The future is electric, and tasty. Here’s to an enlightened 2022
Will you be driving an electric vehicle this year? More people are. Plug-in vehicles accounted for around 17 per cent of all cars registered in 2021.
And with Boris’s announcement late last year that all new homes and buildings, as well as those undergoing major renovation, must now install electric vehicle charge points, the early-adopters of EVs will soon be able to charge their vehicles as easily, and as quickly as charging their mobile phones. Goodbye range anxiety.
Technology is going further. Imagine that your electric vehicle could also power your house? It’s already a reality and could help to take the load off the National Grid at peak times. You can read about this and other electric technologies in our main feature: Our Friends Electric on page 12.
But the internal combustion engine won’t disappear overnight. And there is an argument that it could be better for the environment to carry on driving your oldfashioned car for as long as it’s roadworthy, rather than investing in an electric vehicle until you really need to.
Because extracting the raw materials, such as lithium, cobalt and others to make the technology for EV batteries requires quarrying and large quantities of energy and water. While our scientists are already on the case, and major research continues around the world to look at alternative, greener and cheaper battery technologies, they’re not there yet.
Much of that research is going on across the region. In our Small Giants feature, we tracked down some of the most exciting early stage businesses in all sectors which we predict could grow into the blockbuster businesses of the future.
And if they do, will they have invested in Intellectual Property to protect their ideas?
Received wisdom is that one of the first calls an inventor should make is to an IP attorney.
And that’s true in many cases, but you don’t necessarily need IP to secure financial investment in your business, or to grow it successfully. Read our IP feature to find out more on page 64.
Our two interviews in this issue involve innovators in entirely different fields.
Adam Barmby is a true visionary who has developed an innovative electric assisted vehicle which could banish vans and HGVs from urban areas for ever, significantly improving air quality in our towns and cities. He’s now manufacturing these in Oxfordshire and exporting them across the world.
We also meet former banker Nigel Whitehouse who discovered that what many of us mistake for
unpreposessing clods of earth are in fact truﬄes, one of the world’s most desirable culinary ingredients. His business is now making truﬄe condiments and crisps, and selling them across the world, all from a production facility near Cirencester.
Finally, another new year, another raft of resolutions that most of us will have already broken. But wait – we can help. We’ve kick-started 2022 with a new feature series showcasing: COOL companies and brands.
This issue we’re introducing you to 10 cool health and fitness brands born and thriving in the region.
Here’s to a happy, relatively Covidfree 2022, a return to the oﬃce, albeit perhaps not five days a week, and the opportunity to network safely among friends and colleagues without having to think twice before shaking hands.Nicky Godding Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher Kirsty Muir Commercial Director and Co-Publisher
FEATURE: OUR FRIENDS ELECTRIC 12
We look at how the UK can achieve net zero
FEATURE: SMALL GIANTS 72
Today’s business behemoths started small. Who will be the giants of tomorrow? We list 60 ambitious businesses
IT’S ‘SNOW’ PROBLEM FOR WINTER MAINTENANCE COMPANY THANKS TO NEW INVESTMENT
We love it when a company name ﬁts its business.
And while we hope you’re not reading this looking out on a winter wonderland with your car wedged in a snow drift, but if you are, Worcestershire business AA Salt might be able to help.
The family-owned company has just completed a £189,000 expansion programme which has boosted its ﬂeet with ﬁve gritting vehicles, two further lorries, an additional forklift and six new snowploughs, all to help businesses by gritting and snow ploughing car parks and access roads in the winter months.
AA Salt’s sales and operations director Ben Tanner, said: “Our sixﬁgure investment into the ﬂeet and equipment takes our capacity to a
whole new level.” The company has also managed to stock thousands of tonnes of salt throughout last year to ensure supplies don’t run out.
These guys are truly salt of the earth.
No horsing around for equine treat business as it drives European sales
A Warwickshire company is revolutionising the market for horse treats in the USA – and mounting a drive for sales in Europe.
Alcester-based husband and wife team Kevin and Mary Elizabeth Nairne founded Kelcie’s Horse Treats in 2019 to offer natural treats to horses.
Kevin gave up a 30-year IT career to move into the equestrian industry alongside Mary Elizabeth, who manages her sister and Olympic gold medallist Laura Kraut.
After seeking advice from Laura and fellow Olympic champion Nick Skelton, they came up with a product made of 15 natural ingredients.
Finding a company to manufacture the product in the UK or the EU proved diﬃcult, so they turned their attention to the USA and found a partner.
Their product was an instant hit.
The company enrolled on the University of Warwick Science Park’s Business Ready programme.
The firm was also given business planning advice by Innovate UK Edge. Having turned over $40,000 in its first year, it reached $100,000 in its latest round of accounts, with plans to double that again over the next 12 months.
Kevin said: “It wasn’t originally the plan to crack the US market first but
because we found our manufacturing partner there, it was much easier to sell there than to import back into the UK and Europe.
“However, we are now establishing ourselves in Europe because we know that there is very strong demand.”
“Our six-ﬁgure investment into the ﬂeet and equipment takes our capacity to a whole new levelBen Tanner at AA Salt
WANT DESIGNER CLOTHING BUT CAN’T AFFORD IT? NOW YOU CAN WEAR IT DIGITALLYDr Harry Destecroix, Icon of the Year
Science Creates founder wins Icon of the Year at Barclays Entrepreneurs Awards
Scientist, entrepreneur and founder of Bristol-based Science Creates, Dr Harry Destecroix, has been crowned Entrepreneur Icon of the Year at the Barclays Entrepreneur Awards.
A unique virtual fashion brand is making exclusive and expensive fashion available to those of us with much smaller pockets.
The Stroud-based brand, called republiqe, says it is the “world’s first fully digital luxury fast fashion brand that designs unique creations”.
Not being in their target customer age group, our editor had to ask for a bit of clarification on what they were doing. “Does the clothing exist in physical form?” No, they said.
“You browse the collection, choose a piece then send a photo in. Republiqe photoshop the image on to your photo and email back for you to share online.”
This service is aimed at the digital generation, Gen Z, who want to look good online but don’t want to harm the planet in the process (or presumably pay for the real thing).
Big brands like Balenciaga, H&M and even Nike are getting involved, and now republiqe has announced that it is the
first all-digital, UK fashion house and the first to create a partnership with a luxury accessories retailer, Monnier Frères.
The partnership began late last year with 24 digital garments from republiqe being available for purchase via the Monnier Frères website.
James Gaubert, founder and Creative Director of republiqe, said: “Our partnership allows both brands the chance to reach out to new customer bases. As little as 12-14 months ago, digital fashion was not as readily available as it is now, with virtual fashion perceived as something to be purchased for a video game character or avatar.
“This partnership signifies a first step for digital clothing becoming more mainstream as the lines between physical and digital blend further.”
James has more than 22 years’ luxury fashion experience, having worked with brands such as Chanel, LV, Burberry, Bulgari, Net-a-Porter, Harrods, Tag Heuer and Tiffany’s.
In 2014, Harry set up his own company, Ziylo, which was purchased in 2018 by pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk in a deal worth up to $800 million.
Sciences Creates grew out of Unit DX which he set up in collaboration with the University of Bristol in 2017 to help commercialise similar companies.
Science Creates offeris specialised incubator space, a £15 million investment fund and a network of partners to nurture science and engineering start-ups and spinouts.
Harry said: “No matter the quality of the research and discovery, the right ecosystem is fundamental if we are going to challenge the global 90 per cent failure rate of science start-ups and create many more successful ventures.
“This award puts Science Creates and Bristol on the map as a place for deep tech start-ups.”
PRODRIVE’S RAPID CHALLENGE DISCOVERS MORE WINNING INVENTIONS
The Rapid Challenge, launched in 2019 by Prodrive Ventures, has revealed its third winner.
The competition, aimed specifically at entrepreneurs and start-ups developing innovative physical products, named ACUA Ocean as its 2021 winner.
ACUA Ocean designs and deploys hydrogen-powered uncrewed surface vessels (H-USVs) as an offshore data platform.
Prodrive Ventures is the investment-arm of the world-leading motorsport and advanced technology group based at Banbury.
ACUA Ocean’s zero-carbon emission vessels aim to enable the sustainable economic and environmental management of our oceans, waterways and critical offshore infrastructure.
David Cullimore, head of Prodrive Ventures, said: “Each year the number of entries to our Rapid Challenge grows and the quality gets better and better.
“Any of the three finalists could have picked up the award, the standard was that high, and I am sure we will see them all come to fruition over the coming years.
“The ACUA Ocean team had a clear business plan and answered all the very probing questions we and our partners put to them. While they will receive the largest slice of the prize pot, in terms of financial, commercial and technical support, all three finalists will still receive invaluable support from all the Rapid Challenge partners.
“We look forward to working with ACUA Ocean to help them bring their autonomous, hydrogen powered vessel to a commercial reality.”
The other finalists were a team of students from Imperial College who have developed Paige, an innovative braille technology, and the engineers behind Balance Active a new product to help active standing and balance in older people.
Modern braille technology is limited to single line text, making simple reading tasks time-consuming for the blind, and certain fields, such as STEM subjects, diﬃcult to access. Current devices are also expensive. Paige’s solution incorporates multiple lines of braille, which is key for accessing mathematics and other scientific fields.
Balance Active, developed by Exyo Ltd, has been designed to help the rehabilitation of patients with deconditioning, leg and trunk weakness and fatigue. It is low-tech, low-cost and portable.
Royal Mail trials micro electric vehicles in Swindon in drive to reduce emissions
Royal Mail is trialling micro electric vehicles to deliver letters and small parcels in Swindon in a bid to reduce carbon emissions.
Roughly the size of a golf buggy or a quad bike, the vehicles will be assessed in residential areas as a potential
lower-carbon alternative to larger vans, which are typically shared by two posties.
The trial will assess whether giving two posties access to separate vehicles could provide greater ﬂexibility on busy routes in a more environmentally-friendly way.
The temporary and agency worker model has many beneﬁts including providing ﬂexibility, getting people quickly into work and enabling organisations to hire sta in unstable times. However, the pandemic and Brexit has led to signiﬁcant changes in the labour market, culminating in resource scarcity in many sectors, therefore employers need to seriously consider their approach to candidate attraction, skills development and retention.
Richard East, Chairman of Cheltenham headquartered RE Recruitment, looks at the current challenges in recruiting.
Other challenges in the labour market centre on employee nervousness and the desire for job security.
Employers recruiting for permanent positions must contend with the issue of those currently in roles, too nervous to switch employers due to uncertain times.
So, why is candidate attraction a challenge in the current environment?
Quite simply, it is based on supply and demand – the more vacancies and career options that outweigh labour supply, the more discerning human resources become; people will be attracted to those roles, or other environments, that help service basic, psychological and self-fulfilment needs.
The pandemic has forced us all to assess our health, wellbeing and work-life balance, therefore those roles that afford flexible working, opportunities to develop and in general a rewarding and respectful working environment become more attractive. Pandemic aside, there has been an overarching decline in skills investment over recent years which further tightens the labour market.
Then there is the EU labour market quandary; even though there has been a rise in EU nationals coming to work in the UK over recent years, this labour supply has been thwarted with Brexit red-tape and has limited labour flow into the country, especially for those seeking workers for semi-skilled or unskilled roles.
All these factors have created a ‘perfect storm’ in terms of candidate attraction. Employers need to differentiate themselves as a ‘go to’ employer, combating recruitment diﬃculties in a fiercely competitive market.
Whilst the previous section may paint a bleak picture, there are several ways in which an employer can stand out from the crowd to effectively attract and retain the right people.
Pay - The tight labour market is putting upward pressure on wages for many workers and employers are beginning to
increase starting salaries to counteract recruitment challenges.
Beneﬁts - Employers can look to nonfinancial benefits such as meaningful career progression and flexible working arrangements for differentiation.
Employer Brand - In a discerning labour market, candidates often look to what an employer ‘stands for’ and how it values their people, processes, social issues and the environment.
Manage your ideal candidate expectations - In a labour scarcity situation, employers must manage their expectations regarding person specifications.
Mix it up – Constantly assess the recruitment campaign as new directions may need to be established to attract people to your vacancy.
Recruit to retain – Invest in your workforce to save spending time on recruitment. Develop at strategy with a robust induction and training programme.
RE Recruitment has supported many of our clients, both Blue Chip and SMEs, in making their worker offering fit today’s challenging employment market, contact us today for a no obligation candidate attraction review.
Business conﬁdence in the UK economy has improved considerably with the easing of restrictions, resulting in a surge in job vacancies, particularly for temporary sta .
It’s January, and that means cold temperatures and dark days. Those of us with less than perfect willpower have just eaten (and drunk) our way through the festive season. But never fear…. Here are 10 cool brands from across the region that might just help get us through the winter and raring to go for spring.
Jordan rocks the Lycra look after a lockdown side-hustle takes o
J.LUXE.FIT is a new Gloucestershire fitness-wear brand founded by 22-year-old Jordan Tuck during the first lockdown in 2020.
“I started the brand to solve my own problem,” she said. “As a curvaceous woman on my weight loss journey, my issue was always, why couldn’t I find a matching sports bra and leggings that held my bust in place and made me feel supported and confident enough to wear to the gym?
“Everything I found was too flimsy, fell down or looked like something I had borrowed from my nan. It never matched, and I never felt confident to wear it out. This meant I was further away from achieving my weight loss goals.”
So Jordan launched her own brand. “I spent about six months researching and testing the best fabrics, designs and samples and last August I launched J.LUXE.FIT.”
She’s also two stone lighter, because creating sportswear made her feel confident enough to exercise and go to the gym.
And the business is flying.
“We have had more than 1,000 orders worldwide and J.LUXE.FIT has created an empowering Instagram community of
women who support each other on their fitness journeys.”
But she’s not given up the day job – yet.
“I still work full-time as a business development manager for an insurance broker. I have been working in the insurance sector for the last five years. J.LUXE.FIT started as a hobby – I never knew would grow so quickly.”
Jordan’s ambition is to take the brand global.
“I’d like it to be known as the go-to sportswear brand for inclusivity and realism, for activewear that empowers and makes you feel confident. I’d also like to create a global community of supportive, body-positive people.
“We are looking to launch our first women’s health and fitness empowerment event this year where we can get our community together for an amazing day.”
Natural remedies are the foundation for skincare company
Worcestershire skincare company
ORKA-Naturals uses age-old remedies, healing knowledge and natural ingredients. The Broadway-based company was founded by Kate Varvedo who was raised in Hungary where her grandfather taught her about nature and animals.
Feel secure in your vegan ambitions with Eartheia
Are you fed up of being “greenwashed”?
All the fashion and beauty products on Eartheia’s website are certified crueltyfree, feelgood 100 per cent vegan.
The company, which has already won awards, was launched in 2020 by 24-year old Stourbridge vegan Chloe Taylor.
Nutrition X can boost sports performance
Gloucester-based Nutrition X is aiming to change the game in sports nutrition, from its scientifically formulated supplements to its consultancy services and dedication to clean sport through rigorous testing. The company was launched by Gloucester businessman James Markey in 2014.
Heavy lifting success for Recharge Fitness
A gym equipment brand based in Cheltenham for home gyms, garage gyms, PT studios, sports clubs, commercial gyms and sports stars.
Recharge Fitness was established by ex-Royal Marine Grant Polson, a keen sportsman, heavy gym-goer and cover model, alongside fellow founder, Ryan Anthoney, an entrepreneur, ex-rugby playing fitness fanatic.
Grant and Ryan had both tried and failed to find quality gym equipment. Now their ambition is to become the UK’s number one provider of high-quality home gym equipment.
Oxford Vitality – making you feel great again
An independent dietary supplement company manufacturing in the UK.
Based in Bicester, it has a range of more than 100 products which include herbal supplements, health foods, vitamins and minerals.
The company is also currently working with the charity Life for African Mothers too, donating pre-natal dietary supplements to mothers in West Coast Africa.
Get physical with your choice of supplements
A Reading based company offering sports nutrition, supplements and healthy food. With a busy website, the company also has stores in Reading, Bristol, Banbury, Leamington Spa and two in Oxford.
Small can be actively beautiful
Bristol-based Avo is an affordable activewear brand specialising in women's petite sports clothing.
The company was established in 2017 by Ally Sevier, five-foot-nothing in height, who struggled to find clothing to fit her height and shape.
Bay’s Kitchen helps put your digestive system back on track
Do you suffer from IBS? You’re not alone. Many people have a sensitivity to certain foods and suffer a range of symptoms, from abdominal cramps, bloating and backpain to diarrhoea and constipation. Vavoom your digestive system with Bay’s Kitchen’s range of food products to help IBS sufferers.
Feel more happy with IamHolly Matthews
Any website that says it offers “no nonsense self-development, helping people feel more happy and less crappy” gets our vote.
Holly Matthews, based in Warwickshire, is a former TV actress, NLP practitioner and now founder of the Happy Me Project, launched in 2017 just months after the death of her husband from brain cancer.
In 2020, the government published its 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution.
As well as investing in more wind turbines, hydrogen generation and nuclear, it wants to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and transform our road infrastructure to support them better. By 2035, new petrol or diesel cars will no longer be sold in the UK.
At COP26 last year, the government went further. It decreed that all new heavy goods vehicles in the UK must be zero-emission by 2040.
Also at the Glasgow green jamboree, a new electric vehicle chargepoint was revealed. The government hopes these could become as iconic on our streets as the red post box – or the telephone box designed by Sir Gilbert Scott in the 1920s.
The government revealed it would commit £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of
chargepoints for electric vehicles in homes, streets and on motorways across England, so people can more easily and conveniently charge their cars.
The fast adoption of electric vehicles will help us meet global climate goals, because short distance road transport makes up 11 per cent of global emissions and impacts significantly on climate change.
In the UK, according to the government, transport is the largest emitting sector of greenhouse gas emissions, producing 27 per cent of the UK’s total emissions in 2019, although this was a near two per cent reduction on emissions in 2018.
But international aviation emissions (which are not counted towards the UK’s total
domestic emissions) more than doubled between 1990-2019. We really should all think twice before jumping on a plane.
It also said nearly £500 million will be spent in the next four years on the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries.
Do UK businesses have the technological capability to achieve these targets? If all the sustainability promises we read were true, the world would already be carbon neutral, so is it possible to sort out the greenwashing from the reality?
We’re not sure if we can answer that question, but what we can do is offer an overview of some of the most promising electric innovations.
Swift decarbonisation of the UK’s electricity system is essential to meet the UK’s net zero emissions goal. How are we going to get there?The new EV chargepoint designed by the Royal College of Arts, which the government hopes will become as familiar as the red post oﬃce telephone box and electric pylons were in their day
“In its 10-point plan, the government revealed it would commit £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of chargepoints for electric vehicles ...”
Indra is charged up for the future
A new car charging app is rewarding EV drivers for charging their cars at home
On the face of it, Malvern-based Indra is another company making electric car chargers. But dig a little deeper and this company has a good story to tell. Earlier this year Indra, which was set up by former cyber security consultant Mike Schooling back in 2013 when the hype around electric vehicles was beginning, launched what it claims is the world’s first EV charger to reward drivers for greener charging.
Indra has teamed up with another British company, EV Energy, which has developed a smart, cloud-based platform that automatically optimizes EV charging for a greener, cheaper charge.
Together the companies have launched Indra Smart Pioneer, an EV charger which rewards drivers simply for plugging in and charging their car.
The launch came just a few months after the company secured £6 million of
investment from the government-led Clean Growth Fund and Gulf Oil – the company’s first strategic investment into the e-mobility sector.
The Smart Pioneer rewards platform automatically taps into the times when energy is at its cheapest.
By charging at off-peak times, drivers save money on their energy bills and can earn free Amazon vouchers, offset their carbon emissions directly in local tree planting projects and gain other member benefits from their smart charging sessions.
As well as helping EV owners save money, the Indra Smart Pioneer helps drivers reduce their environmental impact and lessen demand on the grid by shifting 80 per cent of energy use to off-peak tariffs. On average, customer carbon emissions fall by 15 per cent with the Smart Pioneer, claims Indra.
Superhub powers forward
Work is well under way to install a high-powered underground cable that will deliver electricity to the UK’s largest public electric vehicle charging hub which is based in Oxford.
The four-mile cable is an integral part of Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO), a four-year government-backed project to build a transmission-connected network of rapid electric vehicle charging, hybrid battery energy storage, low carbon heating and smart energy management technologies that reduces stress on the local grid.
The project aims to save 10,000 tonnes of CO2 per year once fully operational, rising to 25,000 tonnes per year by 2032.
The cable will connect National Grid’s Cowley substation to Redbridge Park &
Ride, creating the power infrastructure needed to charge lots of electric vehicles quickly at once. The hub – expected to open this year – will provide Oxford residents and businesses with easy access to fast, reliable charging. A connection point will also be installed at Oxford Bus Company’s Watlington Road depot, ready to support electriﬁcation of the city’s bus ﬂeet.
The battery storage site at Cowley, installed by Pivot Power – part of EDF Renewables, has been recognised by National Grid as the ‘ﬁrst tertiary connection’ in the country to export on to the Grid. Tertiary connections provide a way of connecting directly to National Grid’s high voltage transmission network. Each connection provides up to 57MW demand or generation capability.
The Energy Superhub Oxford is one of
Mike Schooling, now the company’s chief technology oﬃcer, said: “This sets the precedent for the future of the entire EV charging industry. The Smart Pioneer is the world’s first commercially available V1G product that rewards customers for being flexible when they charge their EV at home.”
(V1G refers to varying the time or rate at which an electric vehicle is charged in order to provide ancillary services to the grid).
three demonstrator projects part-funded by the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to deliver innovation in smart local energy systems.
Another one of the demonstrator projects is Project Leo (Local Energy Oxford), a local energy marketplace which is seeking to balance generation with demand for power, heat and transport, enabled by an intelligent local grid.
One of Project Leo’s trials is currently under way at Rose Hill, a residential area outside the city and one of its most diverse communities. Here, the project has installed a battery at the local primary school, to test how a small battery can provide ﬂexibility to the network. This means being able to increase or decrease energy generation or turning up and down energy demand.
UK’S £130 MILLION BATTERY INDUSTRIALISATION CENTRE UP AND RUNNING IN COVENTRY
The £130 million UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) was oﬃcially opened late last year by the prime minister.
The 18,500 sq metre national facility has been developed to support development of battery technologies for future electrification.
UKBIC can be used by any organisation working on batteries for electric vehicles, rail, aerospace, industrial and domestic equipment and static energy storage, which can benefit from finding out whether their advanced technologies can be scaled up successfully before committing to the huge investment required for mass production. The facility employs more than 80 battery technicians, engineers, and support staff, with plans for that number to grow.
The facility is owned by Coventry City Council and the University of Warwick in order to maintain its independence of any one vehicle or battery company.
David Greenwood, Professor of Advanced Propulsion Systems at WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group), University of Warwick,
said: “This national infrastructure exists nowhere else in Europe, and gives the UK a major advantage for development of new battery technologies.”
Until now, smaller manufacturing companies have missed out on the productivity benefits of digital technologies and data-driven solutions.
Too many manufacturers don’t know where to start, and lack the skills required to deploy and use digital solutions. The costs
are perceived to be high and the return on investment unclear.
UKBIC is a key part of the Faraday Battery Challenge, a government programme to fast track the development of cost-effective, high-performance, durable, safe, low-weight and recyclable batteries.
In addition to funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge, UKBIC is also part-funded through the West Midlands Combined Authority.
Europe’s largest battery storage project, the 100-megawatt system in Minety near Swindon, is now fully operational. Developed by Penso Power and controlled by Shell-owned Limejump, the battery is helping to balance the UK’s electricity demand, with the capacity to provide electricity for up to 10,000 homes in a 24-hour period before being recharged.
The Minety scheme is now the largest battery within National Grid ESO’s Dynamic Containment market, which was set up last year to deal with sudden frequency issues through grid balancing.
In October, Penso Power announced that it had secured major investment to accelerate the development of further large-scale battery storage in the UK.
Slicker develops battery recycling partnership
Waste management company Slicker Recycling is working with Technology Minerals, to drive the recycling of leadacid and lithium-ion batteries.
Worcestershire-based Slicker, which specialises in the recycling and treatment of waste lubricating oils from the automotive sector, has agreed the deal to help develop a circular economy model for the UK battery market.
Slicker Recycling will salvage battery waste from sites across the UK and transport the materials to plants owned
and operated by battery recycling firm Recyclus, which is part-owned by Technology Minerals.
Key materials from the batteries, which include cobalt, nickel and lithium, are safely recycled, tested and fed back into the battery market for reuse.
Mark Olpin, Managing Director of Slicker Recycling, said: “The raw materials extracted from the used batteries we collect as part of this partnership will go straight back into an industry where there are pressures on resources.”
Swindon is host to Europe’s largest battery storage project
Global competition puts paid to Johnson Matthey battery investment
West Midlands gigafactory proposal gets backing from more regional leaders
Leaders in the West Midlands have backed plans to build a gigafactory next to Coventry Airport and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC).
Dr Clive Hickman, the leader of the Manufacturing Technology Centre, and Margot James, the executive chair at WMG, University of Warwick made the case for a new battery technology gigafactory which they said would support the heart of the UK’s auto industry.
They said the West Midlands is uniquely placed to host this vital manufacturing infrastructure, which will help ensure that the UK is able to successfully transition to electric vehicles and ultimately meet its net-zero goals by 2050.
A planning application for a gigafactory
at Coventry Airport has been submitted by joint venture partners, Coventry City Council and the airport, which is owned by The Rigby Group, a private company headquartered in Warwickshire.
The proposals are set to be determined by Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council.
If it gets the go-ahead, the gigafactory would deliver 5.7 million sq ft of space for battery production and recycling, create 6,000 new jobs with tens of thousands more in the supply chain, the proposals say.
The proposals also set out that the gigafactory would be powered by green energy, using solar and wind power, as well as grid supplied renewables, and will recycle used batteries as well as build new ones.
Conrad Energy signs 104 mega watt battery energy storage order with GE Renewable Energy
Abingdon-based Conrad Energy has signed a major framework agreement with GE Renewable Energy for the design, manufacture and supply of GE’s battery energy storage system in the UK.
Steven Hardman, Conrad Energy’s Managing Director, said: “Battery storage systems are starting to play an increasingly important role in enabling the proliferation of green energy across the UK. Their ability to not only store energy but provide grid stability products such as frequency support, contribute to
ongoing energy security as the UK creates a future fit power infrastructure.”
Conrad Energy is a full-service independent power producer delivering power to the National Grid and commercial customers.
The equipment will be deployed on several of Conrad Energy’s portfolio sites from Blackpool to Basingstoke. Deliveries will begin in mid-2022 with all projects targeted to be operational by the end of 2022.
Johnson Matthey, the British chemical company which makes catalytic converters to reduce car exhaust fumes, made the surprise announcement last year that it was stopping its investment in battery materials and had put this part of its business up for sale.
The company – which has been working to commercialise its range of high nickel cathode materials, principally for the automotive industry, said: “Following a detailed review and ahead of reaching a number of critical investment milestones, we have concluded that the potential returns from our battery materials business will not be adequate to justify further investment.
“Whilst demand for battery materials is accelerating, so is competition from alternative technologies and other manufacturers. Consequently, this is rapidly turning into a high volume, commoditised market.
“In recent months, as JM has been exploring strategic partnerships, it has also become clear that our capital intensity is too high compared with other more established largescale, low-cost producers.”
Johnson Matthey was referring to Asian companies which are much further ahead in the battery materials sector.
Only last summer, the company opened a Battery Technology Centre at Milton Park in Oxfordshire for the commercialisation of eLNO, its next generation, ultra-high energy density low cobalt cathode battery material.
The company, which set up its battery division in 2012, had hoped that investing in battery technology for electric vehicles could replace its reliance on catalytic converters.
Metric Group present the future of commercial EV Charging…
Metric Group launches cost effective EV charging solutions for industrial and commercial businesses and property developers
There are currently more than 42,000 charging devices in the UK, but tens of thousands more will be needed to meet the government’s ambitions that all new cars sold by 2030 must be electric.
From next year, new homes and commercial buildings must install electric vehicle charge points under new legislation announced by the government late last year. Local Authorities and businesses must also ensure there are charging facilities available for EV owners that can be added to the existing built environment.
That could be a major cost – and a major headache for businesses, property owners, investors and developers, but not
if they work with Metric Group. METRIC are an innovative technology company, leading solution provider and service partner in the fields of parking and ticketing.
Headquartered in Swindon, the 140-yearold company, which has been designing and manufacturing car parking solutions for more than 50 years, are now expanding their award-winning parking design and innovation expertise - into electric car charging.
The team at Metric Group are now offering the perfect solution for EV charging, with a range of fast AC and rapid DC chargers, all integrated with contactless and QR code payment solutions.
Metric Group will fund the investment in the full infrastructure (subject to survey) needed to meet the new government regulations. This potentially can save businesses, property owners, investors and developers the up-front equipment and installation costs. Metric Group will also pay a percentage of the income generated by each electric vehicle charging session back to the site owner, offering them the opportunity to generate revenue as well as adding to their facilities.
Andy Parker EV Sales Manager for UK & Europe said:
“Using Metric Group’s technology, it has never been easier to park, charge and pay with the simple swipe of a card or scan of a QR code”
“Our fully integrated solutions of terminals and back-ofﬁce software means you can easily manage your electric vehicle charging – and your parking too”
A range of EV charging solutions…
Metric Group offers a range of EV charging solutions. From a 7.3kwh and 22kwh fast AC chargers best suited to domestic and oﬃce use, up to 40kwh, 60kwh and 300 kwh super rapid DC Chargers for large commercial sites.
With domestic and light commercial fast charging, to super rapid charging, Metric Group can provide a complete solution for your business.
“Our funded solution includes: site survey, installation, equipment and the creation of a suitable charging infrastructure, which delivers revenue to the property owner every time someone plugs in their vehicle, with no upfront investment required.” explains Andy.
Battery storage means capitalising on off-peak electricity
Metric can also provide a battery storage solution, which can be forced charged during off-peak hours, and then utilise that stored energy for the EV charging infrastructure. This enables the site owner
to draw electricity from the National Grid when it’s more economical and allow vehicle owners to use it during the day. This will also help lighten the load on the UK’s National Grid at peak times.
Make your parking and charging facilities work for you, and your customers
Metric Group can install and connect one payment terminal for multiple AC charge points across your car park. This allows users to pay for their charging and/or parking, safely and securely through contactless payment.
With its years of experience in the parking sector, Metric Group has all the knowledge required to support businesses, property owners, investors and developers to turn their car parks into revenue generating opportunities.
If you would like more information on EV charging stations, have any other questions about installing charging stations as part of your commercial landscape or linking EV to your existing parking operations, please contact Andy Parker at email@example.com
AC and DC currents explained
The power delivered by the national grid is always AC (Alternating Current), but electronic devices, like mobile phones, laptops and even electric vehicles must charge their batteries with DC (Direct Current). This requires the AC supply to be converted to DC. For mobile phones and laptops, this is done inside the plug or power adaptor, supplied with the device. With EVs, the converter is built into the car or van.
Charging from an AC charging station is typically faster than a domestic supply, but slower than a DC charging station. The size and capacity of the vehicle’s on-board converter is constrained by the space inside the vehicle.
There are advantages to AC charging in that the cost of installation and operation are lower than for DC charging. This has made them the most popular choice for charging vehicles that remain parked for 30 minutes or more (or even overnight).
BAE Systems partners with Malloy Aeronautics to develop electric concept vehicle
IS IT A PLANE? YES – AND THIS ONE’S GOING TO BE ALL ELECTRIC
BAE Systems and Berkshire-based Malloy Aeronautics are exploring the development of an all-electric heavy lift uncrewed air system (UAS) as a potential solution to deliver cost-effective, sustainable and rapid response capability to military, security and civilian customers.
Not content with building the phenomenally successful green energy provider, Ovo Energy, which started life in farm buildings in Cirencester in 2009, and last year generated sales of £932 million, in 2016 entrepreneur Stephen Fitzpatrick founded Vertical Aerospace to decarbonise air travel using the best technology from the aviation, energy and automotive industries.
Just one year later, a team of engineers had designed and built its ﬁrst demonstrator aircraft, the VA-X1, working closely with regulators and carried out the ﬁrst tethered ﬂight.
And in 2018, its ﬁrst eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft was granted ﬂight permission by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The last two years have seen no let-up in the company’s ambitions. In 2019 it joined the government’s Future Flight Challenge which is investing up to £125 million to develop greener ways to ﬂy, The investment is matched by £175 million from industry.
Last year Vertical Aerospace revealed that it planned to launch on the New
York Stock Exchange via a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company), to become a publicly-traded company valued at approximately £1.5 billion. And it hasn’t even transported a passenger yet.
Stephen Fitzpatrick said: “Electriﬁcation will transform ﬂying in the 21st century in the same way the jet engine did 70 years ago. We are bringing together some of the largest and most respected technology and aeronautical businesses in the world and together we can achieve our aim of making the VA-X4 the ﬁrst zero carbon aircraft that most people will ﬂy on. The United Kingdom is already a global leader in aerospace innovation, and we believe Vertical Aerospace will be the British engineering champion to drive the aviation industry forward.”
The vehicle will be designed with a top speed of 140 kilometres per hour and the capability to carry a 300 kg payload with a range of 30 kilometres.
Dave Holmes, Advanced Projects, Technology and Manufacturing Director at BAE Systems’ Air Sector, said: “Bringing together Malloy’s proven track record of innovative technology in this field with our understanding of the military operating environment and extensive engineering and systems integration experience, will enable us to develop a sustainable and cost-effective solution for military and commercial customers.”
Oriol Badia, CEO at Malloy Aeronautics, added: “Beyond the military capabilities, there is also clear potential in the commercial, security and humanitarian arenas.
“Our goal is to work together with BAE Systems to ensure that our capabilities are not just the first and best for defence, but that they become the future workhorse to keep all our personnel safe.”
A Bristol company established by OVO Energyfounder Stephen Fitzpatrick, is set to revolutionise urban air mobility and electrify air travel.CGI of the planned UAS being developed by BAE Systems and Malloy Aeronautics
Cheltenham company raises £3 million via crowdfunding to accelerate ground source heat pump adoption
Renewable Heat Holdings Limited (RHHL), one of the UK’s largest owner-operators of ground source heat pump systems, has raised £3 million in crowdfunding via Triodos Bank to accelerate the installation of ground source heat pumps in the UK.
Currently, 78 per cent of energy used to heat buildings is powered by gas. The transition to low energy heating remains significantly behind renewable electricity generation in the UK and is central to the plan to reach net zero. RHHL’s ground source heat pumps replace traditional gas boilers, with all of its existing systems having been installed in new-build retirement homes.
RHHL owns and operates more than 70 projects with a combined capacity of 11.55 MW, generating more than 17,000 MWh of renewable heat per year. The company generates income through payments under the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme for each of the projects.
Cheltenham-based RHHL retains ownership of the entire renewable heat system and leases the client’s plant room for 20 years. The company is responsible for maintaining and servicing the heat pump and ensuring the system provides heat and hot water. At the end of the 20-year lease, the entire heat pump system passes to the client. Residents receive hot water and heating and pay only for the electricity to power the pumps.
ECOTRICITY TO POWER HOMES WITH GEOTHERMAL ENERGY
Ecotricity, the renewable energy company based in Stroud, has pledged to bring geothermal energy to British homes for the ﬁrst time, powering homes with renewable energy generated from steam more than three miles beneath Cornwall.
The site will produce at least three megawatts of electricity (enough to power 10,000 homes a year) which will be distributed via the National Grid.
Geothermal energy is a renewable, sustainable source of energy and a baseload provider, which means it produces energy 24/7 almost 365 days of the year. It also has the smallest surface footprint of any type of energy generation, according to Ecotricity.
Hazel Farndale, Project Geologist from Ecotricity’s project partners, Geothermal Engineering, said: “In theory, we can get geothermal energy anywhere in the country, we just have to drill deep enough. With current drilling technology, it's best to do this in Cornwall and Devon because here we have a granite body that naturally produces heat.
“A recent independent report by the Renewable Energy Association estimated that there's a potential geothermal resource of 220 gigawatts beneath our feet here in Britain, enough to power all the UK's homes more than 18 times over. This is far more than we need. It has really exciting potential.”
Sustainable homes and building coalition launched
Last year, NatWest Group launched a ‘Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition’, with British Gas, Worcester Bosch, and Shelter, to improve UK buildings energy eﬃciency, and to address the key blockers to meeting net zero in the UK buildings environment.
Citizens Advice is acting in an advisory capacity to the coalition on the needs of, and challenges faced by consumers in the transition to net zero.
Its first report, Home is where the Heat is, goes into detail on how the UK can decarbonise homes and buildings.
Carl Arntzen, CEO of Worcester Bosch said: “There is no silver bullet to reach net zero emissions from home and building heating, it requires a mix of technologies working together. It is vital that homeowners understand what would work for their property and what support they can receive.
“This is why we are fully in support of the Coalition and its first report. We believe it is a firm step towards educating and empowering consumers and installers to make greener choices when it comes to their home heating.
Oxfordshire entrepreneur and designer Adam Barmby has developed a sustainable e-cargo bike which is the answer to healthier, car-free, van-free city centres
The internal combustion engine is now Public Enemy Number One in our towns and cities.
Oxford, Bristol and Coventry have committed to restrict vehicles in their city centres and others must now follow to meet the UK’s climate change commitments.
But if lorries can’t drop off goods, or deliver recycled cups for your daily skinny latte, what will? And who will collect the rubbish if waste lorries can’t roll down the streets?
An entrepreneurial company based at Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire has the answer. Electric Assisted Vehicles (EAV) is a sustainable zero-emissions transport manufacturer.
The company, founded in 2018 by 36-yearold Adam Barmby, is making ultra-lightweight commercial vehicles and selling them across the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the USA and Australia.
The EAV e-cargo bike is powered purely by humans and Adam’s unique electrical assist mechanism. As soon as the rider begins to pedal, the EAV’s motor, which stands between pedal input and wheel, kicks in. And you don’t have to be fit. According to Adam, who has coined the phrase “lite tech” to describe his innovation, if you can use your legs, you can pilot an e-cargo bike.
There are three key positives to the wider adoption of EAV’s e-cargo bikes across our towns and cities.
Firstly, they relieve our city centres of vans and trucks, making our streets safer and healthier.
They are also lighter on our roads. A fully laden EAV e-cargo bike with rider weighs around 380kg. A fully laden, average-sized diesel commercial van is around 1,782kg. Electric vehicles might not have tailpipe emissions but weigh a lot more thanks to their heavy batteries, meaning they’re tougher on our road surfaces and will still deposit tyre and brake particulates in the urban environment – so not as green as you might think.
Thirdly, these unique small e-cargo bikes are attractive and quirky – especially so when you learn that their bodywork is made of
hemp fibre – not traditional ‘dirty composites’ like carbon fibre or fibreglass.
EAV’s executive chairman, Nigel Gordon-Stewart, agrees: “Our e-cargo bikes are trundling around in heavily builtup areas and rather than looming over pedestrians, they simply make people smile if they need to step out of the rider’s way.”
Waste management company Veolia is trialling two EAVs in Central London. The company has more than 300 operatives collecting rubbish on foot because they can no longer drive trucks into the city centre between 11am and 7pm.
In comparison to a normal barrow used by a street sweeper, which has a total capacity of
20kg, an e-cargo bike can carry a maximum of 150kg and access small areas.
Closer to home EAV has e-cargo bikes in the City of Oxford’s Covered Market.
Adam said: “With the average speed of vehicles in towns at seven miles an hour, we don’t believe the answer is to electrify vehicles in town centres. While that’s a solution for intra-city routes, when you enter a city, the answer is to take weight out.”
The e-cargo bikes are becoming attractive to logistics companies which measure to the second how long stops take. Adam explains: “You jump off the bike, press the key fob, unlock the doors, deliver the parcel, jump back on and you’re away.
“It’s 37 per cent more eﬃcient than any kind of van in a town or city. There’s no opening or shutting doors. You can ride it in bad weather because it’s got thin tyres which cut through the snow, and with four wheels it’s stable – unlike the cargo trikes I’ve seen.”
The e-cargo bike can also park legally outside a drop. According to Adam, the average cost of fines per delivery vehicle in London, which can also clog up narrow
streets, is around £2,500 a year.
EAV has delivered more than 85 vehicles and has a sales pipeline for many more. While Covid has slowed the team down, they are still on track to ramp up to around 200 a month by the end of 2022.
There is a huge potential market for e-cargo bikes, and EAV is in advanced talks with a global automotive original equipment manufacturer. If this goes ahead, it would be game changing not only for EAV, but also for the world’s automotive industry.
A designer who makes things happen
It’s this practical and thoughtful approach to solving 21st century problems which helped Adam fund himself through university and build a successful career at a relatively young age.
Describing himself as a designer who can make things, Adam completed a degree in transport and product design and was destined for a career in boat design after spending his finishing year with a boat designer. But the 2008 Icelandic banking crash put paid to his job offers.
“Our e-cargo bikes are trundling around in heavily built-up areas and rather than looming over pedestrians, they simply make people smile if they need to step out of the rider’s way”
Instead, he set up a business making parts for the classic Mini. This enabled him to establish BAMD Ltd, a composites design and development business specialising in low and medium volume composites manufacturing.
BAMD now employs around 16 people and works with some of the UK’s most recognised sports car marques, but Adam was acutely aware that while making parts for F1 using carbon fibre (which is what BAMD set up to do) was rather cool, when you get to the gritty end of it, it’s not a nice thing to do to the environment.
He started researching what else he could make composites out of, such as horsehair or bamboo, and found the answer closer to home.
“My diet includes flax seed and I discovered that the flax stalk is a by-product which can be woven into material for clothes. I found a company in Switzerland which produces a twilled weave flax material and we had it pre-impregnated with a bio-based resin to maintain its true sustainable credentials. This created some really brilliant bodywork material properties, such as natural vibration dampening, low electrical conductivity and flame retardant.”
It took six years to develop the composites product to commercial standards and BAMD, now EAV’s sister company (and run by Adam’s original apprentice) makes the
hemp bodywork for the cargo bikes in the same way as it makes F1 parts.
“There’s no difference in the process except that one is much greener than the other,” said Adam.
EAV’s e-cargo platform design and motor, which is IP-protected, has minimal moving parts (making it low maintenance), and flexible and rigid parts of the chassis which allows it to be ridden comfortably within today’s urban landscapes.
HGV engineering on a micro scale
“What we’ve achieved is HGV engineering on a micro scale,” said Adam. “We are taking a 150kg vehicle and loading it with 150kgs. If you take a two-tonne van and load it with two tonnes, you’ll break it. We are designing a vehicle which can take 100 per cent of its total weight.”
Adam’s solution highlights the fact that perhaps, in some cases, technology has got too clever by half at the expense of the planet, and we have ignored things around us that could do the job just as well –if not better.
The FIA, the governing body for motor racing, is starting to agree. “The FIA is now making companies use natural fibres, because they realise that while everyone uses carbon fibre because it’s the go-to
clever thing to do, if they make everyone use something more sustainable, they will continue to compete on a level playing field.”
EAV has now developed designs for a larger, “mid-mile” vehicle platform which can be deployed between an edge-of-town depot and its centre and, EAVgo, an ultralightweight two-person passenger vehicle.
And Adam is already planning autonomous vehicles.
Around 85 per cent of the parts for EAV’s e-cargo bike are made in the UK, and everything is recyclable or sustainable. The company is also working with motor manufacturing company (and neighbour at Upper Heyford), Saietta Group.
Saietta’s axial flux electric motors will power EAV’s lightweight skateboard platform which is the basis of its new multi-purpose modular vehicle.
Ultimately though, for Adam, it’s about the future of our planet, and with three young children, that bothers him. “No one really thinks what’s going to happen to our children’s children. There’s no accountability.
“Heavy vehicles on our roads damage the environment and people. We just need to move things slowly and eﬃciently. And our e-cargo vehicle works perfectly.”
“Heavy vehicles on our roads damage the environment and people. We just need to move things slowly and e ciently. And our e-cargo vehicle works perfectly”
CURRENT TAX ASPECTS OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES AND CHARGING FACILITIES
tax implications for electric vehicles.
The change to electric vehicles (EVs) is well underway and making the switch now can provide clear income tax and NIC savings for companies providing EVs and related facilities to employees.
From mid-2022, new workplaces, homes, supermarkets and buildings undergoing major renovations will be required by law to install EV charging points – up to 145,000 new charging points are expected annually.
During the 2020/21 tax year the company car benefit rate was 0% for fully electric cars and for cars registered on or after 6 April 2020 with CO2 emissions of 50g/km or less with an electric range figure of 130 miles or more. These rates will increase by 1% each year until the 2022/23 tax year, when they will be frozen until at least 2024/25.
Fully electric cars (and hybrid cars with a 130 miles plus electric range) have a benefit rate of 1% in 2021/22 and 2% from 2022/23 to 2024/25.
The taxable benefit on a Volkswagen ID.3 could be as low as £296 for 2021/22, costing a higher rate taxpayer just £118 in income tax.
considerations to applying the existing VAT recovery rules.
For example, when filling up a petrol car, an employee is provided with a VAT receipt, which shows the exact values and VAT rate applied to the supply.
The ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030, and the increasing number of EVs coming on to the market with ever-improving refinement, range and performance, is driving the need for businesses to take a considered and planned approach to its electric vehicle provision and charging.
The government is encouraging the purchase of EVs with attractive Corporation Tax relief and low Benefits in Kind (BiK).
The detail is complicated, but, for example, the BiK of a company car is calculated based on the car’s list price, registration date, fuel type, C02 emissions and the electric range of hybrid cars.
In comparison, a new petrol Volkswagen Golf has a taxable benefit of £6,680, costing a higher rate taxpayer £2,672. This is a huge saving of income tax and Class 1A NICs saving for the employee and employer, respectively.
The benefit of EVs also extends to the treatment of vehicle charging. Where an employer has charging facilities at or near their premises, the cost of employees charging their vehicle is exempt from UK income tax and NICs – regardless of whether the EV is provided by an employer, or is the employee’s personal vehicle (whether for business or private use).
VAT rules are similar for all vehicles, electric or otherwise. There may be more VAT developments to come for the electric car market in the future, but current rules simply require businesses to make some modern
However, with an electric car, all that is required to charge the car is an eligible power socket. Therefore, electric car-driving employees may be able to charge their car at home, at a commercial charging station, or even at work.
A sole proprietor can recover their business-use input VAT incurred on charging their car anywhere. However, the rules are not so generous for employees and organisations should beware that if an employee charges their car at home the employer cannot recover input VAT. Soleproprietors recovering VAT need to ensure that they recover the right amount of VAT given they may incur VAT at 5% or 20% on their car charging.
So, as organisations adopt more electric vehicles they are encouraged to review their current procedures around the recovery of VAT to ensure they remain compliant with the VAT rules.
For more detail, please contact Sue Daye on 01242 234421 or firstname.lastname@example.org
HOLLAND COOPER OPENS UP BOUTIQUE ON FORMER INDUSTRIAL SITE
A former industrial estate outside Cheltenham is fast morphing into the town’s coolest new retail and leisure location thanks to British fashion designer Jade Holland Cooper opening her ﬁrst ﬂagship store
One of Britain’s most successful young designers is helping to reinvent a former industrial estate at Charlton Kings near Cheltenham.
The project began in 2020 when artisan cidermaker Dunkerton’s moved on to the site.
Then late last year the next stage of the grand plan to develop the site into an upmarket retail destination took a step forward when Jade Holland Cooper opened her store, after more than 18 months of planning.
Here, and for the first time since she
launched her brand in 2008, her customers can indulge in the full Holland Cooper lifestyle experience, which includes clothing for country pursuits, equestrian activities and the ski slopes, along with a cute new baby range, Little HC.
Over the last 13 years Jade, 34, has built a British brand from scratch. Holland Cooper is now a multi-million-pound turnover business selling all over the world.
And while the experience of her husband of three years, Julian Dunkerton, founder of the global fashion phenomenon Superdry, will have helped, this is her brand through and through.
After leaving college after just a year, (then Cirencester’s Royal Agricultural College, now a university), Jade’s first step into design was making tweed miniskirts, and selling them at Badminton Horse Trials.
“It was a very cash generative business. I made skirts. I sold them. I made more.”
Jade saw what her customers were wearing and what they wanted more of. Her ambition was to create a timeless brand. While Jade most loves the design and curating of the range, which is at the heart of Holland Cooper, she’s a retail trader at heart.
“Our new store delivers an experience that our customers are already travelling to.”
She predicts that fast fashion is fading. “We all know the value of a human being so it’s no surprise to anyone that a dress produced sustainably, with people and planet in mind, can’t be delivered to your door for £5. And it’s becoming unfashionable to wear products made like that.”
But Jade isn’t discrediting factories overseas, which she also commissions to make her clothing range. “Fashion and good retailing are about finding the factory that specialises in those products. Our outerwear is made in China. They specialise in that. The factories are higtech and the staff well looked after.
“Our denim factory is in Turkey. They are phenomenal at making denim.”
All the wool and tweed which are used to make Holland Cooper’s classic range of garments is bought in the UK and woven in Scotland and Yorkshire.
“It’s about making the right products in the right places,” she said. “Let’s buy wisely and make correctly. There are good and bad factories everywhere.”
The Holland Cooper brand is now going global.
“We sell online all over the world. The next phase is our wholesale expansion,” said Jade.
Holland Cooper is a brand to watch. “We are growing so fast. Everyone’s holding on to the front of the train.”
“I’m a workaholic and I’m married to one. Retail is like a drug. I can’t explain it, but I love it.”
Firehouse at Upton founders extend their foody empire to Cirencester
Sam Edwards and Jak Doggett, the chefs behind Sam & Jak at The Firehouse at Upton near Burford, have opened their second venue, this time in their home town of Cirencester.
The venue, called Sam & Jak, is a wine bar and restaurant split over two ﬂoors with a private dining room.
The ground ﬂoor is the home of the bar and kitchen, including a large wood-ﬁred oven for preparing dishes like lamb, turnip tops and anchovy pangrattato and red mullet, brown crab with caper and lemon butter.
Sam, 32, had previously worked and trained at The Manor House in Moreton-in-Marsh while both went onto to work with renowned chef – Bob Parkinson of Bibendum, London, David Thompson and a Michelin Bib Gourmand winner in his own right.
Jak, 28, said: “Both being from the town it can be intimidating cooking for our friends and those that know us so well but the reception has been really good and we hope to keep evolving the food and drink offering as we develop.”
When in Rome wine brand goes public with carbon footprint
Gloucestershire sustainable wine brand When in Rome has partnered with CarbonCloud to quantify its product’s carbon footprint.
The CarbonCloud platform helps food brands calculate and improve their climate footprint.
The analysis scopes a Life Cycle Assessment of the wine, analysing greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of the production, from agriculture to distribution, to the point the product is placed on the shelf.
Brands such as Oatly and Tenzing are already using CarbonCloud to demonstrate
the climate footprint of their products. This has enabled them to put in place plans and processes to reduce their carbon footprint.
When in Rome styles itself as the UK’s leading alternative format wine brand, with a mission to make wine with a low carbon footprint more accessible.
I’m a workaholic and I’m married to one. Retail is like a drug. I can’t explain it, but I love it
FIRST ‘TECH BOX PARK’ AT HARTPURY COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY UNIT TAKEN BY NOVAZERA
The first of Hartpury College and University‘s Digital Innovation Farm Tech Box Park Units has been reserved by Novazera, which creates biodegradable plastic alternative products and anti-viral and bacterial coatings.
The five new units on the college’s 360-hectare campus, form part of Hartpury’s £2 million Tech Box Park facility which aims to support Gloucestershire’s agri-tech business
to meet the global demand for new technology in farming.
Novazera offers technologies aimed at using farming waste streams. The company will share its technology with the university to research, develop and test new products and innovations.
The units are being created using environmentally-friendly, repurposed shipping containers clad in cedar. wood at Hartpury’s Home Farm.
Cirencester College makes £5m investment in T-Level centre
Cirencester College is building a specialist centre for T-levels. The government has introduced new T- Levels in a bid to ensure that the skills needed by employers are being taught to students. They are two-year technical programmes, designed with employers. The 'T' stands for technical. T-Levels will give 16 to 19 -year olds a technical alternative to A-Levels. One T-Level is equivalent to three A levels.
The building, which is a £5 million investment, has been designed by local architects Roberts Limbrick and is to be built by Gloucester -based E G Carter.
This is the same team which designed and built the college’s new digital building. Both designs are deliberately modelled on modern workplaces and seek to bring the surrounding green campus into the buildings.
College Principal Jim Grant said: “These two buildings will transform the college frontage and provide facilities for our students. The T-Level building will open in the Autumn.
Both will enhance our learning environment and add new resources for our young people.”
University of Gloucestershire invests £1.3 M in bioscience facilities
A new £1.3 million biosciences facility that will enable vital research into human diseases and illnesses, as well as addressing the shortage in biomedical scientists, has opened at the University of Gloucestershire.
The laboratory, based at the School of Natural and Social Sciences at the university’s Francis Close Hall campus in Cheltenham, will provide researchers and students with access to the latest technologies in biomedical science supporting the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
Project Lead, Professor Phil Toms, said: “This new facility represents a major investment by the university in support of local, regional and national priorities, contributing to the graduate workforce in the NHS and industry that are so central to the nation’s wellbeing and success as a world leader in bioscience.
“The facility will fundamentally and substantially enhance our research in life sciences and allied health, from investigating tumour-immune system interactions, to assessing the use of glycosaminoglycans in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, to uncovering the mechanisms that protect DNA in response to drugs.
“Our investment in space, equipment and visualisation technologies represent a step-change in learning for our bioscience students, focusing less on theory through lectures and more on learner development through practice.”
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive, Deborah Lee, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the university to develop the next generation of scientists who are pivotal to our ability to support the early adoption of new technologies and techniques that will help the NHS meet the challenges of the future.
“Biomedical scientists are involved in 80 per cent of the diagnostic tests performed at our Trust and as such are a vital part of our hospital workforce.”
Stewart Golf grows internationally as it shrugs oﬀ pandemic
Gloucester golf trolley designer and manufacturer Stewart Golf is celebrating strong international growth, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Based in Quedgeley, the company tripled its exports to the US during the pandemic due to the increase in demand for golf accessories and equipment as courses remained open in the States.
Mark Stewart, CEO of Stewart Golf said:
“Golf as a sport has been one of the beneﬁciaries through COVID as it’s naturally socially distanced and takes place outdoors, so equipment sales have really gone through the roof. We sold all our stock in about six weeks from March 2020.”
Last year Stewart Golf revealed that business had almost doubled.
The company saw sales increase by 93 per cent. Against a backdrop of the pandemic, golfers took to the fairways for exercise. For a number of golf courses, walking the course was the only option and this helped lead to an unprecedented surge in demand for trolleys.
Stewart Golf built 65 per cent more of its iconic X Series electric trolleys than in 2019 (including the industry leading X9 Follow), and production of the R1-S Push increased by 51 per cent. The company also successfully launched the new Q Follow after four years of design and development.
ONTIC BUYS TRIUMPH GROUP’S STAVERTON FACILITY
A company which manufactures parts and assemblies and offers repair and overhaul services for aerospace equipment, has expanded in Cheltenham after buying the existing facility and select product lines from Triumph Group, which operates in the same sector.
The Triumph Group’s Staverton facility designs and manufactures ball bearing controls for commercial and military equipment, railways, trains, marine and the motor vehicle industry, supports a range of platforms in the military, civil and marine markets.
This acquisition expands Ontic’s capacity in the UK following the successful growth of its existing facility in Cheltenham.
Gareth Hall, President and CEO of Ontic, said: “Ontic is excited at the opportunity to grow our UK presence
with the purchase of the Staverton facility as part of our strategy to expand the licensing solutions we are able to provide our partners across the industry. Not only will we be growing our business footprint with space, equipment and product lines, but we welcome more than 90 employees to Ontic with expertise in mechanical solutions.”
Two Rivers Housing undertakes retroﬁt pilot project
Two Rivers Housing has appointed Bristolbased gcp Architects to design its social housing decarbonisation pilot project in the Forest of Dean.
The housing association has identified 17 homes in Blakeney to take part in the project, which will see the properties go through a complete retrofit programme.
Following the work, the housing association expects to see at least a 45 per cent decrease in carbon emissions produced by the homes. This should mean that the homes will cost less to heat and run – savings which will be directly passed on to its tenants.
The work undertaken through this pilot project will help inform the housing association’s long-term planned maintenance programme as it looks to improve the energy eﬃciency of all its homes.
Two Rivers Housing provides affordable housing to more than 4,200 families across Gloucestershire. It was awarded a £500,000 grant by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to partfund the pilot.
“Ontic is excited at the opportunity to grow our UK presence ...”
SEVEN BRISTOL FIRMS ARE ONES TO WATCH IN CREATIVE INDUSTRIES COUNCIL’S ANNUAL LIST
Seven innovative Bristol businesses are among 100 UK-wide cited in the Creative Industries Council’s Ones To Watch 2021, an annual showcase of UK companies at the intersection of creativity and technology.
Judges were looking for companies that used technology in creative ways, which solved a problem or created new opportunities, had the potential to transform their sector and whose idea was commercially viable.
Winners included Calvium, a digital agency that has developed a digital placemaking platform to improve the visitor experience and local economies of towns and cities.
Lost Horizon, was the team behind the Shangri-La area at Glastonbury Festival. When the 2020 festival was cancelled, it staged the world’s first VR festival in a digital version of Shangri-La.
Swamp Motel adopted extended reality technology to bring immersive theatre
experiences to audiences at home.
Other winners included Air Giants, which makes biomorphic robots. These are economical in their use of materials, being made of little more than air, fabric and control valves, can reach up to eight metres tall and interact with audiences.
Bristol Braille Technology CIC has made “a Kindle for blind people”, while BBT has developed the world’s only commercialised multiline braille display. Canute 360 allows blind people to read books, music and graphs.
Buttercup Learning has created an insectthemed early years literacy book with augmented reality, giving the illusion of eyepopping 3D insects coming out of the book.
And finally Condense Reality wants to be the first UK company to offer brands the ability to stream live events like sports games, music concerts and theatre productions inside the metaverse.
Evona wins New Business of the Year at Lloyds Bank British Excellence Awards
A space recruitment company which is less than three years old has won a Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Award.
Evona, based in Bristol, says there is more to the space industry than simply training astronauts. Supporting functions include engineering, technology and the supply chain make the journey possible; a skilled STEM workforce is essential for the journey to space to exist.
Richard Joyce, Co-Founder of Evona, said: “We want to focus on our global mission, raising the curtain for the global space section, as space isn’t just for astronauts, it’s for everyone and it’s the future.”
The Park becomes Europe's largest wine packaging company
A Bristol bottling and warehousing facility says that in just one year it has become Europe’s largest wine packaging company, currently packaging one million bottles and 150,000 bags of wine daily.
The Park, based at Avonmouth, was formerly used to bottle and store wines from Accolade Wines, but has expanded to become a contract packer for any business in the drinks industry, with the capacity to bottle a further 10 million cases of wine, with the ﬂexibility for even more during peak periods.
Experts in multi-format packaging, bulk wine shipping and blending wine, The Park packs many of the top 20 wine brands in the UK and boasts a certiﬁed carbon neutral site equipped with recipe creation labs and beverage blending facilities.
The Park has increased its headcount and recruited 50 more staff members. It is also rolling out a £750,000 investment to double stack 20ft containers, meaning 250 containers of wine can be stored onsite to provide a larger buffer against global shipping volatility and provide scheduling ﬂexibility.
This will add to its existing 75 million bottle capacity storage to hold a further eight million bottles – this means that The Park will soon be able to store enough wine to ﬁll nearly 25 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
NO “TRUFFLING” SUCCESS AS TRUFFLEHUNTER CELEBRATES A DECADE OF DELIGHT
This unprepossessing fungi, related to the mushroom but growing under, not above ground is a culinary delicacy. Now one company set up by a former banker is successfully expanding its earthy appeal globallyBy Nicky Godding Business & Innovation Magazine Editor-in-Chief
Saffron. Caviar. Oysters. Truﬄes. These are the world’s most expensive and desirable culinary ingredients.
Probably the least well understood in this list are truﬄes, even though they’ve been eaten for thousands of years. Surprising really, because they are diﬃcult to cultivate and, as they resemble a small dirty clod of earth, don’t have much going for them visually either.
But thousands of years ago, thanks to their strong smell and flavour, they were considered to have healing properties, and were eaten by the rich to help stave off illness. As a result, their distinct flavour in meals became familiar and desirable.
Fast forward to the 21st century and little has changed. Fresh truﬄes have been the preserve of top chefs who would grate them over a dish or make their own truﬄe-infused condiments.
That was until one man saw the potential to broaden the appeal of this delicacy into a range of up-market products.
TruﬄeHunter, established by Nigel Whitehouse in 2007 near Cirencester, has grown into a £10 million plus turnover business.
The company, now employing more than 50 people, makes luxury products using imported truﬄes from Italy and other European regions, and sells them across the world.
So who is this truﬄe pioneer?
At age 40, Nigel was head of global fixed income operations for Deutsche Bank, and at risk of burning out. After a holiday to Indonesia, he gave the bank a year’s notice and left, wondering what to do.
Newly married, he and his wife Omi decided to have an adventure. They went to Italy and spent time in Le Marche, the truﬄeproducing region of central Italy.
Here was the perfect opportunity to build a new business from the ground up.
His original idea was to make olive oil, but with many other people doing it, there was little money to be made by an olive oil ingenu. So he planted vines and thought about producing wine. Ditto others doing that too.
Then he stumbled on truﬄes. “At the local markets there were loads of people selling them.
“My first thought was 200 euros for that? You’ve got to be joking.”
The local truﬄe business operated with little organisation. Nigel reckoned it could be done better, for the benefit of all concerned.
The ﬁrst tru e website in the world
“I started buying fresh truﬄes from local hunters. I built an ecommerce website and while it was a bit amateur, it was also the first fresh truﬄe ecommerce site in the world.”
The Italian truﬄe market is made up of hundreds of small family businesses that have been doing it for generations. Experienced truﬄe hunters find and harvest the truﬄes, selling them to the local restaurants and wholesalers.
But there was no infrastructure, no supply chain and truﬄe hunters don’t hunt all year round. Nigel realised he’d stumbled on something with huge potential.
He began by approaching UK chefs. “They loved the quality and our service, but truﬄes are a rare commodity with a short shelf life, and I couldn’t make it commercially viable.”
He began to consider what else he could do with truﬄes.
“At the time, delis in the UK or USA would often have a dusty bottle of expensive truﬄe oil at the back of a shelf. While truﬄes were known to be a delicacy, few people knew what to do with them.
“I thought that if I could make truﬄe oil, sell it for £5 with a clear English branding on it, tell people what it is and how to use it, that would open up the market.”
Michelin-starred UK chef Michael Wignall agreed.
“Michael introduced us to Wellocks, a top tier food service distributor. When James Wellock visited us in Italy and bought our truﬄes, he also suggested we expand our product range.
Fast forward a few years and the business now makes luxury products using imported truﬄes from Italy and other European
regions, and sells them across the world.
Alongside the glorious fresh truﬄes (Black Autumn Truﬄes can cost from £55 each), the company makes truﬄe oil and vinegar, crisps, cheese, butter, mustard, a range of different condiments, gift sets and a selection of preserved black truﬄe products – even truﬄe ketchup.
The truﬄe market is now estimated as being worth more than $100 million dollars a year.
But overnight success takes years to achieve (as someone famous once said).
Bringing food manufacture back to the UK
“We spent six months developing and branding a small range of products, and moved back to the UK, to South Cerney, and began making products such as truﬄe oil, truﬄe butter and even truﬄe honey.”
Most of TruﬄeHunter’s truﬄes come from Italy, although Nigel now buys from all over Europe and while he does still buy directly from truﬄe hunters, most are bought from wholesalers or the farms which cultivate them in quantity.
A major reason for our success is that we are the tru e experts. We are staying focused and still have a big market to go after. We are in the tru e, not the ﬁne food, business.
“We know the best seasons to buy them in Spain, Italy and other regions,” said Nigel.
There are hundreds of truﬄe varieties, each enjoying a short season. However, there are fewer than 10 varieties which have commercial value, of which TruﬄeHunter sells around five.
Truﬄes grow in the UK too, mostly in Wiltshire and Somerset.
Tru e knowledge spurs global growth
TruﬄeHunter has grown by increasing sales to a certain level before investing in growth.
“We started selling directly to delicatessens in the UK and did a lot of food shows where we could meet customers face-to-face and get feedback,” said Nigel.
“Early on we made a lot of our truﬄe products by hand, and when we could afford to, we invested in automation. And we still do that.”
But it was always clear that such a niche product needs a global presence.
“We listed on Amazon UK within the first year. And it’s been a big market for us. Then we listed on Amazon in the States and exhibited at some of the country’s major food shows. Since then, we’ve listed on around a dozen Amazon platforms around the world.”
The company now exports around two-thirds of its products and last year, TruﬄeHunter was awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its exporting success.
To meet the demand it has expanded the South Cerney premises, installing a production line to make its white and black truﬄe crisps. In fact, the company makes all its products at South Cerney and while Nigel and Omi are currently based in Australia, where he is looking to expand TruﬄeHunter’s market, the company will continue to be based in Gloucestershire, because this business is truly global.
In the last four years, thanks to the curiosity around truﬄe and truﬄe flavours,
TruﬄeHunter has reported a 200 per cent growth in turnover.
While the USA is the company’s biggest export market, Nigel can see huge opportunities for growth across the Far East. “We struggled to make early progress in the Asian markets, so we set up an oﬃce in Hong Kong around
three years ago and it’s finally working.
“A major reason for our success is that we are the truﬄe experts. We are staying focused and still have a big market to go after. We are in the truﬄe, not the fine food, business.”
And that’s no truﬄing success.
“I thought that if I could make tru e oil, sell it for £5 with a clear English branding on it, tell people what it is and how to use it, that would open up the market.”
OXFORD TO REMAIN THE HEART OF MINI PRODUCTION
The BMW Group, which owns the iconic Mini car brand is to build cars in Germany and China, but it says that Cowley in Oxford – where the manufacturer employs 4,000 people – will remain “heart” of production
BMW, which owns the iconic brand, unveiled plans for future Mini production last November, and it’s going global.
The next generation Mini Countryman, to be launched in 2023, will be built at the BMW Group Plant Leipzig, making it the first Mini made in Germany.
Two months previously Mini revealed an increase in sales of 7.9 per cent over the same period last year. EVs now make up more than 15 per cent of global sales.
The number of Mini brand vehicles sold globally in the first nine months of the year rose by eight per cent to a total of 224,838 units.
The all-electric Mini SE3 made a significant contribution to growth, with sales up by 106.6 per cent, the company said.
Together with the Mini Countryman plug-in hybrid 3, they accounted for more than 15 per cent of the brand’s total sales volume worldwide during the nine-month period.
Yasa spinout plans to electrify aerospace
commercialise Yasa’s next-generation electric motor technology and IP for the rapidly growing aerospace market.
All other Mini models, including the Mini Convertible set to launch in 2025, will be produced at the Mini plant in Oxford, which BMW said remains the heart of Mini production and the United Kingdom will continue to be the home of the Mini brand, it added.
However, with the automotive market in China continuing to undergo dynamic growth, Mini set out its ambition to 'move from the status of an import brand to a local manufacturer'.
and adoption of electric ﬂight.
Evolito, based at Kidlington near the city was launched earlier this year by Yasa, the pioneer of automotive axialﬂux electric motors.
The business says its axial-ﬂux motor technology has been proven in volume series production in the automotive industry and has even greater advantages in the aerospace market. As such, Evolito says it is uniquely positioned to drive forward the commercialisation
Evolito’s ultra-high performance, low-weight axial-ﬂux motors and power electronics are smaller, lighter and more robust than other competing technology, opening up a range of new opportunities for Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL), ﬁxed wing and distributed electric propulsion applications such as Urban Air Mobility (UAM).
From 2023 onwards, the new models of the small-car segment developed for e-mobility will be produced in China.
Production will be located at the newly-constructed automotive plant in the east of the country.
Mini will use the cars produced there to meet the increased demand in China and the other global markets.
German tech company ZF invests in Oxbotica
German technology company ZF, which supples systems for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial technology, has invested in autonomous vehicle software company Oxbotica.
With the lack of delivery drivers reaching pandemic levels, high street retailer Wilko is investing in autonomous delivery company, Streetdrone.
The £3 million investment, part of a wider multi-million-pound preseries A round, will enable Oxfordbased Streetdrone to accelerate the development of its autonomous delivery vehicle and systems.
Streetdrone wants to deploy driverless delivery vehicles on UK roads by the end of next year and is working with vehicle safety agencies to deﬁne the standards by which these technologies will be allowed to operate on public roads.
Jerome Saint-Marc, CEO of Wilko, said: “Autonomous vehicles are the future of automated logistics, and Streetdrone is undoubtedly one of the key players that will lead the way in making this technology viable.
"It is one of the companies that’s putting the UK on the map in developing this type of gamechanging technology."
ZF and Oxbotica plan to develop a selfdriving system that can be integrated into vehicles including Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) shuttles to provide on-demand passenger and goods vehicles in urban environments, which it intends to deploy in passenger shuttles in major cities around the world.
The autonomous shuttle market will grow substantially over the next 10 years with the potential to increase access to improve road safety, reduce congestion and boost productivity.
The two companies started working together in 2019, with Oxbotica completing integration of its autonomous vehicle software with ZF’s ProAI, an artificial intelligence capable automotive-grade computer platform, and ZF’s Full-Range Radar.
Ahead of the autonomous shuttle deployments, ZF and Oxbotica will continue to develop their technology.
Oxbotica was founded in 2014 as an Oxford University spin-out with a mission to develop autonomy software that will transform all industries where people and goods move.
Williams Advanced Engineering collaborates on electric aircraft
Williams Advanced Engineering in Oxfordshire is collaborating with USAbased Skyworks Aeronautics on the design, fabrication, and testing of Skyworks’ eGyro electrically powered aircraft.
Skyworks Aeronautics says it is a world leader in the science and technology of gyronautics, focusing on the design and development of crewed and uncrewed gyroplanes and gyrocopters with gaspowered, hybrid-electric and fully electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) options.
Electrification of the powertrain has enabled innovative design solutions that are no longer restricted by conventional technologies.
Using highly advanced technology and modern aerospace science, engineering, and design methods, the company is striving to make air travel safer, more costeﬃcient and effective.
The company has been developing manned and unmanned vertical lift gyroplane technologies for more than two decades.
Williams Advanced Engineering also has years of experience working with the likes of Airbus to develop the Zephyr recordbreaking high altitude unmanned aerial system.
Paul McNamara, Technical Director, Williams Advanced Engineering said:
“Aerodynamics, lightweight advanced materials and electrification are core competencies for us – and we’re looking forward to applying them to the eGyro, which seems set to redefine the gyroplane bringing about a step change in aeronautical e-mobility.”
Streetdrone secures £3 million investment from high street retailer Wilko
What’s on the horizon for life sciences in the UK?
Although it is hard to think of any positives to come from Covid-19, the one that I consider most important to come from the pandemic is the increased focus on the UK Life Sciences sector, and its importance in relation to supporting treatments and vaccines, and its importance for the UK economy and prosperity.
The Life Sciences sector delivered some notable successes in terms of the vaccines and other treatments of Covid-19 during the otherwise bleak first waves of the Covid-19 pandemic from March 2020. Especially, for Oxford the rapid development of the successful AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been a shining example of research, development and innovation along with co-operation between a private company such as AstraZeneca and an institution as such as Oxford University.
However, it must be noted that the Life Sciences sector was already expanding before the Covid-19 pandemic and was already one of the most important sectors to the British economy. For this reason the government devoted special attention to the sector for many years.
Professor Sir John Bell prepared a report to the government in August 2017 called “Life Sciences Industrial Strategy” with a number of recommendations, and this report was followed up in July 2021 with a government paper called Life Sciences Vision. Figures from 2019 showed that the UK Life Sciences industry
had a turnover of £80.7 bn and employed 256,100 people. The triangle between London, Oxford and Cambridge is by far the biggest European Life Sciences cluster in Europe, and the triangle has kept this position after Brexit.
Because of the growth and importance of the sector, it has received significant investment in recent years, including during the hights of the first waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the sector has regularly outperformed other sectors. For example, Life Sciences companies on the London stock markets delivered fantastic returns in 2020 and have attracted new investors according to a recent analysis by the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) and Radnor Capital Partners.
So, in a period of signiﬁcant success, it would seem prudent to pause for a moment and consider how the UK Life Sciences sector can continue its growth and retain its position as leading on a global scale…
This is important to consider, because it is not just in the UK, that the Life Sciences sector has received plenty of positive attention. Throughout Europe Life Sciences clusters are being created, and existing clusters are growing. Similar developments are now also taking place in North America and Asia. Therefore, to preserve its leading position, the UK must ensure that the conditions for the sector remains competitive, so that the sector can continue to develop and innovate.
Like many other sectors, the Life Sciences sector faces the challenge of ﬁerce competition for talent.
Life Sciences companies are for obvious reasons very knowledge intensive and employing the right people could mean the difference between a successful product development or failure. The UK immigration rules have changed significantly as a consequence of Brexit. Especially, in relation to staff coming from the EU the change has been dramatic. We have gone from a situation, where EU scientists could with only limited paperwork enter the UK and become employed to a situation, where that process is now more complicated. This takes time and costs money for the employer and could, if not managed accordingly, potentially put UK companies at a competitive disadvantage compared to European employers. Therefore,
companies in the Life Sciences sector must be prepared to deal with their recruitment as a potential risk and should put in place plans to deal with this so they can attract the right staff.
Another reason for the success of UK Life Sciences is the protection of IP in the UK.
Many Life Sciences companies are highly reliant on IP. Therefore, planning and managing your IP portfolio is necessary not only for the running of the business, but also to protect the foundation of the business and to develop
further revenue streams for the business by way of licensing of IP. Licensing could be used for IP, which is not core to the business or which the business may not have the capacity or resource to use commercially. Therefore, careful IP portfolio management will be an increasingly important feature of any Life Sciences company in the future.
A third challenge is “regulatory compliance”.
A feature of the Life Sciences sector is the strict compliance, the companies are
So, an answer to the question, “What’s on the horizon for Life Sciences in the UK?” …is there will be plenty of opportunities, but in order to still be able to enjoy the opportunities, the sector must continue the hard work.”
Claus Andersen is a partner in our Life Sciences group. He specialises in all aspects of corporate and commercial work with a particular focus on mergers and acquisitions, shareholder agreements, joint ventures, licencing agreements and regulatory advice to companies and businesses in the Life Sciences and technology sector.
Claus Anderson Partner
T: 0185 678 1295
M: 0781 248 2082
subject to. This relates to the products the sector sells, but also increasingly in relation to the personal data it obtains. One of the arguments, which have been levelled against the sector from some quarters of society, is the mistrust as to whether any corners are being cut in the development and production of medicine. Companies in the sector will need to live up to the highest standards of regulatory compliance in relation to not only their products but also the personal data the companies may receive. Both these aspects will also be under heavy scrutiny from potential investors. Delivering Results, Thinking Differently, Building Trust www.freeths.co.uk
The triangle between London, Oxford and Cambridge is by far the biggest Life Sciences cluster in Europe
OXFORDSHIRE BUSINESS AWARDS 2022 OPEN FOR ENTRIES
For 26 years, the Oxfordshire Business Awards (OXBA) has been recognising, rewarding and promoting the excellence of Oxfordshire-based companies. Organised and supported by 13 of the county’s leading organisations, the Awards are ﬁrmly established as a benchmark for excellence in today’s competitive business environment.
OXBA 2022 - KEY DATES
AWARD CATEGORIES 2022
Bicester Village Retail Award
CIS Technology Excellence Award
Hartwell Charity and Community Award
Hays Employer of the Year Award
JACKfm Outstanding Visitor Experience Award
NatWest Large Business Award
Oxford Science Park Innovation Award
Oxfordshire Business Green Award
Oxfordshire LEP New Business Award
Ridge and Partners Business of the Year Award
Royds Withy King Small Business Award
Shaw Gibbs Young Business Person of the Year Award
Shaw Gibbs Business Person of the Year Award
The Syndicut Marketing Excellence Award
NINE BUSINESSES TAKE SPACE IN OXFORD TRUST'S TWO INNOVATION CENTRES
Nine new early-stage science and technology start-up businesses have taken space in The Oxford Trust’s two innovation centres
Oxford continues to see strong demand from businesses needing research and development labs, technical workspace and flexible oﬃce space.
Human Centric is a University of Oxford spin-out improving neurology drug discovery by bringing more human data to the process. It is expert in developing, analysing and combining data from stem cells, large-scale genetics studies, and population health data which allows it to validate safe and effective drug targets for neurological diseases where current models aren’t working.
ProspectSoft is an innovative UK Software as a Service customer relationship management and eCommerce company, which provides sales and marketing software to help B2B wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers drive growth. It has more than 5,000 SME users worldwide.
LabMedExpert has set-up in Oxford to offer training primarily for biomedical science (and other science-related degrees) graduates to fulfil the shortage of experienced biomedical scientists. The training also extends to professionals interested in upskilling in histology or microbiology.
All have taken space at the Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington’s Health and Life Sciences district.
NAG (Numerical Algorithms Group), Quantum Dice, Berlin Brands Group (BBG), This Great Adventure, Matter PR and Curiosity Software, have taken space in the Oxford Centre for Innovation on New Road in the city centre.
NAG provides numerical software and technical services to banking and finance, energy, engineering and market research, as well as academic and government institutions.
Quantum Dice’s move has created a mini quantum hub at the centre, alongside another quantun computing business, ColdQuanta. A spin-out from the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics, Quantum Dice is developing the world’s first compact, completely embedded, random number generator for encryption and cybersecurity.
Berlin Brands Group, which creates, builds and scales brands globally, has selected the Oxford Centre for Innovation as its UK headquarters thanks to the city’s science, technology and innovation credentials.
This Great Adventure is a digital company collaborating with museums, cultural heritage organisations and creative businesses in the UK and around the world, exploring new forms of physical-digital storytelling, including novel and emergent creative augmentedm virtual and extended reality technologies.
Matter PR is a specialist communications and PR agency for the science, engineering and technology community.
Curiosity Software has 25 years’ experience in building test data technologies. It has now launched the world’s first highly-automated open testing platform.
The companies have joined 34 other science and tech businesses at the centres focusing on a range of specialities including medical imaging, AI, quantum physics and biotech.
The Oxford Centre for Innovation and the Wood Centre for Innovation are managed by Oxford Innovation, an early spin out of The Oxford Trust and now the UK’s leading operator of innovation centres, managing 26 centres across the UK.
The Oxford Trust has now begun a second phase of its conversion of dedicated high spec laboratory facilities at its Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington, following £0.2 million additional Local Growth Fund support, secured by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).
The second phase will deliver an additional 3,000 sq ft of laboratory and allied space.
Oxfordshire Business Awards 2022 –
OPEN FOR ENTRIES
For 26 years, the Oxfordshire Business Awards (OXBA) has been recognising and rewarding Oxfordshire companies. Oxfordshire business leaders attended the launch of the 2022 Awards in the Sadler Building, at Oxford Science Park. Organised and supported by 13 of the county’s leading organisations, the 2022 awards are now open for entries.
Photography: Rob Lacey
OXFORD VACCINE GROUP WINS ACCOLADE AT BRITISH BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARDS
Oxford Vaccine Group has won a prestigious accolade at the Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards.
The company was rewarded for its Outstanding Contribution to British Business for helping to get the UK back on its feet after the pandemic.
Thanks to the hard work and determination of companies like Oxford Vaccine Group, 104 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered – 87.6 million of those in England alone.
Associate Professor Teressa Lambe OBE said: “I’d like to say a massive thank you to the whole team for the continued support, helping us achieve what we have achieved.
"This award gives us the recognition we need and deserve. As a company, we worked really hard across the pandemic to help get us out of it and to help get people and businesses back to normal, which during the heights, seemed like an impossible task.
“We hope that winning this award and the success of the Oxford vaccine can put a spotlight on what the UK can do as a whole, promoting our ethos.
"Our focus as a company is on the people, the people we invest in and the people who incorporate the knowledge for future generations to be able to tackle future diseases.”
Oxford University breaks spinout records
Oxford University Innovation (OUI) created 31 new spin-out companies over the past year, setting a new record for company creation at the university.
And companies created through OUI have raised more than £1.1 billion during the period, a 29 per cent increase from 2020’s previous record.
The figure puts Oxford University firmly into the number one spot for company creation in the UK, compared to other universities.
Globally, based on recently published figures for company creation from tech transfer organisations, Oxford is presently
ranked number two, second only to Switzerland’s ETH Zurich which has 34.
In addition, Oxford Nanopore launching on the London Stock Exchange last year marked the most successful IPO exit for a UK spin-out to date, and fifth-largest globally for any spin-out, according to data from Global University Venturing.
Oxford University Innovation has published its annual review of a year which it says has also been its most challenging.
The review is dedicated to the memory of Oxford University Innovation’s Dr Jamie Ferguson, who died from Covid-19 in August 2020.
Medtech smashes crowdfunding target
Active Needle Technology Ltd, the medical device company developing an innovative needle-actuating device to reduce needle placement errors in ultrasound guided procedures, has smashed its crowdfunding target of £150,000.
At the beginning of December last year, the Culham Science Centrebased company had so far raised more than £321,000 on Crowdcube.
Active Needle is exploiting the properties of ultrasonically active needles. The technology allows the products to have potential applications in a range of multi-billion-pound markets. These global markets could include healthcare, life sciences, medical and non-medical tattooing.
The technology is the outcome of the research work carried out by Dr Muhammad Sadiq, a biomedical engineer and RSE enterprise fellow, and Professor Graeme McLeod, a consultant anaesthetist at Ninewells Hospital and the University of Dundee.
Active Needle’s patented technology is a hand-held piezoelectric that interfaces with single-use medical needles to induce minute longitudinal ultrasonic vibration.
The device, which has been developed in conjunction with clinical colleagues, consists of disposable and durable parts. A durable driver unit vibrates the disposable needle at ultrasonic frequencies leading to enhanced visibility and reduced deflection of standard needles under laboratory conditions.
The adoption of Active Needle’s technology in clinical practice offers the potential of significant health economic and clinical benefits to drive shared value for investors, patients, clinicians and healthcare providers and payers.
Bringing Business Support to All Corners of
If you are a business or have an idea for a business in Oxfordshire, OxLEP Business offers friendly, prompt and professional business support at no cost. These services range from one-to-one and peer support to online workshops, grants and business networking events.
Last November, we published the OxLEP Business & Skills Impact Report.
This reveals how in 2020-2021, we engaged with 2,670 business and 1,374 of them completed our Business Support Tool, a quick way for us to find out what bespoke support was needed for each business. From there we delivered over £1.9m worth of support and created 487 new jobs, by supporting over 100 new business in our Start-Up Club, 22 from Foundations to Growth and by providing one-to-one support to over 400 businesses. On top of this, we delivered 156 learning sessions and 152 events and vlogs.
Our data also showed that it’s not just pre-start or start-up level businesses that benefitted from our services during this time; over 40% were classified as established, revealing that businesses of all sizes and sectors engaged with OxLEP Business.
“The one-to-one element was most attractive to me. I was keen to get some expert advice on imports and exports to ensure that we were doing all we needed to be doing for now and in preparation for the future. I was put in touch with an incredibly knowledgeable advisor who was able to cut through the jargon and the acronyms and answer my specific questions, so I was much clearer as to what I needed to do.”Tim Millard, MD, ES Precision
PROGRAMMES IN FOCUS
OxLEP Business Growth Hub’s support offer is continually developing to react to the needs of the business community. We offer a range of services for all stages of businesses, from the conception stage to established business (with less than 250 employees), and look for new, in-demand ways to support growth and provide access to funding for clients.
popular package of support. From ambitious and passionate StartUp and Growth Businesses to established business leaders who need a fresh perspective on their strategy and business goals, help from dedicated professionals is invaluable. This experience comes with no agenda and no one-size-fits-all approach, only a passion to provide Oxfordshire businesses with the support that is right for them.
You can also combine networking, group learning and one-to-one support in our Peer Networks programme. Here, business leaders can build their confidence, discuss their ideas and challenges, and work with advisors to develop their potential for future growth and productivity.
OxLEP Business has over 20 experienced advisors available to provide support and guidance.
OxLEP Business offers funding and grant opportunities for social enterprises and SMEs looking to grow and innovate.
These grant opportunities are of critical importance for many businesses. Since 2018 we have committed over £5 million of grant funds against projects costs of in excess of £9.9 million.
Different grants are available through our business support programmes, for example the ISfB Go-Create grant and the Business Investment Fund (BIF).
As well as the online sessions we run for Start-Up Club and other support on offer, we deliver informative online webinars regularly to help businesses with issues ranging from marketing and sales to accounting and finance. We have regular Thursday evening educational webinars with topics like ‘Seven Steps to Social Selling’ and ‘How to Fill and Sell Your Event’, as well as one-off sessions delivered by carefully chosen partners.
EUROPEAN REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUND (ERDF)
One to one sessions with an OxLEP Business advisor is our most www.oxlepbusiness.co.uk/oxlep-growth-hub
Through two exciting and highly valued ERDF programmes,
OxLEP Business is here to engage and support small businesses, entrepreneurs and social-minded enterprises through a range of government-funded programmes, known as the Growth Hub.
eScalate and ISfB, we can offer businesses competitive grant funding and laser-focused support, whether a business is a not-for-profit social enterprise looking for specialist guidance, or a SME looking for funding to get an innovative product or service off the ground.
“It can be very hard to get support and funding for a social enterprise. We were signposted to OxLEP’s eScalate programme – specifically set up to support social enterprises. When we reached out to them, they were extremely supportive. They provided us with one to one advice and supported us to apply for grant funding.”Jane Lennon, Communications Manager. Primary Care International
“I’ve got a lot of business experience, but not specifically as an entrepreneur. I’ve built and managed businesses as an MD, but in established businesses. The support that OxLEP have provided in the one-to-one sessions, particularly in signposting and introductions to people who can help in research for instance, has been invaluable.”Darren Evans, Founder. After Cloud
FIND OUT WHAT SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE TO YOUR BUSINESS
Meet the OxLEP Business Team
Helen is the Growth Hub Manager developing and ensuring the delivery of a strong support programme for Oxfordshire businesses. She leads her team by example, developing strong relationships that enable her to manage culture change, offer coaching, mentoring and facilitation to support her staff.
The easiest thing to do to find out exactly what is right for your business is to complete the Business Support Tool, which takes no more than 7 minutes and we will get back to you with a no obligation Business Support Plan tailored to your needs.
Interested in our online webinars and inperson events? Check out the Events page on our website to see what’s coming up for 2022.
Tracy is our European Programme Executive for the Innovation Support for Business (ISfB) programme. She ensures the full compliance of our partnership governance requirements are met and proactively manages our partner relationships. Tracy drives value for Growth Hub clients and is responsible for delivering key project outcomes.
Sarah is our Programme Manager responsible for the delivery of the eScalate programme, which is aimed at enterprises for social good and for growing businesses looking to scale.HELEN BRIND TRACY JAMES SARAH BEAL
QUANTUM DICE RAISES £2 MILLION IN FUNDING
Oxford University spin-out Quantum Dice has completed its pre-seed fundraise.
A £1 million venture capital consortium was led by venture capital fund Elaia Partners and includes IP Group plc, and the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund managed by venture capital company Midven.
A further £1 million of grant funding was secured from the Quantum Investment Accelerator run by technology investor IP Group plc in partnership with Innovate UK, the United Kingdom’s innovation agency.
Quantum Dice aims to use integrated photonics to develop the world’s first compact and continuously self-certifying quantum random number generator for encryption and cybersecurity.
The team behind Quantum Dice is pioneering a solution for secure randomness based on quantum optics.
Quantum computing is the processing of information that’s represented by special quantum states, and scientists consider it capable of changing the world.
By tapping into quantum phenomena like “superposition” and “entanglement,” these machines handle information in a fundamentally different way to “classical” computers like smartphones, laptops, or even today’s most powerful supercomputers.
Quantum computing is phenomenally diﬃcult to achieve, but Google said it has achieved “quantum superiority”, where a quantum computer can perform a task beyond the reach of regular computers.
Atheras Analytics gets funding to improve satellite broadband
Science and Technology Facilities
Council spin-out Atheras Analytics has secured funding to enhance its software to optimise the performance of satellites for telecommunications – bringing satellite broadband to consumers worldwide.
The funding is from the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund (UKI2S). It will allow Atheras Analytics to extend the capabilities of its software tools for the telecommunications sector to cover a wider range of satellites and orbits.
Founded in August 2020 and based at the Science and Innovation Campus at Harwell, Atheras Analytics’ core technology is based on research conducted by the Science and Technology Facilities Council RAL Space.
The company has developed software tools for satellite operators to optimise the design and operation of nextgeneration satellite networks by taking into account region-specific weather conditions – in particular, rainfall.
The tools are particularly for satellite networks that operate in Ka-band and Q/V-band frequencies, which are increasingly used to support the higher data rates demanded by businesses and consumers worldwide.
The satellite telecommunications sector is about to enter a phase of major change by using high throughput satellites and very high throughput satellites. These can deliver more than 20 times the data capacity of traditional satellites at a fraction of the cost to provide broadband to consumers and businesses.
Charisma named One to Watch at Digital Catapult awards
Oxford technology company
Charisma has been named as One to Watch at Digital Catapult Awards.
Charisma uses artiﬁcial intelligence to create believable characters that people will want to interact with –both in games and in the metaverse.
The company is made up of Emmy and BAFTA-recognised technologists, creative writers, game designers and AI-specialists.
It was one of six tech startups identiﬁed as Ones to Watch at the Awards by Digital Catapult – the UK authority on advanced digital technology.
The Awards celebrate world-class technology start-ups which have achieved the most market traction, secured the most investment and produced the best new product or service ideas set to accelerate the digital future.
The winners’ innovations range from AI-powered technology to optimise recycling processes, to fully immersive, workplace collaboration tools.
Guy Gadney, co-founder and CEO of Charisma, which was named a Responsible and Ethical Tech Pioneer, said: “We’re now working with companies like Warner Brothers and creating our own mind-blowing, immersive experiences across TV and gaming – and can’t wait to continue on this journey.”
CONNECTED KERB ANNOUNCES £1.9 BILLION EV CHARGING ROLLOUT
Reading-based electric vehicle infrastructure specialist Connected Kerb has announced one of the most ambitious rollouts of EV charging the UK has ever seen with a budget of £1.9 billion.
Connected Kerb will see 190,000 public onstreet EV chargers installed by 2030.
The unprecedented investment, says the firm, will revolutionise access to EV charging for the tens of millions of drivers without off-street parking and support massmarket charging for workplaces and fleets.
The company has secured new partnerships for thousands of public onstreet EV chargers across the UK over the next 10 years.
A West Sussex tender is believed to be the UK’s largest ever deployment by a local authority.
Deals for a further 30,000 chargers are expected to conclude soon, as part of the
EV ownership in the UK is skyrocketing, but there are currently only around 1,000 public-access on-street chargers outside London and just one for every 52 EVs on UK roads.
As a result, those without off-street parking or a dedicated parking space with domestic power supply – accounting for 62 per cent of drivers – are being left behind in the EV transition.
UK’s largest residential land sale transaction this year completed in Swindon
What is expected to be the UK’s largest residential land sale transaction in 2021 was completed on behalf of the landowner by property agents Avison Young.
The 365-acre site at Lotmead Farm, Swindon was offered for sale by Ainscough Strategic Land, and has been acquired in a joint venture partnership of Countryside and Sovereign Housing Association.
Outline planning permission for the delivery of an up to 2,500-home scheme has already been secured for the joint venture partnership.
Thirty per cent of the scheme will be affordable, together with additional units which will be delivered specifically for Sovereign. Up to 400 homes will be delivered for private rented accommodation.
Good Energy changes tack as it puts its entire renewable asset portfolio up for sale
Good Energy has revealed that it is planning to sell its entire 47.5MW renewable asset portfolio as it shifts from being a renewable utility towards becoming an energy services provider.
The company outlined a clear strategic direction to capitalise on a rapidly growing market in decentralised, digitised clean energy and transport services based on 100 per cent ‘real’ renewable power.
The company said it aims to lead in selected areas of electric transport and decentralised generation as the energy transition continues to gather pace.
The company said this change of direction had received strong shareholder support throughout its ultimately successful defence
of the hostile takeover attempt by Stroudbased Ecotricity last year.
The company said it aims to lead in selected areas of electric transport and decentralised generation as the energy transition continues to gather pace.
Last Autumn Good Energy commissioned renowned artist Luke Jerram to create an experimental light projection at the UK’s ﬁrst ever wind farm to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
The piece, which featured moving images depicting nature, messages to world leaders and audio of children’s voices, was projected onto a wind turbine at Delabole in Cornwall, the birthplace of UK renewables.
CAMPING GEAR COMPANY OLPRO LAUNCHES DESIGN COLLABORATION WITH WORCESTER UNI
Property disruptor aims to go national with buyer-pays-fees model
A Worcester business that has disrupted the traditional estate agent model is setting its sights on national expansion with demand for its unique offer continuing to grow.
FreeAgent247.com, which was the brainchild of industry experts Daniel Lewis and Gerard Smith, provides homeowners with a “free” way of selling their homes by reversing the fees so they are paid for by the buyer.
Last November, camping equipment company Olpro kickstarted a fourmonth collaboration with university students who are using their design expertise to develop eye-catching visual content for Olpro ’s sustainability initiatives: the company’s tree planting initiative and ‘Loan & Go’ rental service.
Last year Olpro pledged to plant one tree for every tent and awning sold, and this has already led to the planting of more than 3,500 trees around the world. ‘Loan & Go’ was introduced as a rental service that allows people to go camping once before deciding whether they want to purchase their
product and commit to camping longer term. The company introduced the scheme after seeing the huge number of tents that festival goers were leaving behind for disposal at landfills.
Daniel Walton, founder of Olpro, said: “We’re delighted to be working in collaboration with the University of Worcester’s Graphic Design students. We’re really pleased that we can give local students an opportunity to gain some valuable business experience and to collaborate in making some eye-catching content that will go towards promoting some fantastic sustainability initiatives.”
The approach has proved successful in Worcestershire, with the company regularly handling more than 100 different properties, from riverside lodges and city centre apartments to family homes and country retreats.
Daniel said: “Reversing the fees so that the buyer picks up our charges makes complete sense for the seller. It takes away a big additional cost, whether you are selling a two-bed starter home or a luxury rural property. We are now seeing a steady stream of clients asking us to sell £1 million plus properties.”
IONOS data centre achieves completion at Worcester Six
Property developer Stoford has completed its construction of an energy-eﬃcient data centre at Worcester Six Business Park for IONOS, one of Europe’s largest datahosting companies.
The nearly 44,000 sq ft unit for the data hosting company, and Fasthosts – its subsidiary UK brand, includes solar photovoltaic panels that cover the entire
roof and Tata Steel’s Confidex Sustain wall and roof cladding, which creates a carbonneutral building envelope.
Gerard Ludlow, Director at Stoford, said: “We’ve made superb progress on this data centre for IONOS and are proud to have delivered Wychavon’s first data centre for IONOS. As Worcester Business Park continues to take shape, it is attracting
global names to the region.”
When complete, Worcester Six will provide around 1.5m sq ft of employment space. So far more than 700,000 sq ft of space has been delivered or committed across the scheme, with tenants including Kimal, Kohler Mira, Spire Healthcare, Zwickroell, Marmon Foodservice and Siemens energy business Materials Solutions.
Worcestershire-based Olpro has launched a collaboration with the University of Worcester’s graphic design studentsOlpro’s Gemini Tent. Try before you buy
Broadband provider Airband secures £100M debt facility to help bridge the rural-urban digital divide
Airband, a leading broadband provider for rural homes and businesses, has closed a significant £100 million debt package from an international banking consortium including HSBC and Lloyds, German bank Nord LB and Spanish bank Sabadell.
The debt facility enables Airband to accelerate its rollout plan with the view to service 600,000 premises with full fibre broadband by 2025.
The rollout of Airband’s full fibre broadband services will cover more than 10,000km of fibre in a bid to close the UK’s digital divide between urban and rural communities. Ofcom recently reported that people are living increasingly virtual lives, with data usage in the UK increasing
more than 10 times from 2013 to 2019. Airband’s founder, Redmond Peel, said: “We created Airband in 2009 to supply rural areas with the high-quality internet they deserve. The pandemic has increasingly highlighted the deficit some communities in the UK face when it comes to services that those living in urban areas take for granted.
“Access to reliable and fast broadband that is fit for modern day lives – from home education and online grocery shopping during the lockdown through to the digitisation of many services, such as banking and streaming entertainment –can no longer be considered a luxury, but rather a basic utility.”
Worcester e-commerce start-up secures
£2.2M seed funding
The online tech and e-commerce start-up Boulevard has raised £2.2 million in seed funding from the early and growth-stage venture capital company Fuel Ventures.
The funding will help the business expand and diversify. It will also focus on refining and advancing its Eiger System, its proprietary platform that links suppliers, product management and other technologies.
Mark Pearson, managing partner at Fuel Ventures said: “It’s clear from Boulevard’s unique approach, the building of their own end-to-end supply chain software and their impressive growth that they know how to be the big sellers on these platforms and continually adapting with the times. The decision to invest in Boulevard was an easy one for us: it is set to become a serious player among the world’s fastest-growing marketplaces.”
Founded in 2016 by young entrepreneur Dom Portman the company, formerly known as Fancy Dress Worldwide, became one of the most successful online retailers of costumes and partywares within just a few years.
In 2020, the company began its diversification
Boulevard has raised more than £2M to grow into multiple product categories with a renewed focus on trading across online marketplaces worldwide. As a result of the successful launch of new products across categories such as arts and crafts, stationery, pets, toys and games and more, the company re-branded to become Boulevard, helped by Worcester-based design agency Big Helping.
Dominic Portman, Founder and Managing Director of Boulevard, said: “We started life as a single category e-commerce business that we quickly scaled through the power of our own tech, Eiger.”
“The lessons we learnt on how to sell online as an e-commerce business opened up our expertise to help others to do the same. We’re now planning on advancing our Eiger platform to enable us to break into new markets and become a leading, global online marketplace super-seller.”
Redditch company secures contract extension with Ipsos MORI for NHS GP Patient Survey
Communications company Adare SEC has been awarded a threeyear contract extension with Ipsos MORI for processing of the annual NHS GP Patient Survey.
The survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the NHS each year, provides information on patients’ overall experience of primary care services and their overall experience of accessing these services.
Adare SEC provides an integrated service to Ipsos MORI, from the printing of all outbound surveys to the capture and digitalisation of incoming completed questionnaires.
The latest survey consisted of around 2.41 million postal questionnaires sent out to adults registered with GP practices in England between January and the end of March 2021. Around 850,000 patients completed and returned a questionnaire, resulting in a national response rate of 35.3 per cent.
Allan Rowan, Chief Commercial Oﬃcer, Adare SEC, said: “Our relationship with Ipsos MORI is longstanding and we take great pride in assisting them with their essential work on behalf of the NHS.”
Dr Rachel Williams, Research Director, Ipsos MORI, added: “Adare SEC has a deep understanding of our business model and is critical to the continued success of the survey programme and we look forward to further developing our working relationship.”
Businesses urged to take advantage of limited availability
UK ISP, Giganet, is offering an incredible three-months free internet for local businesses on the new CityFibre network in Coventry and parts of Warwickshire. The special offer, which is expected to run out quickly, is to encourage smaller businesses to try full fibre business internet with scorching download and upload speeds of up to 3Gb/s.
In Coventry and the local area, CityFibre has invested over £70 million in building the new full fibre network. Giganet are the ISP leading the charge in connecting local businesses to the best internet around. Simply check your postcode at www.giganet.uk/business to find out what packages are available and hit ‘enquire’ to secure the deal.
With reliable, symmetrical speeds of up to 3Gb/s, full fibre internet enables businesses to seamlessly download and upload heavy files, collaborate with colleagues and partners in the Cloud, and avoid disruption to any VoIP phone lines.
For smaller businesses that demand the best, Giganet’s most popular business service is also proving a real hit. Giganet’s ‘200 Flex’ guarantees 200Mb/s upload and download speeds 24/7 with the ability to burst up to 1Gb/s at any time. No additional cost. And no need to call, request or prearrange. It’s just there when businesses need it. This future-proofs organisations who employ up to several hundred people.
Right now, eligible businesses can
upgrade to gigabit-capable ‘200 Flex’ for just £199/m with three months free through Giganet. This limited time nationwide offer is available only on a first come first serve basis.
For those businesses that are still in contract, they can secure the deal today and pick an installation date up to 6 months in the future. With nothing to pay until they go live*.
Giganet is a CityFibre Original Partner. With real human customer service and engineering teams, 5-hour fixes and an ‘Excellent’ rating on Trustpilot, Giganet consistently offers competition-busting products and service. Business may be able to beat renewal quotes just by checking their postcodes.
LOW CARBON PET FOOD BRAND HAS GLOBAL GROWTH AMBITIONS
Percuro Primal Pet Foods based in Henley-in-Arden has secured funding through the Innovate EDGE UK proof-ofconcept programme delivered by Coventry University.
The programme supports SMEs in earlystage product development through access to funding, one-to-one innovation support and workshops.
The funding was crucial to Percuro being able to carry out a full feasibility study that helped to establish market demand for the product through extensive consumer research among pet owners in the UK and Germany.
As a result, it is now selling direct to consumers in Europe via its own website and has secured supply contracts with big name UK brands such as Pets at Home, Waitrose, Ocado and Amazon, as well as others overseas in Italy, Singapore and South Korea.
The company was founded by Denise Saber, who worked in investment management, and Chief Executive Brett Vye, who has a background in the pet and brewing industries.
Denise said: “We were confident we had something special, but we needed to test it. We ranked each of the ingredients against peer groups, comparing the effect on pets’ health and wellness (low inflammation) and the effect of sourcing each ingredient would have on the planet. We conducted an independent five-day palatability and digestibility two bowl test with 20 dogs and benchmarked against our UK leading competitor.
“We believe that this is innovation at its best because of the positive impact it can have on animal health and life expectancy, and climate change. Through having sustainable insect protein and plant-based ingredients that are traceable and 100 per cent livestock-free, this is a business that
can scale up and become a leading brand globally.”
Percuro is the Latin word for ‘heal completely’ and key to the company’s sustainability credentials is the use of black soldier fly larvae as its protein source for its products.
Dogs and cats alone consume 20 per cent of the world’s animal-based sources of protein such as meat and fish, but the edible insect protein in Percuro’s pet food uses only a fraction of the land, water and energy.
Martin Lucy, Operations and Development Manager at Innovate UK EDGE at Coventry University, said: “Percuro is developing a novel environmentally-aware product and accessing the proof of concept ERDF funded grant enabled them to undertake the research aspect of the project to better understand the size of the commercial opportunity and the best way forward, reducing the financial risk of their project.”
A sustainable pet brand that is behind the production of a low carbon pet food has secured contracts with retailers in the UK and globally just six months after getting its product to the market.
An EPIC new centre for Wasps Rugby
Wasps Rugby has oﬃcially opened its new Elite Performance and Innovation Centre (EPIC).
The multi-million-pound centre at Henley-in-Arden will be the new home of Wasps’ men’s first team and academy.
The facility, which is located on a 13-acre site, cost £4 million, with the construction project completed by Warwickshire-based development partner Wigley Building & Development.
The centre is Wasps’ first permanent training ground of its own since leaving Sudbury in 1999.
It features a grass pitch which is identical in size to the pitch at the club’s home ground at the Coventry Building Society Arena. A 3G plus surface has also been installed next to the grass pitch to allow for training in all weather conditions.
The gym has been kitted out by Nuneaton specialist Indigo Fitness, and there’s also a media centre, medical complex and oﬃces for coaching and administration staff.
For player recovery there are two large hydrotherapy pools and a sauna.
Stephen Vaughan, Wasps Group Chief Executive, said: “This has been a significant investment and signals an exciting new era for the club. It is an investment that not only supports the Wasps players of today but will be essential to the growth of the players of tomorrow in our academy.”
US emissions monitoring group swoops on Coventry gas technology business
Coventry based gas analysis company Gas Data Ltd, has been acquired by US Group, Ecotec, with legal advice from Midlands law ﬁrm Thursﬁelds Solicitors. The sale price was not disclosed.
Gas Data Ltd was founded 30 years ago and provides installation, commissioning, and maintenance services.
Ecotec and Gas Data use similar core technologies and serve complementary markets.
As a result, the acquisition will enable Ecotec to expand its capabilities and extend geographic reach, furthering the combined portfolio of methanefocused environmental solutions.
Warwickshire construction equipment company on target for £1M turnover
A Warwickshire construction equipment company which supplies ground screws as an alternative to concrete foundations – and counts Manchester United and McDonald’s as clients – is on target to hit £1 million in annual revenue after moving into a new headquarters in Ryton.
The Ground Screw Centre was established in 2016 by directors Steve Hawthornthwaite and Paul Brown. It has experienced significant growth for its product range over the last 12 months – matching the boom in sales for sheds, garden rooms, oﬃces, decking and other small structures such as signage and fencing.
The company has been supported by the University of Warwick Science Park’s Business Ready Programme and turnover has jumped from £185,000 to £875,000.
Lesters Logistics targets ‘remote ﬂeet’ to tackle driver shortages
Creating a “remote ﬂeet” for moving goods around the country is set to deliver Nuneaton-based haulage ﬁrm Lesters Logistics a 40 per cent boost in annual sales.
Lesters Logistics has seen demand for its services rise signiﬁcantly as more companies look to offset the lack of HGV drivers by outsourcing part of their delivery requirements or sourcing warehousing space to store products.
The company, which used to be known as SL Packaging & Transport before the recent rebranding exercise, is now
setting its sights on a record £1 million turnover this year and will be supported by completion of a £150,000 investment drive.
This will include making the most of a new MRP system that gives complete client traceability, new racking for its 22,000 sq ft warehouse and the acquisition of further vehicles for its rapidly growing ﬂeet.
The company’s current ﬂeet features 3.5 tonne vehicles, 18 tonne trucks and articulated lorries thanks to its network of transport partners.
Is your Business about to go Bang?
Whether that’s in a good way or not so much!
Veloci-tech formally launches its services in January with an event entitled “Innovation in a post Covid world”
The Veloci-tech –
Accelerator was born from the entrepreneurial mind of Danielle Cole who runs her own accountancy practice and learned the hard way, the diﬃculty in trying to scale a business without becoming overwhelmed. Overcoming these challenges, has led to successfully doubling the size of her practice and creating a business that allows her to work just 1-2 days a week.
Spending time watching several of her most exciting clients businesses grow rapidly, it was obvious to Danielle, they were making most of the same mistakes she had on her own journey. Despite on the face of it these businesses generating large revenues, the writing was on the wall. They wouldn’t listen to the advice offered and so the inevitable often happened and the owners became overwhelmed with operational tasks. Having built the business around their own operational skills and talents, and recruiting like-minded people rather than for the right experience and expertise. With revenue looking good, this uncontrolled spending and extravagant decisions, would usually cost them later down the line once they were overwhelmed.
In such cases, that imagined quick sale and cash-in on that initial success and the millionaire lifestyle they had hoped for evaporates. A business that requires the owners to be actively involved in the day to day running for it to work are almost unsalable and once business owners are drowning in a to do list – proﬁt dwindles, and the cash runs out – even though there are usually more than enough orders.
Veloci-tech will help you avoid this and help you build your business successfully and sustainably!
The launch will bring together key industry technology speakers as well as many regional businesses to celebrate the partnership between Danielle and partner consultants; Paul Holmes - PCH Business Consultants and Gordon Petrie – Indesosa. Combining to cover a very broad range of strategic, operational, ﬁnancial and commercial experience, working with a very different, outcome focused process, that delivers a bespoke implementation plan for every client.
What is it:
The Veloci-tech business accelerator is designed to give you the stable ﬁnancial building blocks and decision making process, to ensure the business can still grow quickly, but carefully and safely. It supplies you and your business with expert support on strategic planning, operations and commercial activity, to ensure you have the time to breathe, and have the right structure, processes and decision making in place, to allow you to build the company so you don’t get consumed by it.
Innovation post Covid: Covid has changed the way many businesses work, probably for the foreseeable future. Its forced businesses to pivot, adapt and embrace new technologies, to allow them to trade online, automate processes and improve client experiences. Many of the innovations have been born from necessity and many others from new opportunity!
Combining with the effects of Brexit and an increasing need to focus on sustainability with COP26 very fresh in the memory, new ways of digitization and data management, healthcare, ﬁntech and many disruptive business ideas stand to make innovation and technology an exciting place.
Will one of Veloci-tech’s clients be one of those rising stars? If they are, they will be in very capable hands and have fantastic chance of building with their support a sustainable and enjoyable business for the future.
- Either way surprisingly, the same help may be needed, to help you keep your business on the rails.
THREE COUNTIES TO HOST NEW DEFENCE AND SECURITY CLUSTER TO DRIVE ECONOMY
Following the growing success of the Three Counties Defence and Security Expo, which ﬁrst launched four years ago as a stand-alone annual event, the organisation behind it, the Three Counties Defence and Security Group (3CDSG) has revealed plans to launch a Regional Defence and Security Cluster
A new Regional Defence and Security Cluster, covering Gloucestershire, Worcesteshire and Herefordshire is to be set up to drive collaboration and innovation across the region and the sector throughout the year. The group will tackle key strategic challenges and capabilities detailed by organisations such as GCHQ and DASA (the government’s Defence and Security Accelerator which identifies and funds exploitable innovation to make the UK a safer place).
The new cluster will bring together members of the existing Three Counties Defence and Security Group (3CDSG) with industry, regional business agencies and academia – with government support to ensure innovative defence and security SMEs are helping to tackle the issues of the 21stcCentury and boosting the region’s economy.
The Three Counties Defence and Security Group was set up in 2012 by Richard Morgan, Partner at law firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys, after he went to work in their new oﬃce in Hereford.
Richard said: “Some of our new clients were special forces personnel who’d left military service and set up in business. Most of them were tech experts, but there was little networking, and when I discovered that some of them were supplying similar software to the same branch of the MoD, I began introducing them to each other.
“We realised that there was a large group of such people across the county who didn’t know each other. Bringing them together could create opportunities for joint ventures or consortia which could bid for bigger projects than the sum of their parts.
“We started Three Counties Defence and Security Group and began arranging events. What soon became obvious was that these needed to be larger, to create the biggest shop window we could for their capabilities.”
The first expo was in February 2017 in Hereford, with 35 exhibitors and 400 delegates. It sold out.
Among the delegates were procurement teams from Special Forces Hereford. They offered to help planning future events, and that also meant they engaged with their supply chains which helped it scale up fast.
The 2018 one-day expo attracted personnel from the special projects division of the UK Strategic Command in Whitehall who have since adopted it as the vehicle for their commercial briefing to industry.
The pandemic grounded the physical event for two years, but this year it returned to the Three Counties Showground in Malvern. The two-day event attracted 136 exhibitors, almost 2,000 delegates and international government defence delegations.
Richard Morgan, who is now President of 3CDSG alongside his Harrison Clark Rickerbys duties, said: “It is now the leading expo for the special user group of the UK defence and security industry. It promotes business networking and shares innovative thinking across the industry.
“The geography in this area is important. You have industry around special forces in Hereford, GCHQ in Cheltenham, QinetiQ in Malvern and the cyber security corridor.”
With the annual expo now attracting big companies such as Thales, Ultra Electronics, BAe and Leonardo, the Three Counties Defence and Security Group’s new cluster will help maintain this innovation and networking throughout the year.
The Group is now developing a secure online platform for the cluster so that members can take advantage of opportunities on an ongoing basis.
“This is a real opportunity to drive the region’s economy in this sector throughout the year, rather than annually,” he added.
“You have industry around special forces in Hereford, GCHQ in Cheltenham, QinetiQ in Malvern and the cyber security corridor”
THERE’S MORE TO COME SAY COVENTRY CITY OF CULTURE ORGANISERS
At its six-month mark, organisers said that Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture has already brought major benefits to the city–and there is more to come.
Coventry City of Culture kicked off in May last year in the midst of tough Covid-19 restrictions.
Since then City of Culture has seen activity across every neighbourhood in Coventry, including smaller events created alongside communities such as Party on the Green
and European Hearts as well as city centre celebrations. There has also been larger, citywide activity including Coventry Moves, Faith, Little Amal’s Walk, the ambitious artwork which has travelled the work, and Summer of Surprises.
The Coventry City of Culture Trust has directly created 102 jobs, including employing 14 apprentices, and the year-long event has secured £172.6 million of direct investment into the city since winning the title in December 2017.
Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “The city can be proud of everything that has been achieved over the last six months – but there’s much more to come in the second half of our year.”
“There’s so much to look forward to as our year runs through to May 2022.
“We can already see the positive legacy of our investment in people that will benefit the whole city longer term.”
A unique partnership has seen a forest of 1,000 trees planted to celebrate new staff joining a business outsourcing provider.
Working with international environmental charity Treedom, which allows people to adopt or dedicate a tree Tanzania, Ecuador and Madagascar, Sigma Connected has purchased a forest of young trees with the dual aim of helping to cut carbon emissions and to celebrate
new colleagues completing their probationary periods at the ﬁrm.
The Worcestershire company, which offers ‘white label’ customer contact centre services across the energy, water, retail and ﬁnancial services, has signed a partnership with Treedom for The Sigma Forest, with thousands more trees to be planted in the coming years.
As part of the initiative, Sigma Connected
staff receive a photo of the moment the tree, which could be a fruit tree or another species, is planted in either Tanzania, Ecuador or Madagascar. They then receive regular updates about the tree and the farmer caring for it.
Founded in 2010, Treedom aims to improve the environment and help to provide social beneﬁts to farmers and their workers.
Environmental tree planting project helps Sigma celebrate new staﬀ
REGIONAL BUSINESSES SUPPORT WORLD FIRST MOBILE CANCER CARE UNIT
Gloucestershire charity Hope for Tomorrow has launched its next generation mobile medical cancer care unit, thanks to the support from businesses across the region.
Cited as a world first in healthcare innovation, the unit will visit communities to offer a range of services including accessible daily clinics, cancer screening and education programmes, and a variety of treatments. Building the unit was made possible by a generous grant of nearly £750,000 from global pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb. The grant willl cover the build costs of the next generation unit as well as another unit which will be built to existing specifications.
Along with Bristol Myers Squibb, other local businesses have supported the project. Bristol-based Bence Coachworks built the unit in Yate and it was unveiled at a special gala dinner at Cheltenham Racecourse, sponsored by companies including Tier One, Think Systems, Bence, the charity’s IT communications provider Eurolink Connect, Ontic, Gloucester Care Providers Association and Premiere Kitchens.
Think Systems also pledged to fund the nurse support vehicle for the new mobile cancer care unit for the next four years.
Using the unit, NHS Trusts will be able to offer patients more choice of where their cancer care is delivered with less time spent attending appointments.
The unit includes two hydraulic powered consultation rooms which expand from its sides, with each room fully connected with digital facilities so that patients and
staff on board can connect remotely to the main hospital if necessary. Being attached to its HGV chassis means the unit is fully mobile and can be moved from location to location.
Hope for Tomorrow designed and launched its first mobile cancer care unit in 2007 in Cheltenham. Its fleet grew to 13 units and the charity now employs 14 people.
Twelve mobile cancer care units are currently allocated to NHS Trusts, with two units remaining in reserve to ensure no interruptions to service. Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, available reserve units were deployed to support NHS Trusts wherever possible, allowing vital cancer services to continue. Hope for Tomorrow is also providing support with tackling the backlog caused by the pandemic; enabling treatments to take place away from hospital.
Tina Seymour, CEO of Hope for Tomorrow said: “This unit has been three years in the making and the result is a testament to our relentless commitment in making crucial cancer care more accessible for all.
“Hope for Tomorrow relies entirely on donations to build and maintain our units and Bristol Myers Squibb provided us with an extremely generous grant which has allowed us to specify and build the next generation unit. Unless you have experienced our units first-hand, few will fully comprehend just how much value they bring to patients’ treatments, care and lives, and the support from local companies means we can now take this to the next level.”
Entrepreneurs join Tech Nation programme to support black and multi-racial businesses
Tech Nation, the UK’s leading scale-up accelerator for tech companies, has revealed the 30 companies joining its newest growth programme, Libra, which is designed to equip ambitious black and multi-racial (with black heritage) entrepreneurs with the knowledge and networks they need to scale their business.
And in a sea of London-based businesses (19), the rest of the country has secured just 11 places on the programme, including two from Bristol and one from Oxford.
Bristol-based Brijj is a project management tool built for data and analytics teams to collaborate with their stakeholders so they can deliver high-quality, actionable insights together.
Voltric, also based in Bristol, is a mobility-as-a-service provider. The allinclusive electric vehicle subscription service allows consumers to access a range of electric cars all for one price per month without the concerns of managing insurance, tax, MOT and everything needed to get on the road.
Hutano Diagnostics is based in Oxford. During the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak, Zimbabwe-born founder and CEO Atherton Mutombwera was shocked to learn how many deaths could have been prevented through wider availability of diagnostics. Across the African continent there were only 14 centralised laboratories that could diagnose Ebola, the lack of which contributed to the 70 per cent fatality rate.
The company is developing a modular configurable Lateral Flow Device (LFD) platform. This platform is configurable for either single disease, or simultaneous multiple disease diagnosis, on the same LFD strip. Once developed, the platform reduces the time to LFD development in preparation for future specific disease outbreaks from two years to six months.
01 Freeths strengthen life sciences o ering with appointment of Claus Andersen
National law firm, Freeths has expanded its comprehensive life sciences team with the addition of corporate partner, Claus Andersen. Claus has more than 15 years’ experience in advising companies and businesses in the technology and Life Sciences sector.
company E G Carter keeps it in the family
Two brothers will take the helm of one of Gloucester’s most successful construction companies next year. Joshua and Sam Carter will become Managing Directors of the local family construction company E G Carter & Co Ltd. Current Managing Director Michael Carter will assume the position of Chairman.
BPE boosts its specialist corporate team in Cheltenham
New CEO joins Malvern based Indra Renewable Technologies
Dr Neale Foster has been appointed CEO at Malvern-based Indra Renewable Technologies, the innovative British electric vehicle (EV) charger and renewable technology company. Dr Foster’s appointment is a key part of ambitious growth plans in the smart energy and EV industry.
02 Shaw Gibbs appoints new private
client tax partner
Oxford accountant Shaw Gibbs have appointed Peter Jones as Private Client Tax Partner. Peter is a Chartered Tax Adviser with 18 years’ experience working in practice and assisting private clients with advice and planning surrounding income inheritance and capital gains tax.
Ben Adams has joined the corporate team at Cheltenham-based law firm BPE Solicitors, making the team one of the largest corporate specialist teams in Cheltenham.
Ben brings with him experience in advising clients on all areas of corporate law, including mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and joint ventures.
06 ThinCats appoints business development director for South West and Wales
ThinCats, a leading alternative finance provider to regional mid-sized SMEs, has appointed Richard Bowles as its new Director of Regional Business Development for the South West and Wales. Richard brings experience within the banking and finance industry, having previously worked at Deutsche Bank, NatWest and HSBC. He joins ThinCats from Santander where he spent the last six years as a Relationship Director covering the corporate and commercial markets.
07 Crowe announces Cheltenham partner promotion for Stuart
National audit, tax, advisory and risk firm Crowe has announced the promotion of a director in the Cheltenham oﬃce to partner. Stuart Buglas joins the partnership to lead the firm’s HR advisory team.
He has amassed more than 20 years of relevant HR consultancy experience at leading consultancies, and in-house as an HR consultant for Lloyds TSB.
08 Rainier Developments expands team
Land and property firm Rainier Developments has made two new appointments at its headquarters in Warwickshire.
Will Blacker has joined the company as Land Director, having previously worked for CBRE where he led the Midlands residential land department. Faye Fryer has joined Rainier as Executive Assistant to the Chairman and Chief Executive, after spending 15 years in a similar role at Birmingham-based KPMG.
09 Seasoned tech and ﬁnancial services professional joins Ripjar
Ripjar Ltd, the Cheltenham-based global leader in financial crime detection and data intelligence, has appointed seasoned technology and financial services professional Gabriel Hopkins as Chief Product Oﬃcer. Before joining Ripjar, he was Vice-President of Product Management within the fraud and financial crime team at Fair Isaac Corporation for almost 10 years.
Savills welcomes back strategic investment expert to focus on Oxbridge
Property consultancy Savills has welcomed back former director Robert Godfrey to form a strategic investment advisory service for clients active across the Oxford-Cambridge regions, co-ordinating with London teams and local oﬃces.
Robert, who was at Savills for 11 years until 2014, had been Head of Property at Oxford University Endowment Management (OUem) for the last seven years.
11 BDO Midlands strengthens audit team with senior hire
Accountancy and business advisory firm
BDO has appointed former Holland & Barrett’s Chief Financial Oﬃcer Greg Watts, as audit partner.
Greg, who will be based in the Midlands, previously spent 30 years at KPMG, working across audit, transaction services and internal audit, latterly leading the Markets team in the Midlands.
12 SpyBiotech appoints new VP, Finance and Operations
Oxford biotechnology SpyBiotech has appointed Simon Jones as VicePresident of Finance and Operations.
Simon takes up the permanent position from Vien Phan, who held the role of Interim Finance Director, steering the company through its Series A fundraising in February last year.
Simon has served as a CFO in the life sciences sector for 18 years, working with early to mid-stage, high-growth healthcare and medtech businesses
Is upskilling your workforce part of your 2022 plans?
Customer demand has returned, your business is growing but have staﬀ skills faded while working from home or during furlough?
In the past 12 months all organisations have faced unprecedented circumstances and have had to make some very diﬃcult decisions, of which many have challenged their leadership and management skills.
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Our courses range from short one-day quick fixes in specific skill sets, such as time management, effective coaching, delegation, IT Skills, Kevin Holt, Managing Director
project management, change management and so on, to longer sustained development programmes for team leaders, project managers, operations managers, health & safety representatives and senior leaders.
Each course is delivered on an “Open” basis, which means when you only have one person to train they will learn in a small group with others.
Did you know we oﬀer an In-House service?
We can design a bespoke course or qualiﬁcation programme for just your staff, embedding your systems, your processes, protocols and so on directly into the sessions, and deliver it on dates/times to suit you, at your premises.
For more information, call us on 01452 221777 or visit our website for more details of courses, content, dates, times and costs. www.glosenterprise.co.ukMichaela Cozens, Operations Director
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Not surprisingly, this is the most widely held H&S qualification in the UK. It covers fire safety, electrical, chemical, construction, vehicles, manual handling, and lots more. Two x 2hr exams required to achieve IOSH/IIRSM status.
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THE WORLD WANTS GREEN TECHNOLOGY, BUT THAT WILL NEED GREEN SKILLS TO MATCHBy Ian Mean Business West Gloucestershire director
Our young people are enthusiastic about joining the green revolution but where are the plans to train them?
Bluntly, we do not really know the strength and breadth of the economic opportunity but if we just consider some of the challenges, they are staggering.
Take the decarbonisation of buildings. It’s estimated that we would need to decarbonise eight houses a minute for the next 29 years.
Take heat pumps. Back in 2017 we had 20,000 installed by 2,000 technicians. Today it’s estimated that the installation requirement will be between one million and 1.3 million.
As the demand for electric vehicles accelerates, analysis from the Institute of the Motor Industry, says there will be a shortfall of something like 35,700 technicians by 2030 if training is not addressed urgently.
Around 90,000 automotive technicians will be needed to provide a suﬃcient workforce to service the volume of zero emissions vehicles predicted to be on UK roads by 2030 – the government’s Road to Zero deadline.
I have been talking to some key people about the challenge of green skills, and in particular, how do we harness the interest of our young people – many of whom we have seen making an active contribution to the climate change debate around COP26.
One of those people is Pete Carr, Gloucestershire’s director of employment and skills, with whom I have been working closely in recent months on elements of the county’s new skills strategy.
“A lot of young people are interested in the green sector”, Pete told me. “How do they progress into those careers?
“It is still quite vague where those jobs are and how they get into them?”
Pete believes that there is an opportunity to pilot work to build sustainable skills that could form part of the provision of what is already happening in the further education colleges with building, construction and some of the associated trades.
So, where would the money come from to set up these type of green skills courses?
Well, our further education colleges are – in my view – rightly risk averse because they have little money to embark on specialist courses in the green skills sector.
Government must help to finance these new courses.
Pat McLeod, Assistant Principal at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College agrees.
“We should now be looking at the low carbon agenda,” he said. “If we need 600,000 heat pumps installed a year by 2028, we need to be training installers two years before that.
“There doesn’t seem to be any sort of training process at the moment.
“Apprenticeships are not the answer here. The ethos of the apprenticeship is that you are working alongside people to learn their trade.
“It is diﬃcult for us to develop courses speculatively, especially as it is in a sector which is intensive in terms of capital costs and cutting-edge skills.
“My personal belief is that if we rely on the forces of a demand-led market we will get there eventually, but I don’t think we can afford the time.
“Lots of young people are interested in green issues but it is developing that into skills and jobs”.
Green skills, and the lack of them, is destined to bite our business economy hard if we don’t quickly address the huge opportunities they present
“Kids are now very conscious of climate change and that triggers interest in the sustainable industries as they go through their education
Jason Askey-Wood is managing director of Green Fuels based at the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park at Berkeley.
Green Fuels has become an international leader in biofuel technology and has a Royal Warrant to prove it.
“Getting the right people in the green skills market ultimately comes down to education,” said Jason.
“Kids are now very conscious of climate change and that triggers interest in the sustainable industries as they go through their education.
“I have a son who’s 19 – he won’t eat meat because of the climate crisis. I know of so many teenagers who are really focused on climate.
“As they come through their education, this is the generation that will lead climate change – not COP26.
“It will lead to a whole new marketplace and skill sets with jobs that don’t exist at the moment.”
Talking to our experts, they all said that the development of green skills and jobs made the study of the STEM subjects – science, technology, English and maths – the prerequisite for careers in the sector.
I have long believed that STEM subjects are key to great jobs for young people, with the role of the engineer increasingly becoming more and more important in every aspect of research and manufacturing.
Green skills fit that bill.
And when I talked to Dr Marc Thomas, managing director of Norika Power in Gloucester, I could not have had a better STEM advocate.
“There are not enough people going into STEM., he said.
And he tells me that there needs to be what he calls “a societal shift” into how engineers are viewed.
Marc says he believes we are now facing what he calls the energy transition, and he added: “The move where everybody
has to have a degree because a degree is the thing you most need has led to a lot of young people who don’t go in for a STEM degree and go for some other degree because it is easier.
“This has led to a massive over-education in what quite frankly are useless subjects for a lot of people who could have been much more useful members of society and in much more personally rewarding jobs.
“These are jobs that pay incredibly well even at the technician level.
“We could literally be double the staff we are now if we could get the right people. It is not through lack of funding, it is not being able to find the level of competence in people.”
Green skills for green jobs will be a growing priority for the growth of our economy and government simply must wake up to the huge potential they are presenting.
And they must start now to harness that growing enthusiasm of our young people for the green revolution.
Recycling Technologies to launch on London Stock Exchange’s AIM
PROCOOK LISTS ON LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE
It’s been a good ‘pan’demic for many companies which provide goods and services for home cooks.
And none more so than Gloucesterbased ProCook, which listed on the London Stock Exchange late last year, valued at £158 million on admission.
ProCook’s revenue grew by 37 per cent to £53.4 million in the year ending April 2021, and that topped off annual growth in sales of 33 per cent from 2017-2021.
Daniel O’Neill, CEO and founder, said: “I am really proud of how far we have come as a business. ProCook has a unique, direct-to-consumer proposition,
a clear strategy for growth and a dedicated team of wonderful staff with a real passion for cooking – all the key ingredients needed to enable us to continue to grow and develop our ambitions.”
The company launched in the mid1990s selling cookware sets by direct mail.
In the UK, ProCook sells directly to customers through its own website and operates more than 50 retail stores.
It also sells its products to customers in Europe via third party marketplace websites.
Environmental cleaning provider secures £8M investment
Wallingford-based Ecoserv has secured £8 million in funding from the independent asset manager BOOST&Co to buy Windsorbased maintenance specialist Cooltech.
Ecoserv will also use the investment to fund the group’s growth strategy and support future acquisition plans. With the help of this funding the company expects to achieve an annual turnover of more than £40 million by year-end.
Ecoserv has been providing ecofriendly commercial cleaning services to
educational institutions, oﬃces, industry, leisure and retail facilities for more than 25 years. The acquisition of Cooltech was the company’s first since it announced its plans to become a multi-service facilities management business.
Jean-Henri Beukes, the chief executive at Ecoserv, said: “We are committed to broadening both our facilities management capabilities and our geographical reach through strategic acquisitions and partnerships or by investing in our existing infrastructure.”
Recycling Technologies, a company spun out of the University of Warwick in 2012 and now based in Swindon, has announced its intention to ﬂoat on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange.
The company has developed a modular machine, the RT7000, which processes hard-to-recycle plastic waste into a synthetic oil that can be sold back to the petrochemicals industry as a chemical feedstock to make new plastics.
Its modular, small-scale design, which is capable of being mass produced, enables integration with existing waste management infrastructure, providing a scalable solution to recycle plastic waste anywhere in the world.
Adrian Griﬃths, Founder and CEO of Recycling Technologies, said: “In our quest for a sustainable, low carbon existence, we will need plastic.
“It is typically a lower carbon alternative than other materials in many applications and so we need to quickly build capacity to recycle it, in a way which emits the least carbon.
“Our technology, built into the RT7000 machine, will be mass produced to provide such recycling capacity. Our innovative team and engineering expertise will provide a step change in the story of plastic; this fundraising is an important step in writing the next chapter.”
Connections provider Rock Power sold to Mitie Group
The Bristol-based facilities management company Mitie Group has acquired the independent connections provider Rock Power Connections.
Worcester-based Rock specialises in the design and installation of new high voltage electricity supplies, the renewal of industrial and commercial customers’ electrical assets up to 132kV, and the EV charging installation for non-residential blue-chip customers.
Mitie has already delivered several thousand EV charging points for a broad range of customers and endusers. With the market shifting towards high voltage chargers, and with the increasing demand for new connections into the National Grid, the acquisition of Rock will significantly enhance Mitie’s ability to grow in this sector.
The transaction comprises an initial payment of £10 million, with two deferred payments of up to £4.5 million.
In 2020, Rock reported revenues of £7.4 million.
Phil Bentley, Chief Executive Oﬃcer, Mitie, said: “Decarbonising our energy system is an absolute imperative for the UK. The acquisition of Rock will allow Mitie to capture a greater share of the fast-growing high voltage electric vehicle charging market.”
WARWICKSHIRE PIZZA KIT COMPANY RECEIVES
A Leamington Spa-based pizza business has secured £500,000 from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund for its home baked pizza kit service which offers customers a fun home dining experience.
In part driven by lockdown and a growing demand for home dining, Birtelli’s embarked on its new pizza kit venture in spring 2020.
Ordered online and delivered fresh overnight, customers can choose from a wide range of kits, incorporating multiple dough types
and toppings from British producers.
Birtelli’s has seen signiﬁcant sales growth over the last 12 months and the funding will allow it to double the size of its production facility, upgrade its e-commerce platform and streamline production to take advantage of this growing market.
Birtelli’s owners, Jim and Jag Biryah, are joined in the venture by Michelinstarred chef and owner of Salt restaurant in Stratford-upon-Avon, Paul Foster.
Record growth for award-winning Bristol production company
Independent television production company Plimsoll Productions has reported a 65 per cent rise in its growth.
Bristol-based Plimsoll’s BAFTA, Emmy and Academy award-winning team specialises in wildlife, documentary and factual entertainment shows, and it is the biggest independent producer of natural history programmes in the world.
The business has produced more than 70
series for broadcasters including Netflix, Disney and Apple, and has oﬃces in Bristol, Los Angeles and Cardiff.
In 2019, Plimsoll was backed by mid-market private equity firm Lloyds Development Capital Limited, since when the company has invested in natural history, documentary and factual drama and grown through acquisition and expansion in the USA.
Grant Mansfield, CEO and founder of
Plimsoll Productions, said: “We’re immensely proud of our multi-award-winning creative teams and their achievements over the last few years. It’s testament to their skills and long-term commitment that our projects continue to have a real impact, helping to raise awareness of important global issues and drive forward positive societal change.”
For the financial year ending August 2021, the company generated sales of £50 million.
PATENTING OR NOT? THERE’S A CASE FOR BOTH
Is patenting your idea always the right thing to do?By Nicky Godding Business & Innovation Magazine Editor-in-Chief
A brilliant idea needs legal protection. An an inventor surely needs it prevent others from copying their idea, so they can secure a financial return on their investment in research and development more quickly and maximise the potential of the business.
But securing a patent can be expensive, and is your idea really that novel?
When it comes to deciding whether to seek to secure a patent for your idea or not you really need to think about the reasons you are doing it, according to Dr Reuben Wilcock, Head of Ventures at investment specialist Blackfinch, where he leads the company’s EIS Portfolios which invests in early-stage tech start-ups.
EIS stands for Enterprise Investment Scheme, an HMRC-run scheme that helps younger, higher-risk businesses raise ﬁnance by o ering investors generous tax reliefs.
And Reuben should know. He’s a Royal Academy of Engineering award-winning entrepreneur with a PhD in Electronics and 15 years’ experience founding and growing technology start-ups. He joined Blackfinch in 2019.
In 2013, his smart home energy spin-out, Joulo, won a British Gas Connected Homes award and was acquired by Dutch company Quby in 2014. He also co-founded Bar Analytics, which enabled global brands to monitor beer quality and sales. Reuben was a leading figure in entrepreneurship at the University of Southampton and in 2015 founded the university’s start-up accelerator, Future Worlds, where he mentored more than 200 entrepreneurs and 50 companies.
He said: “There are lots of reasons why you might want to patent your idea. If you have a business where the value of the company really does hinge on the collective value of your technology, there can be very good reasons why you would want to patent a product or process.”
He cites Wotton-under-Edge-based global manufacturing superstar, Renishaw, as an example. “Renishaw has a clear strategy around patenting. It sees its market advantage coming from the fact that it has strongly protected its proprietary cutting-edge technology. That tech will have resulted from extensive investment in research and development over many years. The best way to protect the future returns from those developments is through patents.”
We should point out that there are other, less costly (albeit often less effective) ways to protect your idea.
Trademarks are a relatively easy way to protect a brand. Design registration
prevents competitors copying the look and appearance of a product. Copyright provides automatic protection for creative works.
As an entrepreneur, and before he joined Gloucester-based Blackfinch, Reuben was no stranger to patenting ideas.
“Sometimes I’d seek a patent for an idea knowing that if granted, I would be unlikely to afford the costs to enforce it. However, that patent would still act as a deterrent and give credibility to the innovative nature of the product. It was a strong marketing tool when securing customers or investment.”
But there are sometimes arguments for not patenting an idea, he said.
“To patent an idea, you’ll file a written specification of the method and apparatus, in order for it to be searched by the patent oﬃce. The moment you do this, the clock starts ticking and 18 months later it will be published.
“When it gets published, you’ve told everyone how your idea works, so there is a danger someone could benefit by finding a work-around.”
Some companies will get around this by filing obfuscation patents, hiding their idea in plain sight. This is where a patent is filed focusing on something the business has no intention of following through, throwing others off the scent of its real plans.
Patents will often help secure financial backing, but does an inventor need a patent to secure investment?
Not necessarily, says Reuben, from his own experience.
“In our portfolio we have some brilliant companies that do have patents, but some equally brilliant companies that do not.”
Since 2019, Blackfinch has invested more than £2 million into innovative start-up Kokoon, which has secured a number of patents.
“Kokoon is a sleep technology company whose bio-sensing headphones can monitor and adjust audio when the wearer falls asleep,” Reuben explains. “The company’s newly-released Nightbuds are comfortable to wear in bed and the connected app
delivers relaxing audio and soundscapes. By continually monitoring and tracking the users’ sleep journey, the app can adjust the audio to help protect the user from disturbances throughout the night.
“Kokoon’s patent protects that feedback loop.”
Another Blackfinch investment was into Cyclr, which doesn’t have a patent.
“Cyclr is a technology tool which helps businesses integrate their software with hundreds of other software platforms. The company’s technology hasn’t been patented, partly because software is diﬃcult to patent in the UK, and partly because they want to keep the knowhow they have created away from competitors and put all their efforts into rapid growth.
“We invested because the founders are brilliantly executing the company’s growth
and have strong traction in the form of high quality recurring monthly revenues.”
But Reuben warns that even when a patent is successfully secured, a young business is often only 10 per cent of the way there.
“Patenting an idea, if that’s what you want to do, is just the start. You’ll need to take that technology, commercialise it and put it into a form which is industrially relevant. Then you’ve got to set up a company, recruit people and develop a sales pipeline. It’s a huge job.
“We look at many factors when investing in companies, with technical defensibility being high up on the list. Sometimes that defensive moat comes from tangible IP, like patents, but often it is in the knowhow of the team. When making an investment we value a patent in the context of the strategic part it plays in the company’s overall life cycle.”
“By continually monitoring and tracking the users’ sleep journey, the app can adjust the audio to help protect the user from disturbances throughout the night.”
WE MUST KEEP INNOVATING BEYOND BREXIT
Britain’s exit from the EU has thrown up challenges for companies as they get to grips with the post-Brexit requirements for trademark and design registrations, according to Robert Games, Managing Director of Cheltenham-based Albright IP.
“There is now a requirement to register separately in the UK and Europe and there might be a temptation for some to reduce territorial coverage in view of the extra costs,” he said.
“Our advice to UK clients has always been to register first in the UK, the home territory and then extend to Europe.”
Britain has always had a reputation for innovation said Robert. “But in recent years, other countries – particularly China – have demonstrated an appetite for IP protection, filing an increasing number of registrations in the UK and Europe.
“If we don’t want to get left behind, companies must wake up to the importance of protecting their innovations and ideas.”
Companies may have secured registrations
for existing brands and products, but it is important to protect new brands and designs. It’s the only way to keep market share, gain a strong foothold in new markets and prevent competitors from stepping in to fill the gaps, he added.
“If we slow down on research and innovation or fail to secure IP in potential markets like the EU, it’s only a question of time before we lose ground to foreign competitors,” he warned.
“If a patent is allowed to lapse overseas, a competitor can step into your technology, make improvements and get a foothold.”
Brexit may not be a headache for companies now, he added, but IP lasts a long time and can influence a market for years.
“I continue to urge all British companies to take the right strategic steps, which will allow future growth both here and abroad.
“There are plenty of incentives to protect your IP, with direct financial benefits from the government.”
LET A PATENT ATTORNEY TAKE THE STRAIN
For those brave enough to write and file a patent themselves, it can cost just a few hundred pounds. The filing and examination costs are heavily subsidised by the patent oﬃce as they want to encourage innovation.
However this is a skill and unless you’re well versed in the art, few patent amateurs will successfully be able to capture the subtleties around an idea to secure its protection, so using the services of a good patent lawyer will really help.
While this could cost a few thousand pounds, in the long run it will be money well spent as you’re more likely to be able to defend the end result.
Amanda Simons is a Partner in the Oxford oﬃce of national patent firm, J A Kemp.
Amanda is a particular expert on the pharmaceutical and medtech sectors, areas which some investment companies veer away from because the return on investment often takes longer.
“Some start-ups in these sectors feel they need to secure intellectual property (IP) before they go for investment, but it’s not always necessary,” said Amanda.
“A savvy investor won’t be scared off by an idea that hasn’t got IP yet, as long as the company or inventor has an awareness of what they need to do to and are working towards securing IP in the longer term.”
In fact, Amanda says that securing IP on a product early isn’t always the right thing to do.
“If you file your application too early, before proof of concept, it’s a risk to getting IP granted at all.
“I’ll often advise a company not to file too early before they have enough data and recommend working with an IP attorney who can undertake an audit to look at what you’ve got and what you should be looking at.”
Amanda adds that there is funding available for IP audits from various organisations such as Innovate Edge.
“From an investment perspective, a company is often more attractive if it’s got an IP strategy, but it doesn’t necessarily need to have its IP filed, let alone granted.”
“I continue to urge all British companies to take the right strategic steps ...”
RobGames of Albright IP
UNLOCKING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
All businesses have intellectual property rights. However, due to the intangible nature of these rights (the most common being patents, trade marks, designs, copyright and knowhow) many fail to identify these rights and therefore fail to attribute value when appraising their business or considering new commercial opportunities.
copyright, unregistered designs, know-how, confidentiality and goodwill are all capable of existing (subject to such rights being capable of subsisting in the first instance) without registration with the relevant Intellectual Property Oﬃce. The key is to be able to identify such rights, which is where IP audits are valuable.
suppliers) as this is when an idea is most vulnerable and starts to become more visible to others. It is prudent to extend the duty of confidentiality to all employees and consultants.
One easy method of unlocking a business’ IP is to carry out regular IP audits. An audit will not only identify current IP, but also identify future IP and any possible risks (such as litigation, dilution of a brand, or thirdparty challenges for non-use) that may exist in the business’ asset portfolio. For future investors, audits also allow third parties to quickly visualise the prospective business’ IP portfolio and any corresponding value. For business owners, audits could serve to increase value and allow the business to commercialise and exploit new rights that were identified in the process – which could drive growth and expansion.
In 2020, the UK Intellectual Property Oﬃce saw an increase in applications for patents, trade marks and design rights. Trade mark applications reached record highs and this is considered to be as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU. Are you considering registering your IP rights? If not, it inevitably means that those applicants are potentially obtaining a silent advantage over their competition.
Do all IP rights need registering?
Not all rights need to be registered to enable owners to enforce them. For example,
However, sometimes it is vital that businesses register their rights – this is to avoid cyber-squatters getting past the post before the business owner. If this was to occur, businesses could easily find themselves exposed to infringement and the possibility of an expensive rebranding process all because IP was not recognised and registered in the correct way.
Protecting ideas and assets early is crucial to maintaining a commercial advantage. It can provide security when obtaining funding for R&D and/or capital investment. However, businesses should consider the value of Non-Disclosure or Confidentiality Agreements when discussing IP rights with third parties (funders, commercial partners,
If going to market, be mindful that securing registered IP rights takes time, so businesses should factor this into their market release timetable to avoid being exposed to infringers who are keen to get products, without IP protection, designed, manufactured and into the marketplace. With the advancements of technology this process can happen rapidly and without any detection until it is too late.
Putting a strategy in place is helpful but it must be regularly reviewed. Key personnel may change leading to knowledge gaps or resource issues. A periodic IP audit will help to identify any gaps in protection, opportunities for future development and the chance to check that all your IP assets are actually still worth protecting. This review process will also sense check that the IP strategy aligns with wider business objectives.
For advice on how to use and protect your IP strategically, contact Riyaz Jariwalla, Partner at BPE Solicitors at email@example.com or call 01242 300793
TOMCAT TRIKES DEPLOYS PATENT PROTECTION, BUT NOT ALWAYS
EU interest grows in patented pallet racking safety system
A unique pallet racking safety system is winning interest from European companies looking to safeguard staff and goods.
Redditch-based Rack Collapse Prevention’s system is designed to provide a safer working environment.
In a typical steel-framed warehouse, where Rack Collapse Prevention’s Rhino safety system is ﬁtted to fully loaded racking, in the event of a single or multiple support leg damage incident, racking would drop slightly but remain stable and prevent rack collapse failure.
Rack Collapse Prevention founder Craig Attwell said: “Our system provides a safer working warehouse environment.”
Rack collapse can cost lives and potentially cripple a business if the worst were to happen.
With any form of pallet racking, particularly above six meters, there is an increased risk of racking failure, typically caused by forklift operator error or incorrect pallet stacking.
A damaged racking leg, whilst under load, will force the leg to buckle and lose the structure’s ability to withstand load capacity, causing the rack to collapse.
For Bob Griﬃn, founder of Tomcat Trikes, patents can deter IP theft or form the basis of legal action against an infringer, although he warns that some may need very deep pockets for that. They can lead to collaboration with businesses who want to licence your technology and can greatly increase the worth of a business, while researching the patent records can ensure you don’t become an infringer yourself.
Gloucester based Tomcat has been granted several patents from its 50plus innovations. Not all ideas merit a patent as there are many commercial considerations to weigh against the initial and ongoing cost. For example, how broad is the idea’s appeal? Will
the interest be international and could it be easily circumvented? All these considerations help make the decision. However in the UK, the government encourages investment in innovation through a scheme called Patent Box.
Bob said: “Patent Box reduces the corporation tax levied on a patented product or enhancement by 50 per cent, giving the innovator a very distinct edge over an imitator. In addition, most IP development costs, from wages through to materials, are eligible for a tax rebate, so my advice to budding innovators is to seek professional advice on how to protect your ideas and reduce your development costs.”
Craig said: “Our system uses wire ropes suspended from the building’s steel structure where possible which is attached to each individual leg. If the building’s structure cannot be used, then a secondary steel structure is installed to form a support structure for the suspension ropes.”
“With Rhino in place, damaged legs can’t buckle or collapse, preventing total rack collapse even if the racking drops slightly, and it also prevents any potential domino effect within the storage facility.”
Patents are an important tool in the armoury of Tomcat Trikes in Gloucester which designs trikes and specialist seating for disabled adults and children across the world
PROTECTING YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY – AND WHAT TO DO IF IT GOES WRONG
Business owners face problems every day – supply shortages, customer complaints and rising costs of labour to name just three.
But how often do you think about your intellectual property as a potential problem?
For business owners, intellectual property covers everything from the everyday, such as your brand and products, to those behindthe-scenes things like customer lists and processes.
We all hope that the branding, products and ideas that belong to us stay with us – but what happens if they come under threat?
Copyright and trademark infringements from outside your business, along with disputes between directors and shareholders, can all add to the possibility of a challenge to your intellectual property. Disagreements over who owns an idea or invention can lead to costly court cases and take up your valuable time.
If you find your business – be it B2B, B2C, or as a sole trader – is facing an IP infringement, having a strong team of lawyers behind you, like HCR’s intellectual property team, can be the difference between a case going well and going badly.
From IP protection and enforcement to portfolio management and collaboration agreements, HCR’s team will provide a holistic approach to protecting your IP. We’ll work alongside you to identify and maximise opportunities while minimising risk.
Regardless of your industry, we want to help you protect what’s yours. We’ve worked with a diverse range of authors, tech start-ups, inventors, directors and shareholders in IP
disputes. Our breadth of experience in this area makes us a go-to firm for a range of businesses, particularly IT providers and entrepreneurial start-ups.
Here are our top three IP tips:
Know what IP you own and what IP you use. HCR can assist with an audit of your business’ IP and grants of up to £2,000 are available toward the cost of an IP Audit from the Intellectual Property Oﬃce. Knowing what you have, and use, means you can better protect it and ensure you have the correct permissions in place to avoid someone threatening you with infringement proceedings.
If it is worth stealing, it’s worth registering! Many businesses overlook their IP until they find someone using it who shouldn’t. Ask yourself if your business will cope with a competitor using your IP. If the answer is no,
then seek to register it or otherwise protect it. It is far easier to enforce registered IP rights than unregistered ones. Above all, you add value to your business by having registered IP assets.
Be proportionate in your reaction to infringement. Acting in haste can lead to diﬃculties if you threaten infringement proceedings without justification. It may be an error that led to the use of your IP, which can be quickly and amicably resolved. An aggressive approach is not always productive. There is the potential of creating a new business relationship, generating revenue for your business, if the other party takes a licence to use your IP. However, where the impact is severely detrimental to your business, swift and decisive action can avoid expensive and lengthy court proceedings; do not let it carry on for too long. Should you discover someone has used your IP without permission, you should contact a legal professional to establish what steps you can take.
To ﬁnd out more, please contact Steven Murray, Partner in the Dispute Resolution team on 07921 498 467 or email firstname.lastname@example.org www.hcrlaw.com
Medical technology start-up Occuity has patented its contactless optical technology which obtains precise measurements from the eye.
Occuity’s vision is to use the eye as a window into the health of the body and to use its non-invasive handheld technology to bring new medical devices to market which use this technology for ophthalmic examinations, diabetes management, prediabetes screening and, in the longer term, the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
Occuity, founded in 2019, says the PM1 Pachymeter will be the world's first handheld, non-contact, optical pachymeter, a device that allows clinicians and technicians to take a corneal thickness measurement in just a few seconds to support the diagnosis and monitoring of ocular pathology, like glaucoma. The company says its device will deliver several key advantages over existing measurement methods.
SURGEON’S PASSION FOR GAMING HELPS HIM BUILD GLOBAL TRAINING BUSINESS
A trauma and orthopaedic surgeon found that his passion for gaming is helping him build a world-class medical training business.
Alexander Young found the best training he received was on-the-job, face-toface training from expert surgeons, however this wasn’t always convenient, repeatable and there was variation between training techniques and trainers.
His ambition was to build a training platform that could be accessed on demand and was fun to use.
Virti, based in Bristol and with oﬃces in Texas, uses high-tech artificial intelligence, virtual reality and
gamification training simulations to improve workforce performance.
The system, which has multiple patents, allows those using its training platform to make mistakes and learn from them in a safe environment with a focus on training essential workplace skills and practising diﬃcult conversations.
According to reports, since its launch in 2018, Virti has raised a total of $13 million across two funding rounds of the business.
Virti was named one of TIME Magazine's Best Inventions in 2020, and the system is currently being used for physician training and patient education, including by the NHS.
Oxford University spin-out launches intelligent battery management system
Brill Power, the Oxford University spin-out, launched the first of what it says is a new class of ‘intelligent’ battery management systems which could revolutionise the performance of stationary energy storage systems to power our homes and businesses.
The company said its technology will increase battery life by up to 60 per cent, boosting storage capacity by up to 129 per cent, increasing systems uptime and drive down the lifetime operating costs for energy storage systems. Brill Power’s intelligent battery management system represents a shift forward for battery performance without reliance on advances in materials or cell chemistry.
Brill Power’s Chief Technology Oﬃcer, Damien Frost, said, “Our patented control concept ensures that every single joule of energy is used during every single discharge cycle. This means maximal performance, lifetime and reliability.”
Reading based medtech raises more than £2M for patented diabetes detection device
Today’s giants started somewhere... and they started small. Facebook was founded in a college dorm room by Mark Zuckerberg and some Harvard pals. Apple was established in the garage of Steve Jobs’ parents’ home. The ﬁrst Dyson left the production line in Chippenham – in this magazine’s circulation area.By Pete Davison Business & Innovation Magazine Deputy Editor
Is the next Google, or Tesla, or McDonalds being developed in our region?
Obviously, we don’t know the answer to that question, and if we did we’d be scraping together every penny we could to invest.
But on a daily basis we come across –and write about – small companies that really inspire, surprise and delight us: from manufacturers in Gloucestershire and the Midlands, and the cool tech dudes in Bristol, to the brainboxes of science and mathematics in Oxfordshire and the food producers of the rural South West.
They are the businesses fulfilling needs or solving problems. They are those disruptive businesses that look set to shake up their sectors or industries. And they are the businesses attracting funding – private, commercial, or governmental.
We call them our small giants. Over the next six pages we’ve featured some of our favourites, featuring one from each of our regions, and listing nine more from each area. Look out for some of the businesses in our small giants list featured elsewhere in our magazine, or on our website.
And if you’re a small giant that’s not on our radar, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you, and who knows – you might be appearing in an edition of Business & Innovation magazine soon.
Coventry & Warwickshire
Vivarail’s battery trains take COP26 by storm
Vivarail designs and manufactures the UK's only battery and battery hybrid trains, able to provide unlimited emission–free travel off the wires.
It fits new technology to obsolete bodyshells – like retired London Underground trains.
Running a battery-powered train is not only
good for the environment, but cheaper too – £1.37 per kilometre compared to £2.49 for diesel.
The Stratford-upon-Avon firm recently demonstrated its battery-powered trains at COP26 in Glasgow, taking conference delegates across the iconic Forth Bridge.
This summer the company secured a £1.5 million loan from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund Debt Finance, managed by Maven Capital Partners.
The firm will use the finance boost to pursue new growth by relocating to a larger site, which will enable it to scale up operations. The firm is also expanding its workforce, with five jobs set to be created.
Biostart protects delivery vans with a thumbprint
Biostart is being touted as “the world’s most innovative anti-theft and driver identification solution”.
Vehicles all over the world are being stolen as a result of drivers leaving their keys in the ignition when delivering parcels.
Biostart Security, launched by the team behind Gloucester-based Protrack, has devised a solution: a device that will switch off the vehicle when the driver leaves it, renders the vehicle inoperable when the driver is not inside it, and allows the vehicle to be driven again only when the driver provides fingerprint recognition, similar to the unlocking feature on some phones.
Besides preventing vehicle theft, the innovation cuts down on fuel consumption. The technology can also be used to protect plant vehicles and prestige cars.
And it also works as a tracker, pinpointing the location of drivers and even measuring their speed and velocity – ideal for driver behaviour training.
South Glos & Bristol
Bristol University graduates complete 5,000 trials for the UK’s ﬁrst women’s urinal
A Bristol University spin-out has completed trials for the UK’s ﬁrst women’s urinal at British festivals including the Shambala Festival, Valley Fest and The Bristol Comedy Garden.
Five thousand women have now tested Peequal’s urinals, which are six times faster to use than conventional portable toilets and reduce carbon output by 98 per cent over more traditional solutions.
Peequal was founded by graduates Amber Probyn and Hazel McShane, who devised the concept while working at festivals and facing the dilemma of either standing in a toilet queue or having lunch during their break.
“We started thinking about the normalisation of long queues for women’s toilets, and the structural inequality that it represents,” says Amber.
Long toilet queues are also commercially bad news for large events, as time waiting in queues reduces time spent at food and merchandise stalls. Women may also be want to reduce their drink intake to avoid waiting in long toilet queues.
Peequal estimates that Reading Festival could generate an extra £1.5 million in sales if it were to deploy its faster, more convenient urinals.
Peequal’s growth has been part fuelled by a £15,000 grant from Bristol University’s New Enterprise Competition.
Thames Valley & Swindon
A pizza the action – twins turn lockdown start-up into six-ﬁgure business
Entrepreneurial twins Luke and Owen Buckmaster refused to let the coronavirus pandemic get in the way of plans to start their own business, Doughboys Pizza, which they’ve now grown into a six-figure brand in less than 12 months.
The business partners and twins from Maidenhead launched their independent business from their own home only a few weeks before the first national coronavirus lockdown, and despite the unfortunate start, they refused to let the pandemic stop their plans of taking a slice of the £4.9 billion UK pizza market.
With the entire country being told to stay at home, and restaurants having to temporarily close their doors, people were spending more time in the kitchen which led the twins to swiftly recognise the growing trend towards meal kits.
The twins created Doughboys Home Pizza Kits, which allows consumers to recreate restaurant-quality pizzas at home without the mess or hassle. In the space of a few months they’d attracted 10,000 followers on Instagram.
And as restrictions started to lift the twin’s primary trading activity, which involves supplying their award-winning pizza bases to a variety of hospitality venues, reached new heights and the team now supply to more than 200 businesses nationwide.
Nearly 12 months on since the twins quit their day jobs to start Doughboys Pizza, they’ve sold hundreds of thousands of pizzas to customers all around the UK and have generated more than £300,000 worth of sales.Amber Probyn and Hazel McShane developed the Peequal
Oxwash aims to clean up in laundry business
Fast-growing British green-tech start-up Oxwash has secured 320 new investors in a public crowdfunder to clean up the environmentally costly washing and dry cleaning sector.
The company, founded in 2018 by ex-NASA scientist and Forbes Europe’s 30 under 30 alumni, Dr Kyle Grant and Oxford engineer Tom de Wilton, secured £250,000 from five angel investors. They included Magnus Rausing (Tetra Pak), Kal Patel (ex-CEO of Best Buy) and Vala Capital, in addition to a quarter
of a million from 318 public Crowdcube investors.
Oxwash uses water-saving ozone technology to sanitise fabrics at low temperatures achieving higher than medical-grade disinfection. It also uses biodegradable detergents and electric cargo bikes for a sustainable washing and hyperlocal zero-emission logistics footprint.
Re-engineering the cleaning process from the ground up, the UK’s first sustainable
Worcestershire & Hereford
Plinx makes building sites safer with helmet device
Malvern tech firm Plinx has won a major contract to supply 1,500 of its safety devices to the HS2 project.
The devices, which are mounted to work helmets, use wireless technology to monitor how close workmen are to each other.
When they get within two metres of
each other the devices beep, vibrate and flash a proximity warning.
Beyond its application as a Covid social distancing tool, the technology also prevents accidental collisions on site.
It also helps site managers monitor workflow and identify times and areas of greater worker density.
on-demand laundry service has grown more than tenfold since the start of the pandemic.
With the global “green cleaning” market set to reach US $11.6 billion by 2029, Oxwash believes there is a lot to win in purging and decarbonising the toxic laundry industry.
The UK industrial laundry sector processes approximately 743,651 tonnes of laundry a year alone. Just the water requirement alone uses the volume of Lake Windermere (360 billion litres) to clean our clothes at home.
Region Company Location CEO or MD Description
Fleet Electric Gloucester Richard Markey
OPS-BOX Cheltenham Hayley Parker and Richard Neale
Tubby Toms Gloucester Tom Hughes
Forthay Granola Dursley Deborah Lamplugh
The Wild Hare Group Gloucester Dominie Fearn
Wildlife World Tetbury Mark Pitman
Bristol / South Gloucestershire
The UK's first climate positive vehicle leasing service, planting 100 trees for every electric car leased and supporting environmental projects in the developing world.
Provides support services to SMEs and start-ups. Established during the pandemic, the company was named Best New Business Support Company 2021 at the UK Enterprise Awards.
Trainee chef Tom Hughes sold his handmade sauces and seasonings on market stalls before Harvey Nichols came calling. Now his hot sauces are supplied to 85 outlets and exported overseas.
Guests at Forthay Bed & Breakfast persuaded Deborah Lamplugh to market and sell the artisan granola she served them for breakfast. Forthay Granola has since picked up a Great Taste Award.
Launched the UK's first net zero carbon ready meal range. Meals are made with fresh, nutritious British-grown ingredients, and won the founders an audience with Prince Charles soon after launch.
This award-winning company sells wooden products from sustainable materials that encourages birds, hedgehogs, bees, butterflies and bugs to thrive. With a £5 million turnover, it exports to 20 countries.
Adaptavate Stonehouse Thomas Robinson Produces a low carbon replacement for plasterboard, which is energy-intensive to make and diﬃcult to dispose of. Breathaboard is made of 60-70 per cent plant material.
Nutritionx Gloucester James Markey Sports nutrition brand, specialising in scientifically-formulated supplements to elite athletes to help professionals across multiple disciplines perform at their peak – including the Scottish Rugby squad.
In Touch With Health Cirencester Mike Sanders
Holland Cooper Cheltenham Jade Holland Cooper
The Real Olive Company Bristol Karin Andersson and Ben Flight
Matter Bristol Adam Root
Ecologi Bristol Elliott Coad, Lucy Jack, Alex Price
Bristol Braille Technology CIC Bristol Ed Rogers
Condense Reality Bristol Nick Fellingham
Science Creates Bristol Dr Harry Destecroix
KETS Quantum Security Bristol Chris Erven
Space Forge South Gloucestershire Joshua Western & Andrew Bacon
Payaca Bristol Matt Franklin
Kinherit Bristol Ben Mason
Elvinyl Bicester Jules Elvins
The company's award-winning flagship Flow Manager app is deployed across 70 NHS Trusts, processing more than 52 million NHS outpatients appointments annually..
From a small tweed skirt stall at the Badminton Horse Trials, Holland Cooper now dresses Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge among other VIP customers and has a new store in Cheltenham.
The company has introduced what it says are the first-ever chilled tapenades to be available in UK supermarkets. In December it smashed its £200,000 crowdfunding target, launched to scale up.
Developed a filtration system that prevents microfibres from washing machines getting into the sea. The start-up has secured a £150,000 investment from British Design Fund.
Plants trees and funds climate crisis solutions and has secured more than 144 per cent of its original Crowdcube crowdfunding target and raised more than £2.9 million from 1,340 investors.
This not-for-profit has invented the ‘Kindle for blind people’ – the world’s first commercialised multi-line Braille display, Canute 360, which allows blind people to read books, music, and graphs.
Wants to be the first UK company to enable brands to stream live events like sports games, music concerts and theatre productions inside the Metaverse. BT and Microsoft are showing an interest.
Launched in 2020, encompassing specialised incubator space, a £15 million investment fund and a big network of strategic partners to nurture science and engineering start-ups and spinouts.
This quantum computer company has secured a share of £9 million for its Quantum Data Centre of the Future project, funded by the UKRI (UK Research and Investment).
Explores the viability of manufacturing in space to lower its impact on the earth's environment. Bristol Private Equity Club, Virgin Galactic’s former CEO and Voyager Space Holdings CEO are also investors.
Job management software enabling home service businesses with professional quoting, invoicing and CRM. Bristol Private Equity Club has backed Payaca unlocking further investment from SyndicateRoom.
The UK’s first, and it says, only will platform designed to ensure that a person’s assets are recorded, beneficiaries are listed and, when the time comes, a person’s wishes are made real.
Online music marketplace where labels, artists and dealers can sell records, merchandise and memorabilia. Also helps new bands grow. A Creative Industries Council’s 100 Ones to Watch 2021.
Inulox Thame Josh Sauer Biotech start-up developing novel solutions to reducing sugar consumption. The company has won the backing of the Oxford Investment Opportunity Network Limited.
ProspectSoft Oxford Andrew Ardron A new type of Stock-Aware CRM designed for wholesale, distributor and manufacturing businesses that sell physical products. It integrates product, inventory and customer sales data.
Quantum Dice Oxford Dr Ramy Shelbaya University spin-out aims to use integrated photonics technology to develop the world’s first compact and continuously self-certifying quantum random number generator for encryption and cybersecurity.
iLof Oxford Mehak Mumtaz, Joana Paiva, Paula Sampaio
UJJI Oxford Ludmila Milla Rafael Guper
Easthouse Oxford Freddie Eastham
Using AI to build a cloud-based library of disease biomarkers, which could be used to drastically reduce the cost and time of drug discovery. The start-up was the winner of Microsoft’s Female Founders Competition, Deeptech category.
Game-based, self-coach app helping users overcome self-doubt and procrastination. Developed by a life coach and tech developer, backed by Oxford University Innovation Incubator.
One-stop-development-shop specifically for businesses in the EV, renewables and sustainability space, working in mobile, web, and IoT devlopment.
LabMedExpert Oxford Olukunle Akanbi Provides quality training to biomedical graduates, upskilling medical laboratory professionals. It has recently taken space at the The Oxford Trust’s Wood Centre for Innovation.
NAG (Numerical Algorithms Group) Oxford Adrian Tate Software and services company which provides methods for the solution of mathematical and statistical problems, and offers services to users of high performance computing systems.
This Great Adventure Oxford Alison Grey, Tim and Pete Gardom
Digital company collaborating with museums, cultural heritage organisations and creative businesses exploring new forms of physical-digital storytelling, including augmented, virtual and extended reality.
Region Company Location CEO or MD Description
Birtelli’s Leamington Spa Jim and Jag Biryah Secured £500,000 funding from Midlands Engine Investment Fund for its innovative homebaked pizza kit service.
Arc Vehicle Coventry Mark Truman
Coventry and Warwickshire
Medherant Coventry John Burt
Moasure Warwick Alan Rock
Salinity Solutions Coventry Professor Philip Davies, Tim Naughton
Dynamo Motor Company Coventry Brendan O’Toole
Skyfarer Coventry Elliot Parnham
Purple Planet Supplies Coventry Mark and Joanna Watson
Percuro Henley-inArden Denise Saber
Feraru Dynamics Coventry Andrei Feraru
Worcestershire and Hereford
The company behind the £90,000 Arc Vector, an advanced electric motorcycle together with an "Iron Man-style' helmet with heads-up display and bike leathers that vibrate to alert the wearer to hazards.
Clinical-stage company developing innovative treatments using its novel transdermal drug delivery technology, the TEPI Patch.
Measuring technology sensing position and movement in three dimensions. Uses inertial motion sensors and a proprietary algorithm to deliver a new way to measure via a smartphone app.
University of Birmingham spin-out wants to deploy its patented desalination technology to help drive the UK’s young lithium mining industry. Recently smashed its £400,000 crowdfunding target.
Manufactures the world's only 100 per cent electric London black cab. The Dynamo Taxi launched in 2019. A £2 million fundraising campaign to ramp up production secured £1.5 million in its first week.
Developing the UK’s first autonomous drone delivery network dedicated to the fast and direct delivery of vital, time-sensitive medical supplies, such as blood, vaccines and vital organs.
Manufactures award-winning hot and cold drink cups, takeout boxes and food containers made from renewable or recycled materials. More than 400 products, which can be recycled after use.
Established at the start of 2021 this company, which has developed a range of sustainable pet dog food, smashed through its Seedrs crowdfunding target this summer, securing £620,000.
Designs and manufactures non-intrusive wearable monitoring devices, enduring a proactive staff health management approach within the industry sectors that expose people to hazardous vibration.
Local e Sourced Hereford Hamish Light Established during lockdown, this company works with local suppliers to deliver food and drink, gifts, clothing and homeware to its customers.
Trek Campers Droitwich Spa Kim Walton
Astley Valley Worcester Tim Hayward
Pandemic staycations have proved a boon for this family business. It currently runs a fleet of four high-spec campers which are kitted out with everything holidaymakers need for a UK break.
One of the oldest vineyards in the UK, but under new ownership since 2017, the vineyard produces boutique wine – less than 10,000 bottles a year – which is now organic.
Payara Services Malvern Steve Millidge IT software company services customers including BMW, Hermes, and Rakuten Card. This year it received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise
Rack Collapse Prevention Redditch Craig Attwell
Hope and Story Worcester Betsy Vickery
Thames Valley and Swindon
This company’s Rhino safety system prevents pallet racks from collapsing – keeping warehouse workers safe and preventing product loss. The innovation is attracting interest across Europe.
Born in spring 2020 when Betsy Vickery struggled to find ethical, sustainable and British-made gifts on e-commerce platforms. Now, the online marketplace champions the best of British.
D-RisQ Malvern Nick Tudor Brings advanced automated software verification tools to security-critical systems developers. The technologies are used in autonomous systems including applications in air, nuclear and off-shore.
FloWide Malvern Vincent Borgraeve
GPS-style indoor tracking solution for the manufacturing shop floor. Manufacturer's organisation Make UK was so impressed that it has adopted the system at its Technology Hub in Birmingham.
Boulevard Worcester Dominic Portman Online tech and e-commerce start-up has raised £2.2 million seed funding. The company’s website is a hub for suppliers which are looking to grow their product sales online.
FreeAgent247. com Worcester
Novai Reading Aman Khan
Having disrupted the traditional estate agent model in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, FreeAgent247.com sells your house for free by charging the buyer the fees.
A disruptive British biotech start-up with an AI supported retinal biomarker for use in glaucoma and AMD clinical trials. Since its foundation in 2020 it has attracted £3.5 million in funding.
Milk & Tweed Chippenham Jake Jeffries Design agency on course to turn over £500,000 this year and has ambitions to reach £1 million turnover within three years.
BiJimini Spices Swindon Luke Craven A food-flavouring spice made from sustainable ground-up insects, it attracted £21,000 loan funding from SWIG Finance.
Ybrant Partners Reading Rajesh Prayaga This IT consulting firm built ACTIVA, a homegrown IT solution for firms in the HR and finance sectors after securing £250,000 from the Thames Valley Berkshire Expansion Loan Scheme.
Artelli42 Reading Ian Welburn, Alan Casey A leader in human behavioural emulation – an advanced form of chatbot that allows people to talk to a computer in everyday language and be understood.
Mass Media Advertising Reading Mass Lambresa A Digital Out Of Home agency which specialises in digital billboards and street furniture. Digital advertising, says the firm, is more eye-catching and better for the environment than paper posters
Recycling Technologies Swindon Adrian Griﬃths Developed a process that turns low grade plastics – like crisp packets and plastic bags – back into a substance it calls Plaxx, which can then be used to create new plastics.
Toca Reading Toca Mat This company’s no-code apps and automation fabric enables organisations to rapidly build apps, overcome integration challenges, and streamline business processes.
Occuity Reading Dr Dan Daly Secured £2.85 million of investment to develop Indigo, which allows people with diabetes to monitor blood-sugar levels through a hand-held eye scanning device.
Ordo Newbury Fliss Berridge An open banking-enabled payments-as-a-service platform offering a variety of services to businesses of all sizes.
UK MANUFACTURING HOLDS KEY TO UNLOCKING GOVERNMENT’S DOMESTIC AND GLOBAL AMBITIONS
Norton Motorcycles opens new global headquarters
Norton Motorcycles has opened its new global headquarters in Solihull.
Five of the UK’s biggest trade associations, representing sectors with nearly 800,000 employees, annual turnover of more than £338 billion and £166 billion in exports, have come together to publish a joint report.
It sets out policy recommendations to maximise the potential of UK manufacturing to generate and sustain high value jobs and growth.
The Manufacturing Five – the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, ADS, which represents companies in aerospace, defence, security and space, the Chemical Industries Association, the Food and Drink Federation and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders –make recommendations on how government can work with them to seize new economic opportunities, sustain jobs and deliver growth.
This first joint report by the five associations sets out a long-term strategy that puts manufacturing at the heart of the UK’s domestic and global agenda.
Its recommendations include investing in infrastructure, skills and incentives to develop new clusters of advanced manufacturing across the UK, scaling up the industrial energy transformation fund to deliver progress towards Net Zero and expanding incentives to attract significant research and development investment.
The report also urges the development of a coherent strategy for the UK’s regulatory approach for manufacturing sectors and placing advanced manufacturing at the forefront of a long-term export strategy developed with industry.
According to MAKE UK, the manufacturers organisation, almost three million people work in the UK’s manufacturing sector and companies in the sector drive more than 60 per cent of all UK research and development.
The sector’s annual output is worth £192 billion to the economy overall. The UK remains in top 10 manufacturing nations at ninth place.
The manufacturing facility includes a new global design, research and development hub and forms a key part of Norton’s big plan to become a world-leader in luxury hand-crafted motorcycles.
The new headquarters was funded by Indian multi-national two-wheel motor company TVS Motor Company which bought the iconic British motorbike marque in 2020.
Norton was founded in 1898 by James Lansdowne Norton as a manufacturer of ﬁttings and parts for the two-wheel trade. By the 1960s, Norton had produced the world’s ﬁrst production superbike – The Norton Commando, but the motor company’s fortunes ﬂuctuated and the company was acquired by TVS Motor company two years ago.
Robert Hentschel, Norton Motorcycles’ CEO, said: “Our new headquarters is the perfect platform to re-energise our business as we lead the Norton brand to onward success where it will play a key role in the future of mobility.”
AIS secures funding to develop battery testing capability
AIS Ltd (formerly Advanced Insulation), the award-winning Gloucester manufacturer of insulation, passive fire protection, buoyancy and cable protection systems, has secured funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre in Coventry to support Jaguar Land Rover in the design of the company’s next generation battery.
The project, as part of a consortium of partners (including German companies Siemens and AVL along with Warwick University, will provide matched funding for AIS to develop anti-propagation materials and products, and to grow its testing capability and facility.
A healthy UK manufacturing sector is essential if the government is going to successfully deliver on its national ambitions to level up the whole country, reach Net Zero by 2050 and become a global science superpower
Malvern tech start-up helps improve manufacturing e ciency
A Malvern-based tech start-up is collaborating with Make UK, the UK manufacturer’s organisation, on an innovative new tracking system for Make UK’s Technology Hub in Aston, Birmingham.
FloWide’s system provides ‘GPS-like’ indoor tracking for the manufacturing shop floor.
Manufacturers need never lose anything on the shopfloor again.
Its system is composed of electronic tags and anchors on the hardware, coupled with a software interface. Tags are fixed on mobile items within the manufacturing shop floor: forklifts, trolleys, boxes or directly
on parts. The anchors are placed in key locations around the shop floor. It means that a digital version of the shopfloor is accessible online with the real time location of every tracked item.
Vincent Borgraeve, co-founder of FloWide, said: “We installed our system at Make UK because of their pivotal role in UK manufacturing. Our short-term goal is to bring manufacturers on site so that they can experience our solution and its benefits.
“Our long-term goal is to make apprentices familiar with location tracking. We believe that today’s apprentices are digital natives who will accelerate the adoption of digital manufacturing.”
Williams Advanced Engineering to co-develop Electric Vehicle Fluids with Castrol
Williams Advanced Engineering has entered into a ﬁve-year partnership with Berkshirebased British oil giant Castrol to co-develop high performance Electric Vehicle (EV) Fluids. As part of the agreement, Castrol will become the oﬃcial supplier of EV Thermal Fluids for Williams Advanced Engineering’s growing electriﬁcation programmes and motorsport activities.
Castrol will develop and supply EV Thermal Fluids suitable for Williams Advanced Engineering’s high-performance motorsport batteries from May.
Four years after The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology was established on the company’s Malmesbury campus in Wiltshire, 33 students have graduated after studying and working at Dyson.
The students all achieved a BEng Degree Apprenticeship in Engineering, awarded by the University of Warwick, and have all chosen to accept full time roles at Dyson.
During their four years at Dyson the undergraduate engineers have collectively worked in 42 different teams gaining practical experience.
Sir James Dyson said: “Our ﬁrst cohort of undergraduates were pioneering and brave to put their trust in Dyson for their degree, but by any standards their ﬁnals results are extraordinary.”
He added: “At my ripe old age, I should be able to pass on some advice. But I’m stumped. The world is moving so fast, tomorrow is so different from today. Experience is not necessarily the help it used to be, problems need to be approached differently and this gives you an unprecedented advantage. Be bold, be radical. The world needs radicals.”
While the partnership will initially focus on Oxfordshire-based Williams Advanced Engineering’s motorsport activities, the companies will look to develop a full range of EV Fluids for wider electriﬁcation projects covering the aerospace and marine sectors. With many forms of mobility now focused on electriﬁcation, the need for advanced battery cooling systems to operate reliably and eﬃciently is essential, said Williams Advanced Engineering.
The partnership will enable Williams Advanced Engineering to access Castrol’s latest developments in EV Fluids for battery cooling systems, including immersive cooling technology. Concepts will also be explored to improve second life performance and circularity of batteries and ﬂuids.
‘Be bold, be radical. The world needs radicals,’ says James Dyson
HOW TO BRING INNOVATIONS TO LIFE
is vital for economic growth, creating more
jobs. It enables businesses to grow and improves UK competitiveness. But how do businesses bring their innovations to life?
Philip Johnston CEO Trackwise Designs
“We had supplied the telecoms industry for more than 20 years, but our traditional product line was becoming obsolete. Successful manufacturers must continually reinvent themselves and we do that, developing specialist products using printed circuit technology.
In our last issue we published our ﬁrst Tech 100 where we revealed 100 ambitious technology companies from across the region.
In this issue, we invited a few of them to meet and talk at our tech tround table, discussing in more detail the challenges and successes of tech-driven businesses.
Round table participants
Robert Milnes, CEO, Fertility Focus, Warwick
James Hygate, Founder and CEO, Green Fuels, Berkeley, Gloucestershire
Paul Bentham, Chief Product Oﬃcer, Immersive Labs, Bristol
Lee Jackson, Client Success Director, Moneyhub Financial Technology, Bristol
Kevin Pope, Group Managing Director, Protrack Solutions and BioStart Security, Gloucester
Philip Johnston, CEO, Trackwise Designs, Tewkesbury
David Lynes, Founder and CEO, Unique:IQ, Worcester
Neill Ricketts, Founder and CEO, Versarien, Forest of Dean (virtual participant)
BPE Solicitors, Sarah Kenshall, Technology Partner
Hazlewoods Accountants, David Clift, Innovation and Technology Tax Partner
“Our journey has been as much about corporate as technology development. Some years ago, Rolls Royce Aero Engines came to us with a need, but they saw a relatively small-scale telecoms industry supplier and developed their own product with another, larger supplier. We had the engineering innovation to meet their need, and had we presented a more corporate face, we may have secured the work.
“We continued to innovate our wire harness replacement and are now selling this into the electric vehicle, medical and aerospace markets – among others. In 2018, we floated on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and in the last two years we’ve undertaken two finance rounds, acquired a business, signed a massive manufacturing deal and bought a 70,000 sq ft facility in Stonehouse to expand our manufacturing capability. We are a now a £50 million market cap business and I still think we are too small.
“We now target the world’s leading innovators, because with our tech we are more likely to sell to those who are on the innovation journey.”
“A company can have the best tech in the world but if they don’t deliver it to the market in the right manner, it’s easy to be sidelined.”Rob Milnes CEO Fertility Focus
“We make products for monitoring the female reproductive cycle.
“Our products can advise women on their ovulation and cycle characteristics –helping them to conceive naturally or seek clinical advice and monitor treatment if they struggle.
“We have launched a clinical portal which helps women and their doctors understand when they might be suffering from other problems such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – a major cause of infertility. We are now looking at diversifying into other women’s health issues.
“Our tech came from Bristol’s veterinary school, from two vets having to cull cattle during the Foot and Mouth disease outbreak in 2000. They wanted to measure rapid temperature rises in cattle. That resulted in a patent for measuring very small changes in temperature in humans as well as animals for the purposes of confirming ovulation. We can now accurately measure core body temperature throughout womens’ reproductive cycles and the product can be used in the home and by doctors.
“We began by targeting our sales at doctors but found more success selling our product direct to consumers. As more women leave it later in life to conceive, fertility problems are increasing and our product, Ovusense, can help.
“We have raised around £11 million since 2005. Most of our money came through angels to begin with, often from those who had direct or family experience of the problem.”David Lynes Founder and CEO of Unique IQ
“We deliver workforce scheduling tools to the homecare sector and have expanded to include medication management, digital care planning and embedded analytics. We have clients in the UK, including Home Instead senior care, Mencap and independent care providers, and in Europe. We have recently seen major growth as technology changes how care is delivered.
“Last year we launched a complete care management software system for home care providers. It offers fast, portable, intuitive and data-rich technology so care staff can devote their energy to providing person-centred care.
“We fell into the homecare sector almost by accident. Our first platform was targeted towards visit verification of oﬃce contract cleaners. Then we won significant contracts with Home Instead Senior Care, the country’s highest-rated home care agency
“They saw the opportunity for the removal of paper timesheets, so we pivoted into that sector. They also needed medicine management and carer activity logging –software which helps send carers to the right place at the right time, dealing with skills and continuity – as well as making sure they get paid correctly, and that the clients are charged correctly.
“Winning a significant client early gave us the revenue to focus on that sector and look at what they needed.”Kevin Pope Group Managing Director, Protrack
“Protrack specialises in vehicle tracking, telematics and fleet software. However, we have established a new business called Biostart to develop our patented biometric, driver identification solution.
“This can record employees’ fingerprints from remote locations and send them to the vehicle for authorisation. Users can be added or removed easily using passwordprotected software from the back oﬃce.
“Many logistics companies have problems with people stealing vehicles if drivers leave the keys in the ignition. Our programme safely shuts the vehicle down when drivers exit the vehicle – even if they leave the engine running.
“They can’t restart it without fingerprint recognition. This has been around a long time, but we’ve patented the ability to record a fingerprint and send it to any vehicle in the world remotely.
“The potential market for our product is huge, so we have secured a European patent for Biostart.
“We are talking to Amazon about a 200-unit trial – they have 100,000 units in Europe. We have a phenomenal opportunity with vehicle rental and industrial machinery.
“There are also huge opportunities in the insurance industry, and we are now talking to partners to take BioStart to the wider market.”
A common thread was the familiar challenge around juggling the roles a founder must play. A great idea isn’t enough
Sarah Kenshall, Technology Partner at BPE SolicitorsLee Jackson Client Success Director, Moneyhub Financial Technology
“Moneyhub is an open finance platform and app established in 2014 which takes advantage of open banking.
Open banking means banks can no longer hoard data and, in the right circumstances, can share it. Moneyhub’s app offers a picture of users’ spending habits and overall financial position and suggests ways to use that money more eﬃciently.
“We provide a version of the app to corporates such as Standard Life and Aon which offer it as a tool for their customers, or a perk. We secured significant funding from SPW ONE, established by Sir Peter Wood, the founder of Direct Line and Esure.
“Fintech companies come and go fast. Nearly a decade ago, when the open banking legislation was going through, one of our founders – a tech genius, wrote some analytical software to tell people how and what they were spending. It won prizes, got him noticed and initial investment.
“Early on the software started to attract investment from other businesses looking to shape the product to suit their needs.
“However, Dave Tonge, our Chief Technical Oﬃcer and Samantha Seaton, our CEO, had a clear vision for the product. Now the main users of our software are big pension companies and those providing financial services to corporates.
“Ideas germinate easily but can be lost just as quickly. It’s important to pivot to demand. There was a lot of early focus on selling the app direct to the consumer. That has potential, but a lot of competition too.”
Paul Bentham Chief Product O cer, Immersive Labs
“Immersive Labs was founded 2017 by James Hadley. We have grown fast and to date have raised $123 million. Our technology platform lets organisations understand the cybersecurity skills of their workforce and enhances their capabilities with targeted training.
“We currently employ around 260 people, mostly in Bristol and Boston, USA and are expanding globally. We plan to employ around 600 over the next two years.
“James Hadley is a force of nature. He previously worked for GCHQ, as I and several other of our employees did. He came up with the idea and built the prototype.
“He focused on growth. After pitching his business idea he’d go straight back to work calling prospects and networking while others would be in the bar or playing table tennis. James’ drive got us our first customers and investors, one of which was Goldman Sachs. When you have such a customer, it opens lots of doors.
“Our business is where it is because of our people and those early investors who took a punt.
“We are also lucky to have Robert Hannigan, the former Director of GCHQ, chairing our advisory board. His reputation gives us credibility.
“One of our biggest challenges is finding talented people. We are in Bristol because there’s a talent pool in the city and we make sure that the people we employ share our culture and values.”
Neill Ricketts Founder and CEO, Versarien
“I established Versarien in 2011 to exploit graphene in a number of ways. Currently this is in electronics in South Korea, energy in Spain, construction and textiles in the UK and paints and coatings in the US.
“We floated on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM the same year and have undertaken an acquisition or created a company every year since we floated.
“Getting a business up and running needs bravery and resilience We’ve had Brexit, Covid, the pingdemic, fuel shortages etc – but so has every business. Those with the determination to get up after being knocked are more likely to thrive.
“Funding has been an issue, as with many other businesses developing new innovations, and we have been fortunate in securing Innovate UK funding. Like Immersive Labs, getting the right skilled people to work for us is challenging too.
“We set up schemes in local secondary schools aiming to make students excited about our industry by the time they’re teenagers.
“For schools, teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) can be expensive, so for me that’s a big gap in government thinking.
“If I can offer good quality jobs to people at our new Forest of Dean factory, they’ll stay with us. For years the Forest of Dean was the centre of Rank Xerox’s European HQ and there are still highly skilled people in the area who currently travel outside to find work.”
“For me, a particularly poignant theme that emerged was the importance of a tech company being able to ‘pivot’ quickly to exploit new opportunities ...”
David Clift Innovation and Technology Tax Partner at Hazlewoods accountants:James Hygate Founder and CEO, Green Fuels
“I established Green Fuels in 2003. We manufacture biorefineries, make biofuels from waste and undertake research and development to advance sustainable biofuels. We have operational plants across the world, including in Oman, India and Brazil, making fuel from products such as waste cooking oils and animal fats.
“Waste-derived biodiesel is one of the most carbon- eﬃcient fuels available, and to date our equipment has displaced an estimated 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions (CO2 equivalent).
“Our customers produce around half a billion litres a year of fuel using our machines. In key markets we establish and operate our own production facilities.
“The Indian government has committed to cease exporting waste oil and will repurpose instead. It will require four billion litres a year so Green Fuels is setting up facilities to meet that requirement.”
“Recently Prince Charles revealed that his Aston Martin was converted to run on surplus English wine and whey from the cheese-making process. This was an early project for us which led to the company being granted a Royal Warrant. We also converted the Royal train to run purely on waste-derived biodiesel: the first in the world.”
“While we have had a lot of R&D grant funding from organisations such as Innovate UK, Horizon 2020 and the Department of Transport – probably up to £20 million, we fund the business out of our own income.”Sarah Kenshall Technology Partner BPE Solicitors
“It was fascinating to hear the various challenges faced by our round table companies. A common thread was the familiar challenge around juggling the roles a founder must play. A great idea isn’t enough. You also need to secure the finance and be out there selling at the same time. Of course, in the technology space nothing stands still. It was interesting to hear how each company was able to adapt its great ideas, pivoting to new product lines in response to a changing world.
David Clift Innovation and Technology Tax Partner, Hazlewoods accountants
“It was great to hear some of the ‘reallife’ journeys covering such different technologies and sectors. For me, a particularly poignant theme was the importance of a tech company being able to pivot quickly to exploit new opportunities in an increasingly fastmoving tech environment. Whether moving from supplying traditional industries to high-tech customers (Trackwise), from targeting doctors to selling direct to the public (Fertility Focus), from servicing a contract cleaning market to a homecare market (Unique IQ), considering applying a logistics technology to an insurance market (Protrack); or adapting analytical banking software for pensions services (Moneyhub), Successful tech companies are those that not only have an interesting tech in the first place, but are also adept at finding innovative new uses, markets and variations for it. To misquote the song: ‘It’s not (just) what you’ve got, it’s the way that you use it.”
SCIENCE MEETS FASHION AS GRAPHENE INNOVATOR PAIRS UP WITH GLOBAL BRAND
If you think that science innovation belongs in a laboratory, think again. It’s also on the catwalk.
Advanced engineering materials group Versarien has revealed it is to collaborate with DKH Retail Limited, the worldwide wholesale distribution subsidiary of Superdry plc.
The companies, both based in Gloucestershire, will pioneer the production of graphene-enhanced garments, using Versarien’s unique graphene-wear technology, with a view to importing graphene’s thermal and moisture management properties into its garments.
Superdry believes that using Versarien’s innovative graphene technology will result in product lines with improved performance and extended product lifespan, with lower environmental impact in their creation, reducing the need to add any virgin material during recycling.
Superdry is pioneering sustainable clothing. Last year the fashion retailer was cited in The Financial Time’s inaugural listing of Europe’s Climate Leaders. It was at the top of 300 companies that achieved the
greatest reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions intensity between 2014-2019.
Superdry also believes that having access to Versarien’s scientists and laboratories in Manchester and Cambridge will accelerate its innovation platform, enabling Superdry and Versarien to create garments unlike any others on the market.
The world is used to learning about new technology in sports goods and shoes, with brands such as NIKE and Adidas investing millions into new technology to help improve athletes’ performance, but technology in fashion design? That’s more unusual.
It’s not unprecedented though. In 2016, the American Paralympian snowboarder Amy Purdy, a double leg amputee, wore a 3D printed dress designed by Danit Peleg, an Israeli fashion designer and a pioneer in 3D printed fashion.
That same year, New York fashion brand Rochambeau produced exclusive ‘Bright Bmbr’ connected jackets powered by Avery Dennison’s Janela platform and Evrythng’s intelligent IoT cloud. When scanned by an android or iPhone, these garments could
offer consumers, via their smartphones, exclusive dining, art, retail and fashion experiences.
However, Versarien and Superdry’s investment in research goes back to basics, how to make clothing more fit for purpose, rather than just trying to sell us more stuff.
Control over thermal transmittance and regulation is intended to help the body manage its temperature, particularly in extreme climates and circumstances when the body is under stress. Incorporating graphene could improve the functionality of the garments, helping them last longer with little fibre failure, increasing the number of wears and washes per garment, supporting Superdry’s commitment to sustainability.
Neill Ricketts, CEO of Versarien, said: “We are delighted that Superdry has publicly announced our collaboration. Since we started working with the brand we have developed a number of sample garments, and its decision to announce the collaboration and the future launch of the products we are developing together is, I believe, testament to the benefits they see in utilising Versarien’s graphene technology.”
But this isn’t the only smart fashion innovation in recent years
LIVER TRANSPLANT INNOVATION SECURES £6.4M EQUITY FUNDRAISE
OrganOx Ltd, a spin-out from Oxford University’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering, has secured £6.4 million in equity fund raising.
OrganOx’s first product, the metra, is transforming liver transplantation, improving the viability and supply of donor organs and has so far supported more than 1,000 liver transplants globally.
Liver disease kills around 11,000 people a year in England, a rise of around 40 per cent over the last decade and this upward trajectory shows no sign of stopping.
Some patients, though not all, could recover if they receive a liver transplant, but tragically there are not enough healthy donated livers to meet demand.
The funding will enable the company to accelerate programmes in its research and development pipeline, including a Phase I trial for a normothermic kidney perfusion device.
The key requirement of normothermic machine perfusion is to provide an environment that is protective to the organ, ensuring optimal oxygen delivery and supporting metabolic function.
Since the first successful liver transplant was done in 1967, experienced surgeons have had to decide whether to use a donated liver largely by visual and physical assessment alone. In the heat of the moment, with the patient often in the operating theatre, there’s little time for detailed analysis before transplantation, and the surgeon will always
err on the side of caution. If they deem a donated liver is marginal, it will be rejected.
OrganOx’s metra device gives surgeons time and the means to assess the quality of the liver before transplantation takes place and allows a liver to be transplanted at body temperature.
Dr Oern Stuge, OrganOx Chair, said: “The company faces an important year with continued commercial rollout in the UK and Europe and preparations to launch commercial activities in the US, pending FDA approval.”
Could the South West be home to a new fusion energy plant?
Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire’s bid to host a new fusion energy plant has made it into the final five shortlisted to become the future home of the UK’s prototype fusion energy power plant – the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production, or STEP.
STEP is a government-backed programme to build a prototype fusion energy plant in the UK. The STEP plant aims to generate net electricity as well as demonstrating how the plant will be maintained and how it will produce its own fuel.
The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) say that the newly-named ‘Severn Edge’ bid to develop the initial £220 million plant has made it to the last five, and is now competing against Ardeer (North
Ayrshire), Goole (East Riding of Yorkshire), Moorside (Cumbria) and Ratcliffe-on-Soar (Nottinghamshire).
STEP will pave the way to the commercialisation of fusion and the potential development of a fleet of future plants around the world. The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) is targeting first operations in the early 2040s.
Katherine Bennett, Chair of the Western Gateway partnership, said:
“I am very excited about the next phase of work with UKAEA, as we continue the assessment process and work together towards a hugely significant piece of infrastructure for the region and for the UK.”
Andy Bates, of Nuclear South West, the industry body powered by Business West, said: “We believe that our
Severn Edge nomination is very strong scientifically and technically.
“We have an incredible scientific and engineering base here, with high temperature expertise being a particular strength. We are also one of the leading regions in digital and digital design, which will be crucial to the success of STEP.”
The Severn Edge team believe that the site’s proximity to the Culham Centre for Fusion Technology in Oxfordshire will be an added advantage in the final selection process.
In addition to its initial £222 million commitment to STEP, the government has already invested £184 million for new fusion facilities, infrastructure and apprenticeships at Culham Science Centre near Oxford and at Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
POWERED BY POO: COULD ELECTRIC VEHICLES BE POWERED BY HYDROGEN HARVESTED FROM SEWAGE?
Researchers from WMG, University of Warwick, have produced hydrogen from wastewater for Severn Trent following the water company’s challenge to find a more sustainable way to treat wastewater.
Treating wastewater is a vital process, as it removes pathogens and protects the environment. However this comes at its own environmental cost, as it is highly energy intensive, using around three per cent of energy use in the UK – the equivalent to 13 billion kilowatt hours.
Hydrogen is valuable as a renewable source and could be sold to the chemicals and plastics industry or used in hydrogen fuel cells for energy storage or electric vehicles. The ability to take hydrogen from wastewater provides a new economic and environmental opportunity – however until now it has been incredibly expensive to achieve.
The water and waste company Severn Trent challenged researchers from WMG,
University of Warwick to finding a more energy-eﬃcient way to treat wastewater, with the team successfully building on research into Microbial Electrolysis Cells.
These involve using electromagnetic microorganisms to break down organic pollutants in wastewater, producing clean water and hydrogen gas.
But don’t get too excited – although this all sounds promising it hasn’t yet been developed on an industrial scale, as the anode materials – which are used in the reaction to breakdown the organic pollutants – are made of graphite or carbon, and cost several hundred pounds per square metre, and produce low rates for hydrogen.
So the university’s researchers, led by Dr Stuart Coles, looked at alternative anode materials and processing methods, and identified recycled carbon fibre mats as an alternative anode, which costs just £2 per square metre.
Dr Coles said: “We are really excited about this technology. By taking waste from the automotive and aerospace sectors, we have developed a circular solution to a long-standing problem. Instead of just treating the wastewater, we are now able to extract value from it in the form of hydrogen at a lower cost than ever before.
Bob Stear, Chief Engineer at Severn Trent added: “The performance boost and cost savings demonstrated from this research mean that technology is one step closer to being cost-competitive with existing wastewater treatment assets.
“WMG have also demonstrated that this technology has the potential to create a more circular wastewater treatment process which will be essential to delivering on our long-term sustainability goals and Net Zero plans.
“We’re currently scoping scaling up the technology at our test-bed plant in Redditch.”
Self-testing Covid-19 kit gets regulatory approval
A COVID-19 self-testing system featuring a unique app powered by artiﬁcial intelligence has been given Europe-wide regulatory certiﬁcation in a world-ﬁrst decision that can revolutionise personal and homebased diagnostics.
The Test To Go app was developed by Excalibur Healthcare Services in partnership with Oxford Science Park
based-clinical AI company, Sensyne Health plc, using its MagnifEye technology which underwent extensive testing trials with the Department of Health & Social Care.
The Excalibur Test To Go app used in conjunction with the Excalibur CEmarked lateral ﬂow test is the ﬁrst testing system of its kind to receive full certiﬁcation and could have a game-
changing impact on self-testing, said the company.
The system enables people to take a lateral ﬂow test, record the result through the app and receive fast certiﬁcation of their status from Excalibur’s laboratories in Cambridge. Results are automatically sent to Public Health England averting the need for users to complete additional form ﬁlling.
THE REGION IS BUILDING AGAIN
There may be supply chain issues and skills shortages across the construction industry, but there’s no stopping regional ambitions, with some major projects well under way
Boris Johnson has told the UK to “build back better”, and that’s what construction companies are trying to do, despite material price rises, supply chain issues and construction worker shortage.
It’s tough out there for the sector, but against the odds, in September last year the Oﬃce for National Statistics reported a welcome increase in
construction output of around 1.3 per cent.
However, the Federation of Master Builders warns that construction companies will continue to face soaring prices with materials and skills shortages continuing to bite this year.
We look at some of the region’s bigger construction projects.
Development starts on new business park at Gloucestershire Airport
Work on a flagship new development at Gloucestershire Airport has begun on what its owners say will be a “flagship new development” for the county.
CGX Connect is a new commercial development located on land within the northern perimeter of Gloucestershire Airport between the existing Anson and Meteor business parks. When completed it will provide around 30,000 sq metres of flexible floor space in a prime location
for businesses operating in the logistics and industrial sectors – and could deliver more than 1,500 new jobs.
Worcester-based Montel Civil Engineering will create an entrance into the development, widening access to the B4063.
Work is expected to take 20 weeks in total, with completion scheduled for spring.
GFirst LEP is providing £1.885 million in Growth Deal funding to support the infrastructure work needed to deliver the new development.
Karen Taylor, Managing Director at Gloucestershire Airport, said: “With such a good location close to the road network and with the airport on its doorstep, we’re already seeing interest in CGX Connect from businesses.
“It will play a key part in our sustainable business growth in the decade ahead, so we’re excited to now be at a point when we can start to unlock CGX Connect’s potential.”
Mark Price, Managing Director at Vitruvius Management Services which is running the project, said: “It’s hugely satisfying to see work getting under way, having partnered with Gloucestershire Airport on CGX Connect as part of its ambitious 10-year plan.”
“It will play a key part in our sustainable business growth in the decade ahead, so we’re excited to now be at a point when we can start to unlock CGX Connect’s potential”
Plans for major regeneration on the site of Coventry’s world-famous Daimler car factory into a new neighbourhood for living, work and leisure have taken a significant step forward.
Warwickshire-based property and development company The Wigley Group has submitted an outline planning application to Coventry City Council for the mixed-use development on Sandy Lane in the Radford area of the city.
The seven-acre brownfield site sits alongside the Coventry Canal and is currently a business park and industrial estate. It is designated for housing by Coventry City Council.
Central to the proposals is the integration of the site — to be known as Daimler Wharf — with the existing community by reconnecting the area to Coventry Canal and creating a large public common.
Droitwich business park to double in size
Potter Space, which owns, develops and operates ﬁve business parks across the UK, plans to double the size of its Droitwich site to more than 470,000 sq ft in the next ﬁve years.
Covering 38 acres, the business park currently has approximately 286,000 square feet of industrial units and warehousing, which are close to 100 per cent occupancy.
With demand high for industrial units, Potter Space intends to start work on the ﬁrst phase of the development this spring, which will comprise four units totalling around 105,000 sq ft.
Head of commercial delivery at Potter Space, Jenna Strover, said: “The company has traded successfully for more than 50 years and, during that time has created an impressive estate extending to 250 acres, with 1.6 million square feet of units across the ﬁve business parks.
“We are now really looking forward to embarking on the next stage of our journey to deliver the ambitious development strategy in Droitwich.”
The outline planning application includes up to 480 new homes made up of a mixture of one, two and three bedrooms, and flexible “work-live” units.
The first phase of the Daimler Wharf scheme has already been completed, with the refurbishment of the Daimler Powerhouse building — the only part of the car factory to survive Second World War bombing — into a creative hub.
Potter Space has appointed local property agents, Fisher German and Harris Lamb.
Rob Champion of Fisher German said: “Potter Space has the beneﬁt of being in the heart of the West Midlands and within easy access of the M5, M40 and M6.”
Plans for regeneration of Daimler site in Coventry take step forwardCGI of Daimler Wharf, Coventry
e outline planning application includes up to 480 new homes, made up of a mixture of 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms and ﬂexible work-live units”
Evans Jones - Celebrating 50 years
The past few years have provided unknowns for many businesses, but Evans Jones is looking forward with a degree of certainty and celebrating a major milestone in its history – 50 years in business.
Founded in 1972 with partners Eric Evans and Prys Jones starting out from an oﬃce in Cheltenham’s Royal Crescent, the practice has grown from a local architectural and surveying firm to a nationwide property and planning consultancy with oﬃces in London, Reading and Cheltenham.
The firm has survived an oil crisis, the three-day week in the 1970s, recessions in the 1980s and 1990s, a financial crisis - and most recently a global pandemic!
“We are delighted to be celebrating our 50th anniversary and are looking to build on a strong foundation created over the last 50 years.
It has been a cruel few years for everyone and there has certainly been no rule book of how to deal with things. We have taken the opportunity to press the reset button and make some ambitious plans for the next five years. We are building and strengthening our team and have made some key investments in our future growth, especially in our people, processes and technology.
A key part of our strategy is to increase our presence in our geographic areas - the South West, London and the Thames Valley. We work for a fantastic calibre and range of clients, both nationally and locally, and we plan to continue to build our client base in these.
We have particular strength in the hotel, leisure and education sectors and these will continue to be a focus for us going forward.
As a firm, a strong focus on marketing has been at the centre of our approach and will remain at the forefront of our strategy going forward. Many businesses cut back on their marketing efforts during the pandemic and have fallen off the radar – we have done the opposite and rather than retreating, we would up our game, we would shout louder.
Our new brand launched in June last year has launched us into the next phase of growth - it reflects the journey we have been on, as well as embracing the future.
The time is right for the next chapter in our journey – watch this space!
David Jones said
“We have some ambitious plans for the next ﬁve years.
We are building and strengthening our team and have made some key investments in our future growth, especially in our people, processes and technology.”
Abingdon and Witney College is committed to Sustainable Construction
Our new £3.5 million Green Construction Centre in Abingdon is the latest facility we’ve invested in to meet the needs of skills training in the sector.
Our new Green Centre will open in June, offering apprenticeships and industry training to learners of all ages, as well as:
• First class facilities
• Genuine partnership working with the sector through engagement with employers, suppliers and wider interest groups/ stakeholders
• Working with awarding bodies to develop new qualifications
As a college we like to ensure we can adapt and evolve in line with both local and economic demands. It’s our intention that the new Centre will not only teach innovative techniques to the industry but use advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to supplement the tried and tested approach to vocational education.
Our Bicester Construction Centre which opened in March 2021 and houses a dedicated ACS Gas Training Centre offers a range of skills development opportunities, from apprenticeship training to professional skills updating. This is complemented by our Centre in Witney, which has already established a good reputation for delivering vocational skills to the sector in: Carpentry & Joinery, Electrical and Plumbing.
With Abingdon in the south of the county, Witney in the west, and Bicester in the north, we are well placed to cater to the needs of the construction industry across Oxfordshire.
OxLEP has part-funded the new build projects and sees Construction as a sector with both growth and skills
shortages within the county and beyond.
Career changing opportunities
We’re very interested to talk to anyone with skills in plumbing or the construction industry in general about joining us to pass on their expertise.
We’ve often helped people to change career. To give something back! To utilise the skills they have and pass them on to the next generation.
Don’t worry if you do not hold a teaching qualification, the College can support you with to achieve this! We support individuals who are keen to change career, people who are passionate about a hobby or anyone wanting to pass on their expertise to keen learners.
Largest Oxford University donation drives ambitions for new humanities building
Oxford University has submitted plans for the construction of a £150 million humanities building to include academic faculty space, concert, theatre and lecture halls at the Radcliffe Observatory quarter on Woodstock Road.
Designs by Hopkins Architects, the Stephen A Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities at the University of Oxford will be thanks to the largest single donation the university has received in its history.
It will pull together seven faculties, two institutes and six Bodleian libraries along with a world-class concert hall and three other performance venues, exhibition and film spaces in a unique
academic and public building in the centre of the city.
Hopkins Architects has been commissioned for all stages of the project working with the university, the donor and his team and with other faculty stakeholders to create and define the distinct and overlapping elements of the programme for the building. It is hoped the project will go on site this year.
Oxford Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson, said: “This is an investment in excellence, an investment in Oxford, an investment in the UK, an investment in the belief that understanding what it means to be human is as critical today as it ever was.”
Town centre managers must be allowed to make loss on attractions to save high streets
Organisations like Local Enterprise Partnerships and Business Improvement Districts must be allowed to stage events at a financial loss without fear of public criticism if our town centres are to survive.
That was the view of David Jones, town planner and managing director of Reading and Cheltenham-based
£155M funding deal agreed with Get Living for major development in Maidenhead
Property developer HUB and investor Smedvig have agreed a £155 million deal with build-to-rent operator Get Living to fund the first phase of a scheme to revitalise central Maidenhead.
The deal is developer HUB’s ninth forward funding agreement and its largest to date. It is also HUB’s first deal with Get Living and the first time the build-to-rent operator has backed a development outside of the UK’s major cities.
The deal enables the delivery of 429 homes and 23,000 sq ft of retail, as well as car parking and extensive new public realm on a prominent 3.5-acre site in Maidenhead town centre. Construction has started.
planning consultants Evans Jones at a property roundtable held by Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce in Swindon.
The future success of ailing high streets – which were in serious decline even before the pandemic – would be “about driving people to you with events and experiences,” he added.
The Landing site – a key part of Maidenhead’s wider regeneration – is also adjacent to Maidenhead station, where Elizabeth Line trains will arrive in 2022, and will provide a much-needed link between the refurbished station and the town centre.
Research carried out by Savills identifies Maidenhead as an attractive location for build-to-rent investment because the town is underpinned by strong population and economic growth with high levels of employment in sectors that are forecast to grow significantly over the next decade.
ASH CHARTERED SURVEYORS RISES TO THE CHALLENGE AND ACHIEVE CONTINUED GROWTH
ASH Chartered Surveyors was established in 1989 and is one of the best-known practices working throughout Gloucestershire from two oﬃces in Gloucester and Cheltenham. The firm offer a range of services including property management, lease consultancy and agency and is run by its three partners, Bruce Fenley, Alastair Mylechreest and Simon McKeag.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges for many businesses, across a range of sectors, and the property industry has been no exception.
ASH faced challenges of its own over the last 2 years, however, as we start 2022, the firm has achieved continued growth of both its team, and turnover and is proud to still be offering a personal service and helping clients by using the teams in-depth knowledge of the Gloucestershire property market.
Simon McKeag joined ASH as a Graduate Surveyor in 2000, becoming a Partner in 2009 and heads up the Agency Department, primarily dealing with the acquisition and disposal of commercial properties across the County. Simon said,
Looking ahead this year there will undoubtedly be further challenges to overcome in the commercial property market, due to a shortage of industrial/warehouse space and commercial land in the county and ongoing diﬃculties facing the retail market with the growth of online shopping. The shift to remote working is likely to result in oﬃce occupiers reviewing space requirements.
Gloucestershire has proven it is resilient to adversity in the past and there is an appetite for business, with a number of significant developments progressing in the county, continuing to make it an attractive place to live and work.
ASH are looking forward to 2022 and maintaining their position as one of the key commercial surveying practices in the county and seeking new opportunities to grow.
“The ASH team pulled together to support clients and customers in uncertain times, and this was key to helping the ﬁrm navigate the pandemic”
“We have been in a fortunate position to recruit additional sta to help maintain our levels of service and the new members have slipped seamlessly
Another contributing factor to the strong performance has been the breadth of services we o er as workloads have varied at di erent points.”
3 PULLMAN COURT, GREAT WESTERN ROAD GLOUCESTER
T 01452 300433
1 TO 5 KEW PLACE, CHELTENHAM GL53 7NQ
T 01242 237274 www.ashproperty.co.uk
THE GRANGE, BISHOPS CLEEVE, CHELTENHAM
Headquarter Oﬃce Building set in an attractive landscaped site let to Zurich plc. ASH provided pre-acquisition advice on behalf of Wesleyan Assurance Society.
PROPERTY TYPE: Oﬃces
SIZE: 16,256 sq m (175,000 sq ft)
UNIT 1 GATEWAY 12 BUSINESS PARK, GLOUCESTER
Brand new industrial/warehouse unit on a modern Business Park within 1 mile of the M5. ASH acted as marketing agents for the development on behalf of St Modwen plc.
PROPERTY TYPE: Industrial/Warehouse
SIZE: 6,237 sq m (67,138 sq ft)
HOLLYBUSH FARM, LONGHOPE
Mixed-use property comprising a range of commercial space (part occupied by Hillside Brewery), a dwelling, holiday let and 40 acres of agricultural land. ASH sold the property on behalf of a private client.
LOCATION: Forest of Dean
PROPERTY TYPE: Mixed-use
SIZE: 1,233 sq m (13,272 sq ft)
KINGSHOLM BUSINESS PARK, KINGSHOLM, GLOUCESTER
City centre industrial warehouse and oﬃce complex with excellent car parking ratio. ASH leased the main warehouse with ancillary accommodation to Gloucester RFC for use as their new training facility.
PROPERTY TYPE: Industrial/Warehouse
SIZE: 4,645 sq m (50,000 sq ft)
BROOKTHORPE HALL, BROOKTHORPE, GLOUCESTER
Substantial former care home providing accommodation for 32 clients with staff facilities set in approximately 0.8 acres. ASH sold the property on behalf of a private client.
PROPERTY TYPE: Care Home
SIZE: 1,585 sq m (17,060 sq ft)
MANUFACTURING/OFFICE FACILITY, OLDENDS LANE, STONEHOUSE
Purpose built factory with attached building on a self-contained site extending to circa 4 acres. ASH sold the property to an owner occupier on behalf of private clients.
PROPERTY TYPE: Industrial and Oﬃce
SIZE: 6,947 sq m (74,780 sq ft)
252 BATH ROAD, CHELTENHAM
Development site situated in the thriving Bath Road area with consent for 8 apartments and a retail unit. ASH sold the site on behalf of a private client.
PROPERTY TYPE: Retail and Residential Development
SIZE: 0.11 hectares (0.28 acres)
Town centres in line for £70M regeneration opportunity
Significant proposals to regenerate three town centres in North Worcestershire are being prepared with the support of £70 million external grant funding.
Bristol o ce undergoes multi-million pound refurbishment
360 Bristol, one of the city’s most prominent central oﬃce buildings, is undergoing a major refurbishment to provide around 44,000 sq ft of modern open plan oﬃce space and a range of wellbeing amenities.
The eight-storey oﬃce building, with its full height curved atrium overlooking the St James Barton roundabout, was acquired in 2019 by investment group Melburg. In a strong sign of conﬁdence in Bristol’s oﬃce market, they are making a targeted investment to reposition the 107,000 sq ft building and in so doing providing a new product with a full suite of amenities.
Alder King has recently been
appointed as joint letting agents on the scheme, alongside Knight Frank.
Alder King partner Simon Price said: “This is one of the largest refurbishments under way in Bristol, following the success last year of other city centre oﬃce refurbishments including 10 Wapping Road, 41 Corn Street and Pivot & Mark, all of which were successful in securing lettings quickly following practical completion.
“Demand for city centre oﬃce space is strong with take-up levels so far this year almost equalling pre-Covid levels. Availability remains low and 360 Bristol refurbishment works are set to complete at an opportune time.”
Design competition launched for £1 billion Innovation District at Begbroke Science Park, Oxford
Oxford University Development, the £4 billion joint venture between the university and Legal & General Capital, has launched an international competition to find a team to design the masterplan for its £1 billion, 190-hectare mixed-use Innovation District at Begbroke Science Park.
The winning design team will set the bold ambition and design intent for a project that, the university says, will transform the area
around Begbroke Science Park, to the north of Oxford. The project will also create 2,000 homes alongside with new schools, a public park and nature reserve.
The first phase of the regeneration programme will provide new facilities for the university’s research and development, as well as providing space to incubate spin-out companies, while the second will involve the creation of the wider innovation district.
The funding has recently been secured by North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration from the Future High Streets Fund, Towns Fund and the recently announced Levelling Up Fund and will support the delivery of major capital projects in Bromsgrove, Kidderminster and Redditch. The gross development value of the proposed projects exceeds £100 million.
Ostap Paparega, Head of North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration, said: “At the core of these proposals sits a place making approach that will transform and re-purpose our town centres as creative, leisure and employment destinations offering new and exciting experiences to residents, visitors and businesses alike. The proposed interventions will introduce new uses that support daytime activities and the evening economy, attracting more people to our town centres and increasing the footfall on our high streets.”
The funding will enable the delivery of specific projects now being considered by council leaders.
In Bromsgrove Town Centre
£14.5 million from the Levelling Up Fund will fund a 3,000 sq metre flexible workspace and cultural hub on the former Market Hall site. It will deliver site infrastructure and enabling works to unlock a key town centre site for a residential-led mixed-use development as well as comprehensive public realm improvements.
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What do most business leaders want in 2022?
I wouldn’t be surprised if that list included stability, resilience and security to cope with unforeseen events. The common denominator is understanding risk.
Risk is inherent in all aspects of business, and it’s down to each of us to determine our appetite for risk – how much do we want to protect ourselves, or how much do we want to shoulder. That’s effectively what an insurance purchase is all about, weighing up whether we want to be risk averse and transfer the risk to an insurance policy, or whether we’re ok to take on some risk and pay for that ourselves.
Insurance is the most powerful tool that a business owner has to protect what they have worked long and hard to develop. Yet, the industry’s reputation is at an all-time low. It represents an immense power for good, yet people view it as a necessary evil. In fact, I see insurance as an enabler for growth. Who would invest hard earned cash if there were a chance it might go up in smoke? Entrepreneurs can invest in something knowing their creation is protected if something happens.
Your first challenge is to understand the risks you face. How aware are you of the complete risk landscape in your business?
Do you have a sense of the impact of the wider economy on your sector and most specifically your business or your employees? What are the burning issues inPhil Barton, CEO
your business? What’s keeping you awake at night? Is your existing programme in the right shape to cope with those risks?
I’d also recommend challenging your own understanding of the programme you currently have in place.
How do you know you’re getting the right advice if you don’t understand the jargon, the complex terms, what insurance you actually have, and why you have it? Next time you’re speaking with your insurance adviser, ask them to explain your risk exposure in plain English. Ask them to help you build resilience in your business to prepare you for the challenges ahead, rather than just repeat last year’s programme. If your business has changed at all in the last 12 months, so should your insurance to reflect those changes.
Insurance is a complex area where you need professional advice both in preparing your business for an unforeseen event and recovering from one. An advice led approach offers much more than a piece of paper. For example, when is the last time you fully tested your data security or technology environment? A comprehensive, risk-based relationship with your adviser surfaces such
issues and equips you to make informed decisions based on a sound understanding.
The support that can be offered to help you recover your business through access to charted loss adjusting services can be the difference between recovering and returning your business to its business plan, or failure.
The right insurance programme allows your business to deliver on its plan and your ambitions, building in resilience to enable it to withstand what life throws at it. In short, an effective risk and insurance programme plays a major role in keeping your business on track and enabling it to perform.
I know that the insurance industry has a lot of work to do to instill confidence in people that their insurance programme will perform as it should, but consider this: What is the likelihood of an unexpected event crystallising? Wouldn’t you welcome the confidence to make sure that your insurance programme has built resilience into your business.
Make 2022 the year you commit to truly understanding the risk in your business, giving it every chance to succeed in an uncertain world.
Insurance is the most powerful tool that a business owner has to protect what they have worked long and hard to develop.