25 per cent on the same period in 2019 and has employed six extra staff to help meet demand.
But in March 2020, Peter Miles, Managing Director of Forge Motorsport, had no idea what was going to happen when he closed the doors following government advice to go home or work from home as the pandemic started to take effect.
Forge Engineering launched more than 30 years ago as a precision engineering company serving major Gloucestershire companies such as Birds Eye Wall’s (Unilever) and ICI Fibres (Dupont). It began diversifying around 1996 to design and manufacture its own range of performance aftermarket car parts.
Managing Director Peter Miles said: “We are super proud of what we have built at Forge, we have dedicated, passionate staff who all take pride in what they produce.
We have offices in Orlando USA, Taichung Taiwan and multiple resellers worldwide –for a small firm in Gloucestershire, we are supplying the world.”
As the uncertainty of Covid increased and having furloughed all staff, sales manager Alex Harrhy saw online orders rising to unprecedented levels. “In the first seven days we had more than 550 online retail orders and another 200 from our dealer network. I had to call Pete and tell him we needed to somehow get back to work safely.”
Pete added: “We had to move quickly to restart production. We soon moved to a socially distanced day and night shift with 95 per cent of all staff back, and we could start to see light at the end of the tunnel.”
“I am super proud of the amazing people I work with. They are an awesome team.”
Order levels remained unprecedented throughout the first quarter of the year, added Pete. “With people at home on furlough, no pubs open, shops closed, click and collect restaurants only, folks were sat at home shopping for car parts.”
EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE SETS JAY RAHMAN’S FOOD CONCEPTS APART
You could say that the mark of a successful restauranteur is not that his or her establishment consistently achieves rave reviews, or has a long waiting list for bookings. What marks them out is not repeating the same restaurant concept, but presenting customers with something new.
Jay Rahman, 34, is the man behind Prithvi, the hugely successful Indian restaurant on Bath Road in Cheltenham. Jay took on the restaurant from his uncle in 2011 and over the last ten years has completely transformed what was a traditional Indian restaurant, formerly known as Hassan’s, into a contemporary eatery.
Prithvi serves the beautiful fresh Indian dishes Jay enjoyed while growing up,
adapted to fine dining, along with a service to match.
His was one of the first regional Indian restaurants to move away from the traditional Indian offer to a more contemporary experience.
Prithvi is Jay’s business, but in 2016 he teamed up with another successful Cheltenham restauranteur, Michael Raphel, to open a variety of successful food concepts under their JM Socials brand. These include Bhoomi Kitchen, inspired by dishes from the South West State of Kerala in India (Bhoomi has two sites, in Cheltenham and Oxford) burger bar Holee Cow in Cheltenham and its vegan counterpart Holee Cowless.
And now this tireless duo are opening three more restaurants in the town: a European brasserie concept, Circo; American diner, Holee clucker and Bao & BBQ which marries Chinese Bao Buns with a Texan style BBQ.
Jay said: “Bringing exciting cuisine to Cheltenham is something I am passionate about. Prithvi offers Indian fine dining, something unique to the town, and with each venture Michael and I embark on, we want to create that same wow factor.”
Where did all his ideas come from?
Jay was born and bred in Cheltenham, attended Bourneside School and worked part time at the family restaurant, Hassan’s.
Restauranteur Jay Rahman has made a huge success of his Indian ﬁne dining restaurant Prithvi. Now he’s branching out
After GCSEs he spent a few months working in a Chinese restaurant in Brick Lane, London before beginning a hospitality course at University College Birmingham.
Delicious food equates to just part of the whole restaurant experience (although it has to be done brilliantly), the rest is a warm welcome, beautiful presentation and relaxing environment – all of which Jay does supremely well.
He’s had a lot of experience. After college Jay went to work at Hotel du Vin in Birmingham, moving on to the Marriott in the city. “It was good to start in hotels, but I found it a bit corporate, so I moved into restaurants to be able to better put the guest experience first,” he said.
He went to work at Lasan, the well-known Indian restaurant in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. His following move was to the city’s Michelin-starred Purnell’s.
“Whenever I moved to a new job, I wanted to step up and Purnell’s was certainly that,” said Jay.
Purnell’s maitre d’, Jean-Benoit Burloux, had very, very high standards. “He noticed everything and wanted perfection,” said Jay. “From how our nails were trimmed to our personal grooming. If any of us were more than two minutes late, we would be sent home for the day.”
That was a challenge for Jay, who lived a 45 minute-drive away and had to park almost a mile from the restaurant. “I got sent home once,” he admitted.
By 2011, however, Jay’s uncle wanted to step back from running Hassan’s in Cheltenham, so Jay bought the business and took over the management.
“Hassan’s had had a great reputation, but I wanted to make my own mark on the business and bring fresh ideas to the table.”
That couldn’t be done overnight, Jay spent months working with the restaurant’s incumbent chefs to develop new menus and recruited a friend he’d worked with in Birmingham, Liz Markvadt, to run frontof-house. Alongside his original chefs, Jay recruited new ones to mix up the knowledge and experience in his kitchens.
It was only when that he felt confident that he gave the restaurant its new name, Prithvi.
“I wanted to show our customers that I cared about creating an unforgettable experience. I know that by prioritising delicious food and creating the right atmosphere, rather than focussing on the bottom line, guests would return and the business would prosper.”
After just six months it was clear the new concept was working. “We were fully booked for months, with a waiting list for Fridays and Saturdays.”
“In 2015, just three years after opening, Prithvi won a national restaurant award in London. That same year we were among the top ten restaurants for Traveller’s Choice.”
But Jay has never been complacent and his biggest challenge, in the form of the pandemic, was yet to come.
Few in the industry realised that it would be more than a year before they could open up again. “At the beginning the government were saying that people shouldn’t go out, but they didn’t tell restaurants to close.”
Restaurants were faced with an impossible situation. “People were cancelling bookings, food we had prepared was going to waste. It was awful.”
Jay welcomed the government’s financial support, including furlough money, but even if a business closes, it faces fixed costs, such as rent. The last year has been a long haul.
Towards the end of the first lockdown, Prithvi began offering an At Home dining experience which has kept it very busy, but the proceeds from takeaway food won’t pay all the bills, and it’s not the same as a busy restaurant, so Jay is looking forward to reopening this month.
In the meantime, he’s busy with JM Socials: “Michael and I are passionate foodies. We have been waiting for the right time to launch our new concepts and the reopening of the hospitality industry gives us the perfect opportunity.
“We want to bring a new collection of restaurants to Cheltenham. It’s important to us that they are interesting, and we may look to expand a little further, to Gloucester and other nearby towns.”
“ ...with each venture Michael and I embark on, we want to create that same wow factor.”
NEW LIFE SCIENCES DISTRICT IN OXFORD GETS GO-AHEAD
Oxford North, a new £500 million urban district for the city, is to go ahead after Thomas White Oxford, the development company of St John’s College which owns the land, secured the green light in March.
Thomas White Oxford plans to build new laboratories and workspaces for biomedical science, homes, public parks and neighbourhood shops on land between the A34, A40 and the A44 near Wolvercote.
All of which, it hopes, will help attract and retain much-needed global science research talent and help boost the region’s economy.
Oxford and the surrounding area is one of Europe’s most successful life sciences clusters.
It has a strong track record in establishing and attracting world leading life sciences businesses, but many in the life sciences sector, along with the real estate professionals they task with finding space, have long complained of a shortage of
quality lab and office accommodation to meet demand.
The plans for Oxford North, which have been a long time in the making and caused consternation among some Wolvercote residents, will go some way to help. The planning approval is for outline consent for the overall 64-acre masterplan to provide 4,500 new jobs across around 936,500 sq ft of laboratories and offices.
There will also be 480 new houses, of which a minimum of 35 per cent will be affordable, small shops, bars and restaurants, a hotel, around 23 acres of open spaces and significant investment into the walking, cycling, bus and highway networks.
Thomas White Oxford estimates that when complete, Oxford North will boost the economy by around £150 million per year.
Detailed consent has been granted for the first phase of development in the central area, which will provide 140,000 sq ft of laboratories and office
space in three buildings. These include Red Hall, a workspace with the capacity for up to 300 people, which will aim to attract spin-outs from both Oxford Universities and two connected laboratory and workspace buildings totalling 55,000 sq ft each over four floors.
The first phase of a new public park will also get under-way soon.
Plans for the first phase of new homes on the western Canalside portion of the site will be submitted this summer.
Professor Andrew Parker, at St John’s College said: “The College is heavily committed to creating a place, not just to facilitate life-enhancing science and technology discoveries, but a new district of Oxford where people want to live, visit and learn.”
Oxford needs this development if it is to realise its ambition to be a serious global technology hub, according to Richard Venables at property consultancy, VSL & Partners.
Oxford is to get a new life sciences district after the City Council ﬁnally granted planning permission for Oxford North
He said: “Oxford Business Park and Oxford Science Park are filling quickly, fuelled by demand from the science and tech sectors and future development land is likely to be exhausted in the next five years, so the opportunities around Oxford are becoming increasingly limited.
“We have seen Oxford University spin-out companies going from Series A to Series C funding in rapid steps, and if Oxford and the wider area is to retain these companies rather than seeing them relocate to other areas of the country, or worse, other countries, we need to be able to offer them top quality space to grow.”
Another area of Oxford which could potentially meet this need is Osney Mead. The University of Oxford is leading a team of stakeholders in planning an innovation quarter on this currently rundown industrial estate.
The new estate would include research, commercial space and residential development, primarily for university use.
Oxfordshire’s main science and business parks
Size & number of tenants Tenants include
Oxford Science Park
South of Oxford City Magdalen College
More than 100 companies employing around 3,500 people
Milton Park Abingdon MEPC
More than 350 organisations employing around 15,000 people
Begbroke Science Park
Woodstock Road, Begbroke
University of Oxford
More than 30 companies and 20 research groups employing around 600 people.
Oxford Gene Technology
Oxford Technology Park
Kidlington North of the City of Oxford
Hill Street Holdings
Oxford Business Park
Over 300,000 sq. ft. being built which will accommodate over 1,500 people
More than 75 companies employing around 4,000 people
Prelet to The Native Antigen Company (LGC)
Harwell Campus Near Didcot Brookfield Asset Management, acquired the private sector half shareholding in the Campus joint venture in 2020, alongside the public shareholding held by STFC and the UKAEA.
Culham Science Centre
Abingdon UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)
More than 200 companies employing around 5,700 people
Manufacturing & Innovation Centre
Diamond Light Source
Oxford Space Systems
Rosalind Franklin Institute
More than 40 companies supporting over 2,500 jobs in a range of high value businesses and organisations. Culham Science Centre is earmarked for 50 per cent growth.
The MTC (Manufacturing Technology Centre)
“Oxford Business Park and Oxford Science Park are ﬁlling quickly fuelled by demand from the science and tech sectors...”
OXFORD TECHNOLOGY PARK
NEW SPACE. NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR OXFORD…
The Oxford Technology Park, is well positioned to plug the shortfall in high-tech lab space in the county and form an integral part of the city’s science and technologybased expansion.
Extending over 20 acres and with planning consent for over 440,000 sq. ft. of built space, Oxford Technology Park provides a unique opportunity and the next generation of Office and Research & Development premises. Combined with its accessible location, at the heart of Oxfordshire’s A34 Knowledge Economy spine.
The time couldn’t be more perfect for innovative, science and technology-based businesses across all sectors looking for a new home, where they can be nurtured and grow right in the heart of Oxfordshire.
Construction of over 140,000 sq. ft. is currently underway consisting of three distinct buildings, starting with a landmark, three-storey lab-enabled Building One due for completion in July.
Situated on the entrance into Oxford Technology Park, fronting Langford Lane and the Oxford London airport, this prestigious building offers 34,125 sq. ft. of flexible space, available to let in suites from 4,140 sq. ft. for office, laboratory and R & D use. Part of what makes Building One so special is its striking contemporary design, bespoke
fit-out packages and its environmental and sustainability considerations, with the use of recycled materials, automatic movement and daylight sensitive lighting, solar gain resistant enhanced cladding and brise soleil system and electric vehicle charging points, to name just a few.
Adjacent to Building One, will be the HQ facility for Native Antigen, one of the world’s leading suppliers of infectious disease antigens and antibodies. The new 49,000 sq. ft two-storey purpose-built R&D and manufacturing facility will accommodate a mixture of bespoke laboratory, office and logistics operations.
These new buildings will join the Premier Inn hotel and Beefeater restaurant opened in January 2020 and will be quickly followed by the next phase of development with the Innovation Quarter.
Aimed at accommodating the rapid growth of Oxford’s technology companies, the
Innovation Quarter will comprise 11 twostorey buildings of striking contemporary design, from 5,160 sq. ft. to 7,045 sq. ft. apiece. Providing unique space, specified according to the requirements of science and technology businesses. Due for completion in the Autumn, the Innovation Quarter will not only be a place of work with the latest facilities but will also provide communal space where a business community can form, where collaboration can be cultivated and where innovation can thrive.
An amenity-rich environment also resides on the park’s doorstep, with a large gym, shops, restaurants and character pubs. All important factors for modern businesses and the needs of their employees as they strive to grow, develop and retain talent.
If you are an innovative, science or technology-based business, the Oxford Technology Park is where you want to call home!
T: 01621 850600
T: 01865 953075
T: 01865 592627
T: 01865 883364
Oxford Technology Park, the major new science and technology park for Oxford, is set to deliver new space and new opportunities for businesses wishing to locate North of Oxford City centre.
Witney cyber security business secures investment
BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active investor, has completed a £10.5 million minority investment in e2e-assure, an established, fast-growth cybersecurity business based in Witney. The funding will be used to facilitate international growth and expand its market offering.
e2e-assure was established in 2013 by cyber security expert, Rob Demain. It provides software and security operations centre (SOC)-as-a-service, managed detection and response (MDR), and monitoring to government, mid-sized private organisations and clients around the world.
An SOC uses a combination of people, technology and processes to monitor, detect, prevent and respond to cyberattacks or threats. The attraction to a customer of the ‘as-a-service’ model is the everchanging complexity of cybersecurity and the considerable overheads required for clients to manage their own SOC around the clock.
The cybersecurity market continues to see rapid growth and is forecast to hit $170 billion by 2022.
Lat year 46 per cent of UK businesses and 26 per cent of charities suffered a cyber attack. Among the 46 per cent of businesses, one in five experienced a material outcome, losing money or data.
Only a minority of organisations say they are insured against cyber risks (32 per cent of businesses and 31 per cent of charities).
RESURGENCE OF HOME BAKING IS BOON TO FLOUR MILL
The resurgence of home-cooking and baking during the three lockdowns has been good news for a sixth-generation Shiptonunder-Wychwood flour mill.
During the last lockdown Matthews Cotswold Flour saw an increase of an incredible 6,000 per cent year on year through its website.
Three years ago, the latest generation, 29-year-old Bertie Matthews, took over as managing director and he’s on a mission to offer the best specialist flour in Great Britain. This means experimenting with ideas, such as stoneground milling of ancient and heritage grains, and developing the master bakers of the future through its Cotswold Flour Baking Club.
Matthews currently employs a team of 30, made up of millers, bakers, packers and drivers delivering across the UK. The mill sells direct to home bakers all over the UK via its website or for click and collect.
It also sells flour to artisan and master bakers in the Cotswolds and across the UK.
Bertie said: “When my family built this mill in 1912 it was part of the big change in milling across the UK. There were thousands of mills before that – today there are only about 20 milling companies.
“The traditional way to mill grain is with stones, but in the early 20th century the industry moved to milling with steel rollers. They use less energy and have a
larger surface area so they are faster –although that can make the process hotter. Stoneground is slower and cooler – and needs more input.
“In this mill we have both – because there are benefits to both. But we have upgraded our stoneground operation as it is important to have flour with the added level of nutrients.
“Ninety eight per cent of flour in the UK is produced by big commercial mills – we’re not one of those. Instead, we are investing in people and experience.”
This year Bertie and a group of local farmers launched the Cotswold Grain Partnership. “We want our grain to come from local farms. We are trying to lower the food miles, put money into local bank accounts and support local farmers, so we are trying to encourage farmers to grow alternative types of grain, like spelt and rye, and other heritage grains.”
The partnership is also encouraging large farms with storage facilities to help hold on to their neighbour’s grain as well as their own grain between harvests –so it can be used when needed, rather than suffer the uncertainties of a fluctuating market.
“If you are spending a bit more on flour, you are getting a better quality product and that price is passed down to the farmers. By buying through an independent mill like ours, you are helping local farmers.”
British Honey buys Union Distillers
Honey, spirits and now sanitiser producer, The British Honey Company, has bought Leicestershire-based Union Distillers.
Launched in 2014 in the village of Yarnton in Oxfordshire, The British Honey Company owns more than 275 hives, and sources honey only from bee farmers accredited by The Bee Farmers Association. It also has its own fully computerised 1,000 litre capacity copper pot still, which it says is the only one of its kind in the UK for the guaranteed production of high quality spirits.
The company also owns a growing collection of award-winning spirits brands.
The purchase of Union Distillers wasn’t its first acquisition. British Honey, which floated on the Aquis Stock Exchange Growth Market last year, has also bought the brands of the London Distillery Company (Dodd’s Organic Gin, rye and single malt whiskeys), and secured a partnership agreement with English Heritage to produce its gins, and launch an affordable luxury spirits range, 1606.
Last year it also developed an alcohol sanitiser in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The British Honey Company now plans to open a second distillery on Oxfordshire’s Tusmore Estate, expected later this year, where it will produce a Tusmore Single Estate Triple Distilled Premium English Whiskey to add to its Single Malt Tusmore Whiskey.
British Honey aims to create a multicategory brand portfolio and plans to install a new canning line and boost production at Union Distillers. The combined capacity will enable the production of three million bottles, seven million cans and five million miniatures this year.
WITNEY PPE MANUFACTURER INCREASES PRODUCTION WITH HSBC SUPPORT
An Oxfordshire manufacturer of ‘above the neck’ Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), JSP, has secured a seven-figure finance facility from HSBC UK.
The funding will support capital equipment investment to increase production capacity in its UK and Germany factories and support growth at other overseas operations in its main international markets in Europe, USA, UAE, Asia Pacific and China.
The finance will also help fund future product innovation and development.
JSP has seen a sharp increase in demand for its PPE and Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In response, it has restructured its healthcare division to meet a growing demand from new and existing UK and international customers.
The second-generation family business, which supplies disposable and reusable masks, powered air purifying respirators and faceshields, has been instrumental in supplying products to more than 120 NHS Trusts in England.
Oxford medical products company raises £1.2 million for weight loss tech
Oxford Medical Products has raised £1.2 million in seed investment to develop a safe and affordable weight loss capsule, which uses the same mechanism of action as a gastric balloon, but can be taken at home.
The funding will be used to complete pre-clinical testing, upscale and outsource manufacturing and grow the team. The funding was led by Ada Ventures with Selvedge Venture alongside angel investors including Dr Nick Edwards, a founder of the company, and Dr Jan Hruska, co-founder of Sophos.
Oxford Medical Products’s non-surgical weight loss technology Sirona, is a selfexpanding hydrogel capsule that once swallowed expands in the stomach and occupies space.
While it is designed to work in the same way as a gastric balloon, which has to be placed endoscopically in a hospital, Sirona can be used at home.
The capsules stay in the stomach and are effective 24/7, lasting several weeks before breaking down gradually and passing naturally over time.
Charles Stanley Oxford…
The Charles Stanley Oxford ofﬁce has an enthusiastic team of ﬁnancial professionals, providing bespoke investment portfolios. Charles Stanley has created ﬁnancial security for many tens of thousands of people and the Oxford ofﬁce work closely with many ﬁnancial advisers and their clients in the region as well as solicitors and accountancy ﬁrms.
George Baker, Chartered FCSI
Senior Investment Manager
Giles McKean, Chartered FCSI
Senior Investment Manager
Rebecca Stein, Chartered FCSI Investment Manager
About us and our roles:
What are your areas of expertise?
Simon: I’m an investment manager as well as branch manager. I aim to grow the funds under management for the office to help us become the leading wealth managers in the UK.
George: I specialise is building investment portfolios to meet the needs and investment objectives of Private Clients, Charities and Trusts.
David: While having a good knowledge of investments and markets, I develop investment strategies to meet private clients’ financial goals by building portfolios around their investment objectives and risk tolerance, and managing these expectations on an ongoing basis, whilst maintaining a very high level of integrity both on a professional and personal level.
Giles McKean: I specialise in Funds and Investment Trusts, taking advantage of large discounts to net assets values when a particular area and/or manager is out of favour.
Giles Arkell: I take pride in private investors generating an attractive return on their savings. I am the most experienced investment manager in the Oxford team and look after client money as if were my own.
Rebecca: I work with clients to deliver truly bespoke investment solutions. I strive to fully understand my clients’ requirements and goals and my portfolios take into consideration ethical preferences, cherished holdings, and capital gains tax considerations.
Ria: I run the admin team, providing oversight for the office. I also head-up business development, staff development and training, marketing, events, and PR.
What do you enjoy about your work?
Simon: Autonomy – being able to develop the business as if it is our own. I love the entrepreneurial spirit and approach in the team.
George: I enjoy the psychological challenges of investing, the satisfaction of selecting ‘tomorrow’s winners’ and the relationships
Simon Scott-White, Chartered FCSI
David Hamilton Stubber, Chartered FCSI
Senior Investment Manager
Giles Arkell, Chartered FCSI
Senior Investment Manager
Ria Shepheard, ACSI
built up with both private clients and professionals over many years.
David: I very much enjoy being part of a team looking after client’s investments, as well as meeting those clients and having a chance to build rapport in a relaxed atmosphere and seeing the results of our combined efforts overtime.
Giles McKean: I particularly enjoy the challenge of investment management and shaping each portfolio to that particular client to help deliver them the lifestyle they want with the minimum drama possible.
Rebecca: I have the autonomy to provide a service that meets each of my clients’ individual needs. Reporting is tailored to each client meaning I can be in touch as often or as little as required. I take the time to build strong relationships with my clients over several years.
Ria: Managing people and having the freedom to be able to come up with new ideas for our clients and professional contacts.
ARRIVAL LISTS ON NASDAQ AND SIGNALS FIRST ELECTRIC VEHICLES DUE THIS YEAR
Arrival, the electric vehicle company which has opened its first microfactory at Bicester, and wants to build electric vehicles in microfactories around the world, has listed on the Nasdaq in New York.
It is believed to be the biggest stock market listing for a UK technology company with a valuation of around £9.5 billion at listing.
Denis Sverdlov, Founder and CEO of Arrival said: “Arrival’s unique method of designing and producing vehicles using local microfactories makes it possible to build highly desirable yet affordable electric vehicles – designed for your city and made in your city. Going public will allow us to scale globally, bringing these products to more cities and people. We also understand that this comes with responsibility. Arrival has a remarkable company culture, which attracts great talent and enables us to be truly creative.”
Arrival’s new method of designing and producing zero-emission vehicles is enabled by hardware, software and robotics technologies which it has developed in-house.
Arrival says this allows it to price its vehicles competitively with fossil fuel equivalents and provides customers with a much lower total cost of ownership.
Following the opening of Arrival’s first microfactory in Bicester, the company is planning to open two more in North and South Caroline in the USA.
There has already been strong interest in Arrival’s vehicles, with United Parcel Service (UPS) commiting to buy up to 10,000.
Arrival is also designing a van which is expected to begin public road trials with customers this summer, and a bus which is expected to start trials later this year with First Bus, one of the UK’s largest transport operators.
Demand for industrial space in Oxfordshire reaches record levels
Demand for industrial space in Oxfordshire has reached record levels, resulting in a significant increase of supply, according to property consultancy Bidwells.
Due to intense activity in 2020, Oxford has shown robust growth with 27 per cent take-up compared to 2019, bringing the area 43 per cent ahead of the 10-year trend. As a result of this demand, rents have reached a new high of £15 per sq ft.
The acceleration of online retailing due to the pandemic has resulted in distribution demand taking up most of this activity.
The Oxfordshire market has also had a strong take-up from the science and technology sectors during the later months of 2020.
Supply has increased to meet these record levels, with an 8.9 per cent industrial availability rate available.
Availability of space moved up to 774,600 sq ft, primarily due to the completion of 311,298 sq ft across two units at Didcot Quarter.
Ocado invests in Oxbotica to cut cost of last-mile delivery
autonomous vehicles inside its customer fulfilment centres and the yard areas that surround them.
Logistics costs constitute the single largest line item in the operating cost structure of online grocery. Ocado wants to use
It also wants to use them in the last-mile deliveries and kerb-to-kitchen robots. The the ultimate ambition is to reduce the costs
of last-mile delivery and other logistics operations.
The relationship began in 2017 on a twoweek trial using an early prototype delivery vehicle doing autonomous deliveries in Greenwich, London.
WHITLEY STIMPSON ADVISE POLAR TECHNOLOGY ON MAJOR INVESTMENT FROM BGF
Whitley Stimpson is pleased to announce the successful investment agreement between Polar Technology Management Group and BGF in a deal they advised on.
BGF, the UK’s most active growth capital investor has invested £10 million in the Oxfordshire-based business which manufactures high-performance carbon and metal components for the automotive, medical and aerospace/defence sectors.
BGF’s investment will be used to support Polar Technology Management Group’s planned move into a state-of-the-art 100,000 sq. ft. facility at Horizon Technology Park in Eynsham, Oxfordshire, doubling the size of its production capacity and creating over 110 new jobs in the next two years. The new facility is expected to be fully up and running during 2021.
Polar Technology Management Group was established in 2012 by Scott Roberts and Mike Dewhirst. Whitley Stimpson has been advising the company since the group was founded with the acquisition of SST Technology Limited.
Whitley Stimpson’s advisory role has evolved from day to day business support and accounts to being the statutory auditors and handling tax compliance matters today.
The firm has and continues to support the group in a number of key areas including recruitment of finance staff, assistance with R&D tax claims which have resulted in significant cash repayments as well as advice on business hive-ups and de-mergers.
Ian Parker, director at Whitley Stimpson said:
It’s been fantastic to support e Polar Technology Management Group through this investment process and we look forward to helping the group continue to grow with this signiﬁcant cash injection which underlines how valuable the product o ering of these companies is.
Currently employing over 200 people, the business designs, develops and manufactures products and technology based around advanced composite materials, emerging metal processes and metallic fabrications.
With a focus on high-tech R&D, Polar Technology Management Group’s key clients include a range of technology specialist companies in the medical and aerospace industries.
The company is highly embedded in the automotive sector, working with F1 manufacturers, whilst also producing parts for high performance ‘Hypercars’.
Scott Roberts, Co-founder of Polar Technology Management Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome BGF into a partnership that has secured an injection of £10m of fresh funding into Polar Technology Management Group.
“This will enable us to grow faster, support our customers better and provide job security to our existing team of highly skilled, dedicated, employees. The deal will also create hundreds of new jobs in the West Oxfordshire area over the next three years with investment planned in clean, sustainable, technologies supporting our expanding manufacturing base.”
For more information about how Whitley Stimpson can support your business visit www.whitleystimpson.co.uk
| Bicester | High Wycombe | Witney
MAIDENHEAD FOOD APP SMASHES CROWDCUBE FUNDRAISING TARGET
An online food delivery marketplace which offers quality, fresh home-cooked food and aims to disrupt the £10+ billion UK restaurant delivery market, has secured more than double its target fundraise on Crowdcube, raising more than £600,000, way ahead of the £300,000 target.
Cook My Grub, launched by founders Shabbir Mookhtiar and Dinesh Patil. is already generating revenue in Maidenhead, Windsor, Slough and Marlow. It delivers healthy and sustainable food for people unable to cook wholesome meals at home.
Brian Dixon, Chef Director at Cook My Grub, said: “The global pandemic has severely damaged the hospitality sector, resulting in thousands of chefs being made
redundant. With Cook My Grub, these chefs have a platform to make a living.”
The business considers people’s cuisine choices and food preferences like veganism, vegetarianism, halal and glutenfree. Meals can be ordered on the day or pre-ordered several days or even weeks in advance.
Cook My Grub helps home chefs set up their own virtual restaurant which gives them the flexibility to decide when, what and how much they cook.
The funds raised will support further growth by increasing marketing, scaling up operations and growing the technology teams. Further roll out of the service is planned across additional geographies
Chippenham civil engineering company secures £1 million investment
A Chippenham based civil engineering contractor has secured a £1.1 million investment from Lloyds Bank.
Headquarted in Marshfield, the familyowned MJ Church has bought four new articulated dump trucks to add to its 25 vehicles in response to growing customer demand.
MJ Church is the main contractor on the £17.5 million upgrade of junction 15 of the M4 motorway which began last August.
The seven-digit investment to the family owned business was facilitated by a loan from Lloyds Banking.
Ben Staff, MJ Church Group Managing Director, said: “We remain committed to maintaining a modern, techenabled fleet of vehicles to allow us
to deliver best-in-class services to our customers across our wide range of service areas.
"We’re constantly looking for ways to enhance our technology and the availability of first-class equipmentand this investment does just that.”
with launches in Reading, West London, Swindon and the Home Counties through 2021. The company’s goal is to grow and consolidate the home-cooked food market by organising a currently unorganised sector.
Europe’s largest logistics developer buys Honda’s Swindon site
Japanese car manufacturer Honda has sold its Swindon factory to Panattoni, Europe’s largest developer of new build industrial and logistics facilities.
Honda built its European centre of manufacture in Swindon in 1985, but last year announced it would close this July.
Panattoni has promised to invest £700 million into redeveloping the 370-acre site, much of which has never been built on.
Jason Smith, Director at Honda of the UK Manufacturing, said: “We are pleased to have identified a capable new owner for the site. From our engagement with Panattoni and initial discussions with Swindon Borough Council, we are confident the new owner can bring the development forward in a commercially timely fashion and generate exciting prospects for Swindon and the wider community.”
PLANS TO DOUBLE THE SIZE OF WORCESTER 6 BUSINESS PARK
West Midlands developer Stoford, which has already delivered £75 million of investment into the Worcester 6 site since 2015, wants to create an additional 60 acres of space on the site at Junction 6 of the M5 to meet soaring demand for suitable manufacturing, R&D, and logistics space.
Worcester 6 is one of the best performing sites in the Midlands in terms of take up and deals done, because it’s on the motorway and in a great location where people want to work, according to Charles D’Auncey of agents Harris Lamb.
While the existing site still has vacant units, current tenants include Material Solutions (the first to move in), Spire Healthcare, Cornelius Drinks, Kimal and Kohler Mira. Ionos will move into a new data centre on the site in August, when the building is completed.
Stoford says it is currently in talks with potential tenants for the empty units. In a public consultation the company said that it could potentially see one occupier take up the remaining vacant space and the proposed southern extension will provide further land for new occupiers.
Gerard Ludlow, Director at Stoford, said:
“This land that has always been earmarked for the business park and is included in the South Worcestershire Development Plan which was adopted in 2016.
“Now, thanks to our success in attracting world-class employers over the past three years, we are in the position to put forward our plans to develop the Southern Extension.
“It would herald another significant investment in the site and form an important part of our plans for this ‘game changer’ development, considered to be an exemplar for its economic and environmental performance.”
Development land in Worcester, and across the West Midlands, is in short supply, according to Ian Parker, director of property agency, John Truslove. He said: “Redditch, Bromsgrove and Worcestershire authorities must act immediately to free up more employment land or we will miss losing out on jobs for a generation.
“The shortage of available accommodation is a perennial issue, and we must be ready for the anticipated migration of business out of the major conurbations.”
Worcester 6 isn’t the only such site being developed in the city. St. Modwen has been granted permission to build more than 70,000 sq ft of logistics space at its site in South Worcester.
St Modwen Park Broomhall is a 12-acre site and will be developed in several phases, with the first phase set to begin in March this year. Two units consisting of 42,711 sq ft and 30,240 sq ft will be delivered, providing high-quality warehouse and logistics space for the area.
The developer has also submitted plans to build an additional 79,907 sq ft in three units for phase 2 which, if approved, will be delivered in 2022.
Outline plans to almost double the size of Worcester’s most successful business park are being submitted by developer Stoford
“It would herald another signiﬁcant investment in the site and form an important part of our plans for this ‘game changer’ ...”
WORCESTER COMPANY REVEALED IN TOP FIVE MOST SUCCESSFUL BBC DRAGON’S BUSINESSES
With the BBC’s perennial favourite Dragon’s Den now in its 18th series, Worcester-based Magic Whiteboard has been revealed as the second most successful business to come out of the Den.
When comparison site money.co.uk compiled a list of seven of the most successful applicants from the series, top of the list came Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae Sauce, while in second place was Worcester-based Magic Whiteboard.
The business was founded by husbandand-wife team Neil and Laura Westwood in 2006 to sell Magic Whiteboard, a roll of A1-sized whiteboard sheets that stick on anything thanks to static. More than two million rolls of Magic Whiteboard have since been sold and it is stocked in major office supply stores including Ryman and Office Depot, with a global customer base.
Magic Whiteboard has also expanded its range. It now also sells blackout blinds, children’s tabletop whiteboards, 100 per cent tree-free notebooks, wipeable sticky notes and pegboards. (The Eden Project stocks the tree-free notebooks, which are made from recycled stone).
The original magic whiteboard was invented by Neil. Working as a trainer in the NHS he was fed up carrying a bulky flip chart around the hospital, so he invented a portable whiteboard on a roll.
Before appearing on Dragon’s Den, the business was making (mainly online) sales of £45,000, with net profits of around £19,000.
But thanks to £100,000 investment from Theo Pathitis and Deborah Meaden, and Theo putting the Magic Whiteboard in his 237 Ryman stores, sales skyrocketed.
Neil said: “Distribution is very important and critical to success and Deborah Meaden helped with marketing and PR.”
Rugby pro puts down roots in Worcester
A Worcester recruitment firm founded by former professional rugby union player turned entrepreneur, Nick Baxter, has bought its first commercial property to help future growth plans, after securing a six-figure commercial mortgage from HSBC UK.
Founded in 2017, Baxter Williams provides recruitment services across the property, construction, commercial and
executive-level sectors. Purchasing the 3,000 sq ft property it had previously leased will give the business the stability to grow and expand into other areas of the country, according to Nick.
The business has so far created four new jobs during the pandemic and says it will continue to recruit locally as it expands.
By 2014, the couple had amassed enough money to buy back their shares. “The deal happened quickly after I asked to buy back the shares,” said Neil. “The Dragons don’t get emotional, they just want their money. We didn’t use a solicitor, I sent them £800,000 and they returned their 40 per cent shares.”
Since then the business has continued to be profitable and develop new products. “Our children’s tabletop whiteboards have been a huge success,” said Neil. “Parents and schools bought these during lockdown to keep their children entertained.
“Our Magic Blackout Blinds have also proved popular. They help parents and children sleep better.”
The couple continue to innovate, but Neil isn’t complacent. “2021 is going to be a hard year. Customer behaviour has changed. People are working more from home so we will develop more products to make it easier for them.”
e Dragons don’t get emotional about it, they just want their money”Neil and Laura Westwood Nick Baxter The 100 per cent tree free notebook
We spoke to Matt Busby, Director of The Name Label Company about his experience on the programme. Having operated successfully with an ambitious mindset for further growth, the local company produces labels for two distinct verticals: the school/ camp market, and the care/ nursing market. Find out more below:
What attracted you the Elevate programme?
I was invited to attend a workshop aimed at those looking to grow their business.
I was really impressed with the Elevate programme when it was presented. We did one particular exercise on the day called ‘in-flight checks’ and it raised alarm bells with some of the processes I was doing and showed me a path for how I could improve my business.
What specialist support did you receive?
I was really excited about the peer to peer learning in the boot camps. Getting together with likeminded businesses and sharing experiences and problems to develop ideas and ways to move forward is a really good thing. Shared learning has been fantastic for my business and we have seen results from day one.
Once you completed the Elevate programme, how did it help your business?
We have implemented the processes we learned during the Elevate programme within our business and its absolutely going to push us along.
Initially, I thought we had an extremely cohesive team and communications were always happening, but what I discovered was that we weren’t communicating as effectively as we could, and there was no accountability. What we took from the ‘cohesive teams’ exercises will really propel us to the next level.
The Elevate programme has been fantastic for us. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best programme I have ever been involved in. The vision from Worcestershire County
Council to put together a programme like this will undoubtedly support many businesses like ours, to help them grow and continue to thrive.
What are the next steps for your business?
The next steps are to make sure all the processes, tips and ideas that were picked up during Elevate are put in place, and for those we have already implemented to continue.
TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT VISIT WWW.BUSINESS-CENTRAL.CO.UK/ELEVATE OR EMAIL THE TEAM AT INFO@BUSINESS-CENTRAL.CO.UK
The Elevate Programme has now assisted over 40 businesses to develop, thrive and grow with more support coming soon for new cohorts of growth business support as well as sector speciﬁc support* through Elevate Manufacturing including Manufacturing Supply Chain support. *Eligibilitycriteriaapplies.
Aimed at established SMEs in Worcestershire, Elevate is an exclusive and unique offer for successful applicants to gain high quality, specialist business and grant support to help their business go much further.
“The Elevate programme has been fantastic for us. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best programme I have ever been involved in. The vision from Worcestershire County Council to put together a programme like this will undoubtedly support many businesses like ours, to help them grow and continue to thrive.”Matt Busby, of Name Label Company
WORCESTERSHIRE’S FASTEST GROWING BUSINESS NETWORK REACHES 500 MEMBERSHIPS
A partnership supporting Worcestershire businesses and promoting the county has secured 500 members.
One Worcestershire and the Worcestershire 1000 are at the heart of a new approach to promote the county, with the membership made up of companies, organisations, and individuals from across Worcestershire.
More crucially over the past 12 months, One Worcestershire has provided local businesses and organisations with support as we come out of lockdown.
Richard Soper CBE, from One Worcestershire and the former chief executive of Worcester Bosch Group, said: “We’re delighted to have reached the 500 members milestone for the Worcestershire 1000.
“Since its launch in 2019, the Worcestershire 1000 has received nothing but a positive response from local businesses, organisations and some wellknown sporting figures.
Razu Miah, co-owner of the 500th member, the Vhujon Indian Restaurant in Bewdley, said: “We’re really pleased to have had the opportunity to join, and being the 500th member is just the icing on the cake.
“As a small business, it’s great to find this level of support throughout the county for businesses like ourselves, and we encourage other businesses to join and make the most of being a part of such a great network.”
Richard Fryer, Regional Manager for Ringway Worcestershire, which was pipped to the 500th spot, said: “Ringway
has been part of the community in Worcestershire for 16 years. We are incredibly proud to deliver local highway services for local people, by local people.
“Being part of One Worcestershire is part of our commitment to continue playing an active role in the county.”
SPORTS AND RETAIL COMPANY APPOINTED TO SELL BIRMINGHAM
2020 GAME MERCHANDISE
A sports and retail company based in Ledbury has been appointed to design, license and retail the oﬃcial Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games merchandise, with the first products due to go on sale online in the next couple of months.
Birmingham 2022 and Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Partnerships have appointed Cube International,
which has oﬃces in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, as master licensee responsible for designing, sourcing, delivering and retailing licensed products at oﬃcial Birmingham 2022 Games shops, other local and national retail outlets and online.
Around 1,500 products will be developed and sold, featuring Birmingham 2022, Commonwealth
Sport and Home Nations branding. A first phase of merchandise will include hoodies and t-shirts, mugs, water bottles and pin badges.
Cube International, which works with some of the world’s most iconic brands, including England Rugby and Aston Martin, will also create exclusive ranges for the Birmingham 2022 oﬃcial mascot, to be unveiled later this year.
Run by Worcestershire County Council, The WINN Show explores the wonderful innovations and jaw-dropping knowledge that can be found right here in Worcestershire. Over the last few months, the show has highlighted some of the incredible work of local businesses and organisations, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
1 West Midland Safari Park
West Midland Safari Park is home to a ‘crash’ of southern white rhinos which are part of a European Endangered Species Programme, and as part of this collaboration with hundreds of other European zoos, the team have been busy trying to make an impact on the conservation of rhinos. www.wmsp.co.uk
2 Harms Way Studio
Harms Way Studio is an award-winning ﬁlm studio which is currently running the Worcester Film Festival. This is a city-wide event to boost local businesses as well as bringing international talent. www.harmswaystudios.com
3 Penline Engineering
Handle Smart is a self-cleaning door handle which uses rotation technology to evenly distribute anti-microbial gel to door handles after every use, providing protection from 99% of viruses. www.penlineengineering.co.uk
Working initially from his Worcestershire home, Nick Grey developed the world’s ﬁrst cordless power sweeper. Today, they have sold over 22 million products in 19 countries and employ staﬀ across the world, making them the front runners in the ﬁeld of cordless technology. www.gtech.co.uk
5 Aspire Academy
First opened in September 2014, The Aspire Academy is committed to providing a safe, caring, good humoured and well-disciplined school where strong nurturing relationships are at the heart of everything.
Originally founded in 1962, Worcester became part of the Worldwide Bosch Group in 1996, which is currently the UK market leader in domestic boilers. www.bosch.co.uk
7 The Museum of Carpet
As the only one of its kind in the UK, The Museum of Carpet in Kidderminster is home to an unrivalled archive and collection of objects which tell the story of the Worcestershire town went on to become the ‘Carpet Capital of the World’.
Coomber & Son was a family business founded in the early 1900s, oﬀering equipment and advice to educational establishments. In 1962, Coomber Electronic Equipment was established and quickly became known as a leading British manufacturer and supplier of specialist audio equipment to the educational market. www.coomberaudio.com
The Cosy Chocolate Company
This local family-run business was created from a passion for making delicious hot chocolate in a range of tasty ﬂavours, with an aim to create the perfect cosy moment through very sip. www.cosychocolate.co.uk
The WINN show also includes exclusive interviews with:
Episode 1: Keeping us together whilst we are apart
Michael Lamb SYENTIUM.COM
Scott Thornton WMAHSN.ORG
Episode 2: Being creative never looked so good
Phillipe Ingles WAKSTER.COM
Manda Graham EQUALVISIONCIC.CO.UK
The Arches Project THEARCHESWORCESTER.CO.UK
Alison Evans INFLUENTIALDESIGN.CO.UK
Episode 3: The people behind the name
Sean Harris ROTAHUB.CO.UK
Andy Flack/Dave Morris ZENTANOGROUP.COM
Episode 4: Food for thought
Iain Courage THEOLDDOUGHHOOK.CO.UK
Sam Barriscale MABAKER.NET
Mike Newnham QUANTUMTAX.CO.UK
Roy Kennedy WCG.AC.UK
Episode 5: Making a diﬀerence
Jon Downes GLASSFULL.ORG
William Tooby THEFOLD.ORG.UK
Dale Parmenter DRPGROUP.COM
Episode 6: Being digital smart
Ian Woodley BRANDSTILO.CO.UK
Nicola Whiting TITANIA.COM
Stephen Ashton WLEP.CO.UK
10 County Enterprises
Originating in Worcester the 1970s, County Enterprises has a long history of providing an eﬃcient packing and assembly service with a proven reputation for quality and reliability.
11 Droitwich Salt
Droitwich Salt is sourced from one of the oldest and purest brine springs in the world and is part of Worcestershire’s rich history.
Local inventor Hamish Gill has taken his photography developing tool creation from Kickstarter to production right here in Worcestershire. www.pixl-latr.com
13 Lea & Perrins
Although the sauce has been sold for over 180 years, the recipe remains a closely guarded secret to this day, with only a few people in the world knowing the exact ingredients and proportions. www.leaperrins.com
14 Little Soap Company
Based in Broadway, all the Little Soap Company’s cosmetic products are vegan and cruelty free with the international gold standard for products free from animal testing. www.littlesoapcompany.co.uk
15 Morgan Motor Company
Morgan Motor Company has been based in Malvern for more than 110 years, providing a ﬁtting antidote to mass-produced car manufacturing whilst oﬀering an exceptional mix of traditional craftsmanship and modern technology. www.morgan-motor.com
16 Pershore College
Situated on 60-hectare site near Evesham, Pershore College oﬀers the very best in land-based learning as a national centre for horticulture. www.wcg.ac.uk/page/96/pershore-college
QinetiQ is a world-centre of excellence in research and development, acting as a catalyst for fast-track innovation, oﬀering outstanding experimentation facilities, technical, engineering and scientiﬁc expertise. www.qinetiq.com
18 Rob Draper
Rob is a Worcestershire-based artist and designer who specialises in hand lettering. He has worked with a range of worldwide clients including The Golden Globes, Nike and Samsung as well as local businesses like Piston Gin & The Kiln. www.robdraper.co.uk
19 The Hive
Worcestershire County Council and the University of Worcester worked alongside other government bodies to create a new multi-million-pound city centre library. www.thehiveworcester.org
University of Worcester
Having been shortlisted for University of the Year for the second year running, University of Worcester has been instrumental in inspiring and nurturing new talent as they break into the county’s creative tech sector. www.worcester.ac.uk
21 Worcester Warriors
First established in 1871 as Worcester Rugby Football Club, Worcester Warriors are highly regarded across the county, having built connections with supporters both close to home and further aﬁeld. www.warriors.co.uk
RELIABLE BROADBAND, THE FOURTH EMERGENCY SERVICE?
Last year the national press was full of reports of a mass exodus of workers relocating away from Covid-ravaged cities to more rural areas.
Here the air is cleaner (unless it’s muckspreading season), the neighbours are arguably friendlier (and often a bit further away) and there’s more open space.
But with many rural households reportedly still getting speeds as little as 0.12Mbps (on which it could take more than two days to download a film), while the average nationwide download rate has risen from 54.2Mbps last year to 64Mbps, will the misery of computer buffering drive workers back to the towns and cities when the crisis has abated?
The government hasn’t helped the situation. Last year it revised its broadband target downwards, aiming to roll out gigabit broadband across just 85 per cent of the UK by 2025 rather than the 98 per cent it had originally promised.
It’s difficult to make money through renting out rural broadband provision, because laying the fibre is so expensive, so most broadband companies are targeting towns and cities first, building new broadband infrastructure from the “inside out”.
Not so Worcester-based Airband. The company was established 11 years ago by Black Country-born Redmond Peel who was already running a similar company in South Africa.
With BT dragging its heels in committing to the expensive installation of fibre into more rural towns and villages, in 2010 Airband decided to deploy its expertise closer to home.
“We began by rolling out broadband on business parks and into government buildings, including schools,” said Redmond.
Then Airband moved into in rural areas, first deploying microwave rather than fibre to connect people, because at that time there was no infrastructure. In fact, it was only able to begin rolling out rural fibre broadband at scale three years ago.
The company’s first government contract was in Hereford in 2011, for £65,000.
Worcester-based Airband is one of a small group of ﬁbre broadband providers working around the clock to connect the UK’s rural community
The next one was for £210,000. Since then, Airband has continually won multimillion-pound contracts from BDUK, part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Redmond predicts that it won’t be until 2027-2033 when all homes will have fast, reliable broadband. He estimates that only around eight per cent of rural homes currently have good speeds.
“The government has put a lot of money into the programmes, but we just wish the rollout could be done faster. To be fair, it has had to push back some spend because it can’t find enough companies like ours who have the expertise to lay broadband into the more rural areas.”
Investing in the future
If the bigger companies have abandoned rural fibre broadband installations because it’s too expensive, where is Airband getting its funding from?
Its first major investment was in 2018 when Amber Infrastructure secured a substantial minority shareholding in the company. Last year, global asset manager Aberdeen Standard Investments acquired a majority stake in the business, worth hundreds of millions.
Redmond said: “Aberdeen believes in the long-term viability of private fibre. And thanks to their investment we can now build much more quickly to roll out networks across our key six counties. We want to transform connectivity for individuals and communities who deserve better.”
Airband invested £20 million building fibre networks in 2020 and is looking to spend £45 million this year. It will be years before that turns into regular income, but as Redmond observes, it’s no different to building a hotel. “A company will spend years on the build, and only start receiving a return when it can rent out the rooms.”
The business currently employs around 250 people and its growth will drive the employment up to 1,000 workers across the South West by the end of next year.
“We will lay more than 3,000 km of fibre this year, generally down rural roads,” said Redmond.
The company is currently focussed on Worcestershire and Herefordshire, Avon and Somerset, Shropshire and Cheshire. It plans to move into Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire after that.
“We operate in areas where communities have been campaigning for years,” said Redmond. “Take Welland at the foot of the Malvern Hills. It’s a scattered village with around 1,200 residents. BT went to some of the bigger villages nearby during a previous government programme, but they got missed out, so we went in. Much Marcle in Herefordshire was another one. It’s only got a population of around 660. We have to lay a lot of fibre to reach a relatively small number of homes.”
So how can one small village persuade Airband to lay full fibre?
Get organised, and try and engage with neighbouring communities, advises Redmond. “Form a group and work
together. Don’t just think about your village. The more people you can get together, acting as a community, the better.”
Not just for Netﬂix
If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that reliable broadband is essential in the 21st century.
With more people working from home, physical retail and schools closed for months, poor rural broadband hampered students access to education, and arguably affected the quality of life of all those living in rural areas.
On average, people working from home with slow broadband speeds lose 40 minutes of productivity a day.
But reliable connectivity has the potential to improve lives. Airband is currently running a pilot looking at how broadband can be used by the NHS to monitor and support ill and elderly people in a rural environment.
Laying down new fibre and connecting households is only part of it. Demand for bandwidth soared during the pandemic. “On December 31, 2020 we used three times as much bandwidth as we did at beginning of that year and we added more customers to the network,” said Redmond.
“You can’t just add extra capacity to your network overnight. We had to lease more from the networks to get the extra bandwidth into each rural area village, and the networks had been flooded by demands from everyone else.”
Ofcom’s annual Online Nation report found that, in April 2020 during the height of lockdown, UK adults spent a daily average of four hours and two minutes online, with one in three watching online videos more than traditional TV.
It’s the day-to-day challenges of getting fibre into rural locations which keeps Redmond and his team of engineers motivated.
“There isn’t a day when we don’t have a new situation to challenge us. Every house is different. The communication infrastructure has gone in piecemeal over many decades. Luckily, we have some fantastic engineers, and every day bring a new puzzle to solve.”
“We will lay more than 3,000 km of ﬁbre this year, generally down rural roads...”
NEW CHAIR AIMS TO TACKLE REGION’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGES HEAD-ON
Sarah Windrum, Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s new chair, sets out her manifesto
An entrepreneur and digital transformation expert has taken over as the new chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) to help lead the area’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Sarah Windrum, founder and a director of Leamington-based technology company, The Emerald Group, joined the CWLEP as a board director in 2016 and is the chair
of its Digital and Creative Business Group. She has now set out her manifesto to support the region.
“This is a hugely important time to take over as Chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership as we tackle head-on the challenges for our economy in a post-Covid world and post-EU exit world. Before the pandemic, we were the fastest growing
LEP geographically; but, like much of the rest of the UK, the events of the last year have widened our inequality gaps. We are working to address this by developing an industry-led, action-focused Strategic Reset Framework which has been updated throughout the three lockdowns by our Reset Taskforce and business groups. Our reset is about being better than we were before and ensuring we level up the economy for everyone across
our sub-region and our strong, resilient partnerships will be key.
“We have always prided ourselves on the strength of our private-public sector partnerships and by working together with our wide range of businesses; Coventry University, the University of Warwick, schools and colleges; our local authorities, district and borough councils and our communities – we can lay the foundations for future economic success.
“We have built powerful partnerships before and during Covid-19. Now it is time to use them.
“As Chair, I have three top priorities. First of all, to enable our business scaleup potential. It is only by supporting businesses to grow and drive the economy forward that we will have skilled jobs of the future and prosperity for all. This is a constant message from businesses in all sectors.
“Secondly, our young people. If we are shaping their future, our next generation must feel they have a voice and be able to see and understand the opportunities for them.
“Thirdly, our communities. In the Implementation Plan of our Reset strategy, there is a key pillar on ‘re-imagining our communities’. Our work here is vital, together with the Future High Streets Fund and Future Transport, as we move to the Experience Age.
“The future of our town and city centres will be shaped by digital technology, through future mobility, ‘wearables’ and our use of mobile and immersive technologies.
“At CWLEP, we have all the strengths to lead on this globally and address our social and environmental challenges: Coventry is home to the first 5G core for advances in healthcare, home to the future of electrification through the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre and there are plans to develop a Gigafactory at Coventry Airport to manufacture electric car batteries at the required global scale.
“I’m a person of practical action focused on how we make these big opportunities work for everyone and how we scale grassroots activity to global first innovations.
“An example of this is the Town Centres Tech Challenge which is supporting local high street businesses through digital initiatives by encouraging people to return to Warwickshire’s town centres when government restrictions are eased.
“The Challenge started as an idea from the CWLEP’s Digital and Creative Business Group – where I recently handed over the role of chair to Malcolm Barnes from Meriden-based Hollywood Gaming – and, after receiving funding from Warwickshire County Council, the pilots are now in action across our town centres.
“I am proud of our Strategic Reset Framework initiative, which has been led by Marion Plant and the Chairs of our Business Groups, because I know it will deliver real results to make a difference to our economy and ensure our main focus is on creating the environment for innovation and enterprise to flourish in the future.
“The thread of using creative thinking and digital technology runs through everything we do in Coventry and Warwickshire.
“We have a story of evolution from Mystery Plays to virtual reality games and from bicycles to Very Light Rail, which was imagined here, designed and built here.
“We need to open-up our assets; strengthen the links between our universities and industries – especially our SMEs and inspire our young people about the future we are building here.”
“ is is a hugely important time to take over as Chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership as we tackle head-on the challenges for our economy in a post-Covid world and post-EU exit world”
“I’m a person of practical action focused on how we make big opportunities work for everyone”
Advice that makes a difference…
In this article Phil Barton, looks at the value of advice.
It’s a well-known fact in the insurance industry that our first exposure to buying insurance is our first car. At that time of life, insurance is expensive and we don’t have the money (or frankly, the inclination) to make a prudent choice about what insurance we put in place – and that’s when our relationship with insurance is forged. Too often, we’re programmed to always look for the cheapest deal.
Over the years, the insurance industry has responded to this price-based, decision making behavior by commoditizing its proposition, diminishing its service offering and cutting back on important protection.
The impact is sub-standard customer service, increasing administration fees, ever changing service teams so you never speak to the same person twice, and reduced levels of advice – and in an everchanging world, the need for good quality advice is the only constant.
As with any commodity, there is a basic cost to producing a product. If you cut back too far, you should ask yourself, what critical elements are being cut out to present that product at an acceptable price point. In my view, that’s where the industry has gone wrong. It’s trying to sell the cheapest product, rather than demonstrating the real value of advice to clients.
Would you invest in something you didn’t fully understand? Of course not. If you were a sky diver, would you buy a cheap parachute? Highly unlikely.
Our responsibility as professional insurance brokers is to provide the right advice for clients, ensuring they understand their risks in a holistic way, so that in the event of an incident, the policy responds and that their business has the support it needs to recover.
This approach contrasts with a price comparison approach, focused upon simply renewing last year’s programme – one that assumes that your business (or your lifestyle, for that matter) hasn’t changed, something which is highly unlikely, particularly this year!
You should be asking your broker to diagnose your risk exposures and to talk to you about the options including risk transfer (to an insurer), risk mitigation and self-insurance.
Ask yourself, for example, has your
broker tried to understand your cyber exposure? After all most businesses have had a dramatically increased exposure to phishing attacks throughout the pandemic.
Have you considered your business succession plan – and is your profit protected from the loss of a key member of the team?
Equally, what about the wellbeing of your people? How are you navigating that risk, given the impact that the pandemic has had on mental health and the working environment? Do you have the right health and safety procedures in place? Because if you don’t, you could open yourself up to liabilities.
If you’re not having these conversations, and the only question your broker asks is, “what is your renewal date?” my advice would be to find yourself a better insurance adviser – one who believes in partnership and is willing to invest time to understand your business, diagnose your risks and put the right programme in place to protect you, your employees and your business.
Led by CEO, Phil Barton, Partners& marks a turning point in the way advisers engage with clients.
“Our responsibility is to provide the right advice for clients, ensuring they understand their risks in a holistic way…”
Phil Barton, CEO
Tech for Good business raises £3
BRISTOL ENTREPRENEURS INVEST IN START-UPS
Successful entrepreneurs from the Bristol area are to provide seedfunding for early-stage start-up businesses in the South West.
Previously Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC) only invested in established enterprises with growth potential.
“We have a growing pipeline of start-ups seeking investment and have carried out an initial round of evaluations of 12 businesses resulting in one investment and two others being considered by the group.”
Bristol-based Neighbourly has raised £3 million to accelerate the growth and impact of the Neighbourly platform.
Since launching the platform in 2014, the tech-for-good company has worked with corporate partners including Aldi, M&S, Lidl, Danone, M&G Investments, Cadent and RSA Insurance, to support more than 16,000 local good causes across the UK and Ireland.
As a UK market leader in community investment and engagement, the Neighbourly platform has helped disburse £13 million in microgrants, 70,000 hours of employee volunteering time, redistributed 50 million meals and saved 80,000 tonnes of CO2.
The investment came from Guinness Asset Management.
Neighbourly has seen a significant increase in demand from businesses wanting to deliver and measure social impact at a local level, as well as from local good causes wanting to make that connection. The investment follows three years of strong growth.
BPEC Seed is finding businesses to fund through organisations such as SetSquared, TechSpark and Tech South West, with around 20 per cent of BPEC members looking at supporting start-ups.
Heading up BPEC Seed is Peter Lockett supported by colleagues Ben Cooper and Sam Simpson. All three volunteers have had extensive experience and success with their own early-stage companies and are active Business Angels in the South West.
Peter Lockett said: “BPEC has established itself as a credible source of investment for regional growth companies looking for Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) funding.
“BPEC Seed is extending the service to earlier stage start-ups sourcing Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) funding. Funding from us can help start-up businesses access other funds or could be a good start for those seeking crowd funding.
Peter Lockett, who co-founded and sold a successful pharmaceutical packaging business, said many entrepreneurs are keen to support those in the early stages of their journey.
“We are looking to give something back and BPEC has been very successful in supporting businesses with investment of between £150,000 to £500,000. This is for those requiring less than £150,000 and the business must be under two years old with assets of less than £200,000.”
Jerry Barnes, founder and CEO of BPEC said: “This is a fantastic extension of the support that BPEC is giving to growing businesses in the region. I am very grateful to Peter for leading this initiative and helping BPEC to expand its role by supporting new businesses which always find it tough to find seed funding.”
Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC) has invested around £8 million in local businesses since it was founded four years ago and now has more than 100 members.
Manufacturers secure £90 million investment into aerospace manufacturing
Around 1,400 jobs could be secured across the UK, including at Renishaw in Gloucestershire and GKN Aerospace in Bristol, thanks to a nearly £90 million investment in aerospace manufacturing.
The government-industry funding for the five projects through the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme aims to improve manufacturing within the
aerospace industry, developing technology to make production lines quicker, more efficient and more cost-effective.
The projects receiving funding include the GKN Aerospace-led ASCEND in Bristol which is aiming to develop new lightweight, composite technology, a Renishaw-led project to develop a 3D metal printing machine to mass
produce smaller components for aircraft and LiveWire and a project led by Bristol-based Q5D, a spin-out from UK tech companies M-Solv and Cel UK, to automate the addition of wiring to aerospace components. Wiring is typically done by hand at the moment and Q5D is working with Safran and others to develop its robotic tooling for the aerospace market.
HUMAN BEINGS DO IT BEST, SAYS DISRUPTIVE NEW LOGISTICS COMPANY
Even as high streets have opened up again, we’ve become so used to shopping online and having it delivered, that the numbers of Amazon-size fulfilment centres will continue to rise.
But they can reportedly be pretty miserable places to work. So how would it be if these monster warehouses behaved differently, with a manager taking responsibility for the products and having to walk less than half a mile a day?
Welcome to the world of Huboo. Launched by co-founders Martin Bysh and Paul Dodd in Bristol in 2015, this is a business that, arguably rather radically since it calls itself a tech company, puts people at the heart of what it does.
Like Amazon, Huboo holds stock for online retailers large and small (of which more later), which it will pick, pack and deliver in the normal way. Unlike Amazon, it operates a more personal hub model.
Martin explained: “We set up Huboo to offer all the functionality of a large warehouse but in a hub of typically 300-500 sq ft, with one person running that entire space.
“Each hub manages goods for up to 30 clients. The hub manager is responsible for all the inbound and outbound work and offers first line support to our clients. So rather than being one of many workers in a huge warehouse, they can engage with clients, who love the fact that they can talk to the person doing the job.
“It’s a great relationship between us, via our hub manager and our client. And our managers have a sense of ownership which you don’t get in a normal
warehouse. It’s more of a retail job than a warehouse operative.”
The idea for Huboo came from Paul. With a background in logistics (in his previous role at Proctor & Gamble he had a remit to save the company half a billion pounds a year), Paul rented 300 sq ft of warehouse space and began playing around with ideas for fulfilment.
He was soon joined by Martin, a computer games entrepreneur who had successfully built and sold three companies. The men looked at how they could set up a more
cost-effective logistics operation using technology and people.
“Building and kitting out a fully automated warehouse is very expensive,” said Martin. “We built our business on venture capital funding of £1 million, which might have bought us one robot, so we came at it from a different perspective.
“Our principle idea was that human beings do the job best when costs and calibration are factored in. Technology is usually deployed for a specific task, humans are more flexible.”
Huboo is the new fulﬁlment business on the block, and this tech business is growing fast by putting people ﬁrst
“Our principal idea was that human beings do the job best when you factor in costs and calibration. If you buy technology it’s usually for a speciﬁc task, humans are more ﬂexible.”
But surely people are not as productive as a full automated warehouse? Martin disagrees. “If you are happy, you’re more productive. Some companies use people like light bulbs, plugging them in then throwing them away when they’ve burned out.
“We offer a sense of ownership and a career path. Some of our staff have moved into business development and we have promoted process engineers. Our biggest success so far is Claire, who came in less than a year ago as a hub manager. Now she’s running the entire warehouse.”
Huboo wants to build good jobs for people and offer them career paths, but it also wants to democratise its warehouse space.
“Right now, if an online retailer wants to secure fulfilment services they need to be shipping a large number of units at a certain price point every day, or a fulfilment company won’t talk to them. We offer warehouse space for all online retailers of whatever size. And because our hub managers “own” the space, they become more knowledgeable about the goods they are shipping.”
Much of the sector Huboo operates in is uncontested. “One of our larger clients is
worth around £2 million a year to us, but the most expensive item they sell is £6 or £7. Our smallest client is worth around £2,000 a year. We have around 750 clients now and are bringing on around 250 per month.
“And where our business is contested, our processes and cost transparency mean that we usually win that business as well.”
Despite putting people first, Martin and Paul aren’t luddites: “We are introducing some automation at our new Bristol warehouse, which will be split up into about 50 hubs.”
Huboo can take on an empty warehouse and kit out each hub for around £3,000.
Currently the company has around 50 hubs in 50,000 sq ft of warehouse space at Emerson’s Green with a further 50,000 sq ft of palletised storage and a replenishment warehouse. It has just taken on a further 50,000 sq ft of warehouse at Avonmouth and will open a headquarters in Bristol to house senior managers, Paul’s 50 strong team of developers, finance and marketing.”
“Paul has a lot of technology coming online which will improve our sales,
optimisation and systems,” added Martin.
All this has been possible thanks to a second round of investment secured last year. The £14 million round was led by venture capital company Stride (which has also invested in Deliveroo, Cazoo and Hopin), with participation from Hearst Ventures, Maersk, Episode 1 and Ada Ventures. This has brought Huboo’s total funding to date to £18 million.
The company now employs around 250 people, and is recruiting more. It is also about to launch its first warehouse in Eindhoven in the Netherlands. The plan was to open on the continent last year, but Covid put the brakes on European growth.
“We were planning to expand into Germany, and then Spain but had to rethink our plans,” said Martin. “When things changed, Eindhoven was the best and most cost-efficient location.”
It also wants to open up warehouses in the Midlands and the North of England, and then in London.
He and Paul are already thinking about their next move after that, and it could be the big one: into the USA. “We have searchers looking for us, but no decisions have been made.”
A further ambition is to develop the last mile offer. “When we are able to cover the whole of the UK, we will look to launch our own fleet of last mile vehicles,” said Martin.
In less than two years Huboo has gone from being two people, part time, in a 500 sq ft space in a warehouse in Bath, to a multi-million turnover business with global ambitious and a rising headcount.
But at the heart of it remains the people. And to keep them entertained earlier this year Martin and Paul recruited their own Bard, Jake Wright from Somerset who, to secure the job, had to write a song about a client’s products. “We reckoned that if a bard could write a song about engineering seals, he could write about anything” said Martin. He has since written songs about VAT and e-commerce, and an ode celebrating the company’s European interns.
Proof, if further were needed, that at Huboo, it really is the people that count.
GRUNDON ANNOUNCES SUSTAINABILITY PARTNERSHIP WITH GLOUCESTERSHIRE CRICKET CLUB
Waste management company Grundon is to help Gloucestershire Cricket meet its ambitious environmental goals.
Gloucestershire Cricket, founded in 1870 by the father of WG Grace (who was its first captain), one of the most inﬂuential cricketers of all time, is based at the Bristol County Ground. The threeyear partnership will see Oxfordshireheadquartered Grundon help the club improve its environmental performance.
Among a raft of help and support, Grundon has supplied colour-coded “waste-wheelers” to segregate waste streams including mixed recycling, glass, food waste and general waste, making it easy for visitors and employees to recognise what waste goes where, while helping to educate those using the ground on how best to dispose of their waste and boost the club’s recycling.
Daniel Peacey, regional sales manager at Grundon, said: “We will be supporting Gloucestershire Cricket’s waste management and recycling at its events. One event we are thrilled to be supporting, when government guidelines allow, is the Cheltenham Cricket Festival which is hosted by Cheltenham College.”
Will Brown, Chief Executive at Gloucestershire Cricket, said: “Our efforts to be a leading sustainable and environmentally-friendly club have been really focused across the last couple of years. With this being a key pillar of the club’s new strategy we plan to progress this even further with the support of Grundon as our sustainability partner.
“Grundon is an industry leader and we can’t wait to see what we achieve together over the next three years.”
Planners say no but Bristol councillors say a resounding YES
Bristol is set to become the first city in the world to host Arc – an elegant glass cabin suspended between two super-strong carbon fibre masts, that lifts 42 passengers into the sky and takes them on a magical 20-minute scenic ﬂight.
Despite having been recommended for refusal by city planning oﬃcers, councillors unanimously supported the project, backed by Bristol’s science and Arts centre, We The Curious and Arc Global.
The 360 degree views of Bristol’s amazing historic sites will give a unique perspective. The arc will have a pilot on board to explain the City’s history and the importance of the heritage sites passengers will see.
Arc Bristol expects to open in Spring 2024 and aims to attract 250,000 paying visitors a year.
The project is the brainchild of award-winning architect Nick Stubbs, who wanted people to be able to see beautiful places from above, where their origins and history unfold in unexpected ways. He also wanted to create something that did not sit permanently in the skyline, but which could rise and fall, leaving the cityscape largely unchanged.
The £13.5 million funding has been secured entirely from private investment.
Reading data centre company secures growth investment
A leading provider of data centre space and managed hosting has secured a significant minority investment including follow-on funding from Harwood Private Equity to support rapid growth. The data centre owner and operator, known for its award-winning Tier 3 facility in Reading, is looking to build on its continuing success with ambitious plans for expansion.
Harwood is supporting these plans through an initial investment and through further committed capital.
Jeremy Brade, Partner at Harwood Private Equity, said: “We have been impressed with the Amito management team, its achievements to date and its powerful commitment to accelerate growth and
expand. We look forward to working alongside the team to achieve these goals.”
Amito CEO, Ed Butler, added: “We believe we have secured a partner who shares our vision for the business, has extensive experience in our industry and is committed to supporting our goals with their expertise.”
GLOUCESTER BASED SOFTWARE COMPANY SECURES MAJOR CONTRACT WITH VOLKSWAGEN
Volkswagen Group UK has awarded Gloucester-based River Software a threeyear contract to implement a business performance management platform which will support its 600-strong retailer network.
The platform, called Loop, will share data across the entire Volkswagen Group, from
HQ to dealer management, giving all users a single, transparent view of performance – a crucial requirement at a time of rapid change for the industry.
The contract covers all Volkswagen Group UK brands along with Volkswagen Financial Services, spanning cars, commercial
Oxford laundry partners with company behind Vanish brand
Space-age laundry and dry-cleaning start-up Oxwash, which we featured in the last issue of Business & Innovation Magazine, has teamed up with Reckitt, the company behind some of the world’s biggest hygiene, health and nutrition brands.
The ‘Oxwash, powered by Vanish’ partnership will see Oxwash use Vanish’s new sustainable formula in its washing facilities, which it calls lagoons,
to help give old clothes a new life and helping prevent tonnes of clothes from ending up in landfill.
Nine out of 10 pieces of clothing end up in landfill long before they should, and up to 70 per cent of clothing waste could have been prevented with better care habits. Both Vanish and Oxwash want to help clothes live longer by ending irresponsible washing and encouraging a circular economy.
vehicles, after-sales and finance.
Matt Bishop, Network Insight Manager at Volkswagen Group UK, said: “We have been impressed by the Loop platform from the start and are delighted that River Software has successfully navigated the tender process.”
Shakespeare Distillery boosts spirits with aptlynamed new rum
Hogarths Hotels and Restaurants, the Midlands-based hotel group, is championing brighter days ahead.
Last December, Hogarths Stone Manor near Kidderminster installed a big neon sign at the entrance to the hotel on the A448. The sign reads “Everything is going to be alright”. Since then, Hogarths team have been overwhelmed with the daily messages they receive from passers-by who say the lights have given them reason to smile.
Chris Flory, a local businessman, said: “I’ve never known any sign to have such an impact as you drive past.”
Ellie Beattie, General Manager at Hogarths
Stone Manor said: “We have been overwhelmed to read the daily messages from members of the public during lockdown. The past year has been so difficult for many and we are honoured that
our sign has given the public a little glimmer of hope when they’ve needed it. Our sign is a very small gesture of solidarity from all the team at Hogarths to each person in the local community and of course the hospitality industry.”
Hogarths Solihull has been owned by Helena and Andy Hogarth for more than 15 years. In 2015 the family added Stone Manor to the hotel portfolio. It has since undergone two major refurbishments redeveloping the 56-bedroom property to become a luxury hotel.
Stratford-upon-Avon based Shakespeare Distillery is hoping to boost our spirits with this launch of its new White Rum named Jester. The independent artisan spirit producer has successfully been distilling gin for the last five years.
The rum’s name is taken from the famous sculpture of a Jester which sits on the town’s Henley Street, yards from Shakespeare’s birthplace. Most of the bard’s jesters were fond drinkers and known to be bold, memorable and popular characters – the ideal traits for a new British-made spirit.
Shakespeare Distillery is one of only a handful of UK distilleries to create the rum in its entirety onsite. Shakespeare Distillery has its own seven-day fermentation process in which the unique combination of yeast, water and sugar creates ﬂavour and alcohol, bubbling away slowly in “Titania” its fermenter.
‘Everything is going to be alright’ says Kidderminster hotelThe sign outside Hogarths Stone Manor near Kidderminster
01 Good Energy Group appoints former moneysupermarket man as CEO
Chippenham-based Good Energy Plc, has appointed Nigel Pocklington as CEO following founder Julia Davenport’s announcement in February that she wished to step down. Nigel was the Chief Commercial Officer at moneysupermarket.com.
Warwickshire Law Society expands
Andrew Nyamayaro from Tann Law Solicitors has been appointed President of Warwickshire Law Society. Andrew will also remain in his role as the society’s press representative. Robert Lee, Corporate Partner at Wright Hassall, becomes Vice-President. His colleague, Chelcie Evans, becomes Chairperson of The Warwickshire Junior Lawyers Division.
Worcestershire law ﬁrm grows commercial litigation team
Worcestershire’s mfg Solicitors has strengthened its commercial litigation team after appointing a consultant solicitor. Dispute resolution specialist James Ng will play a key role in leading the firm’s growth in Worcestershire and the wider region. James (right) is pictured with partner Tom Esler.
Reading outsourcing and advisory ﬁrm appoints Risk Director
Helen Maslin has been appointed as Risk Director at resourcing, outsourcing and advisory firm, Huntswood. She joins from Quilter, where she was Head of Risk, and will bring extensive experience from senior positions at Metro Bank and Lloyds Banking Group.
Welcome on board to new Senior First O cer in Gloucestershire
Former Flybe pilot Mark Podbery has been appointed Senior First Officer with The Little Jet Company based at Gloucestershire Airport.
Mark was an IT consultant when he learned to fly in 2010. He gained a private pilot licence and qualified as a commercial pilot in 2016.
06 Tewkesbury manufacturer Trackwise appoints new Chief Operating O cer
Tewkesbury-based printed circuit designer and manufacturer Trackwise has appointed Steve Hudson as Chief Operating Officer. He will support CEO Philip Johnston as Trackwise expands to serve customers in its key verticals: automotive, aerospace and medical.
07 Bristol law ﬁrm sees further growth with partner appointments
Burges Salmon has appointed five new partners across key growth areas including banking and finance, dispute resolution and projects. The appointment of Victoria Allsopp, Emily Scaife, Emily Roberts, Richard Binns and Chris Chesterman brings the firm’s total number of partners to 99. (Photos show Victoria Allsopp who specialises in project finance with a focus on energy and Chris Chesterman who specialises in commercial transactions with a focus on the defence and nuclear sectors).
Oxford Cambridge railway picks up pace as new chair appointed
Nilesh (Neil) Sachdev has been appointed Chair of the Oxford to Cambridge railway corridor project for a term of three years. He will oversee the delivery of the East West Rail project, which will deliver a new direct rail link between Oxford and Cambridge.
Former Jaguar Land Rover boss swaps four wheels for two
The Solihull-based Norton Motorcycle Company has welcomed Sir Ralf Speth to the Board of its parent company, TVS Motor Company. The experienced automotive global business leader will join the company as Chairman, effective from January 2023. Sir Ralph stepped down from his role as CEO at Jaguar Land Rover last year, after 11 years.
11 Blackﬁnch boosts business development team with double hire
Gloucester investment specialist Blackfinch has boosted its business development team with the hire of Senior Business Development Managers Chris Whittingham (below left) and Paul Rose Both join from Heartwood Investment Management.
10 Paul Holland steps up as Grant Thornton invests in South of England
Business advisory firm Grant Thornton has promoted Paul Holland to partner in its audit practice covering the Thames Valley. Paul will lead its audit and assurance services, working with large businesses and mid-market clients with fast growth potential.
GROWING TALENT IN-HOUSE: WOULD YOUR BUSINESS BENEFIT FROM TAKING ON APPRENTICES?
Whilst hundreds of local organisations are great advocates for apprenticeships in the county, there are still many great businesses in Gloucestershire that are yet to reap the rewards of running an apprenticeship programme.
Hiring an apprentice is an exciting, effective way to grow talent in-house and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. Benefits include:
� Filling skills gaps – 86% of employers say that apprenticeships help them develop skills relevant to their organisation
� Flexibility – an apprentice's training can be adapted according to the needs of your business
� A fresh perspective – enthusiastic, driven apprentices bring new ideas and energy to your business
“Our HR apprentices have grown in conﬁdence during the programme, and it has enabled them to take on larger and more senior roles in the business. The knowledge acquired and the network they have gained certainly helped during the Covid-19 pandemic. I fully support the apprenticeship approach and it ﬁts in very well with other training solutions such as our graduate programme and internal training courses.” -Tony Collingwood, General Manager at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions Tewkesbury
Gloucestershire's Apprenticeship Training Provider of the Year
Gloucestershire College is a key cog in the local economy, championing local talent and supporting local businesses to upskill their employees. GC's dedicated team of Business Consultants work with businesses to develop the right apprenticeship programmes to achieve their goals.
Every business that chooses to train apprentices with Gloucestershire College is assigned a personal Training Coordinator for guidance every step of the way. They meet regularly with both the employer and apprentice to discuss progress and training targets.
Teaching staff at GC support apprentices to push the boundaries, test out their knowledge and apply their learning to any challenges they may face.
Receive up to £4000 for every new apprentice hired by 30 September 2021
From April 2021 until 30 September 2021, all businesses will receive £3,000 for every new apprentice hired. With the existing £1,000 incentive for taking on a
16-18 apprentice, this now means businesses can receive up to £4,000 per apprentice recruited.
The news is being welcomed by Julie Tegg, Director of Employer Training at Gloucestershire College. “The increased ﬁnancial support available for businesses announced as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs is great news for Gloucestershire businesses who are already bucking the national trend and continuing to back local talent and bring apprentices into their organisations, despite the challenges brought about by Covid-19.
“It is particularly good news for those employers looking to take advantage of the redevelopment of our Cheltenham campus for IT, Cyber and Engineering which will be ready for new apprentices joining us in September of this year.”
As an employer, you can take on apprentices at different levels, from school leavers and university graduates to individuals who want to further their careers or change career direction completely. You can hire someone new or upskill an existing employee and get funding from the government to help pay for apprenticeship training.
ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES AND GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY
include Microsoft, Fuijitsu, AllCooper, Babcock MSS, Delphi, GE Aviation, Cyber Security Associates, Impcross, LB Bentley, National Biodiversity Network, Kier and Versarien. “Together we set project work and students are allocated plenty of time to work on challenges set for them.”
The English secondary education system has long been largely one-size-fits-all. Pupils enter the system at 11 years old and exit at 16 with a clutch (or not) of GCSEs, or at 18 with A Levels and perhaps higher education ambitions.
But as the world changes, this cookiecutter approach suits fewer and fewer employers. Tony Blair’s 1999 commitment to get more than 50 per cent of students into university now seems outdated. In our digitally-enabled world, computers are increasingly taking over the grunt work that human beings have done for centuries.
According to the Baker Dearing Trust, which supports the government-funded University Technical Colleges (UTCs) launched in 2010, education should focus on active learning, technical entrepreneurial skills, personal and collaborative skills. In other words, while knowledge remains necessary, it is no longer enough.
UTCs work with local employers in a project-based learning approach and focus on technical subjects. Today, there are 48 UTCs across England, educating around 16,000 students from 14-18 years old, supported by more than 400 employers and universities.
By recruiting from age 14, UTCs offer a fresh start for many young people in a smaller school environment.
Stephen Miles is the Deputy CEO at the SGS Academy Trust, which is responsible for a number of schools and colleges across Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire. In 2017 it opened the county’s first UTC at Berkeley Green near
Gloucester which currently has around 300 students studying digital technologies, cyber security and engineering.
“We attract students from a wide area, with some prepared to travel up to an hour and a half each way to attend,” he said.
“It is a fantastic environment. The UTC was built for the specialisms we offer. We didn’t put ceiling tiles in the corridors so the students can see all the wiring, we don’t have a uniform and our school day is from 9am to 4.20pm, which better reflects the world of work.”
There is a huge demand for the subjects taught by Berkeley Green UTC, and the college has the facilities to teach them well. “We have a Security Operation Centre where our students can practise hacking and phishing without disrupting our IT network,” said Stephen. “We work with the National Cyber Security Centre and have links to GCHQ. Getting a job there is very difficult and we are proud that last year three of our students did.”
Berkeley Green UTC involves employers as much as possible. Currently these
Stephen is a convert to this practical education. “My own specialism is English, but not every young person is as excited by literature as I am, and if we can provide a place for them to explore their passions, we’ve done a good job. The raison d’être of our Trust is social mobility and the more opportunities there are for students to take a path that suits them, the better.”
A third of students leaving Berkeley Green UTC have gone on to university, a further third secured apprenticeships.
“For years employers have said that education doesn’t properly prepare students for work,” said Stephen. “Working with us is a partnership. We don’t just want their name associated with the college, we ask them to design projects for our students, to input into our curriculum and offer extended work experience.”
University Technical Colleges in this region include:
Bristol Technology & Engineering Academy
SGS Berkeley Green UTC Gloucestershire
WMG Academy for Young Engineers in Coventry and Solihull
Students are increasingly stepping away from their desks and embracing practical learning, and employers are delightedBerkeley UTC in Gloucestershire
Undergraduate programmes at Abingdon & Witney College
Thinking about your University options for 2021-22?
Join more than 300 undergraduates who study their degree with us every year!
We know that, more than ever, course flexibility is important, as everybody's situation is different.
We tailor our courses to suit you and offer a wide range of support for everyone and our small class sizes allow for closer interaction with tutors throughout your course, making sure that you get the help you need to succeed.
Our qualifications are awarded by Oxford Brookes University and Middlesex University; a guarantee of the academic standard. These partnerships open up a whole host of new opportunities, such as access
to university resources and support networks, Student Unions, sports facilities to name just a few!
Sharon Firmin, Curriculum Manager for Business said: “Our courses allow you to study locally, with small groups and with outstanding tutor support. The courses are actively developed with employers to meet their needs, making you more employable when you graduate”.
The Advanced Skills Centre at our Abingdon campus is a high-tech undergraduate building dedicated to STEM training, teaching technology skills and developing students’ careers in these fast-growing industries.
Engineering and computing students can make the most of the cutting-edge equipment and learning tools that are available. This includes a Haas Five-Axis CNC Machine, along with advanced robotics equipment and 3D printers, and a classroom equipped with specialist engineering CAD software that links to the engineering workshop.
Business Management and Early Year degree students are also based in the centre, benefitting from the fantastic new learning resources and plenty of space for breakout sessions and relaxing between lessons.
The College also offers a range of professional qualifications accredited by the ILM, CIPD and AAT.
For expert advice and information on undergraduate and professional courses and our virtual open week
Monday 10th – Friday 14th May, visit: www.abingdon-witney.ac.uk/undergraduate-professional/
‘LEARNING WITHOUT LECTURES’ WILL PRODUCE WORK-READY ENGINEERING GRADUATES
Engineering has increasingly been taught at UK universities in very narrow fields. An undergraduate can do a degree in dozens of engineering sectors from civil, automotive, chemical, nuclear, mechanical or motor sport engineering and more.
Any one of these courses are fine if an undergraduate knows the specialism they want to study and can assume that job is going to be available when they graduate. If they’re not sure, many enrol on a general or a mechanical engineering degree.
But employers often remark that while an engineering degree will give students the knowledge, it won’t always teach them how and when to use it. So many have to set up a graduate training scheme to teach that when they start work.
Now a new approach to training the engineers of the future is about to launch.
The New Model Institute of Technology and Engineering (NMITE), will welcome its first cohort to Hereford this September, pioneering learning without lectures.
Professor Dave Allan is its Professor of Learning and Teaching. He explained why he’s planning such radical new teaching methods.
“Skills such as project management, teamwork, negotiation, communication and creativity are essential to being a successful engineer,” he said. “These have long been part of engineering qualifications in this country. The Engineering Council has an internationally agreed standard of what constitutes an engineering programme and what the student should be able to do on graduation. The council has required these
soft skills for a number of years but most institutions either can’t teach them or teach them at such an introductory level that the student can’t develop any competency.
“We have a greenfield site at NMITE so are not constrained by institutional habits or procedures. We are also not constrained by an established delivery model, or by the building and facilities on campus, and this gives us the ability to do things more effectively. One of them is how students learn, as well as what they learn.”
NMITE students will learn in groups, in specially designed studio environments rather than classrooms or lecture theatres. They will complete one module at a time, with a total focus on that subject for a month, 9am-5pm five days a week.
“They will be assigned an academic for the entire module, resulting in much higher contact time and allowing students to learn, discuss and debate with each other,” added Dave. “It is a Masters degree in three years and will require academics to teach and educate, not to undertake research.
“Every module will have a real-world challenge with an external sponsor.”
Even before NMITE has opened its doors, he reports that around 400 commercial partners are interested in working with the institute, from small charity organisations to multi-nationals.
The NMITE will include three new centres at Hereford’s Skylon Park, with a total capacity to host 600 future learners, degree apprenticeship and short course participants at any one time.
Apprentices thrive at Bicester Construction Skills Centre
The first cohort of apprentices have started at the new Construction Skills Centre in Bicester.
Launched as part of Abingdon & Witney College’s apprenticeship programme, the facility enables apprentices to train for the fast-growing property maintenance sector, alongside professional skills in plumbing, gas engineering, electrical installation, carpentry and joinery trades.
The first cohort consisted of 12 apprentices, including six Level 3 site carpenters, two Level 2 site carpenters, two bench joiners and two Level 3 plumbing and domestic heating engineers.
The centre was designed with input from industry professionals to house the type of industry-standard equipment that apprentices will find in the workplace, including a professional gas centre, electrical training bays for wiring regulation training and a large carpentry workshop.
University of Gloucestershire’s C11 Cyber Symposium – 17th June, 2021 – Book your place now.
If you’ve ever wondered how your organisation can tackle the growing and constantly evolving threat of cyber-attacks by sourcing and developing skilled employees with the perfect level of expertise then get your diary out and mark the date - Thursday 17th June, 9am to 4pm for the University of Gloucestershire’s inaugural online ‘C11 Cyber Symposium 2021.’
This event, held in partnership with the University’s C11 Cyber Security and Digital Innovation Centre, is set to bring together leading academics, businesses and thought leaders from across Gloucestershire and the South West, with the purpose of reviewing the very latest developments, research and solutions in cyber security and protection.
With a special emphasis on skills development, the day will be packed with the most up-to-date information on how employers can engage with cyber education and security advice from a range of regional suppliers, along with demonstrations and discussion on research breakthroughs and emerging technology, all designed to benefit industry at local, national and international levels.
Tackling the cyber skills barrier:
Associate Professor in mobile and network security, and Head of Technical and Applied Computing at the University of Gloucestershire, Ali Al-Sherbaz, explains: “The cyber skills gap being experienced across the sector is vast and presents a real barrier to progression for UK businesses. In the face of continually worrying data we and our partners have decided to take real action to help connect employers with the people and knowledge they need.”
Indeed latest government data in the field
of cyber-defence paints a grim picture, including the following headline statistics:
Approximately 653,000 businesses (48%) have a basic skills gap, with employees in charge of cyber security lacking confidence in carrying out basic tasks detailed in the government-endorsed Cyber Essentials scheme, including setting up configured firewalls, storing or transferring personal data, and detecting and removing malware
408,000 businesses (30%) have more advanced skills gaps, in areas such as penetration testing, forensic analysis and security architecture
Some 27% of businesses have a skills gap in incident response (and don’t outsource this)
Almost two-thirds (64%) of cyber firms have faced problems with technical cyber security skills gaps, either among existing staff or job applicants. 25% say that such skills gaps have prevented them from achieving business goals
Technical skills gaps are relatively high in threat assessment; assurance, audits, compliance or testing; implementing secure systems; and governance and management
Three out of ten cyber firms (29%) say job applicants lack non-technical skills, including communication, leadership and management, preventing them from meeting business goals
“It’s against this background that we’re thrilled to be launching our 17th June Cyber Symposium,” adds Rayelle Pentland-Smith, Business Development Director at C11 Cyber Security and Digital Innovation Centre, based at the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park in Berkeley Green.
A packed agenda:
The event has a packed agenda featuring expert speakers from the county and beyond, including: Paul Crichard, BT’s Chief Security Technology Strategist; Juliet Grout, Security Architect at IBM; Paul Keasey, Detective Superintendent, Director of Intelligence & Specialist Operations at Gloucestershire Constabulary, and guest panellists from BAE Systems and CGI.
Another focus will be the work of Dr. Qublai Ali Mirza, a Senior Academic in Cyber-Security at the University’s School of Computing and Engineering, showcasing his new malware security solution - CloudIntell –which uses AI and cloud computing to work independently or alongside conventional security mechanisms.
The University of Gloucestershire’s Buck Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Cyber Security, will flag new developments in his field of study, while digital and cyber degree students will present their achievements working with real-life case-studies of cyberattacks which have strengthened their skills and employability.
Apprenticeships o ering cyber, digital and technology solutions:
Apprenticeships are yet another important topic that will come under discussion as the advantages of educating and training the next generation of cyber professionals comes into sharp focus.
“The University of Gloucestershire’s School of Computing and Engineering offers apprenticeships in two areas - cyber security and digital and technology solutions,” comments Dr Abu Alam, Senior Lecturer in Computing and Cyber Security.
“Cyber security professionals work in sectors ranging from the economy, including critical energy, transport, water and finance infrastructure, through to public and private organisations. They can lead teams that research, analyse, assess and manage cybersecurity risk, while designing and operating secure systems that detect and respond to incidents.”
His colleague, Dr Thiago Viana, Senior Lecturer in Computing, adds: “Digital and technology specialists work in areas such as software, business and systems analysis, cybersecurity and network infrastructure. Their role is to implement digital technology which enables businesses to develop new products and services that increase productivity.”
A platform for industry insightThe day will further feature:
• Real-world insight and best practice on how to manage your own cyber skills gap
• Demonstrations on the latest breakthroughs in research, and what these mean
• Grilling of the experts, where you can ask the difficult questions
• Engagement with students, tomorrow’s workforce, demonstrating their capabilities
• Access to an exploded network and opportunities for SMEs and multinationals alike
• Direct input into the future of regional cyber education and training.
Professor Kamal Bechkoum, Head of the University of Gloucestershire’s School of Computing and Engineering, concludes: “It’s an unfortunate reality that a cyber-attack on your organisation is inevitable. It’s really not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when.’
“Current forecasts for the number of onlinelinked devices, otherwise known as the ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT), vary from between 26 to 75 billion, and if there’s one lesson to be learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that more of us than ever before have been working remotely and often mixing the use of personal and professional devices to stay connected.
“There is so much information created by these devices – up to and beyond 2.5 quintillion bytes – that 90% of the world’s data has been produced in the last two years alone.
“Considering this massive volume it’s perhaps understandable that cyber defences can never be 100% secure. The grand challenge is to improve workers’ understanding of where threats are most likely to come from, and engage in habitual good security practice at all levels.
“Our default approach to all IOT systems should always be one of suspicion, particularly because 95% of internal cyber breaches are caused by human error.
“I’m very pleased that the C11 Cyber Symposium will be welcoming leading figures from business, along with our academic staff, students and supporters to this important debate on 17th June.
We’re looking forward to developing many more long-standing partnerships that will continue to help industry stay secure.”
FOR YOUR FREE PLACE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE’S CYBER SYMPOSIUMProfessor Kamal Bechkoum, Head of the University of Gloucestershire’s School of Computing and Engineering
Why every digital transformation project has to start with your people and infrastructure
Nigel Church, Group Managing Director of the award winning First Solution Group, shares his thoughts on the key steps involved in successful digital transformation.
The high-speed development of technology, coupled with more customer centric approaches and increased employee expectations are transforming businesses in almost every sector. To stay ahead and remain at a competitive advantage, companies are now having to transform how they operate.
Many SMEs realise the importance of innovation and are asking us how they can stay ahead of the competition.
So how do you go about digitally transforming your business?
It’s a complex question, but we have three key tried-and-tested stages that we follow:
1. Listening and understanding your business needs and ambitions
There’s one place that we think all transformation should begin. And that’s with your people. That’s why we always start our client relationships by listening, and taking a people-ﬁrst approach. After all, it’s the individuals in your organisation who determine your successor failure - when it comes to transforming.
Using our bespoke Employee I.D.E.A. System approach, we talk to individuals in different departments, ﬁnding out their motivations, their challenges and how technology might be able to help them. We’ll look at how your teams work together and how they might interact with other departments to increase efﬁciency or grow more effectively.
2. Laying the right foundations to increase the success of your digital transformation
Transformation needs strong and secure foundations - so your cloud solutions, cyber security and managed services need to be right before transformational technologies can be integrated. Our First Solution team are equipped to build these foundations. With cloud-based structures in place, you’ll be able to maximise your digital business strategy and continually increase your business ﬂexibility, reducing risks and costs.
Cyber security is essential to safeguard your business ensuring you will be safe from hacking or malicious software that can cause huge ﬁnancial or reputational damage to your business.
Our managed services keep your business running 24/7. With your IT taken care of, you can concentrate more time on helping customers and growing your business. You’ll also beneﬁt from a Technology Strategy tailored to your business’s needs.
3. Making digital transformation affordable and effective
With sound infrastructure in place, you can start moving from traditional business processes to becoming a digital leader and our teams at First Digital are here to help you do that.
We believe the most effective way for SMEs to transform is to do it in small increments, learning as you go and applying lessons to maximise the impact of your new technology.
Part of this process is dovetailing new technology with your existing infrastructure, which allows you to innovate cost-effectively with low risk and without shelling out for expensive platforms.
When it comes to integration, we’re big advocates of the Microsoft Power Platform. This smart piece of technology is made up of multiple elements that can help you increase efﬁciency and reduce costs.
our Automation-Ready Assessment
Or to ﬁnd out more, why not book a free consultation call with our digital transformation lead today
Whether you’re ready to implement the Power Platform, or need to ﬁne tune your cyber security or cloud solutions ﬁrst, the key is to keep moving forward.
CHELTENHAM’S CYBER PARK AMBITIONS MOVE FORWARD
The West Midlands is to invest in “no-code” technology to help drive economic growth.
SuperTech, a collaboration between some of the region’s largest businesses and emerging technology companies, aims to increase tech development in professional services, with fully funded no-code training bootcamps forming part of its central offering, provided by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.
Predicted by Forbes to be the most disruptive trend in 2021, no-code allows absolutely anyone, no matter what their technical ability or financial position, to develop and launch complicated web or mobile apps in a fraction of the time it took in 2019.
Analysis shows that in 2019 what would have required an average of £250,000 investment, 18 months of development and directors or founders with relevant degrees, can now be achieved in a few months with anywhere between zero and £500 worth of investment.
No-code is seen as a way of solving business problems, launching new services and products and creating new enterprises.
Tech giants Amazon, Google and Microsoft have invested heavily in no-code platforms and now the West Midlands has adopted it as part of a plan to grow its largest sector: business, professional and financial services.
Generating £27.8 billion gross value added annually and employing more than 358,000 people, the West Midlands is the UK’s largest centre for business, professional and financial services outside the capital. Greater collaboration between these larger firms and the region’s 12,550 tech and digital companies, the largest grouping of its kind outside of London, is a key part of the region’s Local Industrial Strategy.By Ian Mean, Gloucestershire director of Business West
and Board member of GFirst LEP
Next month, one of three major developers will be appointed to deliver, at something like half a billion pounds, one of the biggest projects ever built in Gloucestershire.
I am talking about what has become known as the Cheltenham Cyber Park, on land purchased by Cheltenham Borough Council for £37.5 million.
The Golden Valley Development, home of Cyber Central UK, will become the UK’s premier centre for cyber security and all things digital.
Much about the development has been under wraps, so I talked to the man in charge of Golden Valley, Tim Atkins, aptly titled Managing Director of Place and Growth at Cheltenham Borough Council.
What does your title mean? I asked.
“Making Cheltenham an even better place, to grow the economy and provide hope and prosperity for future generations,” he said.
“In June we hope to have a preferred bidder confirmed,” added Tim, a Tottenham born lad who spent most of his younger life in Middlesbrough.
“We will not make the developer public until close to the end of the year, as we need to make sure all the contractual details are finalised.
“We want this investment to be about growth not just for Cheltenham but the whole of Gloucestershire. It is potentially huge.”
Tim is right. Did any of us really know that there could be up to 11,700 employees on the site?
I also didn’t realise how many homes will be built on the overall Golden Valley site which amounts to 200 hectares (similar to the size of the City of London).
The 2019 Supplementary Planning Document sets out a framework for delivery of up to 3,700 new homes, 35 per cent of which will be affordable.
“2019 also saw the Golden Valley Development included in the Government’s Garden Communities programme – building on the principles of the garden town/city movement, and setting a high standard for new sustainable communities,” said Tim.
The first delivery phases would see the council’s 45-hectare site, and an adjoining 65 hectares of Severn Trent land, being developed for homes. But this won’t be just another business park or housing estate, it will be an employment-led scheme: the delivery of the cyber and innovation uses must come forward early.
This is a ground-breaking project to grow our economy and persuade more young people to stay in the county.
Our communities and businesses need clear communication in the coming months to fully get behind it. We will have another update for you in our July issue.
West Midlands becomes ﬁrst region globally to invest in no-code
B CORPS ARE SETTING THE EXAMPLE FOR SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS
Sustainable businesses take many forms, and this magazine often covers the amazing companies investing in battery tech or green energy because their products easily illustrate the UK’s progress towards being carbon neutral.
But many thousands of companies don’t do that stuff. Traditional businesses such as law firms, accountants or small businesses in every sector are run by those wanting to do the right thing by the planet but not sure how to make a traditional business truly sustainable.
One organisation which is helping them do just that is B Lab, which helps companies achieve B Corp certification.
Certified B Corporations (B Corps for short), are businesses which meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
The B Corp movement began in the USA in 2006 when businessmen Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan and Andrew Kassoy established B Lab. Their new organisation made it easier for companies to improve their positive impact. The first 82 B Corps were certified in 2007.
The UK is now home to the second largest B Corp community in the world, with more than 500 companies certified as B Corp. In total they represent 48 industries and more than 22,000 employees.
They want to benefit society, but B Corps have also arguably fared better when compared to the wider UK economy, with
a higher growth turnover between 20172019, and annual employee headcount growth of eight per cent between 2017 and March 2020 – compared to zero per cent for all SMEs.
Chris Turner is Executive Director of B Lab UK. With a background in international development – he spent time working in East Africa – a brief diversion into politics (as a field organiser on Obama’s first USA presidential campaign), he returned to the UK to lead a couple of small businesses looking at consumer trends and how emerging technologies
tackling consumer behaviours could be business opportunities.
“I became increasingly interested in the potential of all businesses working for the good of everyone,” he said.
The first step to becoming a B Corp is completing a B Impact Assessment, explained Chris. “This is a free tool on our website. All you need to do is to create an account and fill out the assessment.”
It’s not as quick as it sounds, but it’s the starting point for qualification.
Building a proﬁtable business is no longer enough for many company owners – they want to contribute to solving world problems. Becoming a B Corp can help
“I became increasingly interested in the potential of all businesses working for the good of everyone ...”
Chris Turner, Executive Director of B Lab UK
“The threshold we ask for is 80 points. Filling out the assessment will reveal how you can improve your score. A business might score 79 and need just a bit of work to nudge over. Once you have achieved 80 points, you can submit your assessment and our team will ask for supporting evidence, conduct interviews and in the case of larger companies, undertake site visits.”
It sounds like a lot of box-ticking and it is, said Chris. “But our standards act as tools which businesses can use for planning and measuring impact,” he explained. “I’ve spoken with business accelerators and incubators working with start-ups and they see it as a useful exercise for planning and growing a business.”
How do you stop a company using their B Corp status as simply a PR exercise? “We don’t. Lots of companies will use it to promote themselves and are really proud about it,” said Chris.
“We know that if they have the certification, they’ve gone through our rigorous assessment. They’ve made the changes to their articles and governance which we require, where they are legally committing themselves to people, planet and profit. They are walking the talk.”
There are five million businesses in the UK and Chris knows that his organisation can’t certify every business, so he plans to make this happen through B Corps becoming leaders.
“We want to do more research, and to use our B Corps as a body of hard evidence to make the change for sustainable growth.”
B Lab UK is currently launching the Better Business Act campaign which wants the changes that B Corps commit to enshrined into the UK’s Companies Act.
“We want every business in the UK to be legally required to benefit all their stakeholders – people, planet and profit.”
Leaving the EU has created an amazing opportunity for the UK said Chris: “This country is looking to redefine itself on the global stage and this is an amazing opportunity to show leadership on corporate governance and responsible capitalism.”
B Corps across the region
Peat free compost
Connecting company funds, surplus and volunteer time with local causes
Database of modern slavery and human trafficking statements
Yala Jewellery Ethical African jewellery
Packaging compliance scheme
Stride Treglown Architects
Cirencester Wildwood Ecology
Nailsworth Beeswax Wrap Company
Business support organisation
Making beeswax wraps
Hobbs House Bakery Bakery
The Myers Briggs Company
Stratford upon Avon
Kung Fu Accounting
Tetbury The Trust Partnership
Worcester The Little Soap Company
Business psychology provider
Tackling climate change
Developer of therapeutic formulas and lab diagnostics
Real ale brewery
Manages charitable trusts, foundations and almshouse charities
The Little Soap Company achieved B Corp certification in February. The Broadway company was founded in 2008 by Emma Heathcote-James to make pure soap and help reduce the amount of unnecessary synthetics people unwittingly rubbed into their skin.
Emma said: “We’ve always been mindful of our social and environmental impact as a business. As we have grown, B Corp certification has been a key goal. It is the gold standard and a trusted logo, meaning businesses really practise what
they preach. To be certified by such a well-respected industry body and be one of the only British soap companies among such august company takes our environmental efforts and brand to the next level. It also reinforces what more we need to do to become better in all aspects of the performance standards against which we are measured.”
The Little Soap Company takes its responsibilities seriouslyEmma Heathcote-James Source: B Lab UK. Information correct as at March 2021
Not just talking but ‘being’
“There was never a question of ‘should we?’ but always ‘why wouldn’t we become a B Corp?’,” according to Emma Welstead, founding partner at Warwick Events, which secured B Corp status this year. “The business has always been a company with purpose and values. As individuals and collectively, we have a passion for doing the right thing. Our ethos, to use suppliers within a 50-mile radius of our base in Stratford-upon-Avon, means that we have always supported our local business and artisan community. That could mean commissioning anything from a flash mob community choir, to a local street food vendor or a hidden gem of a hotel retreat in rural Warwickshire or the Cotswolds.”
The impact of the 2020 pandemic was substantial and devastating for the events sector. “We had events booked through 2020 and into 2021. Suddenly we found ourselves wondering what the future held for us,” said Emma.
“However, lockdown restrictions gave us the opportunity to start the initial assessment with the aim of becoming accredited during the first part of 2021. It was challenging and time-consuming but massively worthwhile, making us look closely at everything we do and why.
“We learned so much about ourselves during the process. It’s now our shared responsibility to encourage and educate others about how they can make small (and not so small) changes that have a positive and lasting impact on our planet. We also have a responsibility to do, rather than just say something, to protect the future for our children and grandchildren. This is our legacy to them.
“We are looking forward to a future when we can proudly wear the badge that says ‘We Care’ not just because we are talking, but being that company that cares.”
Business West makes itself clear on social values
A private business? Not-for-profit? Social enterprise? the UK’s largest Chamber of Commerce? Business West is all these and because of that it has sometimes struggled over the past 200 years to describe itself, externally and to its own employees.
Phil Smith, Managing Director at Business West, explains why the organisation decided to go for B Corp accreditation.
“What’s easy to explain is why we exist, which is to make our region the best place in the UK to start, run and grow a business and a great place to live, work and learn.
“So, in part, we wanted to become a B Corp for optical reasons, but B Corp also helps us prioritise our efforts between supporting our community, the planet and our own profits.
“Part of Business West’s repertoire includes delivering business support on behalf of government. To win this work it’s no longer good enough to show you can deliver
the contracted outputs on time and at the right quality, you must also demonstrate social value. B Corp offers us a neat and powerful way of capturing our social value contribution.
“The B Corp accreditation process is not for the faint-hearted. We already get heavily audited (iso 14001, 9001, health and safety, insurance, food hygiene, to name a few). We also had some concerns as it is a US-based scheme, because some of the language and questions had a slight inflection. But rather than being a stick to beat us with, B Corp shines a light on the good things we are already doing and shows us where we can do things better.
“As UK industry and commerce begins to think about better ways of doing things, Business West, using B Corp as our guide and our banner, is trying to show our members and customers that while businesses can (and need) to make profit we can also be good citizens.”
passionate about creating a positive impact
Reading-based wholesale packaging supplier Swiftpak has always been passionate about creating a positive impact, so it was a no-brainer to want to join the global movement of people using business as a force for good. The B Impact Assessment helped put down on paper what Swiftpak was already doing, while bringing corporate social responsibility further up its agenda.
Swiftpak’s managing director Craig Gulley, said: “We have an impact on our team members, environment, the community and our customers. With this in mind, we strive to create a positive impact on our various stakeholders: the Swiftpak Impact.”
The Swiftpak Impact is a promise for which the company is legally accountable through B Corporation certificate. It means continuing to put ideas into practice, such as partnering with Ecologi, allowing customers to offset their paper waste and lower their carbon footprint by planting trees, as well as creating a climate-positive workforce.
Supporting charities, volunteering and helping meet societal goals has always been
a part of Swiftpak’s ethos and it encourages staff to volunteer support to a charity of their choice. Along with financial donations, Swiftpak provided hand sanitisers, masks and anti-bacterial sprays to charities and care homes during the pandemic.
Swiftpak also trained team members as certified mental health first aiders and gave them access to ‘Perkbox’ to receive additional benefits for their hard work. Most importantly, Swiftpak sees customers as its biggest source of inspiration and makes continuous improvements to be better, which is reflected in its 4.9 TrustPilot score.
As part of the B Corporation community, Swiftpak hopes to encourage more companies to join them.Warwick Events organises events of all sizes The Swiftpak team
Positive signs of recovery for Worcestershire company
A Worcestershire signage company, which started life in an attic bedroom 12 years ago, is seeing signs of recovery after a tough year.
As the main signage contractor to Malvern’s Three Counties Showground, Ocean Blue Graphics, owned by Blake and Gemma Hobbs, produces banners, ﬂags, marquee displays and roadside boards for events like the RHS Spring Gardening Festival.
It could only watch as one by one all its 2020 events were cancelled.
But this husband-and-wife team rethought their business strategy, contacted potential new customers and adapted their services to meet a new demand.
The resolve paid off, and they have also recently returned to Three Counties having won the signage contract for the NHS Vaccination Centre now located there.
Blake said: “Our business has been trading for 12 years and sometimes we forget how hard it has been to get to where we are, but we weren’t about to let a pandemic wipe out a decade of effort.”
The slowdown also gave the couple time to explore new business opportunities.
Gemma said: “We created a range of ﬂatpack eco-friendly signage and branded packaging.”
Ocean Blue Graphics invested in a Summa ﬂatbed cutter, which can make short runs of branded cardboard packaging for same day delivery.
“Many local food businesses and restaurants have been offering a takeaway service for the first time,” added Gemma. “Thanks to our new machine, we’ve been helping them with branded takeaway boxes to meet demand.”
STROUD PRECISION ENGINEERING COMPANY CELEBRATES EXPANSION AFTER TOUGH YEAR
A precision engineering company is investing in new equipment and moving to bigger premises after a roller-coaster year as it was called on to boost its supply of critical equipment to the medical sector.
Nortim Precision, taken over by Tony Powell in 2014, is moving into a 7,000 sq ft factory space at Oldends Lane, Stonehouse, near Stroud.
The company, which turns over more than £1 million annually, manufactures precision engineered parts for a range of industries, from oil and gas to electronic, medical and nuclear. When Boris Johnson announced lockdown in March last year, the UK’s manufacturers were not sure what to expect, but at Nortim, the uncertainty lasted for just 24 hours.
Tony said: “The day after the government lockdown announcement, we received a letter from one of our biggest customers asking us to stay open because they needed us to supply critical parts for one of their key machines which is used in NHS operating theatres.”
Like many other manufacturers, Nortim staff were considered key workers and throughout the whole of 2020, all the staff (bar one who had to self-isolate for health reasons), continued to work.
Tony said it is the diversity of his customer base which has helped Nortim to survive and enabled investment in growth.
“We used to do most of our work supplying the oil and gas sectors, but they have experienced fluctuating fortunes of late, so over the last few years we have actively been broadening our customer base.”
This strategy has paid off. The pandemic dominated every aspect of the medical device sector in 2020. UK government incentives supported the industry and it has flagged its intention to continue supporting innovation, pledging to pump tens of billions into the sector over the next few years.
Despite being a relatively small precision engineering company, Nortim has an impressive roster of customers.
These include Cheltenham-based Spectrum Medical, Poeton and Severn Glocon in Gloucester, and Oxfordshire companies RAL Space based at Harwell Campus and fusion power company Tokamak Energy at Milton Park, along with global energy company Schlumberger, to name just a few.
Tony said: “These companies work with us because we’re fast and flexible and produce high quality engineered parts.
“Our new factory space in Stonehouse will help the business grow and will widen our customer base even further. We are very excited for the move and can't wait for new opportunities to come our way.”
HOW TO SELL A BUSINESS
owner set about selling their business?
When is the right and most proﬁtable time to consider selling your business?
The right answer is when sales are soaring, the sales pipeline is strong, your business’s structure is sound and there’s a strong management team in place.
That may be the case for some of the record number of businesses which have sold successfully in the first quarter of 2021, but after more than a year of the pandemic-related upheavals we’ve all experienced, there may be other businesses on the market which, while structurally sound, have suffered a temporary downturn because of the pandemic, or their owners want to pass it to new management and turn their attention to other opportunities.
Whatever the reason, the message from the professionals is don’t rush and plan ahead.
Most people selling a business will only do it once, so do it right.
A well thought-through exit strategy will help secure you the best value.
How do I value my business?
Valuing a business is not an exact science. It will take into account historic and forecast performance, cash flow, turnover, profitability, risk and market conditions.
According to Cheltenham accountants Hazlewoods, there are traditionally four methods adopted for the valuation of private businesses.
Price earnings-based valuation: this method measures a business’s current share price, relative to its per share net earnings. This method is often used to value companies with an established profitable history and can also be used to value unquoted businesses.
Net asset-based valuation: this method looks at a company’s assets, or the fair market value of its total assets after deducting liabilities.
Dividend yield-based valuation: if your company pays out dividends, the dividends can become an indicator of value. Dividend yield is shown as a percentage and calculated by dividing the monetary value of dividends paid per share in a particular year by the value of one share of stock. This method is only typically used to value a minority
holding. Dividends paid to owner directors in SMEs are largely at their own discretion and often form part of a tax efficient remuneration strategy (and therefore do not link directly to the value of shares).
Discounted cash flow-based valuation. This method aims to estimate the value of an investment based on its expected future cash flow and how much money the business is likely to generate in the future. Perfect in principle, but impractical in reality – as future cash flows are difficult to predict beyond the short-term.
The vast majority of SMEs are valued on an EBITDA multiple (a variation of the price earnings method), whereby the maintainable level of profitability (appropriately ‘normalised’) is multiplied by a risk factor appropriate for the industry and business size. For example, if sustainable profits are £1 million and the appropriate industry multiple is five, the valuation (before adjusting for excess cash, debt and working capital) would be £5 million.
Whatever method used to value a business, it’s complicated. Take professional advice. Valuing your business wrongly, too high or too low, could mean you lose money and a successful sale is delayed or difficult to achieve.
A large number of businesses changed hands in the ﬁrst quarter of 2021. So how does a business
“Most people selling a business will only do it once, so do it right. A well thought-through exit strategy will help you secure the best value.”
Is this just fantasy? An escape from reality?
Sometimes the valuations put on businesses can seem fantastic. WeWork in 2019 and Deliveroo earlier this year are two examples.
WeWork, the American real estate business, launched in 2010 selling serviced oﬃce space. Soon the company developed a much more enticing offer and the provision of basic serviced oﬃce space became “a co-working environment”.
The company took on leases of large oﬃce buildings, transformed them into millennial-friendly, multicoloured workspaces which offered not just a desk, chair and internet, but free coffee, snacks, squashy sofas, networking events, “wellness” sessions. Millennials need never go home.
By 2019, the company had apparently been valued at a staggering $47 billion – but it had never made money, in fact by that time its losses were reportedly $1.9 billion.
When the company announced plans to launch an IPO, questions which had always existed on the business model
in some financial sectors began to be asked by those who had been dazzled.
A few weeks later, the charismatic CEO Adam Neumann stepped down and the IPO was called off.
Fast forward almost two years, and the company has shaken itself up, and is once again in a prime position to support the post-pandemic model of more ﬂexible working. As of the middle of March it had 859 locations in 151 towns and cities across 38 countries, including London and Birmingham.
In April, the UK-based take-away service Deliveroo listed on the London Stock Exchange. Ahead of the listing, there were various reports of its valuation, ranging from £7.5 billion to more than £9 billion, despite the fact that the company has never yet made a profit. The news of its whopping valuation certainly kept the national headline writers busy and the shares sank on valuation. But the business has certainly grown and has ambitious plans to grow further, so while its initial valuation might have seemed like a fairy story, who knows what will happen to the business over the next ten years.
Who can help me sell my business?
You can do you own research on potential buyers and approach them directly.
However, using an experienced business broker is likely to be able to secure a better price or improved sale terms. Your existing professional advisers (such as a financial adviser, accountant or law firm) can also offer advice. Choose a professional firm which has experience in your sector, or which can demonstrate a number of successful sales.
Professional business brokers will have a big database of funded buyers or investors, a wide network of people around which they can spread the word, efficient marketing teams and back-office administration which can take all the pressure off so that you can continue to keep the business in the best shape possible for when prospective purchasers come knocking.
Don’t rush the nitty gritty to get investment ready
It can take a couple of years or more to get the business in the best shape to sell. In that time a business owner can build the right management team and invest in the systems and processes which ensure the company is trading efficiently.
If you are pursuing a trade sale, your business sale advisers will also be working to discreetly identify possible purchasers.
Negotiations take time too, along with the due diligence required by the prospective purchaser. Last year, not surprisingly, Covid delayed business sales with transactions taking longer to complete. The deal taking the longest to complete in 2020 took 348 days, compared with 272 days for the longest in 2019 and 218 days in 2018.
A trade sale, MBO or ﬂoatation…?
When you invite the professionals in, they will undertake a strategic review of your business. Is it the right time to sell? Should you delay the sale for a period to take advantage of better market conditions?
Are you planning on selling it to your existing management team, or do you prefer to look for a trade sale? Perhaps you are considering a stock market flotation. Each will require a different approach, and in the case of a stock market flotation, it’s likely to be a lot more costly and time-consuming.
The most straightforward is a management buyout, when the existing management purchase a majority share, or all of the company. Selling to the current management means that confidentiality surrounding the sale is easier, and companies purchased through an MBO have a greater chance of ongoing success because there is more business continuity. But it also means that the management must raise the capital to fund their purchase and many look to do this through private equity or bank loans.
Selling your company to a third party, as a trade sale, could be the cleanest break from the business and secure you the best price. But there are disadvantages here too. Customers and clients may not like the new owners and move elsewhere. This can be mitigated to a certain extent by the company owner agreeing to stay in the business for an agreed handover, or earn-out period, to ensure a smooth transition to the new owners. On the upside, the new owners may very well want to invest in the business and its staff, giving it a new lease of life.
Floating a company on the stock exchange is not for the faint-hearted and needs significant preplanning. A business seeking to float should have a strong growth strategy and a solid management team with a track record of generating profits. But employees can stand to benefit too if a company offers shares in the company on floatation.
A company floatation also raises the profile of a business and may be more attractive to investors who can then trade their shares in the future.
In 2013, Neill Ricketts ﬂoated his Cheltenham-based advanced engineering business on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM). It was a bold move as he had only launched Versarien two years earlier.
Versarien is developing the relatively new material, graphene. Discovered in 2004 by two University of Manchester researchers, Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, graphene is the name for a honeycomb sheet of carbon atoms. It is the strongest known material, yet it’s stretchy. It can conduct electricity and heat incredibly well but is only a single atom thick.
Although scientists knew one atom thick, two-dimensional crystal graphene existed, no-one had worked out how to extract it from graphite. Andre and Kostya won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering work.
One reason that Versarien, which is commercialising the material, took the decision to ﬂoat early was
because it felt that to do so would inspire wider confidence in a new material. But it was a challenging project to achieve.
Neill takes up the story: “Floating a business with just six colleagues is stressful from the beginning but the biggest stress comes from the deadlines in compiling and verifying information. You have to do a lot of pitches, and everything is at risk right up until the point of completion, however it is achievable, as we demonstrated. Processes must be followed and choosing good advisers is crucial to guide you through. Having achieved success, it opens up the doors to lots of opportunities for substantial funding for growth.
“Since 2013, we have been disrupting the market using new techniques and been successful as a result. We have used new and innovative platforms to place shares including online private investor-focused models, with Versarien being one of the most successful companies. There is a lot of change in the traditional city, and I feel there is more to come.
Versarien goes public and reaps the rewards
Whatever approach you decide to follow, keep a clear eye on what you want to achieve personally from the sale and undertake detailed discussion with your business advisers.
“We have also been successful in looking at ways in which companies liaise with investors and have always tried to be creative. When these work it is a great feeling.
“In terms of lowlights, the volatile nature of the markets over the past 18 months
hasn't been easy but we have used it to be more creative, taking adversity and turning it into an opportunity. In our case this has been by working with the government and highlighting the ways technology companies can help rebuild following some very challenging times for the country.”
THE YEAR 2021 HAS SEEN BUMPER COMPANY SALES
Since January, our daily news website, www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk, has reported on more than 30 major deals across the region. These included Onecom acquiring Stonehouse-based comms business 9 Group, just three weeks after Onecom scooped up Olive Communications in High Wycombe. Financial details of the sale were not disclosed. The acquisition marked Farnham-based Onecom’s second major deal in as many months, and the fourth since leading mid-market private equity firm LDC backed the business in July 2019.
Corporate finance company FRP acquired Reading-based Spectrum Corporate Finance in a deal worth more than £9 million.
In 2020, Spectrum’s Corporate Finance team advised on 25 completed transactions with a combined deal value of more than £900 million. This included advising on the acquisition of VIPR by Tenzing Private Equity, the sale of Babble on behalf of LDC to Graphite Capital, and the sale of Reading-based Porterhouse Medical to imc group, in a deal backed by Waterland Private Equity.
Stuart Turner, the Henley-on-Thames based manufacturer of water boosting pumps and systems, bought Redditchbased pressurisation and HVAC specialist Mikrofill Systems Ltd. The transaction was supported by follow-on funding provided by Stuart Turner’s private equity backer LDC. Founded in 1906, Stuart Turner
designs and manufactures water powering solutions, from domestic pumps to large water boosting systems for commercial and industrial projects.
In January, Coventry and Warwickshire solicitors Alsters Kelley acquired Stratfordbased Bonell & Co Solicitors, bringing its total number of offices to five. The firm already operates in Coventry, Nuneaton, Leamington Spa and Southam and this represents its first acquisition for 15 years. The move has resulted in Alsters Kelley becoming one of the largest solicitor’s firms in the region and will increase turnover by an anticipated 10 per cent in the first year.
“We have also been successful in looking at ways in which companies liaise with investors and have always tried to be creative. When these work it is a great feeling”Neill Ricketts, founder and CEO at graphene company Versarien
Domestic M&A activity lags behind overseas activity
The last quarter of 2020 saw notable increases in both the value and number of cross-border mergers and acquisitions, according to data from the Office of National Statistics, while domestic activity recorded sizeable decreases.
Over the period, estimates for the total value of overseas companies acquiring UK businesses were £4.3 billion, higher than the previous quarter’s figure of £3.2 billion, and representing 114 deals, an increase of 25 transactions on the previous quarter and 35 fewer than in the last quarter of 2019.
However, over the same quarter, the value of domestic mergers and acquisitions (UK companies acquiring other UK companies), was £2.2 billion, significantly lower than the previous quarter (£4.4 billion), and explained by the completion of a lower number of higher value acquisitions.
Two notable large valued domestic acquisitions completed in the quarter were Buckinghamshire-based language services business RWS Holdings plc’s purchase of Maidenhead-based SDL plc in November last year to make what RWS described as “the largest language services and software company in the world” with a market capitalisation of more than £2 billion. The second was Bristol facilities company Mitie’s £271 million purchase of Reading-based Interserve’s facilities management arm.
The value of outward M&A (UK companies acquiring foreign companies abroad) was £4.5 billion in the last quarter of 2020, a substantial increase of £3.1 billion on the value recorded in the previous quarter
(£1.4 billion) and a £1.5 billion increase on the last quarter of 2019 (£3 billion). One notable acquisition was Ocado’s $262 million purchase of USA robotics company Kindred Systems Inc.
In 2020 there were 446 completed inward mergers and acquisitions worth a total of £16.3 billion, compared with 609 inward mergers and acquisitions with a value of £55.5 billion recorded in 2019.
Which industry sectors are seeing most disposals?
Levels of deal activity in the UK varied widely between industry sectors in 2020, according to a recent report by Experian.
Mergers and acquisitions in technology, media and telecoms have been particularly brisk. Infocomms, fuelled by deals in the cloud computing and software segments, accounted for 28 per cent of all transactions – up from 22 per cent in 2019 – and saw volume increase by five per
cent year on year, accompanied with a 148 per cent upturn in deal value.
There was also decent growth in professional services, but other sectors saw activity fall in comparison with 2019’s figures. Real estate, where deals were down by 29 per cent and financial services (a 39 per cent decline) seemed hardest hit.
Data from the Office of National Statistics also reveal that disposals in wholesale, transport and accommodation industries accounted for a much higher proportion of the total value and number in 2020 than in 2018 or 2019.
In its Small Business Finance Markets Report, published in March, the British Business Bank revealed that equity investment into private smaller companies reached new heights in 2020, rising by nine per cent on 2019 levels to £8.8 billion and average deal size continues to increase, although primarily driven by a small number of very large deals.
Limited’s technology has the potential
to increase the speed and ease of sharing large volumes of data over a network, giving users greater ability to exploit that data. As volumes of data grow, this ability is crucial to give military and security customers an information advantage.A Shrivenham-based developer of high-end electronics has been snapped up by BAE Systems. The deal was in the region of £20 million. Power and Measurement Shrivenham electronics company snapped up by BAE systems PPM’s Hybrid Anechoic Chamber, a room designed to completely absorb reﬂections of either sound or electromagnetic waves Figure 1 The number of monthly domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions involving UK companies from January 2019 to December 2020
GLOUCESTERSHIRE MORTUARY COOLING BUSINESS IS SOLD
Gloucester-based Flexmort, the market leader in flexible mortuary cooling which won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2016, has been bought by investors led by Noar Limited. The sale price was not disclosed.
The business was founded in 2010 by entrepreneur Simon Rothwell who identified the need for mortuary equipment to be more flexible to cope with fluctuations in demand and to overcome manual handling and specific cooling issues.
Flexmort’s products are now used worldwide across the healthcare, funeral and emergency services sectors. During the
Double acquisition strengthens BBN’s regional day nursery presence
Bristol-based BBN Limited has added to its growing portfolio of pre-primary education businesses by buying two leading children’s day nurseries.
The acquisition of New Road Nursery in Chippenham and Little Robins Nursery in Melksham will strengthen BBN’s market presence, expand its geographic footprint and extend its range of childcare services to children and their families across south-west England and Wales.
BBN Limited was founded by owner Bob Bennett in 2009 and currently employs more than 100 qualified and experienced childcare specialists.
In August last year, the company added to its group of day nurseries in Bristol, Burnham-on-Sea, Salisbury, Stroud and Cardiff with the acquisition of Scribblez Day Nursery in Exeter.
Covid crisis, the company played a central role in equipping hospitals and assisting governments in contingency planning to manage and extend capacity.
Simon Rothwell, who will become a consultant in the business, said: “We are extremely excited to be joining Noar. The move ensures the company is ideally placed to take advantage of the significant expansion opportunities ahead.”
Data management company sold to USA consultancy
Warwick-based Comma Group has been acquired by Amplifi, a strategy and information management consultancy headquartered in Dallas, Texas.
Comma Group is an award-winning international management consultancy which connects people and data to improve commercial results.
Founded in 2015 by Leigh Wells, Sam Goss, Mike Evans and Mike Bonsall, the group now works across multiple industries including manufacturing, distribution, apparel, retail, health and beauty and food and beverage.
Leigh Wells, Comma Group’s CEO, said: “Organisations need to use data to compete strategically or they will get left behind. Becoming part of Amplifi will accelerate our global vision and provide customers with a more comprehensive set of services to address today’s market needs.”
Comma Group will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Amplifi and will operate under the name Comma, part of Amplifi. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Wheatley employee engagement business secures investment
A Wheatley-based employee engagement company has received private equity investment to complete a management buyout.
With many businesses adopting a hybrid approach to work, and workforces becoming increasingly dispersed, the need for employee engagement technology is set to increase.
Peoplevalue founder Mike Morgan along with CEO Andy Caldicott and the management team sought the backing of investors to take the business through its next phase of growth.
Ethos Partners supported the management buyout.
Andy said: “The team at Peoplevalue is passionate about helping businesses engage with their teams, members or customers and we are proud to be able to partner with many of the UK’s leading businesses to do this together.
“The Ethos investment and partnership will enable new opportunities for both our employees and clients as we continue to innovate and bring new technologies to the engagement market.”
Pascal Wittet, Partner at Ethos, added: “The market for technology-led employee engagement solutions is growing at an attractive rate and will become more crucial to organisations in a world of distributed workforces as working from home is increasingly accepted.”
MALVERN DISPOSABLE TISSUE PRODUCTS MANUFACTURER SOLD TO ITALIANS
A Malvern disposable tissue products manufacturer has been bought by Lucart Group, the leading Italian producer of tissue products for daily use.
Lucart Group has acquired 100 per cent of the share capital of Essential Supply Products (ESP) Ltd.
Founded in 1990, ESP turns over around £26 million per annum. The company, which has its head office and production plant in Malvern, employs 85 people on five different processing lines. The production facilities cover an area of 77,000 sq m, 15,000 of which are covered.
Lucart said that the investment will decisively strengthen its leadership in the European “Away from Home” hygiene products market. The UK is, apparently, the second largest market in Europe for tissue products (the biggest is Germany).
Founder Carl Theakston said: “We have done deals over the years to enable us to compete at the highest level. However, the standard of investment required to make my ambitions for this company a reality needed an investor who shared our values and desire to grow the company sustainably and to its full potential.
“Lucart is a 70-year old family-owned multinational company. Its history, vision and commitment to sustainable development make it the ideal investor to ensure ESP’s adventure continues.”
Investment fund pumps £100 million into Midlands businesses
The sum of £100 million has been invested into the region’s small businesses through the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.
The milestone was reached by the Fund after making 481 investments in 350 businesses in the West Midlands, East and South East Midlands.
An additional £90 million of private sector leverage has also been secured as a result of the Midlands Engine’s Investment
Fund’s investments to date. This follows the Fund regularly unlocking additional funding rounds and investing along with other traditional and private investors in supporting small businesses across the Midlands.
The £250 million Fund was launched by the Government’s British Business Bank in 2017 with an aim of improving the finance landscape for smaller businesses in the Midlands.
Chevron buys Welsh business and begins big recruitment drive
The largest independent traﬃc management provider in the UK, Chevron Traﬃc Management, has bought Powys-based Camps Highways Limited, which specialises in commercial landscaping and verge maintenance, and its associated business, Camps Environmental Services (CES).
Thame-based Chevron Group CEO, Tim Cockayne, said: “We have been providing soft estate maintenance services through our sister company ACones Ltd and it has always been our intention to expand this part of our business.
“Camps Highways will bring additional experience and a strong reputation in highway soft estate maintenance which will support our expansion plans. CES consultancy will enhance the breadth of professional services we can offer.”
Camps Highways and CES Ltd employ 38 people and have depots in Hampshire, Cambridgeshire and the West Midlands.
Chevron has also embarked on a mammoth recruitment drive to hire more than 300 staff across the UK.
Construction company reveals robust full-year results
Swindon and Oxford based family-run construction firm Beard has published its full-year accounts for last year, and they reveal a resilient performance.
The 128-year-old business made £136 million in sales in 2020 and
£3.5 million profit while holding a strong cash balance with zero debt on its books.
Beard completed a total of 31 projects, including the iconic Swindon Carriage Works and a new training facility for
Premiership Rugby club Bristol Bears.
The company said its strong financial performance was due to operational resilience through the pandemic, and because it was able to continue work on more than 90 per cent of its sites.
READING ADVANCED CHATBOT TECH COMPANY SECURES GROWTH FUNDING
An artificial intelligence (AI) company has secured £150,000 from the Thames Valley Berkshire (TVB) Expansion Loan Scheme to take its new product to the next level.
Artelli42 specialises in human behavioural emulation, an advanced form of chatbot that enables people to talk to a computer in everyday language and be understood.
The company’s new AI product, EXALT, is intended to support professional learning and development through role play simulations, allowing knowledge to be better applied in the workplace.
Oxford engineering company secures £10 million investment
Polar Technology has secured a £10 million investment from BGF – the UK’s most active growth capital investor Whitley Stimpson advised on the deal.
The Oxfordshire business makes high-performance carbon and metal components for the automotive, medical, aerospace and defence sectors. The investment will support a move into its new 100,000 sq ft facility at Horizon Technology Park in Eynsham. This will double the size of its production capacity and create more than 110 new jobs.
The new facility is expected to be up and running during 2021.
Polar Technology Management Group was established in 2012 by Scott Roberts and Mike Dewhirst. Currently employing more than 200 people, the business designs, develops and manufactures products and technology based around advanced composite materials, emerging metal processes and metallic fabrications. The company works with a number of Formula 1 manufacturers and produces parts for high performance hypercars.
Forest of Dean food ﬂavouring company bought by Italians
A company that develops seasonings and ﬂavours has been bought by a leading European sustainabilityfocused investor.
Taste Connection, based near Woottonunder-Edge in Gloucestershire, has been acquired by Ambienta SGR SpA for its company Nactarome, a leading European Group of companies specialising in developing and manufacturing natural ﬂavours, colours and functional ingredients, With the support of Ambienta, Nactarome
has grown its revenues to in excess of €120 million and spread its manufacturing across Italy, the UK, France and Belgium. The acqusition strengthens marks Nactorome’s entry into the British and European snacks market.
Founded in 2002, Taste Connection has a client base of more than 70 of the largest UK snacks producers and food brands, as well as many niche UK brands. The purchase price was not disclosed.
It is a new class of conversational technology, testsing competence and confidence through app-based virtual replays while providing insight into the development needs of teams.
TVB Expansion Loan Scheme is part of TVB Funding Escalator, an £11.3 million initiative funded by Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
The escalator provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding from between £50,000 and £300,000 to help deliver highgrowth and employment opportunities.
Bristol engineering company buys Cheltenham and Corby businesses
Specialist manufacturing and engineering business Avon Group has made a second key acquisition in the last six months.
Cheltenham-based Edgewest Plastics (UK) Ltd joined the privately-owned Group late last year and this has now been followed by the acquisition of Scandura Ltd.
Edgewest Plastics supplies plastic-moulded components to some of the UK’s largest manufacturers of plumbing and bathroom products.
Scandura, based in Corby, Northamptonshire, is the longestestablished gasket manufacturer in the UK. Formerly part of the OSL Group, it specialises in supplying specialist gaskets and industrial rubber products to a wide range of industry sectors including automotive, white goods manufacturing, petrochemicals and aerospace.
Mark Rushin, Director at Avon Group, said: “We will be retaining the employees, equipment and premises of both businesses and they will continue to operate autonomously as part of the Group. Their addition to the Group will make a significant contribution to our growth ambitions and also secure their futures as part of a highly successful group business.”
Artelli42’s chatbot will understand what humans say
HIGH RISK SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH COULD DELIVER HIGH REWARDS
The government is to launch an independent body to fund high-risk, high-reward scientific research.
The Advanced Research & Invention Agency (ARIA) will be led by scientists who will have the freedom to identify and fund transformational science and technology at speed, said the government.
It will have a much higher tolerance for failure than is normal, recognising that in research, the freedom to fail is often also the freedom to succeed.
The news has been welcomed by the manufacturing and scientific communities. The president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Sir Jim McDonald, said: “We are delighted to see the government deliver on its commitment to a high-risk high-reward funding agency. I hope this ambitious new funding mechanism will help to unlock radical innovation and enable step changes in technology that provides value for our economy and society at large.
“Engineering is central to an ambitious agency of this kind, forming the bridge between research and innovation to enable technological and commercial breakthroughs.”
The Academy put forward its recommendations for the new agency in March 2020, when the idea was first proposed.
Dr Nick Hawker, founder of First Light Fusion, the Oxford-based company researching energy generation via inertial fusion, said this country has a
long track record of giving away our technological crown jewels too early, while our US friends build vast global champions.
“It doesn’t need to be this way,” he said. “Our small island is a buzzing hub of incredible talent, ideas and innovation. We have a thriving tech sector, not just in apps, but clean tech, fintech, quantum computing. You name it, we are leading the charge.”
The UK has a long history of inventing that dates back centuries – from Ada Lovelace and Alan Turing who pioneered early predecessors of the computer, Thomas Newcomen and James Watt who transformed travel by creating steam engines to William Grove who created fuel cells and Frank Partridge who helped save millions of lives by developing the first portable defibrillator. Then there is Professor John Goodenough the Inventor of the lithium-ion battery in Oxford, whose idea was commercialised not by a UK company but by Sony in Japan.
Dr Hawker added: “US universities top the charts when it comes to innovation, but Oxford University boasts just as many patents per research pound spent. First Light Fusion, the company I co-founded which was spun out of Oxford, has produced an invention (including both patents and trade secrets) every 3.5 days over the last five years.
The creation of ARIA is backed by £800 million to fund the most inspiring inventors turn their transformational ideas into new technologies, products and services – helping to boost the UK’s
position as a global science superpower. The government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance said: “The importance of scientific innovation has never been clearer than over the last year and this new body provides an exciting new funding mechanism for pioneering R&D.”
The new body will complement the work of UK Research and Innovation and help the government meet its target of spending 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development by 2027, bringing it in line with the current Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average. Total research and development expenditure in the UK in 2018 was just 1.71 per cent of GDP.
ARIA will be based on models that have proved successful in other countries, in particular the influential USA-based Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) model.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “By stripping back unnecessary red tape and putting power in the hands of our innovators, the agency will be given the freedom to drive forward the technologies of tomorrow, as we continue to build back better through innovation.”
Central to the agency will be its ability to deliver funding to the UK’s most pioneering researchers flexibly and at speed. It will experiment with funding models including programme grants, seed grants and prize incentives, and will be able to start and stop projects according to success, redirecting funding elsewhere. The aim is for ARIA to be fully operational by 2022.
The government is to launch a new and independent body to fund high-risk, high-reward research. And not before time say experts
Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of the manufacturing support organsation
Make UK, said: “The UK has always been an innovative nation but has struggled to turn many ideas in to commercial reality, with government and investors too riskaverse to take on many projects.
“This new agency will provide a welcome boost towards seizing the opportunities that science and technological breakthroughs are already providing, and which will be critical to solving the many societal challenges we face.
“Government must now build on this by reforming and boosting the R&D Tax Credit, in particular including capital expenditure.
“Together these measures should help turbocharge the UK’s science and innovation performance.”
Research and development facts
• In the UK in 2018, total expenditure on research and development was £37.1 billion, £558 per head, or the equivalent of 1.71 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
• While research and development investment has risen from £20 billion in 1986 to the current £37.1 billion, as a proportion of GDP, expenditure fell over this period (it was the equivalent of 19 per cent of GDP in 1986)
• The Government has a target for total research and development investment to reach 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027, which is the average across the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).
Research and development expenditure in Germany is the equivalent of 3.1 per cent of GDP, in the US it is 2.8 per cent and in France, 2.2 per cent.
Source: UK Government
In 1980 Professor John Goodenough, a visiting professor at the Department of Chemistry at Oxford University, discovered lithium cobalt oxide which led to the development of the highperformance rechargeable lithiumion batteries which have gone on to power the world’s portable electronics revolution.
However, it was Sony which commercialised the discovery in 1991, and the UK saw minimal financial benefit. The government is determined
that its new Advanced Research & Invention Agency won’t let that happen again. Professor Goodenough won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2019.
Motor vehicles and parts
Miscellaneous business activities
Computer programming, info services
Research and development services
Machinery and equipment
Chemicals and chemical products
Precision instruments & optical products
Computers and peripheral equipment
Food products and beverages
Wholesale and retail trade
Other manufactured goods
Fabricated metal products
Rubber and plastic products
Agriculture, forestry, ﬁshing
Electricity, gas and water supply
Reﬁned petroleum products and coke...
Other transport equipment
Other non-metallic mineral products
Pulp, paper and paper products
Transport and storage Casting of iron and steel Textiles, clothing and leather products
Source: ONS, Business enterprise research and development, UK: 2019, Data table 2
Missed opportunities should not happen again
Expenditure on research and development performed by businesses, by sector, UK £billionProfessor John Goodenough
FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS: THE SPACE RACE IS ON
The UK space sector generates an income of £15 billion every year, but the global space industry is predicted to be worth $350 billion. The UK government wants to gain a 10 per cent share of the global space market by 2030 and is investing. This really is rocket science and it’s exciting
Space launch from British soil one step closer
Sixty years after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to journey into outer space, the government is looking to give the go-ahead to spaceflight from UK soil. Over the last few months, ministers have been inviting industry, stakeholders and the public to have their say on the rules that will govern a UK spaceflight programme.
Such legislation will supercharge the development of commercial spaceflight, from vertical rockets to high-altitude balloons and spaceplanes, and launches could take place within a few years.
Spaceport locations in the UK could be built in Scotland, Newquay in Cornwall and Snowdonia in North Wales. At present, there are no spaceports in Europe.
Spaceports are the future, but the UK is already a global leader in commercial small
satellite research and development, and it’s this technology which will more quickly help the UK grow our share of the global space market to 10 per cent by 2030.
The government has awarded nearly £40 million in grants to establish commercial vertical and horizontal small satellite launches from UK spaceports. But private enterprise isn’t waiting for these.
Open Cosmos satellites aim to connect hard-to-read areas across the globe
In March space technology company Open Cosmos launched two commercial nanosatellites built at its Harwell Campus facility in the heart of the UK’s space industry in Oxfordshire.
The launch saw the two nanosatellites launched aboard the Soyuz-2 rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan where Sputnik was launched. One of the Open Cosmos satellites is the latest
addition to the Lacuna Space IoT constellation. Lacuna (which is also based at Harwell), is developing an “Internet of Things” (IoT) constellation of small satellites that can link connected objects anywhere in the world. It aims to provide low-cost, reliable global connections to sensors and mobile equipment.
Open Cosmos will be monitoring and operating the mission from four ground stations around the globe.
Open Cosmos and Lacuna Space are part of a new generation of companies leading the way for the UK space industry. The sector employs almost 42,000 people, more than 1,000 of whom work at Harwell, Europe’s most concentrated SpaceTech cluster, which launched in 2015 as Open Cosmos was just beginning operations.
Open Cosmos operates space missions from start to finish by manufacturing and building satellites as well as handling the mission, satellite operation and services. The company, set up five years ago,
wants to make it more affordable for small businesses and governments to use satellites to access the data they need to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges from climate change, to civil protection, emergencies and infrastructure.
Rafel Jordá, founder and CEO of Open Cosmos, said: “These launches mark a major milestone for Open Cosmos, demonstrating the capacity of low-cost satellites to provide IoT connectivity to remote parts of the world and collect data.”
The world’s economy increasingly relies on IoT which in turn relies on technology enabled by satellites to connect economies and manage supply chains.
“With £300 billion of wider UK GDP supported by satellite services, Open Cosmos is key to unlocking these services and making them more accessible for businesses and governments across the world,” added Rafel. “We’re also extremely proud that these latest launches have been made possible by working closely with
the UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, the UK’s Satellite Applications Catapult and all our partner companies at Harwell Campus and abroad.”
Lacuna Space enables miniature sensors to be connected to the internet no matter where they are in the world, even in the most remote and hostile locations.
Sensors in these locations are being used to manage water and power distribution networks, protect endangered species and track goods across global supply chains. The IoT revolution is now transforming industries such as utilities, agriculture and asset management.
Another Harwell-based company, Oxford Space Systems, was also instrumental in Open Cosmos’ recent launch. It provided the innovative deployable antenna that goes on top of Lacuna’s IoT satellite receiver and is able to receive short messages directly from small, batterypowered devices on the ground.
The satellite was tested within the Disruptive Innovation Space Centre of the Satellite Applications Catapult and RAL Space testing facilities, both of which are based at Harwell. Such close collaboration among space start-ups, scale-ups and stakeholders is enabling this new breed of companies to grow.
Following these two launches, Open Cosmos will look to expand its commercial offering, delivering constellations for private companies and governments in need of accurate global and information services.
The company has 10 missions under development at the moment – including the MANTIS mission in partnership with the European Space Agency-Incubed programme and the UK Space Agency.
This aims to provide high-resolution imagery, and in-orbit partnership with the Satellite Applications Catapult that will test innovative services in orbit.
These satellites will be key to powering our digital transformation.
UK Space Agency launches multi-millionpound drive to design hospital of the future
Space technology could also be deployed here on earth following the government inviting the UK’s space innovators to help design a new “space age” hospital.
It wants to explore whether technologies pioneered on missions to Mars or the International Space Station could help treat patients and make life easier for NHS staff.
Up to £5 million of UK Space Agency funding is available to support a joint initiative with the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to modernise its hospitals.
The programme is part of the government’s Health Infrastructure Plan, which includes the provision of 40 new hospitals across England by 2030.
The space-enabled services might include new diagnostic tools, improved logistics by tracing goods or using drones, improving hospital parking or better patient reach using tele-rehabilitation or care.
Space is already playing an important role in supporting healthcare.
The UK Space Agency has funded projects to help the NHS tackle the Coronavirus pandemic, including electric drones that navigate via satellite-enabled GPS, carrying COVID-19 samples, test-kits and PPE to improve delivery times and free up transport infrastructure.
Health technologies inspired by space technologies have already helped provide real-time diagnosis of bowel cancer, developed more compact 3D X-ray machines and improved healthcare in the community through both remote diagnostics and an app targeting people at risk of social isolation and mental health issues.
...Open Cosmos is key to unlocking these services and making them more accessible for businesses and governments across the world”
ASTROSCALE ON MISSION TO DECLUTTER SPACE
New satellite propulsion test facility to propel UK into new space age
According to the European Space Agency (ESA), there are around 6,250 satellites in space, of which only around 3,900 are still functioning. So what’s happened to the rest? The number of debris objects regularly tracked by Space Surveillance Networks has reached more than 28,000.
But a far greater number of debris objects are estimated to be floating around space, says the ESA. These include 34,000 objects greater than 10cm, 900,000 objects greater than 1cm to 10cm and 128 million objects greater than 1mm to 1cm.
They might be tiny, but what is all this rubbish? According to NASA, they include pieces of space craft, tiny flecks of paint from their surfaces, parts of rockets, satellites that are no longer working, or explosions of objects in orbit flying around in space at high speeds. Most space junk is moving very fast and can reach speeds of 18,000 miles per hour, almost seven times faster than a bullet.
We need to clear up after ourselves.
And that’s what Astroscale wants to do. In March, the Japanese company which has a major base at Harwell Campus, launched its End-of-Life Services demonstration mission. This marks the start of the world’s first commercial mission to prove the core technologies necessary for space debris docking and removal. ELSA-d, which
consists of two satellites stacked together — a servicer designed to safely remove debris from orbit and a client satellite that serves as a piece of replica debris — was launched by GK Launch Services into a 550km orbit on a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.
The new centre will allow UK companies and academics to fire up and test state-of-theart space propulsion engines at up to 1.5kN in high-altitude vacuum, an equivalent test altitude of 140,000ft. It will cement the international reputation in propulsion of the Westcott Space Cluster.
The facility, which is expected to create around 60 jobs, will offer companies a more affordable test facility than international rivals.
It will also allow new types of more sustainable propellants to be tested, such as hydrogen peroxide and liquid oxygen which are more environmentally friendly in sourcing, storage and combustion.
Nobu Okada, Astroscale Founder and CEO, said: “This successful launch brings us closer to realising our vision of securing the safe and sustainable development of space for the benefit of future generations.”
Following additional preparatory steps in orbit, ELSA-d will enter the next phase of this pioneering mission to demonstrate the technologies and capabilities necessary for debris capture and removal.
At present, companies can test extremely small engines in the UK but have to go overseas to test bigger engines. The new facility will tackle this issue and help grow the UK’s status as a leading space player.
The government is backing the new facility, dubbed the National Space Propulsion Test Facility, with £4 million in funding.
“More than 28,000 debris objects are tracked by space surveillance, but a far greater number are estimated to be ﬂoating around space”The Astroscale ELSA-d on Soyuz in March CGI of Westcott’s planned satellite propulsion test facility
WHERE DO YOU WORK? WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO WORK?
Our workplaces have been slowly adapting for years,
Last year, thanks to coronavirus, nearly half of the working population did some work from home, according to the Office of National Statistics.
A year on, are they returning to their offices?
The picture is mixed. According to accountants KPMG’s latest CEO survey, three quarters of companies will wait for governments in key markets to encourage businesses to return to normal.
A significant majority (90 per cent) of CEOs intend to ask employees to report when they have been vaccinated.
Will this mean that employers are going to reduce their office space capacity? In the same survey, just 17 per cent of business leaders are planning to downsize their company’s physical footprint, which is
markedly down on the 69 per cent who said they would do so when asked last August.
The Nationwide Building Society, which has its head office in Swindon, announced in March that it will allow its staff to work from anywhere.
The building society wants its offices to provide more collaborative spaces for staff and it is one of the companies which has come out and said that it will reduce its office real estate.
Some of the world’s biggest businesses were trying to get other staff back into offices as early as last summer.
Manufacturing company Dyson was encouraging its office-based staff to return to work at its huge and beautifully designed Malmesbury campus, though at that time many of its staff were disinclined to do so.
Fast forward six months and it seems that employee’s views are changing. Many people have become tired of working from home and want to get back to the office as soon as possible, albeit with more flexibility to work from home one or two days a week.
There is also the view, reportedly held by James Dyson and the boss of Goldman Sachs, David Solomon, that the best ideas and innovations come from face-to-face, physical collaborations, something that can never be as successful via online conferencing such as Zoom or Teams.
So where does that leave the employers and employees who want to return to work but also want to ensure their workplace is Covid-safe?
Those who provide shared workspace have to set the example and one of the most well-known workspace providers in the UK is WeWork.
and now the pandemic has turbo-charged changeDyson’s inspirational campus at Malmesbury in Wiltshire
“As businesses embrace more ﬂexible ways of working, access to WeWork’s more than 850 locations across the world gives employees choice on how, when and where they work”
Mathieu Proust, WeWork’s General Manager UK and Ireland, said: "Health and safety is clearly front of mind for every business, and workers need to know that when they return to the office, it is to a space that prioritises their safety.
“We've invested significantly in space modifications over the last 12 months. We introduced measures to prioritise personal space, increased frequency and scope of cleaning, enhanced heating and ventilations systems to improve air quality, and provided sanitisation products in abundance.
“We’re also adapting our spaces in line with how we believe offices will be used moving forward – as centres for collaboration and in-person innovation. As businesses embrace more flexible ways of working, access to WeWork’s more than 850 locations across the world gives employees choice on how, when and where they work."
Future workspace leases
As businesses look to offer more flexible working for their staff, it’s likely that they will move away from large offices that accommodate all employees to smaller offices which won’t be able to accommodate everyone at the same time.
If that’s the case, according to Anthony Goodfellow, Head of Real Estate at law firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys, the way that leases are documented may need to change.
“It can, on occasions, take a long time to negotiate a relatively simple 10-year lease that sets out the relevant rights and obligations of both parties and the resulting document can easily run to 80 pages. This is incompatible with the need for shorter, more flexible agreements.”
The Model Commercial Lease suite of documents provides the answer, he said. “It provides standardised leases that act as a starting point for the negotiation of important commercial and legal terms.”
The Model Commercial Lease was originally commissioned by the British Property Federation. It aims to achieve a balance between landlords’ requirements to protect the capital value of their assets and the practical requirements of tenants’ occupation. Precedent leases for office, retail, industrial and food and drink are all available for free.
“Use of the Model Commercial Lease does not prevent law firms and their clients including their preferred amendments,” added Anthony. “It simply means that parties can see what has been changed from the standard position and then focus on the key points. In this way, agreements can be reached much more easily.”
BACK TO WORK, OR WORK FROM HOME?
Companies from across the region explain their post-Covid approach to o ce space
Employees want a destination workplace
Interior design consultancy Office Principals, which has offices in Reading, Coleshill near Birmingham, London and Manchester, hopes to bring staff back into its offices in June.
You can’t take the workshops home at Prodrive
Most of Banbury-based motorsport company Prodrive’s workforce are workshop-based.
Skilled technicians manufacture components, build race engines and assemble race and rally cars, and have been working fulltime in Banbury since soon after the first lockdown ended.
Ben Sayer, Prodrive’s spokesman, said: “Before they returned, we ensured our facility was Covid secure. This included introducing temperature checks for all staff; one-way systems, ensuring social distancing while working, face masks and Perspex screens between workstations when necessary.
“Around a third of our workforce is officebased: our engineering teams and support functions like finance, HR and IT. These
groups split their time between working from home (where it is practical for them to do so) and the office. Under Covid regulations we have had to shut every other desk to maintain social distancing, so at any one time, at least 50 per cent of staff have been working at home.
“Government guidelines for creating a Covid secure workplace have been clear and relatively simple to implement. It meant limiting staff numbers using confined areas like kitchens; spacing out tables in the restaurant, reducing capacity and limiting the number of people in meeting rooms, holding meetings online where possible.
“As we hopefully return to normal later this year, we will introduce a phased return for office staff in Banbury. If social distancing rules allow, we would like to have everyone working in the office. While most staff have been able to work effectively from home, one aspect you cannot replicate is the exchange of ideas and creative thinking that occurs when teams are together in the same real space rather than virtually.”
Busy camping season brings sta back into the o ce
Malvern-based tent and camping equipment design and manufacturing company Olpro brought all its staff back into the office in March.
The company, which recorded its highest ever daily turnover during February, is expecting a busy summer season.
Luckily, it has spacious office rooms, where each department is able to work in a room of fewer than six people and at a distance
of two metres apart. However, such is the business’s success that it is already looking for new office headquarters for 2023.
By April this year, the business had doubled the number of staff it employs within the space of 15 months. Current plans for Olpro's new office headquarters will allow the team to double in size once again within three years and significantly increase the amount of stock that the company is able to hold and sell.
Gary Tailby, joint managing director for the company in the Midlands, said: “We have told our staff that if they want to come into the workplace, we have made it safe for them to do so. The only time we will insist on our people coming into the workplace is if it’s deemed to be business critical.
“Ultimately people don't want to come back into the office and just sit at a desk, they're looking for a destination workplace. They want somewhere with a variety of spaces that caters for different activities and experiences, from gyms and cafe bistros, to quiet zones and collaborative spaces; all of the things they might not be able to get at home. Employers need to give their people a reason to come back into the office.”
The company moved into new office space at Coleshill Manor Business Park earlier this year, which is better equipped to accommodate its growing workforce. Gary added: “With increased safety considerations, we believe that we need more space per person than was the case previously, so we have no intention of decreasing our office space.”
NO LOSS IN PRODUCTIVITY SO TEAM CAN WORK WHERE THEY WANT
Planet IT is a leading tech company based at Milton Park in Oxfordshire, offering out-sourced IT solutions across the UK and Europe.
Business partners and company founders, Sean Smith and Gavin Jones became a formidable team aged just 12 when they embarked on a car-washing venture after school. They have since developed their multi-million-pound business with clients including The Royal Household, Museum of London, Royal College of Music & Drama and media publisher, Condé Nast.
Sean said: “We don't see a major return to the office any time before July. Even then we are giving our team the option to keep working flexibly if they wish. We haven't seen any drop in productivity, so we're more than happy for that to continue.
“We have learned while many thrive working from home, others prefer the office. For some, it is a practical reason such as restricted space or they are unable to separate work from home life. We're a tight team and people are certainly missing the social element of working together.
“We have already doubled our office space this year. We recently moved to a twostorey office at Milton Park. Our business has experienced rapid growth throughout the pandemic and we feel fortunate that IT is an industry that other businesses have relied upon so heavily. The extra office space will allow for future growth, but the main driver for the expansion is to create comfortably distanced areas should people wish to return to the office. It is important that everyone feels safe as well as actually being safe.”
Screen time success for mobile game developer’s sta
Collaboration with communities is key
Forest of Dean, hasn’t yet set a date for its staff to return to the oﬃce.
The not-for-profit housing company owns more than 4,000 homes across Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.
Martin Ward, its Assistant Director of People and Culture, said: “As a community-based organisation, it’s really important for us to come together and share knowledge and experiences and of course get back out in the communities that we serve. But the health and wellbeing of our team and our tenants is our top priority, and we’ll do this in line with government advice and in a way that minimises the risk to everyone.
“We are currently looking at how we work and what that means for our team and the oﬃce going forward but it is unlikely that we will reduce our oﬃce space in 2021. We built our Rivers Meet in 2014 and it really is a great place to work.
“However, we are really keen to embrace the positive working practices that we have developed over the last 12 months. So, we are working with our staff group and the wider team to create the best working environment for our team, our tenants and our organisation.”
Working from home has been surprisingly successful for Cirencester-based mobile games developer Neonplay, and despite concerns about productivity and communication, things have actually worked very smoothly, according to CEO Oli Christie. “We do morning meetings every day on Slack with all our game teams and departments (10 mins max) and then everyone knows what’s going on and what is expected of them each day. We want to find a way to bring that ease of morning meetings back to the office, but it’s actually easier, quicker and better on video than face to face. However, mental health is something we are very aware of and we have been keeping tabs on our team. We’ve also been doing various things to keep everyone motivated and have a bit of fun, like sending them modelling clay in the post and asking them to create something and share pictures. But we won’t be changing our office space, in fact we have just renewed our lease.”Two Rivers Housing based in the
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