Welcome from council leader Cllr Izzi Seccombe

Hello and welcome to the January edition of Warwickshire Means Business. A very happy New Year to everybody.

We start the year 2020 with an edition bursting with information about the wide range of business support which is available to the business community from Warwickshire County Council and our partner organisations.

We feature the launch of the brand new Duplex Fund which, with £5 million investment from the County Council is an exciting new initiative. Please do take the time to read about it - it could be just what your business needs.

If you are a rural business, an RDPE Growth Programme grant could be the key to your growth. With the deadline looming for the latest round of grants, now is the time to lodge your application.

One business which has already benefited from our support is Warwick-based IT company Zenzero and it is great to read how the county council's input, through business support advisor Steph Williams, has helped "transform" the business. Zenzero founder Anne Tasker says: "It wasn't just a case of ‘here's some money,' it was always: 'right - what else can we do?'"

That is why we at the council are so proud of our Economy & Skills team and the knowledge, energy and commitment they offer to business. Why not give them a call to see how they can help you?

A very important strand of the council council's support for the region's economy is our business centres and these are always evolving to meet the needs of the small firms that use them. Eliot Park Innovation Centre, in Nuneaton, is widely-renowned as an excellent base for SMEs and start-ups and its offer has just been strengthened by the opening of a brand new cafe, Number Four. More exciting developments are also coming down the track at Eliot Park.

In this edition we also focus on the Interactive Futures Festival, which will take place in Leamington Spa on January 31 and February 1, and the free workshops coming up which will feature on how to increase your online presence and how to make your SME more visible in the market place.

I hope you enjoy this edition of Warwickshire Means Business. Whatever your business, whatever size or sector and wherever you are in Warwickshire, our wide range of business support is here for you.

Featured News

Council business support for Zenzero "was about much more than funding."

"Steph added so much value with her knowledge and advice about what other support is out there. It wasn't just a case of  'here's some money,' it was always 'right - what else can we do?'"

Warwick IT company Zenzero has entered 2020 perfectly equipped for further growth following a small capital grant from Warwickshire County Council.

The grant enabled the company to carry out refurbishment to the benefit of employees, customers and visitors alike - but company founder Anne Tasker insists the support received from the county council, through business support adviser Steph Williams, "was about much more than funding."

In 2018, Zenzero came up against a big problem. They had simply run out of room at their base at Warwick Innovation Centre and, without expansion, simply could not meet the growing demand from clients. Had the business, which Anne set up in 2004, reached its ceiling?

Then Steph got involved - and two years on Zenzero's 50 staff, including five recruited as a direct result of the grant, are working in an environment brimming with 'feelgood factor.'

"Quite simply, the grant enabled us to transform the business," Anne said. "Early in 2018 we just didn't have enough desk space. There is only a certain amount you can do with the space you have and we had reached the absolute limit. We were in three units at the centre, which had served us well, but had simply outgrown them.

"Also they were looking very tired and, in this business, it is all about giving the right impression. It was very frustrating because we didn't see a solution. We seemed to be in a cul-de-sac. But then the small capital grant programme enabled us to take on an additional two units at the centre and also refurbish our existing ones.

"In this region we are competing against the big boys for staff and customers so it is really important to make the environment appealing for both. We now have a light and spacious environment which is comfortable to work in and we have meeting-rooms where you are proud to host clients. It is a really positive, warm environment and, from where we were, there is an incredible feel-good factor about the place.

"We literally couldn't have done it without the county council's support. Steph added so much value with her knowledge and advice about what other support is out there. It wasn't just a case of ‘here's some money,' it was always 'right - what else can we do?'"

That advice has led to collaboration with the University of Warwick under the Knowledge Transfer Programme focusing on Cyber Security.

"In this sector, it is absolutely crucial for a business to evolve as quickly as the world evolves around it," said Anne. "A huge part of what we do now is around cyber-security. These days it is about much more than delivering the latest tech, it's about being right on top of IT threats - and being ahead of them.

"I am really proud of the knowledge and expertise we already have on board at Zenzero and the link-up with the university can only further enhance that."

* The advice for the company was delivered as part of the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Support Programme, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council.

To find out more about the range of support available to grow your business, please contact the Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747.

Innovative new funding scheme is a "game-changer" for businesses

“The Duplex Fund, which is part of a £5 million investment by the County Council in access to finance programmes, is an exciting new dimension to the support available to businesses.”

An innovative new scheme has been launched to help businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire find the investment they need in order to grow.

The Duplex Investment Fund,which is a combined grant and loan, is an initiative between the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), Coventry City Council,Warwickshire County Council and Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT).

The project is being funded by £3.9 million of grants from the Government’s Local Growth Fund and the CWLEP. Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council are each investing a further £2million in the scheme which will be managed by CWRT.

The fund is aimed at businesses which are unable to generate sufficient cash to progress with an otherwise viable investment project. This fund is a new way to help finance capital investments by local businesses.

Loans between £30,000 to £100,000 are available and up to 40 per cent of the expenditure could be available as a grant, allowing businesses to manage their cash flow flexibly.

To qualify, businesses will need to have traded for two years, backed up by accounts, have a business plan and be able to demonstrate that they need the grant. Applicants who can prove that new jobs will be created will be given priority.

Minister for Local Growth, Rt Hon Jake Berry MP, said:“We are committed to boosting economic growth in the Midlands Engine and levelling up every region in the UK so that every community has the investment and support it needs to flourish. 

“Backed by a total of £3.9 million Government funding including from the Local Growth Fund, the Duplex Investment Fund is there to help entrepreneurs with fantastic ideas who need a little extra help to take their business to the next stage and unlock new jobs.”

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council and CWLEP board director, said: “Small and medium sized business are the economic backbone of our city. Together they employ more people than the big companies combined but they can struggle to access funding to support their ambitions for growth.

“That’s why Duplex is so important. It will provide funding where it’s needed to support ambition and growth. But what’s really clever is the way it’s been set up as a revolving facility, so the overall business loan funding made available will ultimately be even higher than our initial £2m contribution. This means we can support even more businesses – creating opportunities for more jobs to be created.”

Warwickshire County Council leader Cllr IzziSeccombe said: “Our region has an amazing diversity of excellence across the business spectrum. It is renowned for being home to some of the biggest names in industry but, increasingly, it is the small businesses that are creating employment and driving our economy forwards. The County Council and our partners are keen to support these businesses with making the next step in their growth.

“The Duplex Fund, which is part of a £5 million investment by the County Council in access to finance programmes, is an exciting new dimension to the support available to those businesses.”

Graham Simpson, of CWRT, said: ‘’Duplex is a game-changer that is going to make a real difference to local businesses looking to invest and grow.”

For further information or to apply for the Duplex Investment Fund, call Andrew Scarborough or Leah Blocksidge on 02476 551 777 or email andrew.scarborough@cwrt.uk.com or leah.blocksidge@cwrt.uk.com

Nimbus maps out bright future with Business Ready support

“Business Ready helped us develop the infrastructure to grow in a way that corresponds to our vision."

A burgeoning Warwick-based data and software company, whose technology provides the property industry with unprecedented information on properties across the UK, is charting a course for hyper-growth after receiving vital business support.

Nimbus Maps, based at the University of Warwick Science Park’s Warwick Innovation Centre, was set up by brothers Simon and Paul Davis with the aim of providing up-to-the-minute access to information on potential investment and development opportunities.

The company developed a product which includes current information on commercial and residential sites – from ownership through to planning permissions – and that information is layered onto Google Maps and Ordnance Survey maps via a mobile-ready platform.

Nimbus Maps has experienced a meteoric rise in demand for its services. During the last 18 months the number of users has risen from 3,000 to 40,000 – and this growth needed careful management by the firm to avoid the risks involved with overexpansion.

The company sought advice from the Warwickshire County Council-backed Business Ready programme which delivers support to expanding businesses. The programme is managed by the business support team at the University of Warwick Science Park who worked closely with Nimbus Maps to refine the group’s business strategy.

Simon Davis said: “Around 18 months ago we were aiming for a very broad market but we switched the strategy to go for a more targeted approach because it made more commercial sense.

“We are very passionate about Nimbus Maps and for us the challenge has been trying to translate all the value of our products to a very diverse industry.

“Business Ready helped us develop the infrastructure to grow in a way that corresponds to our vision. They have provided us with marketing support and guidance on tailoring our business to the types of clients we want to attract.”

The association with Business Ready has also provided Nimbus Maps with a link to one of the UK’s most prestigious universities. The company has made a series of strategic appointments, many of whom have come directly from the University of Warwick.

Simon said: “We’ve taken on a new data scientist – a PhD student from the University of Warwick - who also has a Masters from Oxford University. This is in addition to continuing to sponsor a data science PhD student.

“More recently, we have appointed an MBA graduate from Warwick Business School, Andrew Green, who completed an internship with us. Following his work experience, he joined us as director of customer service. Andrew will play a vital role in getting the industry to understand all the capabilities of Nimbus Maps, having himself worked in it for 10 years previously.

“These appointments are starting to bear fruit and during that time we have acquired some seriously big users such as Lidl, Aldi and Co-Op.”

Dirk Schaefer, Business Growth Adviser, University of Warwick Science Park, said: “Nimbus Maps has enjoyed tremendous growth in what is an exciting time in PropTech.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer support on marketing, recruitment and funding, and look forward to their continued success.”

Business Ready is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme, is helping tech-based SME firms across the area which have ambitions to grow and scale. For more information on Business Ready and the help available go to http://www.business-ready.co.uk/

Deadling looming for latest round of rural grants

"This scheme is targeted very much at the businesses which are the bedrock of the rural community. I encourage all businesses to get in touch to see if they can benefit from this funding.”

Rural businesses in Warwickshire are being urged to move quickly to take advantage of newly-released grant funding to help create jobs, boost tourism and unlock growth across the county.

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) growth programme provides grants for rural start-ups and businesses to purchase equipment and machinery to create jobs, boost tourism and unlock growth in rural areas.

Originally launched in 2017, it has been relaunched for a short period of time so businesses now have a chance to apply for funding in one of three areas – business development, tourism and food processing.

Companies in those areas are encouraged to explore potential projects in order to meet the expression of interest deadline of February 16th.

The scheme has already given £99 million to 546 local businesses across England, creating 3,771 new jobs in rural areas. Rural business in Warwickshire have so far been allocated £2.6 million from the two previous rounds of the scheme as Warwickshire County Council and its partners ensured that the full allocation of available funding was taken up.

Additional eligibility criteria must be met and it is recommended to discuss this with the business support team at Warwickshire Country Council in the first instance.

Warwickshire County Council strategic director for communities Mark Ryder said: “Warwickshire County Council is committed to supporting the rural economy and we are delighted that this round of funding has become available.

"This scheme is targeted very much at the businesses which are the bedrock of the rural community. I encourage all businesses to get in touch to see if they can benefit from this funding.”

To speak with a member of the county council's business support team to check eligible projects, please call 01926 412102 or email business@warwickshire.gov.uk.

Number Four cafe hits the ground running at Eliot Park Innovation Centre

"This cafe is a big additional asset and there are other exciting developments coming down the track in the next few months."

A brand new cafe - Number Four: Coffee & Food at Eliot Park Innovation Centre has strengthened the offer to businesses based there and is part of a series of improvements to the centre which will generate additional revenue far into the future.

The cafe, which opened at the centre, in Barling Way, Nuneaton, for the first time in the New Year is open throughout the day and was soon ticking over nicely as a welcome new dimension to the centre.

Open throughout the day, it has seating for 36 people and is designed for maximum comfort and efficiency following advice from an expert close at hand. David Tremmil, whose company Inloco Events is based at the centre, has almost 30 years experience of delivering what clients want so was perfectly qualified to advise.

Duncan Haldane, Warwickshire County Council's strategic manager for business centres, said: "The new cafe gives the centre a much stronger offer. Businesses there were eagerly waiting for it to open and it will also attract external customers, whether neighbouring businesses or people calling by to use the EV charging points at the centre.

"It is also a great drop-in zone for county council staff and we are really pleased with the layout and design, into which David's input was much appreciated.

"We have very high occupancy rates at Eliot Park because of the quality of service we have provided for years, allied to the great location and free parking, but are always looking to improve the location. This cafe is a big additional asset and there are other exciting developments coming down the track in the next few months."

David Tremmill believes the new cafe will help Eliot Park Innovation Centre attract businesses which would otherwise look to Coventry.

"A lot of people naturally look to Coventry as the big-city destination but this side of the M6 is easier to get to and the accessibility of Eliot Park is perfect," he said. "Getting in and out of Coventry can be a nightmare so this is so much easier.

"My business has been based at Eliot Park for two years and I can vouch that during that time it has offered almost everything a small businesses needs - now with the cafe, it offers everything!"

Further improvements to follow at Eliot Park this spring include the opening of two new main conference rooms and two smaller meeting rooms which are now under construction. There will also be a brand new purpose-built Business Club area for small business which do not require a full-time office space but find a workspace, with all facilities, very useful.

The Business Club is designed to appeal to the new generation of entrepreneurs whose businesses are often 100% internet-based and who do not need a physical office, particularly during the start up and early phases of establishing a business. Based on a monthly subscription business model, benefits will include, free car parking, superfast broadband, 24/7 access as well as being able to subscribe to virtual office, call answering and mail services.

BAFTA-winner to address Interactive Futures 2020

"Interactive Futures provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the world-class talent and businesses we have in the region."

John and Brenda Romero, founders of the BAFTA Award-winning studio Romero Games, will be headline speakers at Interactive Futures 2020, which takes place on January 31 and February 1 at the Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa.

The two-day conference and expo (www.interactive-futures.com) will once again showcase to the industry and general public the rich seam of talent and opportunity within the Leamington Games Hub.

The event will highlight the Coventry & Warwickshire region’s heritage within the UK video games industry, its talent and creativity, the unrivalled community of indie and major studios, and career opportunities – both for students and those already working in games and beyond.

On Friday, January 31, the conference programme will highlight key issues relevant to the region and the wider games industry. Topics will include: Ukie’s Regional Economic Impact Report – and why Leamington is punching above its weight; How to finance your game and studio; and How Leamington became one of the biggest games hubs in the UK.

Saturday, February 1 will see Interactive Futures open its doors to consumers and students to inspire the next generation of talent, with career opportunities the key focus for the day, during which John and Brenda will be on hand to help guide attendees on the best way forward for their professional goals.

Conference topics will include: Levelling Up; what skills and qualifications are required for a career in games?; How we made it; young indie developers discuss their careers; and Beyond coding: Why there’s a career in games for everyone.

An EXPO showcasing the best of the Leamington Games Hub will run throughout the two days.

John and Brenda Romero will share their experiences of operating a studio in Ireland’s Galway City games hub and how that can be applied to studios operating in Leamington. They will also offer delegates practical advice and insights into technology, production, finance, talent, local government support and the reasons why tech hubs are vital to the games industry.

John Romero is an award-winning game development icon whose work spans over 130 games, 108 of which have been published commercially. Brenda Romero is a BAFTA award-winning game designer, artist and Fulbright award recipient who has worked on 47 games and contributed to many seminal titles, including the Wizardry and Jagged Alliance series and titles in the Ghost Recon, Dungeons & Dragons and Def Jam franchises.

Interactive Futures 2020 is funded by Warwickshire County Council and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) with the support of local industry.

Stacy O'Connor, Warwickshire County Council's Digital Skills Lead, said: "Interactive Futures provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the world-class talent and businesses we have in the region. 

"The first Interactive Futures was a major success with over 1,700 games enthusiasts, students and industry professionals attending and Interactive Furtures 2020 promises to once again offer a vast range of content to appeal to a cross-section of the community. We are proud to be the home of Silicon Spa which plays such a key role in our thriving economy.

"Friday will see us discussing important issues and challenges facing the industry over the next 12 months alongside providing important information for business development and investment opportunities. Saturday will once again shine a spotlight on the vast array of career opportunities available within the world of creative content making, encouraging growth in our local talent pipeline and helps to really put Warwickshire on the map as a career destination for the fast-moving games industry." 

Sarah Windrum, chair of the CWLEP Digital Creative Business Group and board director at the CWLEP, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have John and Brenda Romero as our headline speakers at Interactive Futures 2020. Their knowledge of the business of game development, experience of working in a hub similar to Leamington’s and ability to engage with audiences of all ages will provide delegates with invaluable insight.”

To buy tickets for Interactive Futures 2020, click here: https://interactive-futures.com/tickets-2020/

If you are interested in getting involved with the Interactive Futures conference programme, please contact Lisa Carter on 07970 164201 / lisa.carter@mimrammedia.com.

If you would like to exhibit at Interactive Futures or become a commercial partner, contact Darrell Carter on 07967 947076 / darrell.carter@mimrammedia.com.

Suirvey results bode well for region's economy

Dave A H"It is noticeable just how much more optimistic businesses in Coventry & Warwickshire are feeling than what we see across the rest of the country"

Businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire have entered 2020 with renewed confidence - and the data from the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) "bodes well," for the region believes Warwickshire County Council's assistant director for communities, Dave Ayton-Hill.

The results of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s final QES of 2019 reveal that firms in both service and manufacturing sectors were more positive about the future than in the three months previous.

That was against a backdrop of slight decreases in domestic and overseas orders, as well as a fall in employment prospects, leading to a slight downgrade in the overall economic picture.

However, the survey, which is partnered by Prime Accountants and analysed by Warwickshire County Council, showed that Coventry and Warwickshire is still considerably above the national average when it comes to economic performance.

The County Council’s analysis uses a similar score to the national Markits Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) where 50 is the balance and anything above means the majority feel positive and anything below means the reverse.

Using that format, confidence in the service sector rose from 72.2 to 74.7 and in manufacturing it was up from 61.8 to 65.4 compared to the previous quarter. Domestic orders in manufacturing went down from 56.5 to 55.2 and overseas orders fell from 56.1 to 52.4. In the service sector, domestic orders went from 62.4 to 61.1 and overseas orders dropped from 53.9 to 50.9.

All the data led to an overall economic outlook score of 60.8 for Coventry and Warwickshire – slightly down on the score of 61 recorded in the third quarter of 2019 but still way above the national average.

 “While the overall Economic Outlook score has fallen ever so slightly, it is noticeable just how much more optimistic businesses in Coventry & Warwickshire are feeling than what we see across the rest of the country," said Mr Ayton-Hill. 

"Our overall Index score of 60.8 compares to the UK wide PMI score of 49.7 – which actually shows that the slight majority of businesses are experiencing a contraction of activity rather than growth. 

"Over the past few years, the business base of Coventry & Warwickshire has been more confident about growth than the national picture, which has translated into faster-than-average economic growth rates.  The continued strong position shown in this latest Quarterly Economic Survey therefore bodes well for 2020, and the various challenges and opportunities it will inevitably bring."

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said firms were cautiously optimistic at the start of the new decade but that the new Government must prioritise economic growth and create greater certainty for business.

She said: “The end of 2019 brought a new Government and, with it, a degree of certainty about the future direction of the country. This must now be backed up by policy that delivers real incentives to firms to invest and grow and remove some of those up-front costs from doing business.

“We need investment in infrastructure and a strategy for overseas trade – both with the EU and beyond.

“So while the economic outlook for Coventry and Warwickshire saw the slightest of falls it is encouraging to see that confidence is beginning to pick up and it is vital that the seeds of that optimism are nurtured in the coming weeks and months.

“We will be working with businesses in the region to support their growth and will continue to be their voice to decision-makers in order to ensure that the needs and aspirations of companies across Coventry and Warwickshire are heard.”

Steve Harcourt, Director Prime Accountants Group, said: “As predicted in the previous quarter, the final three months of 2019’s economic results for Coventry and Warwickshire have shown a dip in all areas of the survey apart from ongoing and future business confidence."

Business programme grants help power Aeristech to next level

"This move marks the transformation of the company from high tech developer to serious commercial player."

An expanding Warwickshire company, whose cutting-edge technology reduces harmful carbon dioxide emissions, has moved into brand new facilities in Leamington Spa following rising demand for its products.

Aeristech’s 11,000 sq ft new premises in Hermes Close in Leamington were officially opened by the Royal Leamington Spa Mayor Councillor Bill Gifford and Warwickshire County Council leader Councillor Izzi Seccombe OBE during a ribbon-cutting ceremony which attracted around 100 guests.

Both councillors highlighted the contribution that the state-of-the-art facility would make to job creation in the region.

Aeristech, which designs and manufactures clean energy applications, specialises in the development of electric air compressors for the international automotive industry and is poised to enter new markets.

As part of the expansion, Aeristech was able to secure a total of £50,000 in grants with help from the Coventry & Warwickshire Business Support Programme which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via Coventry City Council and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub. This grant contributed towards building Aeristech’s new engineering and development floor.

Speaking at the ceremony, Richard Wall, CEO at Aeristech, said: “This move marks the transformation of the company from high tech developer to serious commercial player.

“The new premises comprises two sections: design and development. The facilities will allow us to explore new applications for Aeristech’s unique technology while the production facility will enable us to deliver 30,000 centrifugal compressors a year with a potential of upping that to 200,000 units.”

Original investor Mike Woodroffe, who was invited to unveil Aeristech’s remodelled logo, hailed the transition from high-tech developer to a serious commercial player.

Mike said: “I cannot understate the thrill of being associated with the rebranding. It is a privilege to be associated with a new technology that is contributing to a greener world.

“Until now we have concentrated on researching, developing and creating a market for our product. The market is now beginning to mature so it is an ideal time to be making the switch to Leamington.”

Mike also highlighted the role that the CWLEP Growth Hub could play in securing potential further support for their growth plans.

Martin Nwangwa, Account Manager at CWLEP Growth Hub, said: “The pioneering work being done by Aeristech is driving the next generation of low-emission technology and the expansion of the company is tremendous news for the region.

“Aeristech is a model example of how the CWLEP can assist growing businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire across a whole range of sectors.”

Free workshops for retailers who want a bigger online presence

Warwickshire retailers looking to increase their online presence and bring more shoppers to the county are being encouraged to attend free digital sessions that will begin at the end of January.

On behalf of Warwickshire County Council, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce will be delivering free digital support to help independent retailers across the county increase trade, as part of the Warwickshire Towns Network Programme.

Business owners across the whole of Warwickshire will be given advice on how to use social media, how to enhance shopping experiences to counter the functionality of online retail, and how to build better digital networks in their local area.

Local company, Stories Marketing – which has a background in retail and expertise in social media – will deliver the series of free workshops around the county between January 27 and March 23.

They will range from using Instagram and Facebook to drive sales through to the digital future of retail businesses.

Keely Hancox, Operations Manager of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said it was an exciting opportunity for independent retailers to begin 2020 by finding new ways to grow their business.

She said: “We are very pleased to be able to reveal the dates for our workshops across Warwickshire as we look to support our small independents.

“The future of the high street is something that is very high profile, with the new Government offering increased reductions to business rates.

“A recent survey also showed that a significant percentage of small retailers have no digital presence at all – yet the majority of their customers are online.

“So these workshops come at the perfect time and will help independents in Warwickshire to tap into Stories Marketing’s expertise in this field and really drive footfall into their business.”

Warwickshire County Council leader Councillor Izzi Seccombe, said: “We are pleased to commissioning the digital skills for retailers and high street businesses for the fourth year running.

“The Warwickshire Towns Network has seen some real success stories since the programme started in 2016. One fifth of retailers on Warwickshire high streets are disconnected from the digital market place. This programme will open up new opportunities for small businesses to build better digital networks in the local area.

“It is wonderful to see small retailers and high street businesses embracing social media, gaining new customers and changing the way they interact with customers and supporting the local economy.”


Session One – using Instagram and Facebook to drive sales in your retail store

Nuneaton: Monday January 27 10am – 1:30pm

Stratford: Tuesday 28 January 9:30am – 1pm

Leamington: Tuesday 28 January 5pm – 8:30pm

Rugby:  Wednesday 29 January 9:30am – 1pm

Session Two – how to use social media to create a buzz around your business

Stratford: Tuesday 4 February 9:30am – 1pm

Nuneaton: Monday 10 February 10am – 1:30pm

Leamington: Tuesday 11 February 5pm – 8:30pm

Rugby: Wednesday 12 February 9:30am – 1pm

Session Three – the digital future for retail businesses

Stratford: Tuesday 17 March 9:30 – 1pm

Leamington: Tuesday 17 March 5pm – 8:30pm

Nuneaton: Monday 23 March 10am – 1:30pm

Rugby: Wednesday 15 March 9:30 – 1pm

For more information please visit http://towncentres.eventbrite.com or contact Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce on 02476 654321 (Option 4).

Focus Digital workshops wll make SMEs more visble in the market

Warwickshire SMEs in the digital media and ICT sector can obtain free advice on how to make their products more visible in the market place from a series of workshops run by Coventry University Enterprises.

The five workshops, on Branding, Website Development for Beginners, YouTube, Digital Photography and Digital & Social Media Marketing, are fully funded and applicants can attend as many as they like.

From the workshops, applicants can go on to receive six hours of one-to-one support from one of CUE's graphic designers. The workshops last a full day (six hours) with refreshments and lunch provided. They will normally start at 8.30am for registration ready for an 9am start.

The workshops are part of CUE's Focus Digital scheme under which SMES can access funding of up to £6,000. The grants are designed to support the acceleration and internal implementation of new products, services and processes to market.

Support available includes:

• Capital equipment grants to part-fund improvements to infrastructure or invest in new equipment

• Development grants to part-fund the continuation of product/process/service with an external supplier

• Consultancy grants to part-fund the purchase of external expertise to help improve digital products and services.

For a full list of the 2020 workshop please visit www.eventbrite.co.uk.

For more information about the Focus Digital scheme please visit here.

* This support is part-funded to eligible businesses through the European Regional Development Fund in Coventry & Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull (More Developed area) and the Black Country. In the following sectors: digital, ICT and creative industries, assisted living and community healthcare, tourism, leisure and the visitor economy, business and professional services.


Upcoming events...

Monday January 27th: Nuneaton Digital Towns Workshop, The Saints Learning Zone, Nuneaton. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/nuneaton-digital-towns-tickets-84889706397

Tuesday January 28th: 5G - Enabled Road and Rail Transport Trials in the West Midlands - Birmingham Birmingham Birmingham. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/5g-enabled-road-and-rail-transport-trials-in-the-west-midlands-birmingham-registration-89125517823

Tuesday January 28th: Leamington Spa Digital Towns Workshop STEM Centre, Warwickshire College Leamington Spa. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/leamington-spa-digital-towns-tickets-84869710589

Wednesday January 29th: Brexit: UK Auto, Rail & Aerospace - Understanding Logistics & Supply Chain Steamhouse, Digbeth Birmingham. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/brexit-uk-auto-rail-aerospace-understanding-logistics-supply-chain-tickets-86924478455?aff=ebdssbeac

Wednesday January 29th: Rugby Digital Towns Workshop Oxygen Graphics Rugby. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rugby-digital-towns-tickets-84881903057

Wednesday January 29th: One to One Business Support Session for North Warwickshire, North Warwickshire Borough Council, Atherstone. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/one-to-one-business-support-session-for-north-warwickshire-tickets-85985662431

Thursday January 30th: Put your Social Media House in order, Centenary Business Centre, Nuneaton. https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/events/put-your-social-media-house-in-order-30th-january-2020/

Friday January 31st: Interactive Futures, Spa Centre, Leamington Spa. https://interactive-futures.com/news/

Friday January 31st: Creative Mornings, Leamington Spa, Royal Pump Rooms, Leamington Spa. https://creativemornings.com/cities/lms

Saturday Febuary 1st: Interactive Futures Spa Centre Leamington Spa https://interactive-futures.com/news/

Tuesday February 4th: Crime Prevention Workshop for Warwickshire SMEs, CCL, Stratford-upon-Avon Stratford https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/it-wont-happen-to-me-crime-prevention-workshop-for-warwickshire-smes-tickets-69403262025

Tuesday February 4th: Creative Springboard, Village Hotel, Coventry. https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/event/creative-springboard

Wednesday February 6th CWRT Jumpstart - Personal Development ProgrammeEnterprise Room, Brunswick Hub, Brunswick Healthy Living Centre, Leamington Spa. https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/event/cwrt-jumpstart-personal-development-programme

Tuesday February 11th: Business Breakfast Briefing - February 2020, MIRA Technology Institute Nuneaton. https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/events/business-breakfast-briefing-february-2020/

Wednesday February 12th: Artifical Intelligence for Manufacturing 2020, The MTC, Ansty. http://www.the-mtc.org/event-items/artificial-intelligence-for-manufacturing-2020

Wednesday February 12th: Perception Sensors for Intelligent Vehicles Masterclass, NAIC, University of Warwick Coventry https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/mediacentre/wmgevents/ivmasterclass/#submissionform?_cldee=YS5zYXRoaUB3YXJ3aWNrLmFjLnVr&recipientid=contact-bc455ed626e1e911a96e000d3a441cb0-58188a39850a4cdaa2d4e74bdc46fc65&esid=17eceee7-d120-ea11-a810-000d3a228e6c

Wednesday February 12th: One to One Business Support Session in Stratford-upon-Avon, Venture House, Stratford. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/one-to-one-business-support-session-in-stratford-upon-avon-tickets-83905506629?ref=enivtefor001&utm_source=eb_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=inviteformalv2&utm_term=attend

Thursday February 13th: Commonwealth Trade Expo Conference Aston Birmingham https://www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com/networking-events/events-calendar/listing/commonwealth-expo/detail

Thursday February 13th: Rugby Business Buzz, Prince of Wales, Rugby. https://www.business-buzz.org/local-business-networking-locations/rugby/

Thursday February 20th: Startup essentials: Effective Social Media, Serious Games Institute, Coventry. https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/event/startup-essentials-effective-social-media

Friday February 21st: Race Retro, NAEC Kenilworth. https://www.raceretro.com/

Tuesday February 25th: Microbusiness Show, Draycote Hotel, Rugby. https://www.themicrobusinessshow.co.uk/

Tuesday February 25th: Apprentice Open Events at the MTC, Lloyds Bank Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre, Ansty. https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/event/apprentice-open-events-mtc-1

Saturday, Sunday June 6th,7th: Coventry Motofest, Coventry. https://www.coventrymotofest.com/

Wednesday, Thursday June 17th,18th: Rail Live QRTC, Stratford. https://www.raillive.org.uk/

Wednesday, Thursday July 8th,9th: Vehicle Electrification Expo, NAEC, Stoneleigh, Kenilworth. https://ve-expo.com/

Monday, Tuesday September 21st,22nd: Automotive EV Live, Coventry. https://www.automotiveev.live/uk20/index.html

News in Brief

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

Coventry & Warwickshire FirstPro Awards – Nominations Open!

Nominations for the Coventry & Warwickshire FirstPro Awards are open. Have you got a success story to share? There are three new categories this year so do enter and share your successes before the 14th February deadline. https://mailchi.mp/4bdb9574cbd2/firstpro2020islaunched

Employees take over at Vectric

The founder has stepped down as the Alcester software firm Vectric becomes employee-owned. https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/westmidlands/news/2036826-founder-steps-down-as-software-firm-becomes-employee-owned

Digital agency Miromedia seeks expansion in Leamington move

Digital marketing agency Miromedia has relocated its office to Leamington Spa in a move it says will create a number of jobs, as it seeks to access the local ‘hotbed of digital talent’ in the town. https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/westmidlands/news/2037019-digital-marketing-agency-to-create-jobs-in-relocation

Telent 'going underground'

Warwick technology company Telent has won a major contract to support Transport for London across 270 sites in the capital. https://www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk/business-people-across-the-region-recognised-in-new-years-honours-list/

Autocar makes case for UK ‘Gigafactory’

Within a year, most car producers and battery manufacturers will make their decisions about where in Europe the next generation of gigafactories will be built. Without urgent action, the UK is in danger of losing out in the race,” the Faraday Institute, a government-funded battery action group, wrote in a recent report.

With a strong auto powertrain supply chain and local talent, and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) opening in April this year, Coventry & Warwickshire is well placed to land one of these new factories. https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/analysis-why-uk-needs-battery-gigafactory-and-fast?fbclid=IwAR2xtev3AkJEstfqFAjNR_fcvlp_2E7e5XB9vY4nRjviHYrGZD-znibXm24

Aston Martin Lagonda in talks with new partners

Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, owner of Racing Point F1 team, is moving into pole position to take a stake in Aston Martin Lagonda. Chinese auto maker Geely, who already own local company London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) was also considering taking a stake in the Gaydon based company. https://europe.autonews.com/automakers/canadian-billionaire-front-runner-aston-martin-stake-after-chinese-interest-cools-report

Alcester’s Severn Lamb wins Southend light rail contract

Severn Lamb, a leader in the manufacture and supply of leisure, resort and amusement transport, has secured the contract to construct a new train for the iconic Southend-on-Sea pier in the UK. https://blooloop.com/news/severn-lamb-southend-pier-train/

Atherstone outlet celebrates profitable Christmas

Atherstone-based Aldi UK sold 55 million mince pies over a Christmas which saw British shoppers spend record amounts at the German discount grocery chain. UK sales in the four weeks to December 24 topped £1 billion for the first time in the retailer’s history, marking a 7.9 per cent rise on the same period in 2018. https://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2020/01/aldi-books-record-breaking-christmas-sales/

Support for Warwickshire retailers

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce will be delivering free digital support to help independent retailers across the county increase trade, as part of the Warwickshire Towns Network Programme. https://www.cwlep.com/news/free-support-programme-independent-retailers-warwickshire-starts-month

New business centre and library to Transform Nuneaton

Warwickshire County Council has ratified the Cabinet decision to invest nearly £19.5 million of its Capital Investment Fund to continue the Transforming Nuneaton programme and build a new library, café and business centre in the town. https://www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk/19-5-million-investment-to-transform-nuneaton/

Building better opportunities for all

The Building Better Opportunities programme has celebrated getting 370 Coventry & Warwickshire people back into employment by securing a £7m extension. https://www.midlandsbusinessnews.co.uk/building-better-opportunities-secures-7m-extension-as-it-celebrates-getting-370-coventry-warwickshire-people-back-into-employment/

Local business leaders recognised in New Year Honours List

Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern OBE was among those recognised locally in the New Year Honours List. https://www.businessinnovationmag

People Profile

Back from down under, Michael is eager to "make a difference" in Warwickshire

"There is such an amazing diversity of businesses in Warwickshire and it is so rewarding to help them bridge the skills gap."

Michael Sharman has brought a big passion for education and desire to help business fill their skills gaps to his role as business skills advisor at Warwickshire County Council

Michael has joined the Economy & Skills team, based at Barrack Street, Warwick, but is rarely office-based as he gets out and about supporting business of all sizes and sectors.

Having returned from the trip of a lifetime to Australia, he haspicked up his career back in England and is delighted to have done so in Warwickshire. Before travelling, he gathered experience in a number of sectors, spending some time working in construction and facilities management including at his own former primary school.

He also achieved a Distinction in Level 3 Business Administration and gained qualifications in the built environment at Leicester College but was always drawn to return to the skills and education sector.

Michael said: "I really enjoyed working in the school so when I saw a vacancy connected to the education sector at Warwickshire County Council, I applied straight away.

"The variety of the job appealed to me. There is such an amazing diversity of businesses in Warwickshire and it is so rewarding to help them bridge the skills gap. I am really looking forward to making a difference within the community."

Michael can certainly vouch for the value of apprenticeships having served one at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College. There he worked as a Business Engagement Advisor, dealing closely with all types of business from SME’s to global organisations - a role which revolved very much around bridging the skills gaps across the whole of the UK and finding appropriate training solutions.

"I really enjoyed that role," he said. "I also worked alongside learners to help find them decide on their future career-path and advise them where possible.

"During my time with NWSLC I also completed a Business Administration Level 3 Apprenticeship, during which I learned about the organisation as a whole and effective ways to communicate.

"My primary focus now is to support businesses across Warwickshire with the support they need. As part of my role I will be completing a Business Skills Analysis that would give me more of an indication as to the actual business needs as well as documenting findings and building a skills support plan.

"The focus of my role will be to build a strong working, professional relationship with further education providers who offer a variation of courses along with employability programmes and schools.

"I will also be building relationships with the county’s local partnerships which include Coventry and Warwickshire growth hub and Coventry and Warwickshire chamber of commerce."

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