Welcome from Cllr Izzi Seccombe

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

As we come to the end of a very challenging year, may I offer my sincerest warm wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas.

I would also like to say a heartfelt thank you to all of you in the business community for your diligence throughout the year regarding measures for limiting the spread of Covid. I fully understand that these measures have impacted on your time and business and affected your employees and we, at Warwickshire County Council, truly appreciate all the efforts that you have made.

In light of the recent emergence of further variants, it is vital that we all maintain our vigilance, of course, as Jonathan Toy outlines in our Guest Column this month.

It is nice to round off the year https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/business-supportwith some very positive news. In this edition of WMB we report the approval of another £1million funding from the European Regional Development Fund to support some of our business programmes through to 2023. It is also great to read of the success of our Adapt & Diversify grants scheme - and the well-deserved Star Award for the team that worked so hard and so selflessly to deliver it and ensure that much-needed grants reached small business as quickly as possible.

Please also have a read about the support offered during 2021 by two support schemes delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust - maybe they could benefit your business?

Or perhaps you, or someone you know, could benefit from the Business Ready or uxplore programmes, as Kelcie's Horse Treats and Everyware Ltd did respectively? Please do visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/business-support to find out all about the huge range of business support available from ourselves and our partners.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas and peaceful and prosperous 2022.


Featured News

£1million delivered to businesses in ten months by award-winning grants scheme

"The scheme allocated more than £1.5million in grants to businesses very quickly to give them immediate support while it has also enabled many to stabilise and strengthen in a way which will benefit them and the communities of which they are part in the longer term."

A scheme created and delivered by Warwickshire County Council to support small businesses through the pandemic has now paid out more than £1million in grants in ten months.

The Adapt & Diversify scheme was launched in February as part of a package of council funding to support economic recovery in the county.

It was devised by WCC's Economy & Skills team following a brief from corporate board to identify those businesses most in need of support and then get that support out to them as swiftly as possible.

Adapt & Diversify offered grants of £2,500 to £5,000 to access specialist external advice and up to £20,000 for projects involving specialist advice and/or the purchase of equipment or the refurbishment of property.

It was initially launched on February 1st and met with colossal interest from business, having to close to applications within hours. A second round followed on April 20th.

In November the grant funding paid out by the team passed £1million and by the end of that month the sum awarded had reached £1,019,731. This funding has supported 120 businesses and 608 jobs, safeguarded 336 jobs at risk and is forecast to create 236 new jobs.

The project is now closed to applications but the hard work behind administering the grants will continue well into 2022. Claims for a further £500,000 are expected by the end of March.

The impact of the scheme on local communities and the economy, and the huge amount of skill and commitment which underpinned its delivery, earned the Adapt & Diversify team, led by the Business & Economy team, a coveted Star Award from the county council.

The scheme's success was also due very much to a collaborative approach across the council with valuable input from many different teams including the wider Economy & Skills team, Finance, Project Management Office, ICT, Legal, and Sustainable Communities.

Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Kam Kaur, said: "The Adapt & Diversify Scheme has been an outstanding success driven by the creativity, skill and sheer hard work of many people across the council. The Business & Economy team worked collaboratively with other teams and everyone played a role, some big and some small but all important to the delivery of a project which has really made a difference.

"The scheme allocated more than £1.5million in grants to businesses very quickly to give them immediate support while it has also enabled many to stabilise and strengthen in a way which will benefit them and the communities of which they are part in the longer term."

The Adapt & Diversify scheme was part of a £5.8 million package of loans and grants for Warwickshire businesses funded by the County Council. For more information please visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/business-support

Richly-deserved award hails the stars that delivered Adapt & Diversify

"During lockdown, a challenging time for everybody, they responded brilliantly with skill, good nature and sheer hard work...I could not be more proud of them."

The team behind a grant scheme developed to help many businesses recover from the pandemic has received due recognition with a much-coveted Warwickshire County Council Star Award, wining Exceptional Team of the Year.

The Adapt & Diversify scheme, created by the council's Economy & Skills team, opened its first round on February 1st and by mid-November had paid out £1million to Warwickshire businesses.

No effort was spared to get the much-needed grants to businesses as quickly as possible. This meant many long days and much burning of midnight oil, a task to which the Business & Economy team applied themselves uncomplainingly.

So high was the response from businesses, with both rounds of the scheme fully subscribed within hours, that many members of the wider Economy & Skills team got stuck in alongside tackling their own workload to help process applications.

The Star Award citation said: "It was the second national lockdown and, while there was support in place to help with immediate cashflow problems, there was little to support economic recovery. The Council agreed to allocate £1.5 million to establish a grant scheme for businesses most impacted by the pandemic. The scheme was designed so that funding could be allocated to businesses most in need as quickly as possible, whilst also ensuring that the appropriate systems and controls were in place for the use of public money."

Alison Robinson, Strategy and Commissioning Manager (Economy & Skills) paid the warmest of tributes to the team.

"I could not be more proud of them," she said. "Just when small business urgently needed direct support, everybody working on Adapt & Diversify went way beyond the call of duty to get claims assessed, processed and delivered.

"During lockdown, a challenging time for everybody, they responded brilliantly with skill, good nature and sheer hard work. All year they have continued, and still continue, to ensure that the Adapt & Diversify scheme materially helps small businesses and everyone in Warwickshire's communities who depends upon them."

For further information about support available to businesses in Warwickshire please visit https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/business-support

Programme extended to 2023 after further £1million ERDF funding

"The extension of the ERDF funding is excellent news for Warwickshire's business community."

Warwickshire County Council has secured another £1million from the European Regional Development Fund to help power a range of business programmes which they support and deliver.

The county council's application for an extension for its CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme has been accepted by Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, so funding is now in place until June 2023. 

Programmes supported will include the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce Start Up scheme, the Business Ready programme and Project Warwickshire (a new strand of support designed to support the Tourism & Leisure sector). The funding will also support internal programme management and delivery staff.

The additional £1m of expenditure will bring in £0.5m of grant income and an additional £165,000 of external match funding. 

From the additional funding, the council is profiled to provide 12 hours of support to an additional 279 businesses following on from the hundreds of business already supported under the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme.  

Between 2019 and September 2021, the programme has helped over 400 businesses with 12 hours of intensive support and supported them in the creation of 116 new jobs. More than 100 potential entrepreneurs were supported to start up their own new business.

Warwickshire County Council Strategy and Commissioning Manager (Economy & Skills) Alison Robinson said: "The extension of the ERDF funding is excellent news for Warwickshire's business community. The CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme has delivered significant support to businesses through this very difficult period and it is great to know that this will continue now that funding is secured through to 2023."

Mandy's on a mission to promote the "brilliant" Ecomomy & Skills team

"The range of support available to businesses is breathtaking...my mission is to promote the team's offer left, right and centre!"

Cllr Mandy Tromans already knew that the support offered to the business community by Warwickshire County Council's Economy & Skills team was impressive.

But after becoming more closely involved with the team, since joining the council last May, Cllr Tromans fully discovered the depth and diversity of that support - and is now committed to doing all she can to ensure that businesses across Warwickshire know all about it.

With a background in HR, and particularly skills and training, the Nuneaton-based councillor has taken on a role shadowing WCC's Portfolio Holder for Economy and Place, Cllr Kam Kaur.

It is a role she is relishing and one to which she brings a passion for skills, a background in business...and 'a fresh pair of eyes.'

"I am very fresh to the council and I think there is some value in that," Cllr Tromans said. "The Economy & Skills team are fantastic with so much experience and knowledge but maybe someone coming in from outside like myself, can just add another perspective -  the view of the person in the street.

"I am very new to it all and learning as I go, but it is already very clear how much brilliant work goes on and how much sheer hard work is put in, as with the Adapt & Diversify team who richly deserved their Star award last week.

"The range of support available to businesses is breathtaking. The one thing the team perhaps doesn't do, because they haven't got time, is shout about what they do so that the maximum number of businesses hear about it. That's where I will help...my mission is to promote the team's offer left, right and centre!"

Cllr Tromans' particular passion is skills which she sees as crucial to the continuing strength of Warwickshire's economy.

"I worked for an events company which was very skills-driven and it has always been a huge area of interest of mine," she said. "We all know what a tough couple of years it has been and most of all for certain sector like hospitality and tourism. We need to do all we can to keep a pipeline of skilled employees coming through and available to businesses.

"I am very excited by the work that Fay Winterburn and the Skills Hub team are doing around this and keen to support them in any way I can.

"Of course, many businesses have taken a hit from the pandemic but what we do have in our favour in Warwickshire is a fundamentally strong economy to rebuild from. When the pandemic hit, there was a lot of negativity and some people thought the economy would never recover, but it is moving forward again. Perhaps one positive to come out of it is that it has made businesses think again about skills and about how they are transferable and how important it is to be flexible."

To find out more about the business skills support available from Warwickshire County Council, please visit https://skillshub.warwickshire.gov.uk/

Hundreds of start ups and small businesses supported by CWRT schemes

"We have supported all sorts of businesses from advanced manufacturing, such as automotive prototype manufacturers, to country pub chain and even sports and leisure recreation businesses"

Two business support schemes delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust, part-funded by Warwickshire County Council, have supported hundreds of individuals and small businesses during 2021.

The two programmes - JumpStart and Duplex - offer support at either end of the scale with JumpStart providing free workshops to those with a business idea and Duplex supporting existing businesses looking to grow that need funding for capital purchases.

JumpStart has gone from strength to strength in 2021, having entered a new three-year contract in April after a further £500,000 funding from the County Council assisted CWRT in supporting more individuals than ever before.

During the year 2021, 77 individuals from Warwickshire attended JumpStart and each achieved a minimum of 12 hours of support. Supporting more individuals than ever before during the pandemic, almost a quarter of attendees had been directly affected by the pandemic, having either been on furlough for a significant period of time or having been made redundant and encouraging them to consider their next steps.

In light of the additional pressures of the pandemic, the project added further support to include 1-2-1 mentoring sessions with business support specialist Minal Sodha, along with a session dedicated to understanding HMRC and how to register for self-employment delivered by Anne Wordsworth from CUBE Accounting.

The Trust's delivery of JumpStart and Duplex has also led to the launch of a new pilot programme, The Financial Fit which was created to address the disparity in women-owned businesses taking up finance, and encouraging them to become more financially savvy. The project has had an overwhelming response which is due to start in January 2022.

"We launched the project after seeing the disparity between women in business not only in terms of accessing finance, but also understanding the support provisions available to them," said JumpStart project officer Keely Beamish.

"It has been met with a lot of interest and we are looking forward to seeing how these women business owners become empowered to break the glass ceiling and take their businesses to the next level.”

Meanwhile, during 2021 the Duplex Investment Fund has lent more than £1 million to businesses within Coventry and Warwickshire with 89 jobs contracted and the investment helping to save 42 local jobs. This has resulted in £545,000 of private investment into Coventry and Warwickshire.

"We have supported all sorts of businesses from advanced manufacturing, such as automotive prototype manufacturers, to country pub chain and even sports and leisure recreation businesses," said Leah Blocksidge, Head of Programmes at CWRT.

"Duplex is the perfect investment for those businesses who are looking to invest in capital items to grow or diversify their business but lack the funds to take their business to the next level. The Fund is a grant and a loan in one easy deal and CWRT is dedicated to supporting businesses from Coventry and Warwickshire recover from the pandemic and adapt to the new normal.”

For more information on how to apply for the next JumpStart workshops in February, enquire about funding through Duplex or for more information on The Financial Fit, please visit www.cwrt.uk.com or call CWRT’s friendly team on 02476 551777.

Much-needed new office space for Leamington town centre

"We identified Holly Walk House as a great opportunity to create much-needed new office space in Leamington, to meet a gap in the market, which will complement and support the other spaces also coming on stream in the town in the future."

A plan to create much-needed new office space for small and medium sized businesses is soon to be underway in Leamington Spa.

Warwickshire County Council’s Holly Walk House, on Brandon Parade, is to be refurbished thanks to funding of £500,000 from the Government’s Getting Building Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) with additional funding of £500,000 from the County Council towards the project.

The project involves transforming approximately 5,500 sq ft of office accommodation over three floors, previously occupied by staff from the County Council’s Adult and Children’s Services, to create high-quality office suites.

Holly Walk House is a pair of Grade II listed semi-detached buildings, dating from around 1843, which were joined and converted into offices in the 1970s. The refurbishment project will protect the historic nature and charm of the property while at the same time creating modern flexible work spaces.

Local contractor Sandell Group succeeded in winning the £800k refurbishment tender and will be starting on site this month with completion due in May 2022. Architects on the project are YMD Boon and QS Thornton Firkin.

Leamington Spa is home to the largest cluster of video game developers, by economic value, outside of greater London according to national trade body Ukie, with a core of 50 businesses anchored around the town. Its growth has been phenomenal during the last 18 months with studios creating around 500 new jobs in the region.

Leamington’s vibrant town centre is very attractive to the creative industries. The diversity of national and independent retailers and the mix of unique food and beverage establishments provides an excellent offer for staff and is an attractive benefit to join their companies being so centrally located.

Cllr Peter Butlin, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for Property and Finance, said: “We identified Holly Walk House as a great opportunity to create much-needed new office space in Leamington, to meet a gap in the market, which will complement and support the other spaces also coming on stream in the town in the future.

“There is a particular need for office space for the growing gaming, digital and creative sectors. Our inward investment team is actively working with a number of businesses that are looking for office space of this type and size, and Holly Walk House will offer space for these businesses to expand and grow, and is an attractive addition to the business premises that the County Council already offer in their portfolio.”

Sarah Windrum, Chair of CWLEP, added: “Many digital creative businesses have continued to grow despite the pandemic and these purpose-designed offices in Holly Walk will provide the space many companies need to expand further in the area.

“Strengthening Coventry and Warwickshire’s global reputation as a cluster of digital creative talent to support growth and attract investment is one of the key pillars of CWLEP’s Strategic Reset Framework. Projects such as this – funded through the Getting Building Fund – will help our existing innovative businesses retain highly-skilled employees as well as entice more to locate within Silicon Spa.”

Marketing of the offices will start early next year, but the County Council is expecting early interest from companies wishing to lease the new accommodation.

Business Ready backing is a winner for horse treats company

“The Business Ready programme was a big support...I’d definitely encourage other businesses to tap into the support available. You can see how much it’s help us from a sales point of view and the growth we’ve achieved."

A company founded in Warwickshire is revolutionising the market for horse treats in the USA – and is set to mount a drive for sales in Europe after support from the Business Ready programme.

Alcester-based husband-and-wife team Kevin and Mary Elizabeth Nairne founded Kelcie’s Horse Treats in 2019 to offer high-quality, natural treats to high-calibre horses that take part in equestrian events.

Kevin gave up a 30-year corporate career in IT 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 decided to move into the treats market and 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. As soon as they managed to get the treat to market, they found they had an instant hit with horses and owners alike – but they were missing a formal business plan and marketing strategy.

The company was introduced to the University of Warwick Science Park’s Business Ready programme by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub earlier this year and received advice from Business Growth Adviser Gaynor Matthews.

Business Ready is a programme that delivers support to expanding businesses 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.

Gaynor supported the firm directly and introduced the company to experts who offered strategic sales and marketing advice, followed by a digital marketing plan to grow sales and distribution in the USA followed by the EU.

The firm was also given business planning advice by Innovate UK Edge and, 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: “We found the right formula to create a great treat and horse owners who told us their horses were previously fussy eaters, loved the product. We had produced something that could disrupt the market but then it was all about getting the right marketing plan in place to make sure we could achieve the sales growth we wanted.

“The Business Ready programme was a big support in that and we’ve also had really helpful advice from other organisations too. I’d definitely encourage other businesses to tap into the support available. You can see how much it’s help us from a sales point of view and the growth we’ve achieved.

“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 in the process of establishing ourselves in Europe because we know from our website and social media that there is very strong demand!”

Gaynor said: “This is a classic case of a company creating a great product but then needing support in some of the fundamentals of business – such as planning and marketing. Through Business Ready, we could introduce Kelcie’s to people with the right expertise to help develop the right strategies – especially around marketing – to help increase awareness and drive sales.

“It’s clear that horses love the treats – and now the business is in a position to make the most of that which will lead to even stronger business growth.”

Warwickshire County Council Portfolio Holder for Economy and Place, Cllr Kam Kaur, said: "I am delighted that Business Ready support has enabled Kelcie's Horse Treats to take their business to the next level.

"Small businesses often have a great idea or product but need that injection of expertise to build a strategy which fully exploits their potential. Many businesses across Warwickshire have benefited from the advice and experience of Business Ready advisors and the County Council is pleased to support the programme." 

Is your busines Commonwealth Games ready?

“The Commonwealth Games will provide a real boost to the region and Warwickshire’s businesses can really take advantage of the attention that will be on the county."

A new, free training programme to help Warwickshire businesses make the most of the unprecedented opportunity of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will soon be available.

With over 2.5m people expected to engage with the Birmingham 2022 Festival, and a further 1.2m people visiting to experience the Games, the 'Getting Games Ready' e-learning course will help businesses provide an unrivalled visitor experience at every touch point during the Games.

The training course has 7,000 free places and is aimed at businesses from across the West Midlands who are customer facing and have regular interactions with visitors, including: venues, hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, cafés, visitor attractions, retail, transport or any other part of the wider leisure and tourism industry.As the region gets ready for the games taking place in July and August 2022, it’s vital that businesses across Warwickshire have access to the best information for making the very most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity of having such a huge sporting event on our doorsteps. 

Based on the globally recognised WorldHost customer service programme which has been used to train thousands of people for events including the London 2012 Olympics, Rugby World Cup 2015 and The Golf Open 2019, the ‘Getting Games Ready’ programme consists of four modules covering:  

  • Visitor welcome and customer service experience.  
  • Providing an accessible and inclusive service.  
  • Regional knowledge and wider tourism offer.
  • Commonwealth Games sporting programme and cultural festival. 

The programme is easily accessible online and takes between three to four hours to complete. Each participant will be issued with a ‘Getting Games Ready’ programme certificate on successful completion of the course.

Cllr Kam Kaur, portfolio holder for economy and place, said: “The Commonwealth Games will provide a real boost to the region and Warwickshire’s businesses can really take advantage of the attention that will be on the county. This programme has been proven to help businesses make the most of all opportunities that will come their way and I hope that many will engage and get ‘Games Ready’.’

Registration for the programme opens in January 2022. More information will be coming soon. 

Below is a checklist of other actions businesses can take to get ready for Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games:

 In last month’s edition of Warwickshire Means Business we spoke about the wide range of tender opportunities that are available for the Commonwealth Games. You can catch up on that here: https://business.warwickshire.gov.uk/november-2021/news-in-brief/tendering-opportunities-at-the-birmingham-2022-commonwealth-games-1  

For more information about the Commonwealth Games in Warwickshire, please visit: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/Birmingham2022commonwealthgames  

Tech company implements NHS scheme after support from uxplore programme

"As Everyware has demonstrated, uxplore is perfect for SMEs looking to develop their innovative ideas using 5G and digital connectivity as they can apply for the match-funded grants that are available."

A Leamington technology company is to implement a programme that can track and monitor thousands of pieces of medical equipment required by the NHS to assist patients across the UK.

Everyware Ltd, based at the Chandos Business Centre in Warwick Street, has been helping businesses in the UK and Europe to digitally track and remotely monitor critical or high-value products since 2015.

Now, after receiving a grant from uxplore, the business is working with the NHS on a pilot scheme to add sensors to equipment including 24/7 syringe drivers for pain relief for patients on the move who are receiving cancer treatment.

uxplore is a project delivered by Coventry University, in conjunction with the wider CU group, in partnership with the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub and the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. It is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The programme aims to provide a range of digital connectivity support for businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire with fewer than 250 employees, to pilot new products, services and business models by harnessing broadband, WiFi, 4G and 5G connectivity.

Annette MacDougall, managing director of Everyware, said the company wanted to pilot their existing technology further by using 5G to track select pieces of medical equipment in the community to support patient care. This medical equipment is often on loan to other hospitals across the UK every day, making it important to record and assign where each item is located.

She said: “It’s actually a game-changer for us to be able to pilot our existing technology using 5G that will digitally track medical equipment used to support patients by attaching a specially-designed sensor to the medical devices which are being transported to all corners of the UK.

“The sensors will deliver the data to the healthcare provider quicker and more efficiently via 5G, so there are enhanced benefits for the patient and the NHS trust.

“Working with uxplore, we have been able to demonstrate that using 5G capabilities is important on many levels, particularly for fixed assets indoors or mobile assets outdoors.

“We currently do this using 2G, 3G or 4G but extending it to 5G totally transforms our offering to the healthcare market, because often this equipment is needed to reach patients as quickly as possible. 5G gives us quicker access to high volumes of data indoors and outdoors for the assets we are digitally tracking and monitoring.

“Quite often, these medical devices can get lost and there is high demand, so we’re excited to be doing this because it has not been done before. Not only will it, most importantly, benefit patients, it will also help the NHS to track and monitor its equipment digitally.”

Jim Vithanage, uxplore Project Account Manager at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub, said Everyware’s innovative digital technology idea would prove the capability and capacity which 5G has to offer.

He said: “As Everyware has demonstrated, uxplore is perfect for SMEs looking to develop their innovative ideas using 5G and digital connectivity as they can apply for the match-funded grants that are available.

“As well as grants, the part-ERDF funded project also offers the opportunity to join a two-day workshop, to learn more about digital connectivity technologies, such as 5G, and how they can be used in your business. Businesses less than a year old can also receive technical and entrepreneurial mentoring and support from uxplore’s experienced team.

“We are delighted to be working closely with Coventry University to help deliver the uxplore project to Coventry and Warwickshire businesses.

“Here at the Growth Hub, we offer SMEs help and information to access support from a vast range of schemes and programmes; of which uxplore is one. I would strongly encourage businesses to get involved with the uxplore project, as it is a fantastic opportunity to explore the capabilities of digital connectivity within your business.”

The uxplore project runs until June 2023. For more information, please contact uxplore@cwgrowthhub.co.uk 

Get involved with #Warksmas2021

There is still time to get involved in the successful ‘#Warksmas2021’ social media campaign!   

Launched at the end of November, and finishing on 24 December, the campaign is encouraging people in Warwickshire to support independent retailers and rural businesses by shopping locally - whether in person, or online - in the run up to Christmas. 

As part of the campaign, the County Council, brought back last year’s successful A to Z of Christmas. 

The campaign has been highlighting businesses, events, products, and services beginning with each letter of the alphabet to create the perfect Christmas gift list, curated from independent retailers across the county. The first day featured businesses starting with the letter A, the second day B, and so on. 

So far, 54 businesses have been highlighted in the A to Z of Christmas campaign featuring a wide variety of products and services. Many of these businesses have also been able to tell their story in a series of short videos. You can see the videos here: Buy and Eat Local Warwickshire – Warwickshire County Council

Focusing on the High Streets, the Santa Showcase features honorary Warwickshire Santas, sharing their favourite gifts sourced from many of the independent retailers based in our Warwickshire towns. This showcase is available as a series of short videos, available via the Buy and Eat Local Warwickshire pages, as above.

The social media posts are being shared via the Warwickshire Towns Network Facebook page and Twitter: @WarksTN, as well Warwickshire County Council’s other social media channels. Each post uses #Warksmas2021 and tags the town, where the retailer or business is located, for example #Nuneaton, #Leamington or #Alcester.  

To date, the analytics of Warksmas social media activity highlight that Twitter posts featuring #Warksmas2021 have been viewed over 20.8k times during a 21-day period (from 24 November – 14 December 2021), receiving an average of 998 views per day. Warksmas Facebook posts also reached over 12,424 viewers on Facebook, and were engaged with through likes, comments and shares 779 times. Overall, the total number of Warksmas social media posts have been viewed over 33,000 times.

Please get involved! 

On Twitter, please make sure you tag @WarksTN and use the hashtags: #Warksmas2021 and the hashtag of your town / district.  

On Facebook, please tag @WarwickshireTownsNetwork.  

We’d also encourage you to share and like posts throughout the campaign. 

Below are a series of suggested social media posts. Please do feel free to use them as a template for your own.  


Let independent retailers make your #Christmas sparkle and shine — follow @WarksTN and #Warksmas2021 for a festive A-Z of gift ideas and recommendations from your local high streets 

Shop local this #Christmas with the help an A-Z of independent retailers, their products and services… follow @WarksTN and join the conversation using #Warksmas2021 


Let independent retailers make your #Christmas sparkle and shine - like the Warwickshire Towns Network page or follow #Warksmas2021 for a festive A-Z of gift ideas and recommendations from your local high streets 

Shop local this #Christmas with the help an A-Z of independent retailers, their products and services… like Warwickshire Towns Network and join the conversation using #Warksmas2021

See #Warksmas case studies here

Creative companies explore potential links with Malta

"Malta has amazing film locations which have been used in Hollywood films including Gladiator, so it was beneficial to be able to speak directly to the Film Commission about partner working"

Film, gaming and immersive tech businesses from Warwickshire and the West Midlands built links with leading organisations in Malta during a trade mission to the Mediterranean island.

Seventeen delegates from companies in the creative sector across the region visited like-minded businesses to discuss potential collaboration.

The five-day trip, organised by the West Midlands Combined Authority, gave 11 businesses from the authority’s Creative Scale Up (CSUP) support course and Creative Business Response & Recovery Programme an overview of the opportunities of engaging with businesses in Malta.

The visitors met representatives of economic development agency Malta Enterprise, the Malta Film Commission and Gaming Malta, while the Malta Film Commission gave the group the chance to visit a filming location for international fantasy hit TV series Game of Thrones.

Among those taking part was Louise Osbourne of film production company Emmeline Productions..

Louise said: “The trade mission to Malta was an amazing, well-structured event which gave us the opportunity to meet organisations and people we would not normally expect to engage with. Malta has amazing film locations which have been used in Hollywood films including Gladiator, so it was beneficial to be able to speak directly to the Film Commission about partner working.

“They recognise the opportunities from linking up with creative businesses from the West Midlands. In return, it opened us up to the chance to work with international partners from Malta.”

Businesses represented on the trip included Sponge Hammer Games from Leamington Spa and Meriden-based gaming company Immersive Hollywood.

The trip received funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, along with Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP). It was also supported by the West Midlands Growth Company and Create Central. The businesses taking part paid their own travel costs.

Next year the West Midlands delegation will welcome a Maltese delegation  who will also have the chance to meet companies in the screen and gaming sectors.

Special Feature

So much to take forward from 'Future of Vehicle Electrification' Skills Summit

As a leader in the field, the Coventry & Warwickshire region was the logical host for a recent Skills Summit on the Future of Vehicle Electrification. The event showcased all that is happening now and what is coming down the track in the sector and offered plenty of food for thought...as Warwickshire County Council Inward Investment Manager (Automotive, Advanced Engineering & Manufacturing Lead)  Ian Flynn reports. 

The pressures of environmental change and reform of vehicle regulations and laws are driving rapid change in automotive with the UK moving to a phase out of Internal Combustion Engines by 2030. This means it is more vital than ever that our region has the right skills supply to support industry to adapt, develop and grow over the coming decades.

With this in mind, Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council brought together industry and education partners to review the skills, challenges and opportunities ahead. We did this at a Future of Vehicle Electrification Skills Summit on November 18 at MIRA Technology Institute and an earlier Skills Panel at the Engineering Design Show at the CBS Arena on October 19.

Discussions at the events were fascinating and constructive. They focused on the importance of educating, upskilling and recruiting new talent to support the development of the local supply chain and the needs of new investments locally such as the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre and the West Midlands 'Giga-factory' in Coventry & Warwickshire.

Key facts

  • Coventry & Warwickshire directly employ 50,000 people in future transport technology R&D, design, test and development and manufacturing.
  • Gigafactory will directly employ 6,000 and a further 15,000 indirectly.
  • Local supply chain strengths lie in a strong talent supply and a unique design, R&D, test and development and manufacturing eco-system.
  • Recent investments locally include UKBIC and from OEMs Rimac, REE Auto and Lotus Engineering and Octopus Hydrogen.

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    CWLEP Reset Framework

    Post pandemic, our objective is to develop and implement a newly focused, partnership-led Strategic Framework to reset our economy for a successful, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient future.

    Our ambition remains to keep Coventry and Warwickshire as a safe and highly attractive place to live, study, work, and invest. We will also need to be agile to respond to changing conditions as they occur in the future - and any relevant new developments and actions will be included in future iterations of our Implementation Plan.

    Driving the Electric Revolution

    This challenge is investing £80 million in electrification technologies including power electronics, electric machines and drives (PEMD). The investment will support the UK’s push towards a net-zero carbon economy and contribute to the development of clean technology supply chains, worth £80 billion in gross domestic product by 2050.

    Advanced Propulsion Centre

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    Skills and Recruitment

    National Electrification Skills Framework

    A national approach to re-skilling, up-skilling and new-skilling the workforce for the electric revolution has been established by WMG, University of Warwick alongside the Faraday Institution and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult in their report: ‘The Opportunity for a National Electrification Skills Framework and Forum’

    Warwickshire Skills Hub

    Warwickshire County Council's Skills team work directly with businesses to provide support for recruitment and skills, as well as schools and communities to create a well skilled population that meets the needs of Warwickshire’s evolving economy.

    Coventry Jobs Shop

    The Employment & Skills Service is part of Coventry City Council, providing a wide range of support to all Coventry residents, of all ages, who are looking for work. It works with partners across the city and the Employer Hub actively works with employers to generate opportunities for local people. Coventry Jobs Shop

    MIRA Technology Institute

    MIRA Technology Institute is a bespoke global centre for skills, developing specialist skills in key areas of emerging automotive technology. MIRA Technology Institute

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    Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub

    Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Hub offers one-to-one advice and ongoing support to businesses in the region. Providing a ‘front-door’ to the vast range of business support initiatives and programmes on offer locally and nationally, the experienced team of business advisors work closely with local SMEs to identify the best resources for each business.

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    Guest column

    Thank you businesses for your vigilance against Covid - please let's keep it going

    In light of the new variants, Warwickshire businesses have been asked to review their Coronavirus measures. Here, Jonathon Toy, Group Manager Trading Standards (Community Safety and COVID 19 Prevent and Response Team) at Warwickshire County Council, thanks businesses for their diligence so far but outlines the need for us all to remain vigilant.


    Firstly, on behalf of the county council, may I thank all businesses and your staff for the steps you have taken over the last 18 months to keep your team and customers safe.

    We are sure you are aware the recent Omicron variant is posing new challenges. From a Warwickshire perspective we are keen to work with the business community and provide the best advice on the measures you can take to minimise spread within our communities. Many of these measures will be very familiar to you and we hope that you will work with us to reaffirm their important or reintroduce them where they have been relaxed or removed.

    Face Coverings

    The government has reintroduced the mandatory requirement for face coverings to be worn in all shops, supermarkets, personal care settings, travel agents, pharmacies, estate agents, shopping centres, and takeaway establishments. This includes customers and all staff who are working in public facing settings, serving customers, reception areas or any other public facing role.

    We would ask that you work with us to ensure that your staff and customers follow this requirement. It is not our intention to seek to take action against businesses in the first instance, but where do we do a number of complaints, we will look contact you and discuss the steps being taken.

    Social Distancing

    The evidence still strongly indicates that social distancing in highly effecting in control the spread of Coronavirus variants. Maintaining social distancing at 2m and introducing access and exit control measures to ensure that maximum capacity numbers are not exceeded continue to be encouraged and we ask that you retain or reintroduce this in your premises.


    Increasing ventilation (but avoiding re-circulated air), combined with increasing social distancing and reducing occupancy will reduce the risk of airborne transmission. We would encourage you to maximise the ventilation opportunities that you have in your premises.

    Hygiene and cleansing routines

    We are requesting that you review your hygiene arrangements ensuring that hygiene stations are retained at entrances and exits as well other high footfall areas and that staff are trained in the importance of hygiene arrangements at all times throughout their working day.

    Vaccination and Booster jabs

    We are encouraging businesses to promote take up of COVID 19 vaccination and booster jabs within their workforce. This not only protects the health of employees but reduces the need for employees to isolate, have time off sick and reduces the transmission of COVID 19 within the workplace ensuring good business continuity.

    This may be particularly pertinent over the festive period when hopefully you will see an increase in customers. Vaccination and good levels of immunity may prevent further restrictions being implemented which could have a detrimental effect on businesses. You can now have your booster jab after three months of your second dose.

    How to get a vaccination or booster jab can be found at these links: drop in clinics or vaccination sites.

    We fully recognise the importance of your leadership role in implementing these measures. Whilst the above are formal requests, we would prefer to work with you. We would be happy to speak with you or arrange a visit to your store to advise you. Please contact us at preventandresponse@warwickshire.gov.uk. Thank you.

    For further information please telephone 01926 414040, e mail preventandresponse@warwickshire.gov.uk or visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk



    Latest events

    Date Event Host Timings Venue Link
    January Ongoing - updated link 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 10.00-17.00 Coventry Transport Museum Weblink here
    12.1.2022 DIT: Are You Ready For the Customs Impact of Brexit Moving into 2022?
    The customs landscape in the UK is facing huge disruption. From the unwinding of easements from 1st January 2022 to the full introduction of the new Customs Declaration Service on 1st October 2022 for imports - no one who moves goods internationally will be immune from these all important changes.
    Dept for Intl Trade 08.30-10.30 CU Technology Park, Coventry Weblink here
    13.1.2022 Rugby Business Buzz - Networking for businesses in the Rugby area. Buzz Networking 10am-12pm Gallachers of Rugby Weblink here
    13.1.2022 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
    14.1.2022 First Friday networking lunch
    For their  January First Friday CW First will be visiting the former Ikea building to hear about some of the ambitious plans for the building to become an arts and culture facility of national and international standing, as well as having a guided tour.
    CW First Professionals 12.30-14.00 Former IKEA Building, Coventry Weblink here
    16.1.2022 Personal Branding for Start-ups
    Branding support and advice session for start-ups.
    CUE Business Solutions 10.00-11.00 Online Weblink here
    18.1.2022 A guide to quit your job and start a business
    Fed up with your job? Are you looking for a better work/life balance? Is your family your highest priority? Do you value freedom?
    Then this course is definitely for you! Coventry University has the expertise and the knowledge to guide you through the building of your own business.
    CUE Business Solutions 12.00-14.00 Online Weblink here
    18.1.2022 Launch Event: Sanctuary: Built to Burn. Designed to Heal.
    Sanctuary is seeking local businesses who want to play their part by supporting this once-in-a-generation opportunity in Nuneaton & Bedworth. This opportunity is available to Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce members to attend the  launch event where you can meet and greet the creators and artistic Directors of this outstanding project being launched in March 2022. 
    CW Chamber/ Artichoke 18.00-20.00 Bedworth Heath Community Centre Weblink here
    20.1.2022 Warwick Business Buzz - Networking for businesses in the Warwick area. Buzz Networking 10.00-12.00 Old Coffee Tavern Weblink here
    31.1.2022 Business Bootcamp and Networking
    Join free event to hear how you can grow your business in 2022 with FSB Bootcamp and Networking event.
    The Federation of Small Businesses Bootcamp and Networking, sponsored by Coombe Abbey, is returning to Coventry this January. It will be hosted by FSB Members Sandra Garlick MBE, founder of the Woman Who Inspires Network, and Dave Sharpe, International MC and BBC Broadcaster.
    FSB 07.30-15.00 Coombe Abbey Weblink here
    31.1.2022 MSDUK Accelerator Application Drop-in
    Do you have questions about the MSDUK Accelerator application process? Join our drop-in webinar and get them answered!
    MSDUK Drop-in Online Weblink here
    Later 28.2.2022 Marketing and Digital Activity Health Check
    Get a free review of your business' marketing activity. Advice for improvements and recommendations to help implement changes.
    CW Growth Hub Drop-in Online Weblink here
    02.3.2022 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
    08.3.2022 Low Carbon Agriculture 2022 - 8-9 March
    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.
    Low Carbon Agriculture 2 days NAEC, Stoneleigh Weblink here
    15.3.2022 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
    06.6.2022 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
    29.6.2022 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

    A round up of latest news-in-brief from our region...

    Warwickshire companies among top Midlands scale-ups

    Scale-ups in the Midlands have secured more than £241m in venture capital investments in Q3 of 2021. According to KPMG’s latest Venture Pulse Servey, the finances were raised across 27 deals from July to September and were split between early-stage (37%), later stage (22%), angel (19%%) and seed round (22%). Significant investments include Warwick-based Onto, developers of an electric car subscription platform which raised £180m. https://home.kpmg/uk/en/home/insights/2021/10/q-three-global-and-uk-venture-capital-analysis.html

    Economic impact of Conference and Events in the West Midlands highlighted

    Event delegates spent £2.3bn in the region in 2019, according to research carried out by RJS Associates for the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC). It shows that the region welcomed 10.1 million local, national and international delegates in 2019, the final year when business events were not disrupted or affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/westmidlands/news/2058182-region%e2%80%99s-conference-and-events-sector-%e2%80%98worth-2.3bn%e2%80%99

    Colleges get funding to reshape Technical Skills training

    Colleges across Coventry and Warwickshire will receive funding totalling more than £5 million as part of a pilot scheme to reshape technical skills training in the region. WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group), Coventry College, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC), and Stratford-upon-Avon College will all receive a slice of the funding after a successful group bid. The funding will be used to create a Coventry and Warwickshire Strategy for Technical Education and create new facilities and courses, as well as seeing staff recruited and trained across the colleges. https://www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk/warwickshire-college-group-bags-5-million-to-reshape-technical-skills-training/

    BSA launches at National Motorcycle Museum

    Following the recent relaunch of Norton, a further local motorcycle brand from the past was relaunched recently in the West Midlands as BSA launched its first new model for 40 years. Ashish Joshi, director of BSA, said a technical centre had already been set up in Coventry where a new electric model would be developed. BSA owner, Indian billionaire Anand Mahindra, has said he hopes to "resurrect the British motorbike industry" with plans for the electric model under the BSA brand. www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-59509804Electric motorcycle brand

    Further Chinese Investment in E-commerce

    Chinese e-commerce business Furnolic Co., the UK subsidiary of Ziel Group, has taken a 10 year lease at Prologis Ryton, on the former Peugeot and Chrysler/ Rootes factory site. The business, which also trades under the name Songmics, Vasagle and Feandrea, specialises in homeware, furniture and pet furniture. The 10-year lease for the 148,461 sq ft unit is Furnolic’s first physical site in the UK. https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/westmidlands/news/2058079-chinese-e-commerce-giant-announces-first-uk-site

    Rugby opens door to Delponti

    Aluminium window and door maker Deponti is establishing its new UK base at Midland 42, Rugby. Headquartered in the Netherlands and with a presence in Belgium, France, Germany and Denmark, Deponti Ltd, has taken a 10-year lease on the 42,238 sq ft warehouse for its UK operations. https://property-news.net/industrial-property-news/deponti-establishes-uk-base-at-logicor-s-midland-42-rugby

    New motorcycle brand Maeving UK launches this month

    As well as the relaunch of legacy brands, the Coventry & Warwickshire area is seeing the creation of new motorcycle brands. Maeving, based in Coventry, is launching practical electric bikes that “channel the best of British motorcycle design heritage into a new type of electric vehicle.” Maeving said its USP is the bike’s removable battery – which can be charged from any plug socket, whether at work or at home, making it easy to re-fuel. https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/westmidlands/news/2058067-electric-motorcycle-brand-revs-up-for-uk-launch

    Berry Global to create state-of-the-art recycling facility in Leamington

    Developer Stoford has begun the construction of a new production plant for plastics manufacturing company Berry Global for a single purpose-built unit of 138,675 sq ft at the multimillion pound Spa Park in Leamington. The development will be characterised by its strong sustainability credentials, with Stoford targeting an EPC rating of ‘A’ and a BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’, as well as net zero carbon in construction. https://www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk/stoford-gains-approval-for-final-phase-of-spa-park-and-starts-work-on-berry-global-pre-let/

    Contechs launches global first transparent face mask

    Warwick-based design and engineering company Contechs has secured full approval from NHS England’s Technical Assurance Division and Four Nations Review Panel for its “revolutionary” transparent face mask, following 12 months of development and an investment of £6.25 million. https://www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk/government-approval-secured-for-revolutionary-transparent-face-mask-from-warwickshire-designers/

    MTC Looks to 2022 and net-zero Manufacturing Summit

    The second annual National Manufacturing Summit says it will focus on sustainable manufacturing, as the UK works towards a net-zero economy. Following COP26, the summit is an opportunity to look at emerging technologies and how to remain globally competitive. Hosted by Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) on February 8th and 9th, the hybrid event will feature live, face-to-face presentations as well as an interactive virtual audience. https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/westmidlands/news/2058246-national-manufacturing-summit-to-be-held-in-coventry

    Holland & Barrett Invests in Hair and Beauty Digital tech business

    Nuneaton-based Holland & Barrett, the leading health and wellness retailer has acquired blow LTD, the home beauty services business. blow LTD will become a subsidiary business of Holland & Barrett International Ltd, and all blow LTD employees will move to the new ownership structure. https://www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk/holland-barrett-buys-home-beauty-services-business/

    Assured Aviation takes off with Flybe

    Flybe has appointed Assured Aviation Services as its ground handling partner at Birmingham Airport, creating more than 100 jobs. As an airport services business, the Warwickshire-based company will provide full ground handling services for the airline including passenger, baggage, cargo and ramp handling and aircraft cleaning. The Flybe brand was recently relaunched, based out of Birmingham International Airport. https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/westmidlands/news/2057863-100-jobs-created-as-flybe-as-airport-services-firm-lands-ground-handling-deal

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