Welcome from Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Kam Kaur

Hello and welcome to the August edition of Warwickshire Means Business.

With the summer at its height, I hope you will all be getting in some lovely holidays and down time. After all that has been thrown at us in the last 18 months I think we all deserve that!

Then it will be a case of looking ahead and plotting the way forward as we build the recovery post-Covid. That will take some time, of course, and we must all remain vigilant but it is very reassuring that, in terms of the Warwickshire economy, we already have so much that is positive on which to build and capitalise.

This year has already brought a number of very welcome developments for our region. Many of these are in the innovation and technology sector and, in this edition of Warwickshire Means Business, Ian Flynn gives a comprehensive round up of those developments. They underline the high regard in which our county is held and that businesses want to locate and remain here. Most importantly, these businesses bring jobs to Warwickshire and help keep our economy and communities strong.

Further very good news comes from DfE figures that show Warwickshire remains one of the most successful local authorities in the country for ensuring that 16 and 17-year-old residents are either in education, employment or training. This success reflects the commitment of us all - local authorities and our partners in the business world, employers and education-providers - to give our young people the very best opportunities.

 As we all continue to build the recovery, Warwickshire County Council's Economy & Skills team will be with you every step of the way as always, working with our partner organisations across the region to offer all kinds of support. I am very proud of that team, their expertise and the tireless work they do, and it is heartwarming to read in this edition of WMB Alison Robinson's tribute to them and their work since she joined us last year.

The Economy & Skills team is a really impressive, creative, hard-working unit that makes a tangible difference to our communities...and they are recruiting at the moment! So please have a read and get in touch if you think you might like to help them make that difference.

I hope you enjoy this edition of Warwickshire Means Business and have a lovely summer.


Featured News

Would you like to join a business team which really makes a difference? Read on...

The Economy & Skills team at Warwickshire County Council is recruiting as it seeks to strengthen in order to supply the best and broadest possible support for businesses and the local economy. Alison Robinson, WCC's Strategy and Commissioning Manager for Economy and Skills joined the team last year...and is loving being part of an organisation which makes a difference in so many ways.


“I am really proud to be part of an organisation that does so much to make Warwickshire the best it can be.”


Alison Robinson and her team at Warwickshire County Council (WCC) have a broad spectrum of responsibilities including business and economy, employability and skills and the council’s business centres, as well as spearheading investment in the county’s core industries (such as automotive, advanced manufacturing, digital and creative).

The Economy and Skills team looks to support businesses to locate and grow in Warwickshire which in turn creates job opportunities for residents and boosts the economy. They are responsible for managing business support programmes to drive economic recovery and growth – such as the £1.5 million Adapt and Diversify grant scheme which supported a variety of businesses most affected by the pandemic. They have a strong focus on improving employability and skill levels across the county, working with business, schools and colleges to develop skills-centred initiatives along with careers and employment activities. The team also looks after the council’s business centres which provide flexible and affordable spaces from fully serviced offices and conferencing facilities to light industrial and warehouse space.

Alison said: “We’re quite a specialist team but we impact across the whole organisation. The Economy and Skills team – made up of just over 30 people – is diverse and the links between the different areas of the council is so important. For example, we work closely with transport to help ensure people can get to and from their jobs, and we work with education to get information to children and young people about their future careers.”

Before joining the council 10 months ago, Alison spent more than 20 years in the private sector in a range of commercial roles including contract management, marketing, strategy and finance within the Energy industry. After leaving the sector just before the pandemic hit, Alison had some time to think about what she wanted to do next.

“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I wanted to do something that made a difference to the community I live in," she said. "When I came across this role, I thought it was the perfect blend of utilising my business skills but in a way that benefited other people and made a difference to the whole community rather than just the organisation I was working for.”

"The scope of the role was also part of the attraction for me. I have been amazed by the amount of breadth and support that WCC and our partners offer for residents. I look at what my team alone does – I had no idea about the number of schemes and programmes that existed – and then I look at the wider council, and I can honestly say I am really proud to be part of an organisation that does so much to make Warwickshire the best it can be.”

Alison could not have joined the council at a more challenging time.

“I started during the pandemic and it was immediately clear that everyone at the council was pulling together to try and boost the economy and help employers to survive. The team had to work tirelessly behind-the-scenes to find innovative ways to support businesses and boost the economy during such an unprecedented time.

“Soon after I joined, I realised the pandemic has taught us that a strong economy leads to good wellbeing and health. If we can provide good quality jobs for residents, it’s good for their wellbeing. The link between wellbeing and the economy is really what’s motivating me going forward in my role. It’s a real responsibility knowing that the economic health of the county is key to people’s health and wellbeing.”

Alison regards the Warwickshire Recovery Investment Fund (WRIF) as one of the most exciting developments since she joined the council. The WRIF aims to distribute £140 million over the next five years, offering loans and other financial investments to existing and new businesses in Warwickshire to help their long-term recovery and growth following the pandemic. It will stimulate the county’s economy, create over 3,000 jobs and safeguard many more, support local businesses and bring investment into Warwickshire.

Alison said: “The WRIF is revolutionary for Warwickshire and is a fundamental part of the Council’s wider COVID-19 Recovery Plan.”

Looking forward, the Economy and Skills team will be making sure that Warwickshire has got a sustainable future, which includes the climate change emergency and helping businesses to become greener, as well as ensuring there are a variety of future employment opportunities for residents.

Alison said: “There is strong evidence that people in employment live longer and have better health as they have a greater sense of worth, so making sure there are plenty of good quality job opportunities in Warwickshire is really important. Generally speaking, there’s a big incentive to make sure people are in good, sustainable employment.”

Talking about what she most enjoys about her role, and what she would say to anyone thinking of joining the council, Alison said: “I was attracted by the forward-thinking approach to agile working – work is what you do, not where and when you do it – and the technology available to support this.

“Everyone has also been so welcoming. I’ve been really impressed by the culture. I was really keen to work in an organisation with strong female leadership with both the CEO and Leader of Council being female and I’ve found the senior leadership in general to be really authentic - it just makes you want to do good for the organisation and the county. I genuinely feel that all my colleagues at the council aren’t working here for personal gain, but to make a difference.

“Anyone who wants to work in an environment where there’s a really clear link how to better your local area, you can’t do better than WCC.”

The Economy and Skills team is now expanding following a challenging time for the county’s economy and business community. If you have business and commercial skills and you want to use them in a place that matters to people and communities, please view the current vacancies below, including Funding Lead, Inward Investment Senior Advisor and Funding Lead - Employability & Skills.

The council is continuously recruiting for passionate people to contribute to making Warwickshire the best it can be. To find out more about working for Warwickshire and to view all vacancies, please visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/jobs.

'uxplore' programme supports more than 200 businesses

“This is a fantastic opportunity to help businesses develop their projects using 5G and digital connectivity.”

More than 200 small and medium sized businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire are being supported as part of a £3.8 million scheme.

‘uxplore’ is a project led by Coventry University, in partnership with the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub and Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

It has been set up to increase the demand for new digital products and services enabled by broadband, 4G, Wi-Fi and 5G, and it will also allow small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) to benefit from wireless communications and provide space to test and explore new applications of 5G.

‘uxplore’ is aiming to provide a range of digital support programmes to pilot new products, services, and business models by using these methods of connectivity.

The free programme will enable SMEs to have access to 5G grant funding, mentoring for new businesses and a programme on digital connectivity and frontier technology.

For the 5G grants stream of the project, match-funded grants of between £4,000 and £10,000 are available for SMEs in Coventry and Warwickshire – which are defined as having less than 250 employees. With match funding, these projects will range from £8,000 to £20,000 in total value.

The funding is intended to support businesses with proof of concept activities for the development of products, services and processes which will create opportunities through the use of 5G.

Businesses must be trading in Coventry and Warwickshire and be able to fund the remaining project costs themselves to be eligible for a grant. Projects need to involve a new approach for the company or industry and use 5G. Applications are now open and businesses are encouraged to apply.

The ‘uxplore’ project also offers 12 hours of business mentoring for SMEs which have been trading for less than 12 months, with tailored digital and/or entrepreneurial support depending on the business’ needs.

Businesses will also be offered a two-day programme on digital connectivity, focusing on 5G, including workshops, industry case studies and development activities, designed to demonstrate the potential applications of this exciting technology within local SMEs.

Workshops will demonstrate potential applications of the cutting-edge connectivity technology, giving a broader understanding to those businesses who may not have considered 5G before.

Running until June 2023, ‘uxplore’ will also see a refurbished 5G digital hub open on Coventry University Technology Park this autumn as part of the project. The hub will include state-of-the-art communications infrastructure, co-working and collaboration spaces, a demonstration space and meeting rooms.

The aim of the space is to create an innovative hub where SMEs have access to 5G networks and can see the 5G demonstrator equipment in action.

Craig Humphrey, Managing Director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said: “We are keen to hear from small and medium-sized businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire who could benefit from this excellent programme.

“As well as valuable mentoring for new businesses, workshops about the newest connectivity technology and the cutting-edge 5G digital hub coming later this year, there are grants of up to £10,000 available to support new products and services which take a novel approach to using 5G. This is a fantastic opportunity to help businesses develop their projects using 5G and digital connectivity.”

Warwickshire continues to excel at supporting 16 and 17 year olds

“Ensuring all of our young people in Warwickshire have a bright future and access to opportunities for rewarding employment is one of the county council’s key priorities."

A recent publication from the Department for Education (DfE) has shown that, once again, Warwickshire County Council (WCC) is one of the most successful local authorities in the country for ensuring 16 and 17 year old residents are either in education, employment or training.

The DfE require all local authorities to collect and report information about a young person’s post-16 activity on a monthly basis. Warwickshire’s numbers of young people either not in education, employment or training (NEETs) are currently standing at around two thirds of both the regional and national average.

This year, Warwickshire has 2% of 16 and 17 year olds in a NEET situation and 1.9% whose activities were not known. This gives a combined score of 3.8% which compares to the West Midlands average of 5.7% and the England average of 5.5%.

This marks a trend in which Warwickshire has been excelling in recent years and the county is now placed amongst the highest performing areas of England, based on comparable local authority areas (size/population etc). Since 2017, Warwickshire has consistently reported significant improvement in the reduction of the numbers of young people who were NEET, including those 16 and 17 year olds whose activity is not known.

All local authorities are required to collect and report information on a young person’s post-16 activity, so that the government can publish a national reports and an overall scorecard.

The DfE can then monitor those 16 and 17 year olds who are not taking part in education, employment and training, (known as NEETs). The department also introduced a new headline measure in 2016 to include those young people whose activity is not known.

Warwickshire is also firmly bucking the tend in how it performs in keeping young people with special education needs and disabilities (those with an Education, Health and Care Plan - EHCP) in education, employment or training.

Participation in education, employment or training for 16 and 17 year olds with a plan currently stands at 93.5%. The median for the West Midlands is 89.2%, an identical figure to the national average.

Cllr Jeff Morgan, Warwickshire County Council Portfolio Holder for Children, Families and Education, said: “Ensuring all of our young people in Warwickshire have a bright future and access to opportunities for rewarding employment is one of the county council’s key priorities.

“I am delighted that the government’s most recent report shows we continue to have such a low proportion of 16 and 17 year olds who are not participating in education, employment or training.

“It shows our systematic approach, our robust tracking and our excellent partnerships with schools, colleges and training providers is proving very successful. It also shows that we have not rested on our laurels following recent successes but have built on that progress. While I am delighted with this year’s performance, I hope that the trend will continue in Warwickshire over coming years.

“I am similarly thrilled that the excellent performance is reflected in our cohort of young people with SEND as well.

“I would like to thank, both personally and on behalf of Warwickshire County Council, all the schools, colleges and training providers across the county who offer a fantastic range of education and training provisions that engages our young people and ensure that these figures are consistently low.

“This achievement is made all the more profound in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic when other local authority areas both in the West Midlands and England have seen their NEET figures increase as a direct result of the pandemic.”

More information about Warwickshire’s support for NEET children in Warwickshire can be found online: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/neet

Towns Network Programme helps lift Coleshill cafe's profile

"I started to understand a bit more of theory behind posting and using things like hashtags. I suddenly went from a couple of hundred views of a post to getting thousands."

A Coleshill couple have been serving up meals and treats to the local community over the past 18 months – after receiving support with their online presence.

Tina and Dale Glastonbury have run the Café on the Hill in the town since starting the business at the beginning of 2019.

Just a year after launching, Covid hit and, for a fortnight and like many other businesses across the region, they went into a state of shock. But once they started to come to terms with the crisis, they started to look at opportunities to keep the café serving customers during lockdown and for any support available.

They’d already built up an online following on social media and, through that, started delivering to customers in the town including everything from Sunday lunches through to afternoon teas for special occasions.

Tina also found about digital support available and that was a key breakthrough in helping Café on the Hill reach more people. The workshops were delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and Stories Marketing, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council through the Warwickshire Towns Network Programme. The workshops shared insights into how businesses can use social media and other digital tools to grow an online community.

Tina said: “We’d just started to get the business where we wanted it to be after a year and then the pandemic hit. For a fortnight, we just didn’t know what we were going to do. We were in shock.

“We both love Coleshill and it was our dream to open a business here and to move here. We had our first date in the town 30 years ago – just over the road from the café – and then went on to get married. So, we couldn’t stand by and let the business go under, we knew we had to try everything we could to survive and look for all the support we could get.

“I attended three online group sessions with Stories Marketing to help improve my digital skills and then had a one-to-one session and it was really useful. I started to understand a bit more of theory behind posting and using things like hashtags. I suddenly went from a couple of hundred views of a post to getting thousands.

“We were very well known in the local community, but more and more people got to know about us and it definitely helped us survive the crisis.”

Some of the innovations will continue, despite restrictions being lifted. The Café on the Hill delivered 40 Sunday lunches to customers on a recent weekend and has even ventured into event catering. Such is the success, they’ve taken on their first member of staff.

Keely Hancox, from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Tina and Dale have so much personality and they’ve found a way to make that shine through online. They’ve shown a real fighting spirit to come through the crisis by diversifying and that, coupled with Tina’s enhanced digital skills, has seen Café on the Hill become even more popular despite having to close their doors for so much of the past year and a half.

“It’s great to see that those skills and those changes are not going to be cast aside now that restrictions are lifted. On the contrary, they are using everything they’ve learnt over the past 18 months to not only keep going but to get the business growing again.”

Warwickshire County Council portfolio holder for economy & place, Cllr Kam Kaur said: “The pandemic really made an instant difference to how businesses would have to operate and the County Council, along with our partners, offered an extensive range of support. What was key to our thinking was not only in solving the problem to help businesses stay operational but also to enable them to grow and develop beyond the immediate crisis, in the changing market place that the pandemic brought.

“The Café on the Hill is an example of this. We have supported them to broaden their skills base, reach new customers and engage with local residents. I am delighted to see how well they have adapted and grown. This is precisely the kind of outcome that we were looking for and long may their growth and success continue.”

More courses will start this September which are available to Retail, Hospitality and Tourism businesses. For more information, please visit https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/business-support/digital-retailer-workshops

Start-up support gives new lease of life to the Dungeon Master of Dordon

"The support I received from the Chamber helped me to enhance my ability to connect with new customers in ways that would have never crossed my mind."

An emergency services hero turned professional games master is capturing the imagination of players from Atherstone to Arkansas after adapting to the need for online meetups.

While many children dream of growing up to fight fires and save lives, Into Adventure Ltd has been helping fans of one of the world’s biggest board games on both sides of the Atlantic fulfil fantasies of their own.

Richard Mortimer, from Dordon in Warwickshire, has spent the last 20 years protecting communities across the West Midlands as a firefighter, but has been playing Dungeons and Dragons in his spare time since he was 16.

Richard, now 46, has served as a Dungeon Master for the popular fantasy game across North Warwickshire for more than a decade after he originally founded Into Adventure Ltd to support his local library in the wake of funding issues by hosting D&D sessions.

Like many businesses, Richard was forced to operate almost exclusively online throughout the last 18 months due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The video conferencing software used by Richard in his online sessions, however, has allowed him to host games like never before by visually transforming himself and his guests into orcs, elves and other fantasy creatures, while taking advantage of digital marketing has enabled him to expand his customer base.

He has since been able to access markets across Scotland and Ireland and, most recently, the United States after seeking advice from Warwickshire County Council’s start-up service which is delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

The programme for start-up businesses is part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale project which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Warwickshire County Council, North Warwickshire Borough Council and the other District and Borough Councils.

Richard said: “The pandemic highlighted the ways that not having an online presence can severely impact the potential of your business, and the support I received from the Chamber helped me to enhance my ability to connect with new customers in ways that would have never crossed my mind.

“The Chamber put me in touch with other business owners to exchange advice on how to be flexible and deal with the challenges of operating across different countries and states, and I have since enrolled onto their digital training programme with a view to boosting Into Adventure’s Online presence.

“There is a huge demand for Dungeon Masters across the UK but also a very strong following in the local area, including three of my crew members at Tamworth Fire Station.

“It would be great to hear from even more players across the UK who might have been unable to play with their friends over the last year or so.

“Our games are always extremely fun and held to a very high standard, and the ability to appear as a range of characters adds a whole new dimension to the experience.”

Hardeep Sandhu, Enterprise Manager at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce said: “The team at the Chamber can offer a range of support to start-up and early-stage businesses to help them not just survive but grow.

“It’s been great to see that Richard has made the most of the support we offer and started to see the material results in the growth of his business.”
The Chamber will be holding online clinics for individuals thinking about starting a new business and those candidates that have started a new business in the past 24 months.

Hardeep added: “People need to be almost ready to start their businesses, as the start-up programme is geared up to supporting those that have a business idea, are clear about what they want to do and need guidance on how to start and what to do.”

Anyone interested should email Rita at ritab@cw-chamber.co.uk, with an overview of their business and contact details and include in the subject, ‘North Warks Clinic Booking Request’. Clinic dates are September 7, 14 and 21 and take place between 9.30am and 2.30pm, all sessions are delivered online and meeting links will be sent out after the initial phone call. For more information visit www.cw-chamber.co.uk/business-support

Warwickshire business ready to unleash the dinosaurs

"Gaynor has been really helpful,” said Malcolm. “We approached Business Ready in around August of 2020 and as well as supporting us around the way we can market ourselves, she has been a really big support from a business mentorship point of view.

A Warwickshire company is planning to open its own immersive experiences after supplying international entertainment giants for more than 15 years.

Meriden-based Hollywood Gaming has become a market leader in providing effects using its hardware and software solutions working with the likes of Hasbro, Paramount Pictures, Sony and EA on games distributed by Sega Amusements to arcades and family entertainment centres around the world.

Now, following support from the University of Warwick Science Park’s Business Ready programme, the company, led by directors Malcolm Barnes and Mark Evans, is developing a new area of the business, Immersive Hollywood, where it will open venues of its own and provide unique multi-sensory visitor experiences.

The Business Ready programme delivers support to expanding businesses and is managed by the business support team at the University of Warwick Science Park. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme.

Hollywood Gaming, which was founded in 2005, is currently mapping out that expansion and will look to raise around £800,000 in investment to get that side of the business off the ground and is already scoping locations where it could open its own venue experiences.

The business is working with scriptwriters to help create the narratives for the new experiences, which Malcolm forecasts will cost around £30 per person to play. The experiences currently being mapped out are a safari, alien invasion and dinosaur world. Each would use the same physical props but, by tailoring the VR and other 4D elements such as smells, motion and wind, every experience would be different despite taking place in the same place.

Malcolm said: “We believe that our experience and skills in this area give us a great platform to create our own venues and our own experiences. The plan would be to make them interchangeable – so you could have a horror game running for one group of visitors and then change that to be something children friendly using the same props but with a different narrative and different reality experiences.

“As well as extended reality, our games will be brought to life with props and also tapping into other senses such as touch and smell, which is what helps to set them apart from ordinary virtual reality experiences.

“This kind of experience is normally reserved for major cities like London but we want to bring it to the masses both through location and through our price points, which make them much more accessible for people.

“It won’t just be a 30-minute experience, the story will start before visitors have even arrived and will offer a great day out for family and friends.”
The company has plans to expand into strategic locations in the UK before expanding to Europe and North America.

Gaynor Matthews, a Business Ready adviser, has worked with Hollywood Gaming on how to position itself within the marketplace and better explain what it does to different groups – whether that’s Business to Business or Business to Consumer for its new venues.

“Gaynor has been really helpful,” said Malcolm. “We approached Business Ready in around August of 2020 and as well as supporting us around the way we can market ourselves, she has been a really big support from a business mentorship point of view.

“I am big believer in tapping into other people’s knowledge and specialist skills and Gaynor has been great at introducing us to other mentors for support, which has helped to move us onto this stage. We are grateful for the help we’ve received from Business Ready in getting us this far and can’t wait to launch our first venue.”

Gaynor said: “We are delighted to have supported the team at Hollywood Gaming as it embarks on its expansion. Business Ready is here to help companies which are ready to grow and take that next step. Hollywood Gaming is a great example of that.”

£5million of grants helps tourism amd hospitality sector weather "perfect storm"

"Tourism and hospitality is a sector that is so often overlooked but is a huge contributor to UK GDP...looking forward, there needs to be proper long-term funding for the visitor economy..."

Nearly £5 million of grants has been awarded to tourism and hospitality businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire in the last nine months to help provide support from the ‘perfect storm’ affecting companies in the current economic climate.

Tourism and hospitality is the focus of the latest Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub SmartRegion report which gathers information from its business engagements as well as statistics and data from Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council, the CWLEP and other organisations.

Coventry and Warwickshire’s business support organisations have provided a wide range of financial support including almost £1.5 million from Warwickshire County Council’s Adapt and Diversify scheme. Almost £200,000 was allocated quickly to businesses in the visitor economy from the European Regional Development Fund Specialist Grants awarded through the CWLEP Growth Hub with Coventry City Council acting as the accountable body, and over £3 million was lent to businesses in the sector by the Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust.

The Government has launched the Tourism Recovery Plan to encourage greener, innovative, and more resilient hospitality and tourism businesses with a range of measures including reducing VAT, business rates relief, introducing a spending voucher scheme, and domestic tourism rail products to increase demand.

Helen Peters, chief executive of Shakespeare’s England, the Destination Management Organisation for South Warwickshire and the surrounding areas, said businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry had reopened later than any other sector and had operated under restricted capacity for many months despite facing ongoing fixed costs, persistent low revenues, dwindling cash reserves and the potential closure of businesses.
She said: “The hospitality industry was the first to be forced to close and has been the last to re-open. Even now, businesses are very aware that to re-grow confidence in both staff and customers, they potentially need to keep many of the mitigations in place like social distancing and the wearing of face masks and coverings.

“International visitors had represented roughly 30 per cent of our visitor base. We are unlikely to see many international visitors back until 2022, but VisitBritain anticipate it being 2024 before we realistically return to pre-pandemic levels.

“Increases in domestic visits via ‘staycations’ and ‘daycations’ will help, but international visitors on average spend three times that of a domestic visitor, so the negative economic impact will still be significant.

“Tourism and hospitality is a sector that is so often overlooked but is a huge contributor to UK GDP. Looking forward, I think there needs to be proper long-term funding for the visitor economy with all local authorities providing a percentage of grant funding for their Destination Management Organisation, proportionate to the economic impact tourism drives to their area.

"I think having a designated Secretary of State for Tourism, Hospitality, Culture – The Visitor Economy would also be helpful because it is currently covered by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, and the Department of Transport, which often leads to a lack of clarity and no coherent overarching strategy for our sector.

“Finally, our sector should be seen as an ‘aspirational career choice’ recognised by the red-brick universities and industry alike to highlight senior management roles.”

Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said the monthly SmartRegion report was also monitoring a range of issues which are merging into a perfect storm, threatening the reset and recovery of the region’s economy during the remainder of 2021.

He said: “The Growth Hub is continuing to gather evidence to gain more intelligence, experiences, and insights from local businesses to report back to the Government since it is clear that these issues are not just happening in Coventry and Warwickshire although the degree of the impact varies between different areas.

“Problems range from supply chain difficulties which is leading to significant price increases or stopping production to the well documented shortage of skilled and semi-skilled labour, and from the phasing out of Government support to self-isolation rules and the ‘pingdemic’.

“All of this is contributing to re-opening plans being disrupted for many businesses of all sizes, with some having to reduce hours or services and some being forced to close."

Businesses' perspective sought to help shape the future of bus services in Warwickshire

Businesses have been asked to make their views known as plans are drawn up to improve the provision of bus services in the county.

The Government has earmarked £3 billion towards improving bus services throughout England. Following this announcement, Warwickshire County Council is working closely with bus operators to develop an ambitious Warwickshire Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) aimed at encouraging more people to travel by bus.

The BSIP will set out Warwickshire's ambitions for bus service improvements and help secure a proportion of the funding to benefit people living, working and travelling in the county. 

A crucial element in developing the BSIP is gathering the views of stakeholders to ensure the opportunity to improve the network is maximised for everyone’s best interests. So it would help the county council enormously if a representative of your organisation could take a few moments to complete the stakeholder engagement survey (below).

Your involvement will help to ensure the plans outlined in the Warwickshire BSIP align with what people you represent actually want, helping us to understand the current views on the bus network and highlighting the priority order for improvements.

The survey can be accessed here...https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/WarwickshireBSIPEngagementSurvey/

Please note that the closing date for responses is 19th September 2021.

Guidance for SMEs offered by EU transition support clinics

Small and medium-sized business in Warwickshire have help at hand in dealing with the complexities of trading through the EU Transition process.

Five EU Transition support clinics will be delivered in September by the West Midlands Growth Hubs in partnership with the Department of International Trade to help clarify some of the issues facing SMEs.

The clinics will focus on VAT, Import and Service Sector-related queries. Businesses are encouraged to take advantage of this free advice to talk through the challenges and issues facing import businesses since the end of the transition period.

 To register for a clinic your business must be registered in the West Midlands region and have Import queries directly related to the UK's exit from the EU, and have not previously participated in these Import clinics.

For more details and to book a place, please visit the links below:

 9th September IMPORT 121s https://www.wmgrowthhubs.co.uk/events/brexit-clinic-import-onetoone-sessions

14th September VAT 121s https://www.wmgrowthhubs.co.uk/events/brexit-and-vat-clinic-specialist-advice-clinic05

22nd September IMPORT 121s https://www.wmgrowthhubs.co.uk/events/brexit-clinic-import-onetoone-sessions01

28th September VAT 121s https://www.wmgrowthhubs.co.uk/events/brexit-and-vat-clinic-specialist-advice-clinic06

29th September IMPORT 121s https://www.wmgrowthhubs.co.uk/events/brexit-clinic-import-onetoone-sessions02

Bears keen to engage with Warwickshire business community

England legend Ian Bell was the guest of honour when Warwickshire County Cricket Club held an Q&A in Leamington Spa as part of their drove to build engagement with the district.

The business community was well-represented in the audience at the event hosted by Clements & Church tailors.

Alongside Bell on the panel were the two men currently at the helm of Warwickshire cricket; director of cricket Paul Farbrace and chief executive Stuart Cain.

Bell spoke about his record-breaking career, cited his personal favourites from his 21 Test centuries and shared some memories from his five Ashes-winning Test series and former teammates. He also gave his views on how the current Warwickshire side, who are top of the County Championship table, is improving all the time.

Farbrace was questioned on his experiences of coaching both Sri Lanka and England at international level and how these experiences shaped his coaching style. Cain spoke on his first year as the Bears' chief executive and the direction he sees the club progressing in the future. The Hundred was also discussed by all the panel and how they see the county game evolving in the near future.

The event gave local businesses such as InvestGrow, IWUK, Honesberie and The Warwickshire (golf centre) an exciting opportunity to network with other businesses through Warwickshire County Cricket Club. It will provide a starting point for more events within the county of Warwickshire that will build the Bears' engagement with the communities in which they have so many supporters.

Beauty platform launches with help from Business Ready

“We are delighted that Business Ready helped to connect us altogether and, by combining our skills and experience, we are much stronger for it.”

A new online platform is aiming to transform the beauty market after launching with the help of a business support programme at the University of Warwick Science Park.

Counter Culture is working with independent beauty entrepreneurs and boutique brands to offer consumers sustainable and ethical products from a single web platform.

The business, which is run by fellow directors Mark Wisniewski and Wendy Martin, was launched this summer after support from the University of Warwick Science Park’s Business Ready programme with 22 brands already selling close to 180 different products on the site.

Business Ready is a programme that delivers support to expanding businesses which is managed by the business support team at the University of Warwick Science Park, and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme.

Mark, who has a technical IT background, was introduced to Wendy, who has nearly 30 years’ experience in sales, marketing and e-commerce, by Business Ready adviser Gaynor Matthews when it was clear that their combined skills and experience would help grow the business quickly.

Mark said: “My background is in renewable energy and software development. Sustainability has always been important to me, as has making a positive impact on the world. Between Gaynor, Wendy and myself, we’ve all got different backgrounds and brought different skills and experiences to the table.

“It was a real meeting of minds around this opportunity to create something that offers beauty entrepreneurs and boutique brands – particularly those established by women – to sell their ethical and sustainable products to a market that has a real appetite for products that are good for them and the planet.”

Business Ready adviser Gaynor Matthews had been supporting Mark through the programme, initially for another business.
Mark then helped Gaynor with her own business WOW HOW – a makeup app – from a technical perspective and this sparked his interest in the beauty space from a clean and sustainable perspective.

He came up with the idea of creating a niche market place after his research identified that his target audience wanted to buy ethically and this was then key to his business strategy.

Gaynor said: “I was able to offer advice and support as well as being a sounding board for Mark – especially for the areas of the business that were outside his comfort zone.

“I then introduced him to Wendy who is an expert in the field of marketing and how you build an e-commerce brand and a customer-base, so it was the perfect fit.”

The Counter Culture platform has been designed to help sellers benefit from the brand and sell more of their products. With research showing that 88 per cent of consumers want brands to help them shop more ethically and sustainably and 41 per cent of consumers feeling guilty about the environmental impact of their beauty products, the company is responding to this rise in ‘conscious consumers’.

The company is also utilising the stories behind those businesses to build interest and loyalty in Counter Culture.
Wendy said: “There is not an exact definition for sustainable and ethical beauty. At Counter Culture, we focus on boutique brands that create high-performing beauty formulated to be kind to people and the planet.

“Brands that are striving to do the right thing in terms of the products they create and the business practices they adopt. It’s very much a journey not a destination.

“There is an individual story behind our brands and we want to be a champion for each of them. People are keen to hear about founders and what’s inspired them as well as learning about the product itself so we want to tell those stories – particularly where we are working with female entrepreneurs – so that we can become a network for our sellers as well as a platform for them to sell from.

“We are delighted that Business Ready helped to connect us altogether and, by combining our skills and experience, we are much stronger for it.”

Delivering our future together - the power of Local Enterprise Partnerships

Chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Sarah Windrum, believes the LEP has a critical role to play in shaping and delivering the area’s economic future.

For ten years, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have been driving forward inclusive economic growth across the country. They have harnessed the energy and expertise of leaders from 2,000 businesses, 180 local authorities and 250 Higher/Further Education organisations.

As we look ahead to life post-Covid, Sarah Windrum believes the role of LEPs is more important than ever and that they should be central to the delivery of the economic recovery and levelling up.

In the Midlands, LEPs have delivered £4.1 billion of Government investment, unlocking a further £11.1 billion of match funding from private, public and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VSCE) partners. From City Deals to Local Growth Deals, trade and investment to skills training and business support, LEPs have put local people and local places at the heart of its work. LEPs’ flexible and agile response to Covid-19, the EU Exit and future skills challenges has been made possible thanks to the unique way the LEPs have brought public, private, and academic sectors together to create joined-up solutions.

Together, the Midlands LEPs have driven forwards locally informed and sustainable investments to create over 75,000 jobs so far and are on target to create over 200,000, as they collectively support the Covid-19 recovery and develop opportunities for inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

The Midlands is home to over ten million people and has a £238 billon economy, generating over 12 per cent of the UK’s Gross Value Added. Building on the strengths of the LEPs’ partnerships and its Growth Hubs, Midlands LEPs have supported over 135,000 businesses to enable them to grow and prosper. Through LEPs’ locally-driven insight and collaborative approach with schools, colleges, universities, training providers, employers, and career professionals, they have supported over 40,000 learners to ensure the regions can respond to the future skills needs and that everyone has access to opportunities, no matter what their background.

As the birthplace of the industrial revolution, innovation is a defining characteristic of the Midlands economy, and collectively the LEPs have invested over £100 million in research and development. The Midlands LEPs have worked with universities and businesses to develop innovative products and services to drive international trade, growth and productivity.

With the government’s ambition to evolve the way it supports local growth and levelling up for the long term, LEPs have a critical role to play by building on their legacy to ensure they collectively maintain its focus on the region’s prosperity and drive forwards the government’s ambitions of a green recovery through improved productivity, skills development and business support for everyone.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) has brought £191 million of investment to the area which has been match-funded by £407.4 million since 2011. This has led to the creation of 17,504 jobs and the CWLEP is on target to deliver a further 13,858 jobs. Alongside the CWLEP Growth Hub, 2,285 learners have been supported with an additional 3,942 people expected to be helped.

Over the last decade, a total of 5,464 business have been helped by the CWLEP and CWLEP Growth Hub and they are on target to support a further 4,065 businesses.

The CWLEP Growth Hub has dealt with just under 6,000 businesses in the last two years, has nearly 3,000 registered businesses on FinditinCW which has promoted over £20 billion of tender opportunities and has had 28,000 site visits since launching CW Employment Solutions.

Sarah Windrum, Chair of the CWLEP, said: “The figures demonstrate the massive impact the CWLEP has had in the last ten years in Coventry and Warwickshire. We have driven investments across the region to enable the creation of jobs, apprenticeships and learning opportunities as well as supporting businesses to grow and innovate, whether they are an SME or global company.

“We have assisted businesses and learners through the intensive day-to-day operations of the CWLEP and the CWLEP Growth Hub – which continues to play a pivotal role among Growth Hubs in the region – while Coventry & Warwickshire Champions has had a vital role in promoting the area to highlight our innovation.

“All this has led to attracting inward investment and building world-leading facilities such as the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre as we cement our reputation for being pioneers in battery technology, automotive and manufacturing excellence.

“Before Covid, we were among the top three best performing LEPs in England and the best in terms of economic growth. Key to our success has been the fantastic private-public partnerships we have built throughout Coventry and Warwickshire and these will be vital in implementing our Strategic Reset Framework as we create the conditions for enterprise and innovation to flourish and play our part in delivering the nation’s net zero target.

“The CWLEP has a critical role to play in delivering our future ambitions and resetting our local growth trajectory to continue our pro-active future and drive the economy forward in all parts of Coventry and Warwickshire.”

Special Feature

A ’Mega’ and ‘Giga’ Warwickshire

Warwickshire's renowned position at the forefront of innovation and technology has been further underlined by a series of recent developments which have triggered significant commercial property development in the county. Ian Flynn, WCC's Inward Investment Manager (Automotive, Advanced Engineering & Manufacturing Lead) explains...


The Warwickshire area continues to innovate and lead the way in new technologies and this is driving trends in commercial property development, carving out a unique niche for the county and its local area. July 2021 saw significant further significant developments.

Leamington Spa was chosen by the UK Government as the base for a new national large or ‘Megalab’ for testing. Officially opened in July, the new facility, known as the Rosalind Franklin laboratory, will use cutting-edge technology to process COVID-19 tests and detect new variants and new mutations, and is a centrepiece of the UK's NHS Test and Trace network.

The Megalab forms part of the new UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which will set out priorities to manage the virus, with technology including automation, robotics and LGC EndPoint PCR (EPCR) testing workflow, able to process up to 150,000 tests each day.

The Rosalind Franklin Laboratory also aims to create and upskill scientists with a programme of training, creating up to 1,500 jobs when fully staffed, and over half of the staff coming from within 30 miles of the site.

At the other end of Warwick District, July also saw the submission of a planning application for a new battery ‘gigafactory’ or ‘giant’ factory capable of manufacturing at a scale of one million watt-hours (a giga-watt) or more per annum . The plan was submitted by joint a venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport Limited and will ensure the site is ready for investment and can become operational quickly, making it significantly more attractive to potential investors.

The plans provide an analysis of the economic benefits of a Gigafactory to the West Midlands. The proposals could deliver 5.7m sq ft of space for both battery production and recycling, would add £434m in GVA to the regional economy each year, as well as create 6,000 new jobs and tens of thousands more in the supply chain. The proposals also confirm that the Gigafactory will be powered by 100% green energy,

The proposals, which were first announced in February this year, are set to be determined by Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council later in 2021.

July also saw the Prime Minister visit Coventry & Warwickshire for the official opening of the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) at Baginton, also in Warwick District on the edge of the city. The state-of-the-art national facility has been developed to support UK industry with development of battery technologies for future electrification. This will support the UK’s ambitious climate change targets, which includes achieving ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050 and, for the automotive sector, an end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.

The pioneering £130m 18,500sqm facility can be used by any organisation working on batteries for electric vehicles, rail, aerospace, industrial and domestic equipment and static energy storage, who 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 to support future project partnerships with industry and research organisations.

In addition to funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge through UK Research and Innovation, UKBIC is also part-funded through the West Midlands Combined Authority. The project has been delivered through a consortium of Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and WMG, at the University of Warwick. UKBIC was created in 2018 following a competition led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre with support from Innovate UK.

These national centres of excellence follow on from a pre-pandemic £1bn pipeline of R&D focused commercial property in Coventry & Warwickshire, recently developed or under construction. This included the £500m Jaguar Land Rover Product Development Centre at Gaydon and Battery Assembly Centre at Hams Hall, Coleshill, and the new global HQ and development centre for aerospace giant Meggitt at Prospero Ansty.

Warwickshire has also benefited from the pandemic e-commerce bounce in the commercial property sector, which saw 16% more logistics space leased across Europe in 2020 over 2019, according to data from property consultancy JLL. Locally in the last 12 months we’ve seen major investments from Wincanton into Nuneaton, moving to the former Soak.com site; meal kit maker Hello Fresh opening a second UK site, the largest in the UK and third largest in Europe, at Bermuda Park, Nuneaton; ready-to-go food maker Glencore opening a further UK delivery hub at CORE 42 in Dordon, North Warwickshire; and an announcement from Chinese company Winit of a new 300,000sqft centre at St Modwen Park, on the border with Tamworth.

Since 2011, new business parks in Warwickshire such as Ansty Technology Park and Prospero Ansty, Birch Coppice and CORE 42 in North Warwickshire, Redditch Gateway and Tournament Fields in Warwick have brought new brands to the area and created over 10,000 new jobs. These have included major new logistics hubs for Ocado, Amazon and Euro Car Parts, the UK’s first purpose-built EV factory at Ansty and the announcement of the largest out of town office development during the pandemic by Cadent Gas with their new 90,000sqft consolidated HQ at Prospero opening in 2022.

Future growth will be delivered by new sites coming on stream at Stratford-upon-Avon (Stratford 46), MIRA Southern Manufacturing Site (North Warwickshire), Symmetry Park (Rugby), Faultlands Farm (Nuneaton) and SEGRO Coventry Gateway.

Coventry & Warwickshire enjoyed a strong year for FDI (foreign direct investment) in the year to 2021, bucking a UK fall of 12% with a local rise of 10% in successful projects. These included investments from Lotus and Rimac at Wellesbourne Innovation Centre, BSA/ Classic Legends which has established a design and development centre in Coventry, REE Automotive and Britishvolt at MIRA Technology Park, outside Nuneaton, and games developer Electric Square which has set up a studio in Leamington Spa.

The new megalab, UKBIC and the Gigafactory, once developed and opened, will provide new opportunities to create start-up businesses, as well as resilience and expansion in existing supply chain, and further inward investment from overseas.


Upcoming events

2021.07.17 - 2021.10.31 Our Future Moves - City of Culture 2021
The interactive and ambitious exhibition tells the stories of the objects on display provided by local businesses,  envisioning how the future will look and exploring how pioneering developments in transport and technology could affect the environment and the way we live.
Culture Coventry 1000-1700 Coventry Transport Museum Weblink here
2021.09.07 Design software for BIM: Autodesk Revit for Beginners Workshop
A two day course that  is a practical introduction to the basic elements of this  3D BIM development software. 7th and 8th September
Green Business Programme 0930-1630 Online Weblink here
2021.09.07 Railtex/ Infrarail 2021 - Railhub UK brings together two leading rail events to the NEC MacBrooks 3 days NEC Weblink here
2021.09.09 Rugby Business Buzz - Networking for businesses in the Rugby area. Buzz Networking 10am-12pm Online Weblink here
2021.09.10 Coventry & Warwickshire Champions - Return to inperson networking CWLEP 0730-1130 Coventry Building Society Arena Weblink here
2021.09.15 The Role of Diversity in Economic Recovery - How do leaders navigate the issues involved in the workplace and in wider communities to put inclusion at the centre of local economic recovery strategies? CWLEP, University of Warwick, Coventry CC 1345-1445 Online Weblink here
2021.09.16 Warwick Business Buzz - Networking for businesses in the Warwick area. Buzz Networking 1000-1200 In person Weblink here
2021.09.16 AESIN - Join the leading minds driving Innovation in Vehicle Electronics at AESIN 2021 – The UK’s Premier Automotive Electronics Conference
(Automotive Electronics Innovation)
AESIN All Day National Motorcycle Museum Weblink here
2021.09.30 What does Net Zero mean for SMEs?
Join this webinar to learn from experts, business leaders and their experiences on preparing, adapting and enhancing business resilience to the net zero transition.
CW Chamber of Commerce 1000-1130 Online Weblink here
2021.10.06 Progressing to a Net Zero Business through Energy
This webinar will discuss the how-to and best practice for decarbonising and reducing business energy use. From simple steps to technological investments, through to strategic insight, join to improve your wherewithal to achieve practical, cost-saving and carbon-cutting energy measures.
CW Chamber of Commerce 1000-1130 Online Weblink here
2021.10.13 TAAS Technology Conference - connecting, informing and inspiring the CAVs, EVs and Future Mobility industry Angel Business Communications All Day Online Weblink here
2021.10.15 COP26 - Global Investment Summit - DATE tbc
The UK Government will be hosting a pre-COP26 Global Investment Summit aiming to galvanize foreign investment in the UK’s green industries. 
UK Govt 1 day London/ Windsor Castle Weblink here
2021.10.18 Engineering Design Show - The Engineering Design Show is the UK’s only event entirely dedicated to engineering, electronics and embedded design. The show provides the ideal environment for design engineers to benefit from direct access to the latest products, services and innovations available to the sector. MA Exhibitions 2 Day Event Coventry Building Society Arena Weblink here
2021.10.26 Battery Technology Show - Oct 26th-27th 2021
The Battery Technology Show brings together thousands of delegates to discover the latest developments in the battery and EV industry.
Evolve Media Group 2 Days Coventry Building Society Arena Weblink here
2021.10.26 Hydrogen Technology Show - Oct 26th-27th 2021
The Hydrogen Technology Show brings together delegates to look at the latest low-carbon solutions and technologies
Evolve Media Group 2 Days Coventry Building Society Arena Weblink here
2021.10.31 COP26
The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. Until 12th November
United Nations/ UK Govt 12 days Various Weblink here
2021.11.03 Advanced Engineering Show 3-4th November
UK's leading annual engineering and manufacturing event for the entire engineering supply chain.
Easyfairs 3-4 Nov NEC Weblink here
2021.12.04 Motorcycle Show 4-12th December
The UK’s biggest motorcycle show, Motorcycle Live is back better than ever in 2021,
Motorcycle Live 4-12 Dec NEC Weblink here
2022.01.13 Autosport 2022
For over 30 years this event has brought together our industry and fans for a 4-day celebration of motorsport.
Autosport Magazine 3 Days NEC Weblink here
2022.01.15 Midlands Engine Green Summit - date tbc
A Midlands Engine-led event following on from COP26 in Glasgow. This will showcase the Midlands as a dynamic location for green growth and showcase regional expertise in areas like clean energy and sustainable transport.
Midlands Engine 1 day tbc Weblink here
2022.03.02 FPC2021 - Future Powertrain Conference 2022 - 2nd-3rd March
FPC2022 is a two day UK event created to bring together industry and academic experts within the powertrain development field.
LMG Events 8.30am-6pm National Motorcycle Museum Weblink here
2022.03.15 MIPIM 2022
Meet the most influential players of the international real estate industry in 4 days.
Reed Midem 4 days Palais des Festivals, Cannes Weblink here
2022.06.06 World Congress on Railway Research (WCRR) - RSSB and University of Birmingham will host, on behalf of the UK, the 13th World Congress on Railway Research (WCRR) RSSB and University of Birmingham 5 days ICC Weblink here
2022.06.29 Vehicle Electrification Expo 2021 - 29-30th June - LIVE EVENT
Vehicle Electrification Expo enables automotive manufacturers to look at the latest powertrain solutions to improve vehicle efficiency. Sister event to Battery Cells & Systems Expo.
Event Partners All Day NEC Weblink here

News in Brief

News in Brief from our region...

BMW UK and REE Auto receieve nearly £70m funding to develop EV vehicles and batteries

Electric car batteries with range similar to internal combustion engines and which can charge in as little as 12 minutes are among projects awarded more than £91 million of government and industry funding. Four projects have been awarded funding through the Coventry-based Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) Collaborative Research and Development competition, which supports the development of innovative low carbon automotive technology. Two of the four successful projects are based in Warwickshire or have a local link.

BMW UK, whose engine plant is at Hams Hall, Coleshill, which makes engines for both BMW and MINI vehicles, has been awarded £26.2 million to develop an electric battery that will rival the driving range of internal combustion engines, helping put concerns over how far electric vehicles can travel to rest. REEcorner, Nuneaton has been awarded £41.2 million to radically redesign light and medium-sized commercial electric vehicles by moving the steering, breaking, suspension and powertrain into the wheel arch enabling increased autonomous capability, storage space and design flexibility. https://www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk/oxford-mini-secures-26-2m-and-reecorner-nuneaton-41-2m-to-develop-electric-batteries-and-vehicles/

Aldi announces further 175 jobs at Atherstone

Aldi Stores has outlined plans to create more than 2,000 jobs across the UK between now and Christmas, including 175 at its Atherstone UK HQ and distribution hub. The supermarket, which currently has more than 920 stores and employs about 38,000 people, is pushing ahead with plans to open more than one new store a week this year. Additionally, Aldi is also on the lookout for more than 80 graduates to join its next graduate scheme intake, starting from September onwards. https://www.insidermedia.com/news/national/aldi-to-create-more-than-2000-uk-jobs

£6.3bn deal sees US group parker take off with aerospace giant Meggitt

Meggitt, the Ansty-based manufacturer of components for the power and aerospace industries, is set to be sold to a US counterpart. Parker-Hannafin Corporation will pay £6.3bn for Meggitt, doubling the size of Parker’s aerospace division. Parker already has a number of UK facilities, and is a significant employer at its site in Warwick. https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/westmidlands/news/2054000-us-giant-swoops-for-meggitt-in-6.3bn-deal

Leamington's popular food and drink festival set to return

After a year away, the popular Leamington Food and Drink Festival is set to return this September in the heart of the town to celebrate the best in local and regional food and drink. The festival, organised by BID Leamington with the support of local businesses, will be held on Saturday September 11 and Sunday September 12 from 10am to 6pm at the Pump Room Gardens. This year, the free to attend festival, will feature around 110 exhibitors offering a variety of food and drink to enjoy on site and to take away. https://www.warwickcourier.co.uk/news/people/leamingtons-popular-food-and-drink-festival-set-to-return-3344219

UK-based consortium established to develop prototype solid-state batteries

A consortium of seven UK-based organisations has signed a memorandum of understanding to combine ambitions to develop world-leading prototype solid-state battery technology, targeting automotive applications. Solid-state batteries offer significant potential advantages over conventional lithium-ion batteries and could be transformational in meeting the UK’s net zero commitments through the electrification of transport. The consortium of 9 includes locally WMG at the University of Warwick, the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, and Britishvolt, who will be basing their R&D and HQ at MIRA Technology Park. https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/uk-based_consortium_established/

Trampoline park jumps at opportunities from £300,000 investment

Exhall-based trampoline park Red Kangaroo has received a £300,000 loan for the purchase of additional equipment and a new inflatable park section. This finance will allow the park to strengthen its facilities, offering more activities for young people in the area. The additional equipment will also enable it to create a layout that follows government guidelines which adheres to social distancing. https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/westmidlands/news/2054242-trampoline-park-jumps-at-opportunities-from-300000-investment

Kite Packaging lands at Prospero Ansty

Kite Packaging is constructing a new headquarters at Prospero Ansty and the plans recently received the go-ahead. The the 305,000sqft facility will include office, research and development, as well as light industrial, space, with the three-storey building employing over 200 staff. https://www.insidermedia.com/news/midlands/go-ahead-for-packing-firms-new-hq

US AR Company links Up with MTC at Ansty

A world leader in digital transformation has signed a new partnership with the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry that will help industry embrace the latest technologies. American software company PTC, which employs more than 200 people in the UK, has become a Tier 2 member at the MTC and, as part of the agreement, will commit to providing the latest Augmented Reality, Industrial Internet of Things platforms, Product Lifecycle Management and CAD solutions to projects designed to equip OEMs and SMEs with more digital capability. https://www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk/digital-transformation-boost-from-ptc-for-coventrys-manufacturing-technology-centre/

UK government sets out strategy for a hydrogen economy

The UK Government launched its strategy on Hydrogen in August, to meet its goal of 5 gigawatts (GW) of low-carbon hydrogen production by 2030 to replace natural gas in powering around three million homes, as well as industry and transport. Industry and policy-makers are increasingly looking to hydrogen to lower the environmental impact of sectors that have been the hardest to decarbonise and reduce the use of gas, but the investment required and the technical challenges are high. https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/uk-government-launches-strategy-low-carbon-hydrogen-production-2021-08-16/

Jaguar Land Rover spotlight on demand for auto skill development

A research manager at Jaguar Land Rover has highlighted the need for rapid and immediate skills development within the automotive sector to meet the needs of the ‘automotive revolution’ already underway. Marcus Henry, Lightweighting Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has explained how the journey from ‘blue sky concept to the showroom’ typically takes more than a decade, so work is starting now to develop the ideas that will help JLR meet their net zero carbon target by 2039. Marcus joined the panel at the latest free online industry seminar presented by the MIRA Technology Institute (MTI) which discussed the changing shape of the automotive industry and the latest developments in emerging technologies. He showcased JLR’s ground-breaking Tucana project which is designed to improve the performance and efficiency of electric vehicles. https://www.cwlep.com/news/jaguar-land-rover-spotlight-demand-auto-skill-development

Exhall EV Taxi maker seeks funding for expansion plans

Dynamo Motor Company has announced plans to recruit 275 people and convert up to 10,000 taxis and commercial/privately owned vehicles per year in 2026. Through its Seedrs campaign Dynamo Motor Company plans to raise £2m, of which it has received over £1.5m in one week, for its growth strategy. The expansion will see Dynamo Motor Company’s all-electric Black Cab production increase and diversification into other mobility sectors that require wheelchair accessibility as well as a last mile delivery van added to its zero emission line-up. https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/westmidlands/news/2053753-taxi-company-to-recruit-275-staff-as-it-confirms-plans-to-continue-building-electric-cab-in-the-uk

Wellesbourne Agri-tech business secures funding for Greenhouse Tech

Warwick-based RIPE Building Services Ltd has secured a £250k investment from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund’s West Midlands Equity Fund, managed by Midven. The funding is set to support the firm’s ground-breaking greenhouse system, which enables growers to increase output by capitalising on full-spectrum natural daylight. https://www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk/warwick-business-secures-250k-investment-for-greenhouse-technology/

Grants awarded to C&W tourism and hospitality businesses

Nearly £5 million of grants has been awarded to tourism and hospitality businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire in the last nine months to help provide support from the ‘perfect storm’ affecting companies in the current economic climate. Tourism and hospitality is the focus of the latest Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub SmartRegion report which gathers information from its business engagements as well as statistics and data from Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council, the CWLEP and other organisations. https://www.cwlep.com/news/grants-awarded-cw-tourism-and-hospitality-businesses

New skills and training plan to help local people gain thousands of jobs in health sciences and care

A new skills and training plan developed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and its partners will help local people to secure thousands of jobs in health sciences and care. The WMCA, in partnership with local employers, training providers and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) launched the plan, which aims to move residents into key roles in the region and help those already in the sector to develop their careers. https://www.cwlep.com/news/new-skills-and-training-plan-help-local-people-gain-thousands-jobs-health-sciences-and-care

Engineering Design show among range of trade shows coming to Coventry & Warwickshire

The ninth edition of the Engineering Design Show returns to the newly renamed Coventry Building Society Arena on October 19 and 20, the venue which it launched at in 2012. The show will feature a dedicated area which champions the work engineers did on the vital Ventilator Challenge. It is the UK’s only event entirely dedicated to engineering, electronics and embedded design – and is powered by Eureka, New Electronics and The Engineer. Organisers expect 4,000 people to attend this year’s show, showing significant growing from the 1,331 who attended its debut event at the Arena nine years ago.

Other local shows coming up in the weeks and months ahead include the The AESIN Conference, the Battery Technology Show and The Engineering Design Show. Details on these and other events locally can be found at: https://business.warwickshire.gov.uk/august-2021/events/upcoming-events

Foreign direct investment points to strong post pandemic recovery

Nearly 2,000 jobs have been created in Coventry and Warwickshire thanks to investment from foreign companies in the last year. According to recently released figures, 1,909 new jobs have been created and 42 jobs safeguarded, with 45 successful foreign direct investments in the area. This 10% jump in projects compares well when set against the overall UK figures, which saw a decline of 12% in UK projects over the same period. Local key sectors were strongly represented, with eight projects from software/ games development and 11 from automotive and advanced engineering. https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/westmidlands/news/2053872-foreign-direct-investment-points-to-strong-post-pandemic-recovery

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