Welcome from Strategic Director for Communities, Mark Ryder

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

Our local economy and the day-to-day running of businesses large and small continues to present challenges, not least from the rising cost of living, but this edition of WMB outlines plenty of reasons to feel positive about the future in our wonderful county.

The creativity, energy and resilience of our small businesses never ceases to inspire, and we hear from several who have been supported with their growth plans by the County Council and our partners.

Forge Care are advancing with their exciting plans for a new children's care facility with support from the Warwickshire Recovery Investment Fund. Shakespeare's Schoolroom's refresh, underpinned by an Adapt & Diversify grant, is a great news story and Hart & Co have moved to a new level thanks to the input of Project Warwickshire.

It is great to read that an independent survey has revealed that more than 90% of businesses which have accessed support from the Coventry and Warwickshire Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme would recommend it to others.

In this edition of WMB we also celebrate the cornucopia of delights offered by Warwickshire's Food & Drink sector and salute the winners of the recent Foodie Awards. We are also very pleased to welcome Cllr Martin Watson as the new Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, here at WCC. Cllr Watson has a hard act to follow in Cllr Kam Kaur, whom we thank for all her energy and support during her time in the role. Martin is well equipped for the role, bringing considerable business experience and expertise.

At WCC we are committed to helping everybody, whatever their needs and interests, to find pathways to their chosen careers, so it is heartwarming to read about Lisa's progress through the Fair Chance Employment Programme. The Let's Go Rural scheme has also hit the ground running this summer in its mission to open doors into jobs in rural Warwickshire.

There is so much to be positive about in our county and across the wider region... and don't forget the Commonwealth Games is now less than a month away with all the business opportunities that this festival of sport will bring.

Best wishes for the summer.


Featured News

A&D grant gets a straight 'A' from Shakespeare Schoolroom

"We are so grateful to the county council. We have also benefited from their Project Warwickshire scheme and their support has been wonderful and allowed us to keep people employed."

The visitor experience at a tourist attraction in Stratford-upon-Avon has been hugely enhanced - and jobs protected - by a grant from Warwickshire County Council. 

Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall, in Church Street, offers visitors the chance to walk in the rooms in which the great writer was educated and see and touch desks and other artefacts from the time when he was there.

Part of King Edward's VI School, Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall is an integral part of the town's celebration of Shakespeare. It is totally authentic and oozes history yet is also living history as it is still used to teach children today.  

Now its quality of visitor experience, and commensurate increase in customer spend, is much enhanced following a grant from the county council's Adapt & Diversify Scheme. 

The retail shop has been reorganised to be much brighter and more appealing and stylish internal and external signing is now in place. The elegant 16th-century building is gleaming after extensive repainting while a desk in the schoolroom has been adapted to make it accessible for all. 

The Adapt & Diversify grant has transformed the rooms' tourist appeal, which has put it on a more better business footing, says General Manager, Lindsey Armstrong. 

"The grant enabled us to do some amazing things," said Lindsey. "Our gift shop was really small, so we used the funding to expand it by repositioning the reception desk and putting in three more retail units. The space is now much more inviting and customer-friendly and our retail spend per head has almost doubled.  

"The whole customer experience has been upgraded. In addition to that, we have had new computers and laptops which makes all the admin so such easier and more efficient.  

"Upstairs in the schoolroom, one of our desks has been modified to make our quill-writing and Tudor games fully accessible for all visitors. The modification was done by a local craftsman and it is brilliant, so that the desk is equipped for the 21st century but fits beautifully into the 16th-century environment." 

The grant has been especially helpful in light of complications caused by Covid. Much of the improvement work was done during and just after the pandemic which further complicated matters but the flexibility of the county council's Business & Economy team, which administered the Adapt & Diversify Scheme, kept the project moving forward.    

"Louisa Smith and the team were so flexible," said Lindsey. "That was brilliant because with Covid everything kept changing. What we eventually did was very different to what we originally intended! 

"We are so grateful to the county council. We have also benefited from their Project Warwickshire scheme and their support has been wonderful and allowed us to keep people employed."

Project Warwickshire is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council. The support is delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Shakespeare’s England and Northern Warwickshire Tourism.”

Support programme recommended by 92% of businesses

"The feedback from the evaluation survey shows that it has significantly benefited many businesses around the county and I am delighted that it has proved such a success."

An independent evaluation survey of the CW: Start, Grow and Scale programme has found that than more than 90% of businesses which have accessed the support would recommend it.

The survey was distributed to 464 programme participants across multiple sectors and the whole geographical spread of Warwickshire and some businesses in Coventry.

Of those participants, 72% said that they had experienced growth, 46.34% reported increased turnover and 43.9% improving profits, with 85% reporting that they had launched new products or services.

A total of 92% of businesses said they would recommend the support programme with many commenting that they already had recommended it. Among feedback received were very positive comments including ‘my reasons for signing up have been fully achieved.’

Findings of the survey included:

  • 92% of businesses would recommend the programme. 
  • 87% of businesses say the achieved their goals upon completing the support programme.  
  • 49% of businesses rated the programme as 5 stars 
  • 44% of businesses reported increase in profit as a result of attending the programme. 
  • Over 75% of businesses reported new products or services launched as a result of the support.

These findings are particularly impressive considering the difficulties faced by businesses in the last two years and they show how the support was adapted to support businesses through the pandemic.

The CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme is managed by Warwickshire County Council. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund,  Warwickshire County Council, University of Warwick Science Park and Warwickshire’s District and Borough Councils.

The programme includes:

  • Warwickshire Start-Up Support Service – One-to-one support and workshops/masterclasses for businesses in their first 24 months of trading and Warwickshire residents looking to start a business. The service is delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce on behalf of WCC
  • Business Ready – Support for tech-based and other innovation-led early-stage businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire. The programme is delivered by University of Warwick Science Park
  • Project Warwickshire: Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Business Support – One-to-one support with workshops and masterclasses, for existing Warwickshire businesses in the tourism and leisure sectors. This support is delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with Shakespeare’s England, on behalf of WCC
  • Advice and support for other businesses looking to grow with focus on access to finance. This support is delivered by WCC.

The programme has provided nearly intensive support to almost 900 businesses since 2016. 385 new jobs have also been created and almost 450 Warwickshire residents helped to start their own business.

Warwickshire County Council Lead Commissioner, Business & Economy, Matthew Epps, said: "The CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme is a great example of partnership working and of what can be achieved through a co-ordinated, strategic approach to commissioning and delivery. The feedback from the evaluation survey shows that it has significantly benefited many businesses around the county and I am delighted that it has proved such a success."

Lisa seizes her Fair Chance to shine at NABCEL

"I would definitely recommend for other businesses to get involved with the Fair Chance programme. Not only can you give someone the chance they deserve, but you will also strengthen your own workforce by encouraging understanding and appreciation of diversity."

A business is "thrilled with the progress" of a new employee recruited through a Warwickshire County Council employment programme designed to offer people with supportive needs equal access to careers.

Nuneaton-based NABCEL has signed up to the council's Fair Chance Employment Programme and is already benefiting from the input of Lisa Blunden.

Lisa, who was introduced to NABCEL by Warwickshire Employment Support Team (WEST). is thriving in her administrative role and setting down roots for a longer-term career.

Sam Lees, operations manager at NABCEL, is full of praise for Lisa's work - and for the Fair Chance programme that introduced her to the company.

"Lisa has enthusiastically embraced her role at NABCEL and settled in really well," Sam said. "She has applied herself fully to all given tasks and is committed to supporting her fellow colleagues. We are thrilled with her progress in her first few weeks and can see her confidence growing on a daily basis.

"NABCEL is a company that operates at the heart of the community. We understand and value that every person is unique and wish to embrace the diversity within our workforce to learn and grow from one another. We want to reach out to members of the community who are seeking work but may have found themselves restricted by personal situations and are keen to offer them the possibility of employment with our company. We believe that everyone has the right to be given a fair chance."

The benefits of the Fair Chance programme are very much two-way, insists Sam. While Lisa embraces a career opportunity, NABCEL have her skills at their disposal.

"There is a vast pool of talent currently going to waste," she said. "It is frustrating to think there are people out there willing and able to work but who may be overlooked because they require more focused consideration or understanding.

"I would definitely recommend for other businesses to get involved with the Fair Chance programme. Not only can you give someone the chance they deserve, but you will also strengthen your own workforce by encouraging understanding and appreciation of diversity."

Kirsty Smith, WEST Employment Officer, is delighted that Lisa has found such a springboard to a career.

"NABCEL has shown great commitment to supporting adults with learning disabilities and autism in Warwickshire by taking the time to work together with us to offer a supportive environment for Lisa to work in," she said. "Lisa has been doing a brilliant job since starting her new admin role and we are all very proud of her."

f you are an employer who is recruiting and would like to explore how the Fair Chance Employment Programme could help your business, then please contact the Warwickshire Skills Hub team on skillshub@warwickshire.gov.uk 

Hart + Co beating stronger than ever thanks to Project Warwickshire

“The advice I received was amazing and really helped me to launch the business and get started in the right way."

A Leamington bar  which serves everything from brunch through to evening cocktails  is planning for growth after receiving support from Project Warwickshire.

Hart + Co, in Augusta Place, was opened by Louise Hart four years ago after she spent several years in the hospitality sector during her university days in Kent.

The venue established itself as a place that welcomes everyone, especially providing a safe space for women, while its menu items are named after family and friends who have supported Louise’s venture along the way.

The business, which opens seven days a week and employs 12 people, has been helped by Project Warwickshire – a free recovery and growth business support programme to help companies in the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors in the county in the wake of the of the pandemic.

Project Warwickshire is funded by Warwickshire County Council and the European Regional Development Fund. The support is delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Shakespeare’s England and Northern Warwickshire Tourism.

Louise said: “I was at a point a few years ago when it was my dream to open the venue but I knew I needed some help and I spoke to the council who pointed me in the direction of the Chamber.

“The advice I received was amazing and really helped me to launch the business and get started in the right way. I’d worked in hospitality but I had no idea of all the things I’d need to know to start a business.

“More recently, I’ve had some additional help on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic when Marie Stephenson from the Chamber has given me one-to-one help.

“It’s been so helpful. Marie has helped me with everything from pricing to help us become more profitable right through to marketing. We are now, we believe, the most followed bar in Leamington on Instagram!”

The business now offers a range of classes and offers table-service cocktails from 6pm through to 10pm. Louise is also considering creating extra space to offer more opportunities for private hire.

Marie said: “I am so thrilled to see Hart + Co continuing to grow and we are really pleased to have supported her along the way.

“As it’s a fantastic business, created in Louise’s image, she prides herself on giving great service and even ensures all members of staff are given lifts home to make sure they get back safely in an evening.

“Our support has very much been about helping to Louise to be true to herself but ensure that she puts in place all of the fundamentals of running a business to help Hart & Co to thrive.”

Warwickshire County Council's Business Growth & Support Programme Manager, Gillian Dale, said: “Hart + Co is a great example of the innovative business, driven with real passion and energy by its management and staff, which makes Warwickshire's hospitality sector so vibrant.

"I am delighted that Project Warwickshire has been such a great source of help to Louise. Warwickshire County Council is pleased and proud to have created and part-funded Project Warwickshire to support our wonderful tourism, leisure and hospitality sector."

* For more information please visit the Project Warwickshire website or email BusinessSupport@cw-chamber.co.uk

Claire and Charli hit the ground running at Skills Hub

"It is a great team to be a part of and I share their ambition to help others and promote our work around Warwickshire. "

The Skills Hub team at Warwickshire County Council has welcomed two new members to help drive the broad range of schemes delivered by the hub across the county.

Claire Dougan has joined the team as Business Skills Advisor for the Fair Chance employment programme which aims to open up careers for people who have, for various reasons, yet to embark upon one.

Charli Carter recently became the Skills Hub's first apprentice and is already an important member of the admin team with a view to becoming a Project Officer.

Both have settled quickly into a team which offers a comprehensive range of support including Business Skills Reviews and Apprenticeship Support as well as numerous bespoke schemes including Fair Chance, Future Careers Filming and Let's Go Rural.

Claire has arrived with plenty of experience directly relevant to her role with the Fair Chance programme.

"It feels like a natural progression for me after working in a special school as Careers and Work Experience Coordinator," Claire said. "I am passionate about enabling people to achieve their potential and breaking down barriers by working together with employers to create opportunities.  

"I am very excited to be a part of the Skills Hub team and proud of the work that we do. The Fair Chance project is a wonderful way to support businesses to become more inclusive and diverse by looking at creating opportunities from untapped talent pools such as SEND , ex-military , refugee and resettlement, 50+, carers , care leavers and ex-offenders. "

Chloe Millage, WCC's Careers and Employability Programme Manager, said Claire has already made an impact.

"Claire has fitted into the team very well," she said. "She has been promoting the Fair Chance Employer Programme to a wide range of businesses in Warwickshire and outlining to them how it can benefit their workplace. We are really pleased to have Claire in the team."  

Meanwhile, Charli has also hit the ground running.

"I am very proud to be the first apprentice for the Warwickshire Skills Hub," she said. "I joined Warwickshire County Council in April after four years at Tesco where I was face to face with customers on a daily basis.

"I'm currently completing my Business Administration Level 3 Apprenticeship and hope to become a project officer after completion. My daily duties include meeting and greeting customers and employers and helping with administrative tasks including answering the phone. It is a great team to be a part of and I share their ambition to help others and promote our work around Warwickshire. "

WCC Employability and Skills Project Officer, Adele Lineker, said: "As Charli’s mentor, I can say she has really started to develop and come into her own since she joined us at the Warwickshire Skills Hub. Her apprenticeship will help develop her administrative and customer service skills and we are very excited to have her in the team."  

Let's Go Rural initiative opens doors for career-seekers

"With the fantastic support of WCG and the business and education-providers, this is an exciting initiative which could make a real difference to the rural economy and the lives of some young people around the county."

A new county-wide programme to introduce young people in Warwickshire to employment and career opportunities with rural hospitality businesses has made a strong start.

WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group) is working with Warwickshire Skills Hub to help promote opportunities with rural businesses through the ‘Let’s Go Rural’ initiative.

The initiative – backed by the Community Renewal Fund - sees young people taken on a rural tour of Warwickshire, with visits to colleges and businesses, along with interactive sessions to discuss career opportunities.

The first Let’s Go Rural tour saw 14 students visit Moreton Morrell College, before heading to Number 34 Garden and Grill Restaurant in Warwick. The sessions at the restaurant involved a presentation and discussion around the relationships between farming and hospitality, and the potential careers in the sector. Students also took part in an interactive session on employability with Career Seekers.

WCG will be running three more ‘Let’s Go Rural’ days in the coming months, with tours scheduled for June, September and October. The initiative is aiming to reach at least 200 young people aged 16 to 24 who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Let’s Go Rural helps the young people to identify the skills and qualifications they will need to work in the industry and the pathways to get into careers, for example with industry placements and apprenticeships. It will also work with businesses to help better understand the barriers they face with employment and growth, and advise on how to navigate those challenges.

John Colclough, Business Development Manager at WCG, said: “Staff recruitment and retention is a growing challenge across the hospitality industry, and that issue is even more prevalent amongst hospitality businesses in rural areas.

“WCG is delighted to have partnered with Warwickshire Skills Hub, through Warwickshire County Council, to deliver this initiative and open the eyes of young people to the career opportunities available with these businesses.

“It’s all about showing that there opportunities out there in hospitality and that is the message we shared with the young people on our first Let’s Go Rural tour. We’ll be working with a wide range of businesses during the project and it was great to kick off with a visit to Number 34 Garden and Grill.

"Our apprenticeships team works with a wide range of rural businesses, including those in hospitality, and there is a clear demand in the sector. We hope that the programme will inspire those who take part to look into apprenticeships and pursue a career with a rural hospitality business.”

Cllr Martin Watson, portfolio holder for economy at Warwickshire County Council, added: "The Let's Go Rural programme is all about connecting people - bringing together businesses which need to recruit with young people looking to embark on a career.

"With the fantastic support of WCG and the business and education-providers, this is an exciting initiative which could make a real difference to the rural economy and the lives of some young people around the county."

To find out more about Let’s Go Rural and to sign-up for the programme, please click here.

Warwickshire winners galore at the Foodie Awards

This month’s WMB Guest Column by Aaron Corsi sets the scene for why Warwickshire food and drink matters. Also on the menu, here, is a look at the Warwickshire-based winners of Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards 2022 which showcased the region’s best in hospitality. 

In partnership with Visit Warwickshire and Visit Coventry, the Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards 2022, hosted by Fargo Village, brought together more than 50 businesses across 17 food and drink categories which explored quality, service and innovation, with an emphasis on farm to fork.

The finalists were judged by big names in the industry, including Michelin Star chef Paul Foster, who runs Stratford’s Salt restaurant, British Bake-off winner Candice Brown and food and drink broadcaster and champion Nigel Barden. 

The excellence of Warwickshire's Food & Drink offer was fully reflected by its array of winners. These were: 

Food and Drink Experience Award: Enchanted Tea Room, Leamington 

A forest-themed tea room combining the tradition of afternoon tea with live theatre style performance. 

Co-owner Kelly Isles said: “This award was perfect timing for us as we’ve worked so hard to save our business and are absolutely thrilled to win this award.” 

Young Foodie Award: Veg Food Enthusiast, Katie Todd, Henley-in-Arden 

Twenty-five-year-old Katie established this vegan blog in 2020, creating easy plant-based recipes as well as running a street food event called The Veg Weekender. 

Katie said: “I am over the moon to be named Young Foodie of the Year and be recognised alongside so many fantastic people and businesses here in the Midlands.” 

Foodie Start-up Award: St Maur, Alcester 

This handcrafted elderflower liqueur business was established by The Earl and Countess of Yarmouth, William and Kelsey Seymour when they first created a unique drink for their wedding day. 

William said: "We have been aware that there is a vibrant food and drink scene in the heart of England, but The Foodie Awards has really opened our eyes to the diversity, quality, and abundance of what there is to offer in Warwickshire and Coventry." 

Best Casual Dining Establishment Award: Dough and Brew, Warwick 

A multi-award-winning pizza restaurant that marks six years of trading this year. 

Owner John Martin said: “We are delighted and humbled to have won against such great competition."  

International Taste Award: The Cork and Tile, Stratford 

A Social Enterprise training kitchen and restaurant serving up authentic Portuguese cuisine - newly opened this year with the aim of training and retraining people returning to work who may have experienced homelessness. 

Neil Perry, owner, said: “What an incredible honour, we’re so grateful to everyone in Stratford Upon Avon for supporting us and we would like to thank all our partners within the Fred Winter Centre.” 

Farm Shop of the year Award: The Farm, Stratford 

The Farm, located in Snitterfield, champions independent businesses within Warwickshire and neighbouring counties and includes a Cookery School. 

Charlie Wells, Director, said: “It’s such a great feeling to be recognised for all our hard work through these challenging times, and what fantastic farms shop to be alongside. We are thrilled!” 

Artisan Drink Producer Award: Napton Cidery, Napton

The team at this family-run independent cidery harvests, presses, bottles and distributes more than 100,000 litres of craft cider a year using 17 types of apples and perry as well as juices, spirits and vinegars.  

Co-owner Charlotte Olivier said: “It was such a surprise to win this award and also fly the flag for craft cider. We are very passionate about what we do and so proud of this recognition.” 

Artisan Food Producer Award: Vittle and Smoke, Southam 

A family-run business using traditional smoke craft to enhance premium ingredients paired with a complementary wood smoke (plus additional ingredients) to enhance the flavour profile. 

Owner Kieran Ingham-Burroughes said: “We are so happy to have won our very first award and humbled by the overwhelming number of messages of congratulations following the event.” 

Independent Food or Drink Retailer of the Year Award: LOLA Provisions, Leamington 

A small neighbourhood wine shop and bar sourcing and selling sustainable and organically made wines whilst serving the best coffee and food and provisions from British charcuterie through to award-winning Scottish chocolate. 

Katie Jenson, who runs the business with her husband James, said: “We couldn’t be more humbled and touched for the recognition receiving this reward brings.” 

The Best Cafe or Coffee Shop Award: Forrest Coffee House, Kenilworth 

An independent coffee house in the heart of Kenilworth offering fresh cakes made in house every day, locally roasted coffee and a selection of retail items from local makers. 

Molly Shanahan said: “We’re thrilled to have won a Foodie Award - we have had a whirlwind year opening Forrest in the midst of a pandemic and welcoming our son Ned into the world so this is just the cherry on top and credit to our wonderful team.” 

Best Pub or Bar Award: The Coach House, Stratford 

The Coach House opened in May 2021 following major refurbishment which blended the 475-year-old history of the building with a stylish environment reflecting the history of Stratford. 

General Manager Linzi Toon said: “We have worked hard to create a super environment and experience for our valued customers…it’s wonderful to see that hard work realised in this prestigious award!” 

The awards evening showcased businesses from Alcester, Southam, Stratford, Kenilworth, Leamington, Warwick and the rural areas.  

Warwickshire County Council Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson said: "These businesses are integral to the health of our local economy and communities and it was wonderful to see Warwickshire businesses on the stage receiving the recoition they deserve."

The Awards also raised more than £500 through a raffle on the night for The Trussell Trust network of eight food banks in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Interactive session will explore Inclusive Recruitment

Warwickshire businesses are warmly invited to an interactive information session which will explore all aspects of Inclusive Recruitment.

The event, to be delivered by the Warwickshire Skills Hub team on July 8th (10-11.30am), will host a range of speakers including businesses who have already started the Inclusive recruitment journey. These businesses will share how this change in their approach to recruitment has positively impacted their business and workforce.

Please visit the link below to book your space...


Come and make connections at the Mill Street Exchange

"So far we’ve helped over 40 businesses find financial support, recruit top talent and source a new space to operate from."

This month saw the launch of an exciting new project - the Mill Street Exchange - at the vibrant co-working space, 1 Mill Street, in Leamington Spa.  

The Mill Street Exchange offers businesses the chance to chat about their ambitions or challenges alongside the opportunity to be plugged in to expert advice and local support programmes.

Delivered in collaboration with Warwickshire County Council and the University of Warwick, the Exchange enables businesses to create opportunities, make connections, and expand their network whilst receiving expert, tailored support.   

The aim of The Exchange is to make local services which are already available more accessible and easier to understand. Every Thursday, between 10am and 2pm, businesses can drop into The Mill Street Exchange which is based in their coffeehouse on the ground floor. You don't have to be based at 1 Mill Street - the offer is open to any business in Warwickshire.  

On Thursday 14th July (8.30am-10am), 1 Mill Street will bring their latest project to life by hosting a breakfast to celebrate the success stories so far. These will concentrate on three areas vital to business success - finance, talent and space - so please come along and hear first-hand how businesses are benefiting. 

“We are still at an early stage in the development of The Mill Street Exchange," said Jem Morey, Community Development Manager at 1 Mill Street. "So far we’ve helped over 40 businesses find financial support, recruit top talent and source a new space to operate from. We’ve chosen four businesses that have used The Mill Street Exchange to tell their story. We’re holding the breakfast to bring the project to life and invite other local businesses to get involved.” 

The free event will be hosted at 1 Mill Street, near Leam Terrace, on Thursday 14th July at 8.30am with complimentary pastries available for guests.

Business centre all the better for bakery and coffee...

"Our tenants have said they really want a cafe on site and Jess and Ryan run it so well, with such a great range of food and drink, that it is a real asset to the centre."

Tenants and visitors at Eliot Park Innovation Centre have an extra reason to enjoy their time there following the reopening of a new cafe, refreshed and under new management, on site.

Jessica Lucas has brought her lifelong passion for baking to the cafe which is very much back up and running after a prolonged period of closure due to the pandemic.

The cafe, on the first floor of the Warwickshire County Council-run centre in Nuneaton, is proving highly popular with tenants who are also very happy to have access to Jess's baking skills.

"I've always had my own bakery business - All The Good Stuff - and we also have a mobile coffee outlet too, so running the cafe so allows us to combined the two," she said. "It is going really well. Lots of people come are coming in and we have also had orders for birthday cakes and celebration cakes from people who work at the centre, so word is getting around.

"The cafe was closed for almost two years but we gave it a lick of paint, bought new accessories and redid all the menu boards so it had a good refresh and we are really pleased with it. We started off just doing coffee and treats initially, then introduced lunches and now we have introduced jacket potatoes...it is a case of finding out what everyone wants and working from there."

"We are open to all, not just tenants of the centre. Anyone visiting the centre for appointments, or any of the business nearby, like the car garages locally, is more than welcome."

The cafe is open from 8.30 to 3pm from Monday to Friday. 

Warwickshire Business Centres Strategic Manager, Luke Pulford, said: "It is fantastic to have our cafe open again on site and it is proving a massive success.

"Our tenants have said they really want a cafe on site and Jess and Ryan run it so well, with such a great range of quality food and drink. It is a real asset to the community of growing businesses at Eliot Park Innovation Centre."

Webinar will help businesses 'Get Set' for the Commonwealth Games

Businesses have a chance to find out all about the opportunities presented by the imminent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham from a webinar delivered by Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in early July. 

The event 

Coventry & Warwickshire – Get Set for the Games! Monday 4th July 2022, 11.00am–12pm 

Online webinar via Zoom 

Event detail 

Coventry & Warwickshire - let's Get Set for the Commonwealth Games! 

Between the 28th of July and 8th August 2022, thousands of visitors will descend on our region to experience both the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and our area. 

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce wants local businesses to be prepared and make the most of the opportunities from the Games. So the Chamber has partnered up with the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee and Transport for the West Midlands to offer insight into Games visitors, the likely areas which will experience higher footfall from Games related activities and how businesses should take advantage of the Games Get Set information. 

Confirmed speakers: 

David Grady, Chief Financial Officer, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games 

Adam Grinsell, Readiness Team, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games 

Sarah Crane, Transport for West Midlands 


FREE to attend for both Chamber Members and Non-Members 


Book here: https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/events/get-set-for-the-games/ or email events@cw-chamber.co.uk to secure a place. 

Masterclasses will address growth challenges

Business leaders have a chance to gain some Practical Insights into how to implement proven strategies to overcome business growth challenges.

A series of masterclasses, run by the Aston Centre for Growth, will be delivered by an experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts who know what it takes to build a successful business. The masterclasses are ideal for growing businesses and provide the opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs.

Businesses are invited to sign up for the following:

Wednesday 6th July 13:00-16:00 Aston University: Built to Last or Built to Change?

Are you overwhelmed and feeling like you just can't keep up? Join Julie Holland for an interactive workshop that will look at how organisations can remain competitive in an ever-changing business environment. You will learn practical ways to approach change management and cover concepts such as change through innovation, effective risk management and dealing with the politics of change.

Wednesday 13th July 10:00-16:00 Aston University: Practical Finance Essentials for the Business Leader

Looking to learn or refresh your business finance knowledge? Join Matt Davies and Jonathan Mills for a hands-on 1-day workshop. This high impact session uses an interactive team-based business simulation to support the interpretation of financial information and application of key financial concepts.

Wednesday 19th July 13:00-15:30 Aston University: Intellectual Property and What You Need to Know

Is the intellectual property in your business protected? Failure to consider and protect intellectual property (IP) can make or break a business, and it is often misunderstood. IP includes patents, trademarks, copyright and many other aspects, and can be used to protect inventions, brands and more. With a sound IP strategy, you can stop other people from using your idea, and provide a new income source too.

Wednesday 26th July 13:00-16:00  Online: Clean Growth and Sustainability

Can being sustainable help your business to grow? Sustainable practice remains a topical key driver of how the world around us is changing apace. This informative masterclass will explore the opportunities and risks for SMEs around environmental, social and governance factors, and consider practical steps that you can take now to future-proof your business.

* All masterclasses are FREE to attend, however spaces are limited so it is advisable to book all sessions or choose the ones that suit your business needs.

Would simply shouting 'fire' be enough to protect your business from a blaze?

Remember to test your fire alarm system weekly to ensure that it works as intended when you need it

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires premises to be equipped with appropriate fire detectors and alarms - so what is considered “appropriate?”

That depends upon the type of premises and the activities that take place there, but what does it mean for your premises? 

Fire warning can range from somebody simply shouting “fire” to a sophisticated system incorporating automatic fire detection covering all areas of the building. The former may be suitable for a small single storey premises such as a shop where the entire premises, including exits, are visible from any location within it. The latter can normally be found in higher risk premises where the earliest possible warning is required to ensure the safety of occupants, such as a care home. 

What is suitable depends on the level of risk. For example, sleeping always increases the risk, as occupants will not discover a fire with their own senses when asleep. As a result, earlier warning, than that provided by manually raising the alarm, is necessary. Therefore, premises where people sleep should always be fitted with automatic fire detection. Where occupants are deemed to be particularly vulnerable and need more time to escape, an increased level of automatic fire detection is required to facilitate this.

In premises where all occupants are awake on the other hand, the risk can be lower and a manual system consisting of manual call points to raise the alarm may suffice. There may however be other risk factors that must be accounted for by installing automatic fire detection, for example lone working or the existence of areas where a fire could spread quickly and undetected. 

In addition to making sure that a fire is detected, the alarm system should ensure that all occupants become aware of it. To achieve this, the signal must be loud enough to be heard by everyone on the premises, which means placing sounders in appropriate locations and ensuring that the sound level is higher than that produced by the noise normally present on the premises. If anyone with impaired hearing is likely to be on the premises, you may need to provide visual or tactile alarm devices as well.

Remember to test your fire alarm system weekly to ensure that it works as intended when you need it and record the results in a Fire Logbook. Consult with your fire risk assessor if you are unsure about whether the fire alarm system on your premises is suitable.

Leamington ready to host bowls and tap into Games vibe

Leamington Spa will be basking in the international spotlight during the 2022 ‘Summer of Fun’ when thousands of visitors will be heading to the town.

The launch of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will be televised on a giant screen in the Royal Pump Room Gardens, including the opening and closing ceremonies, from Thursday, July 28 to Monday, August 8.

Leamington Spa is hosting the Lawn Bowls and Para Bowls at the Commonwealth Games along with the Bowls England National Finals until September 11 in Victoria Park which are included in a programme billed as the ‘Summer of Fun’ by BID Leamington.

The global Commonwealth Games is part of a packed line-up of fantastic events suitable for all ages in the town centre to celebrate the summer in style – with the majority being free to attend.

Kicking off the summer feel-good activities is the Good Times Festival on Saturday, July 16 in the charming Mill Gardens with seven hours of live music, entertainment, food and drink. Creative juices will be flowing when Art in the Park returns with a jam-packed weekend of art, creativity and fun as over 200 local makers, musicians and performers show and display a mix of arts and crafts in Jephson Gardens on Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14.

Warwickshire Pride Festival will be a colourful celebration of LGBT+ life and culture in the Pump Room Gardens on Saturday, August 20 where there will be a rainbow marketplace of stalls, live performances and entertainment on stage throughout the day along with food and drink from around the world and fairground rides.

Leamington’s hugely popular Food and Drink Festival is returning on Saturday, September 10 and Sunday, September 11 in the beautiful Royal Pump Room Gardens. There will be over 100 exhibitors displaying culinary skills and selling food and drink from exotic cuisines as well as live entertainment, a live cookery theatre and competitions showcasing the very best of local talent.

To wrap it all up, Cars at the Spa will have 200 vehicles on display along with entertainment in the Pump Room Gardens on Sunday, September 25, which has been organised by the Rotary Club of Leamington Spa to support local charities.

Stephanie Kerr, executive director at BID Leamington, said a highlight of the summer months for many residents and visitors are the great events being held in the town, which together BID Leamington calls ‘The Summer of Fun’.

“This year the ‘Summer of Fun’ events calendar is especially packed with a huge variety of festivals, events and activities that everyone can enjoy – and most of these are free to attend,” she said.

“We are fortunate in Leamington town centre to have so many businesses, charities and people helping to fund fabulous events and festivals, and giving up their time on a voluntary basis to help organise and run them.

“We really want to encourage everyone to invite family and friends from far and wide and join in the fun, and also to enjoy our brilliant town centre businesses who very much need our support. All we need now is for the sun to keep shining!”

To find out more, please visit: www.royal-leamington-spa.co.uk

Employers' views sought for new suicide prevention strategy

Please have your say on a new joint approach to suicide prevention across Coventry and Warwickshire  

Suicide is everyone's business. 

Employers have a duty of care to their workers in supporting their health and wellbeing, and this extends to mental health. Coventry and Warwickshire’s Suicide Prevention Partnership is inviting people to take part in a survey to help shape a refreshed approach to suicide prevention across the region. 

On behalf of the Coventry and Warwickshire Suicide Prevention Partnership, Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council are seeking people’s views on a new joint strategy that will provide information, services and support across the area to help prevent suicide. The new strategy will outline how the councils will work with other local organisations and services to achieve the vision that no one in Coventry and Warwickshire should ever feel that suicide is their only option.  

People are being asked to share their thoughts on the strategy and how it applies to them, whether through their work or personal life experience. The three key areas the survey is seeking feedback on are:   

  • the ambitions and priorities identified for the strategy 
  • the mental health and wellbeing needs of individuals and their communities 
  • how and where people look for support if they need it 

The survey is anonymous, confidential and open to everyone. You can provide your feedback by completing the survey here.  

The survey closes on 10 July 2022. If you need the survey in an alternative format, please email your name and address to phadmin@warwickshire.gov.uk or call 01926 731484.     

If you are struggling to cope right now and need to talk to someone, free support is available 24/7.  

  • immediate risk to life: call 999 or go straight to A&E 
  • urgent advice: call 111 
  • confidential emotional support for residents across Coventry and Warwickshire: call 0800 616171  

For further information and advice about suicide prevention and support available, please visit www.dearlife.org.uk.  

Businesses urged to emulate Queen's Award winners

“Having a Queen’s Award makes such a big difference to the fortunes of a business – our panellists all found they were able to make deals much more quickly due to their clients spotting they had a Queen’s Award."

Companies from Coventry and Warwickshire were given some tips on how to apply for one of the business world’s most prestigious awards at a ‘masterclass’ in Leamington Spa.

The Warwickshire Lieutenancy, working in collaboration with West Midlands Lieutenancy, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Warwickshire County Council and WMG, ran a masterclass on The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise at Woodland Grange Conference Centre & Hotel.

The awards are regarded by many firms to be the pinnacle of business accolades, in part due to the rigorous requirements to receive one.

The event followed the news that eight businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire recently received The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise – a very successful year for the region – and businesses were urged to follow in their footsteps.

The day was introduced by John Crabtree OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, and Johnnie Arkwright, Deputy Lieutenant of Warwickshire, who highlighted the prestige of winning a Queen’s Award.

Attendees then heard from Chris Robinson, managing director of awards entry consultancy Boost Awards, about the four categories of award businesses can apply for – Innovation, International Trade, Sustainable Development, and Social Mobility – and the best tactics to get accepted.

This was followed by a Q&A panel with four previous winners of a Queen’s Award – Emma Heathcote-James, CEO of Little Soap Company, Ian Jamie, CEO of Staeger Packaging, Karen Lynch, former CEO of Belu Water, and Tom Meredith, commercial director of 3P Innovation.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive, and Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Louise Bennett OBE chaired the presentations and later discussion, and fielded questions from the audience throughout.

She said: “There are very few awards that carry the tangible prestige that The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise does, so it was brilliant to hear from those who have been successful and for our audience to receive informed advice.

“Having a Queen’s Award makes such a big difference to the fortunes of a business – our panellists all found they were able to make deals much more quickly due to their clients spotting they had a Queen’s Award.

“What we wanted to do as a Chamber is encourage more businesses to apply. Although the requirements are tougher than your average award, so many businesses in our region fit the criteria but aren’t applying.

“We’re grateful to Chris and our panellists for giving great insight into the process and their experiences, which were very useful for our audience.

“We hope it will mean we see even more Coventry and Warwickshire businesses earn themselves The Queen’s Award for Enterprise next year.”

For more information, please head to https://www.gov.uk/queens-awards-for-enterprise

Special Feature

WRIF support makes new children's care facility possible

As part of its ‘COVID-19 Recovery Plan,’ Warwickshire County Council has created a new £140m fund - the Warwickshire Recovery Investment Fund (WRIF) - to support businesses in their recovery and growth, post-pandemic.  

One company set to benefit is Forge Care, a local specialist children’s care provider, whose flagship facility ‘The Forge’, will receive a £1m loan from the ‘Business Investment Growth’ (BIG) branch of the wider WRIF. 

To learn more about how Forge Care and its residents will benefit from this loan, Cllr Martin Watson, WCC Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, met two of the firm’s directors and co-founders, Dave Hughes and Jean Miller, to gain a detailed insight into the company, how it secured the funding and what it intends to do with this financial boost.  

MW: What is the background to Forge Care and why did you develop the facility in Warwickshire?  

JM: Forge Care was founded in 2020 with a mission statement of improving the lives of looked after children and their families in locations all over the UK. We chose Warwickshire for our first site - ‘The Forge’ - as we’re a family locally and wanted our first venture to be one which puts something back into the local community.

MW: What sets The Forge apart from other children’s care homes? 

JM: “We provide what we call a ‘Therapeutic Community.’ This is a first-of-its-kind environment that has been intricately designed to meet the complex needs children can have if they are in need of healing from trauma. In addition, our members can make the most of  ‘Creative-Expressive Therapies’ and we have space to give support to up to 24 children. 

MW: Have there been any issues with the development of the complex? 

DH: “We’ve stuck rigidly to our original designs which I’m delighted to say means we will be able to provide the full range of facilities and amenities we need to bring the right level of care for our residents.

“This applies to both the internal and external elements of the site. For instance, with the interior we want to replicate the layout and style of a traditional family home - which is essential for ensuring we have an inviting space that caters to different members’ needs.  

“At the same time, the exteriors have large play areas as well as sensory and nature spaces which are to encourage the residents to get involved with growing plants and making the most of the natural world.”  

MW: How has the WRIF assisted in all of this? 

JM: “Simply put, none of this would be possible without the support of the WRIF or the Warwickshire County Council. This loan will now mean we can get to work improving the lives of looked after children, not just in Warwickshire but further afield.” 

MW: How did you find the WRIF application process? 

JM: “From start to finish the WRIF application - and indeed the approval process - has been seamless. We had concerns we would face disruption or delays, but this wasn’t the case. The Business Investment Growth team, provided advice, support and guidance each step of the way.  Our loan was agreed and processed quickly by Warwickshire County Council and their support has been an invaluable asset throughout this project.” 

MW: Would you recommend pursuing this funding to other firms? 

JM: “Absolutely. While other businesses or groups will have different needs and requirements, if they feel they may benefit from the WRIF, they should at least make an enquiry with the council about it to see their options.  The team are very interactive and able provide sound advice and discuss finance options.”  

Speaking about the wider benefits this new funding stream has the potential to unlock, Councillor Watson added: “On top of the fantastic news that the WRIF will be utilised by Forge Care to ultimately help many vulnerable children in our area, is the fact that additional businesses supported by these loans, will bring both further employment and more income to the local economy. 

“With this investment, over the next five years we could see upwards of 3,000 new jobs being created and the safeguarding of thousands of existing roles. It truly is an exciting time and I would encourage businesses looking to bounce back or growth following the pandemic to consider this opportunity.” 

* For further information on the WRIF and what support it can offer, local businesses can visit the Warwickshire County Council website

Guest column

Let's celebrate the brilliant innovation of Warwickshire's fantastic food and drink sector

Warwickshire's vibrant Food and Drink scene was celebrated this month at the Foodie Awards. Here, Warwickshire County Council's Lead Commissioner (Place Projects and Partnerships), Aaron Corsi, reflects upon an uplifting occasion which vividly highlighted the county's diverse and dazzling offer in the sector.

 It should come as no surprise that rural Warwickshire is home to an abundance of high-quality produce, artisan makers and irresistible food and drink experiences.

Add to that breadth of skills across the county, the diverse range of towns and villages from north to south and there is a wonderfully eclectic mix of local produce and hospitality venues, all offering something uniquely 'Warwickshire.' 

There are lots of reasons why where you eat out matters to you. It might be a special occasion or a rare treat, or you might need to consider a special dietary requirement which means that you need to plan - but where you spend your money matters in many ways.

And it matters to the local economy too.

Our local businesses are the lifeblood of our town centres and behind the scenes there are many people working hard to constantly create new food and drink experiences. Hot on the heels of The Foodie Awards 2022, we explore the reasons why this sector offers so much more than meets the eye.

In Warwickshire, you don’t have to look far to find award-winning products up there with the best in the UK. These include Leamington’s Jabberwocky Food, who became The British Sandwich Association winner in 2021 with their Bangin’ Chicken Finger Sandwich.

Within the food and drink scene in the county, post-pandemic life is disrupting traditional food and drink models but local businesses have worked hard behind the scenes and innovated brilliantly with boxed food and local delivery models, new digital technologies and communication tools and point of sale software.

As a result, people on the high street are seeing interesting venues springing up, bringing us new products and services. With meat-free alternatives becoming a preference for many, businesses have adapted to meet that demand. There is a buzz in the air which is attracting the attention of food bloggers such as The Veg Food Enthusiast, Katie Todd.

For our residents, food safety is an important aspect of life. Food hygiene regulation is a high priority for our district and borough councils. The Food Standards Agency provides a searchable list of ratings for businesses throughout the UK and it is easy to check the business you are thinking of visiting so you can feel confident in your choice.

The message is 'buy and eat local where you can.' Local food producers in Warwickshire operate at varying scales and offer a range of products from honey to eggs, liqueurs to wines, fudge to home bakes and chutneys to jams. Many of these products are produced locally, using local produce, and are retailed through local outlets meaning there is a short local supply chain.

Why not visit one of the local town markets to pick up some of the products as the producers have stalls regularly throughout the year? Or how about liking, sharing and commenting through your own social media channels on what you love about the local food and drink scene #buyeatlocal. We can all do our bit to make sure the environmental impact of food production is minimised and the economic benefit to the county is maximised. 

You can read more about the stars of the Foodie Awards 2022 elsewhere in this edition of Warwickshire Means Business.










Coventry & Warwickshire Digital Festival 2022 - Grow Your Business Fast with Our Help



Friars House, Manor House Drive, Coventry

Weblink here

2022.06.29 & 2022.06.30

Battery Cells and Systems Expo - The show centres on manufacturers, users and the entire supply chain working to increase battery performance, cost and safety. It brings together automotive OEM’s, electric utilities, battery cell manufacturers, system manufacturers and integrators.

Event Partners

09:00-17:00 09:00-16.30


Weblink here

2022.06.29 & 2022.06.30

Vehicle Electrification Expo - The event that enables automotive manufacturers to look at the latest powertrain solutions to improve vehicle efficiency. Sister event to Battery Cells & Systems Expo.

Event Partners

09:00-17:00 09:00-16.30


Weblink here

2022.06.29 - 2022.06.30

Ceramics UK - The free-to-attend exhibition and conference combines a highly focused audience from industry, academia and commercial R&D involved in the latest technical ceramic solutions.

Event Partners

09:00-17:00 09:00-16.30


Weblink here

2022.06.29 - 2022.06.30

Advanced Materials Show - Free-to-attend exhibition brings together research, production, purchasing or integration of advanced materials technology including Graphene & 2D Materials, Composites, Polymers, Coatings, and Ceramics.

Event Partners

09:00-17:00 09:00-16.30


Weblink here


Metrology for Sustainable Manufacturing - A series of workshops with bespoke support to equip businesses with the knowledge and skills required to embed measurement principles and practices. 

Institute For Advanced Manufacturing And Engineering

10:00 - 15:00

Institute For Advanced Manufacturing And Engineering

Weblink Here


The Exchange: Mill Street - This is weekly event offers free advice and support for local start-ups and established businesses looking to grow.

Warwickshire County Council

10:00 - 16:00

1 Mill Street, Leamington Spa

Weblink here


Selling More Workshop by Business Ready - This workshop looks towards external growth opportunities and approaches to sell more.

Business Ready

09:30 - 12:30

Business Innovation Centre, Binley

Weblink here


First Friday Networking Lunch - Warwickshire Skills Hub
Warwickshire Skills Hub supports businesses, schools and communities to create a well skilled population that meets the needs of Warwickshire’s evolving economy.

Coventry & Warwickshire First

12.30 - 2.00pm

Eliot Park Innovation Centre

Weblink here


Coventry and Warwickshire Champions July Event - Ian Reid, CEO of Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 and Ben Amanna, Founder of BOXRAW will be guest speakers at the networking event.

Growth Hub


St Mary's Guildhall, Coventry

Weblink here


Leamington Spa Buzz F2F - A face-to-face monthly networking event where like-minded local business folk meet to broaden their contacts and talk through issues they may have.

Business Buzz

10:00 onwards

1 Mill Street

Weblink here


Join the Electric Revolution: E-Machines and Drive Technologies - This workshop is designed to support local SMEs understand what the shift to electrification means for their business.

CUE Business Solutions

10:00 - 15:00

C-ALPS Building, Coventry

Weblink Here

2022.07.06 & 2022.07.07

Neuro Convention - The event that showcases the latest technology and innovations in the neurological sector with the goal of improving patient outcomes.

Roar B2b Healthcare

09:30-16:30 09:30-16:00


Weblink here

2022.07.06 & 2022.07.07

Naidex - Europe’s most established event for independent living & supporting the disabled community. The show welcomes everyone who is living with a disability, as well as those caring for or supplying to this community.

Headline Media Partner

09:30-16:30 09:30-16:00


Weblink here

2022.07.06 & 2022.07.07

UK Care Week - The two-day show absorbs past brands (Dementia, Care & Nursing Home & the Home Care Expo) into an event that is inclusive to the whole care industry.

Roar B2b Healthcare

09:30-16:30 09:30-16:00


Weblink here


Coventry Buzz F2F - A face-to-face monthly networking event where like-minded local business folk meet to broaden their contacts and talk through issues they may have.

Business Buzz

10:00 onwards

Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

Weblink here


P4H England - The show provides a unique and unrivalled interactive opportunity for both the buyer and supplier healthcare procurement community to engage across a range of innovative event features.

BIP Solutions Ltd



Weblink here


Carbon Accounting Workshop - This workshop covers the basics of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) accounting for organisations. Attendees will get to understanding of how to implement a structured carbon reduction programme in their business.

Growth Hub


Institute For Advanced Manufacturing And Engineering

Weblink here


Festival of Apprenticeships - A roadshow exhibition promoting and celebrating all things apprenticeships. More than just a careers fair or conference, the event is a one-stop shop for anyone looking to find out more about apprenticeships.

Festival of Apprenticeships


Millennium Point, Birmingham

Weblink here

2022.07.12 - 2022.07.14

SOLEX - The Summer Outdoor Living Exhibition brings together all the leading manufacturers of garden products - furniture & accessories, barbecues, fire pits, chimeneas, leisure products, gifts, storage, lighting, play equipment and spas.

Premier Promotions and Exhibitions Ltd

3 days


Weblink here


Roadmap to NetZero: Improve your competitive advantage - Access expertise from Coventry University academics and industry experts to achieve Net Zero goals through dedicated collaborative support.

CUE Business Solutions

09:00 - 15:00

Institute for advanced manufacturing and engineering, Coventry

Weblink Here


Rugby Buzz F2F - A face-to-face monthly networking event where like-minded local business folk meet to broaden their contacts and talk through issues they may have.

Business Buzz

10:00 onwards

Gallachers of Rugby

Weblink here


Warwick Buzz - F2F: A face-to-face monthly networking event where like-minded local business folk meet to broaden their contacts and talk through issues they may have.

Business Buzz

10:00 onwards

The Globe, Warwick

Weblink here


Breakfast Briefing
Justine Chadwick will update us on the Growth Hub’s current and future priorities and how challenges and opportunities for the region are being addressed.

Coventry & Warwickshire First


The Butts, Earlsdon

Weblink here

2022. 09.07 - 2022. 09.08 

Cenex-LCV Event - The UK's first centre of excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies. It incorporates four key features: technology, extensive seminar programme; facilitated networking and development and commercially available vehicles.

Connected Automated Mobility

2 days

UTAC, Millbrook

Weblink here

2022.09.10 - 2022.09.11

Coventry Motofest
MotoFest Coventry is back for 2022, with the return of its unique Ring Road circuit, new dates and a look into the motoring future among the highlights.

Motofest Coventry

2 days

Coventry City Centre

Weblink here

2022.07.14 -2022.07.15

UK Metals Expo - The only event that brings together the entire metals supply chain From primary metal manufacture to supply chain management, processing metals, fabrication, surface coatings and recycling.

UK Metals Expo Limited

09:30-17:00 09:30-16:30


Weblink here

News in Brief

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

Britishvolt and Prologis team up to create “battery corridor”

Battery pioneer Britishvolt will anchor its UK battery scale up facilities in the West Midlands, with an investment exceeding £200 million, with partner Prologis creating and sustaining upwards of 150 highly skilled and well-paid technology job.

The West Midlands is already a “golden triangle” of international battery excellence with the Warwick Manufacturing Group, Advanced Propulsion Centre and UK Battery Industrialisation Centre. This new investment and commitment to the region will further unlock the huge economic potential of the UK’s world-class battery cell ecosystem.

Geely-owned Polestar lists successfully on Nasdaq

 Polestar has successfully listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The US listing marks a significant milestone for the electric-premium car brand that launched in 2017. The premium electric brand, spun out of Volvo, is headquartered in Sweden but its engineering team is based in the UK, in Nuneaton at MIRA and in Coventry.

 JLR may build EVs at Slovak plant

TATA Motors owned Jaguar Land Rover is in talks with Northvolt and SVolt Energy Technology about supplying batteries for a range of EVs it may assemble in Slovakia, Bloomberg sources said.

The UK lacks the cell and pack factories automakers will need to support their transition away from the internal combustion engine so, in what would be a fresh blow to British car making.

UK auto faces competitive threat from energy price hikes, as SMMT launches new roadmap

The SMMT warns that automotive sector energy costs are much higher for UK companies than those based in the EU. British automotive manufacturers are calling for urgent action on spiralling costs as new analysis from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals firms face a GBP90m uplift in energy bills this year – equivalent to more than 2,500 automotive jobs – as costs surge by 50%.

New roadmap, ‘From Full Throttle to Full Charge’, sets out measures on energy, skills and funding to drive large-scale investment and support competitiveness.

Leadership change at London EV Company

The chief executive of Ansty-headquartered LEVC has revealed plans to step down to pursue a new opportunity within the automotive industry.

Joerg Hofmann, who joined the company in February 2019, has overseen a number of notable highlights at the business, including 7,000 global sales of the TX electric taxi, the launch of a new light commercial vehicle, the VN5, and growth in demand for its purpose-built electrified products in UK and internationally.

Plans afoot to accelerate West Midlands Gigafactory plans

Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd, the partners behind the West Midlands Gigafactory, are investing a further £1m between them to speed up the proposal in order to reduce barriers to investment and attract global investors.

Detailed designs for highway infrastructure and technical work are being carried out, as are global marketing opportunities, with a focus on potential investors in China, South Korea, and the US.

 Advanced Propulsion Centre handed significant net zero funding boost 

Coventry-based Advanced Propulsion Centre has received £43.7m in funding for projects accelerating the UK’s journey towards net zero.

The joint investment by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and the automotive sector looks to continue the UK’s post-pandemic growth and continue the UK’s leading role in the fight against climate change. The funding has been split across 21 projects, comprised of 19 Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) feasibility studies and two late-stage research and development projects.

Electric cars drive Coventry industrial boom

Coventry industrial rents are set to rise over the next three years as demand continues to rise and outstrip supply, thanks to manufacture of electric vehicles and their components, says regional expert Carole Taylor, the Midlands Regional Managing Partner at property consultancy Vail Williams.

This comes as the city reinvents itself as the Midlands’ leading centre of advanced manufacturing for the automotive, rail, aerospace and motorsport industries. These sectors employ over 40,000 people, earning Coventry a reputation as a top city for UK employment.

 University of Warwick selected for science innovation grant

The University of Warwick has been awarded £2.2m as part of a £60 million Government drive to help pioneering scientists and engineers create successful businesses from their research, improve industrial collaboration, and foster greater entrepreneurship.

The money will go towards a number of initiatives, plus allow the University to fund secondments for scientists and engineers to spend time in a business environment.

Maersk Lands in Dordon

European industrial developer and investor Panattoni has signed Danish shipping and logistics group Maersk for Tamworth 345, a 345,414-square-foot speculative development located between Dordon and Tamworth, at junction 10 of the M42.

 Mystery occupier takes 1m sq ft in Rugby

A mystery storage and information management services firm has taken 1m sq ft of space at Tritax Big Box’s Symmetry Park Rugby. The unnamed company has leased the logistics facilities to create its first UK campus across four buildings on a 15-year deal.

BAM appointed as contractor for Nuneaton town centre development

BAM Construct UK, has been confirmed as the construction partner for phase one of Nuneaton town centre’s Abbey Street development. It has already completed initial works involving fencing, ground investigations and remediation ahead of new leisure developments, public open spaces and the building of the town centre’s first hotel. The phase one work has been funded with a grant from the Future High Streets Fund as part of the Government’s plan to renew and reshape town centres – making them a more attractive place to live, work and visit.

Historic Leamington property converted into modern offices

A transformation of a six-storey Grade II-Listed Regency building in the heart of Leamington has been completed, providing flexible new office space.

11 Waterloo Place on Warwick Street has now opened its doors following major internal refurbishment to create modern office space and state-of-the-art meeting rooms.

20-year vison for A46 corridor will boost economy by more than £7bn

Sub-national Transport Body Midlands Connect has presented its 20-year vision for the A46 corridor, with improvement plans predicted to boost the economy by £7.1 billion over the next 60 years.

The 155 mile major cross-country route runs right the heart of Warwickshire and is home to a variety of sectors, including automotive, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, textiles and agriculture. Projections suggest significant growth is expected for the corridor over the next 20 years, with 600,000 new residents, 150,000 new jobs and 250,000 new homes expected by 2041.

People Profile

Martin is relishing his role supporting the businesses of Warwickshire

"I have always been really interested in business and growth patterns and making businesses work and making them profitable and I'm really looking forward to getting my teeth into the portfolio."

Martin Watson is looking forward to applying his knowledge and experience to backing Warwickshire's businesses after becoming Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place.

Cllr Watson joined the County Council only last year when he gained election to the Coleshill North & Water Orton ward.

Born and bred in the east end of London, he has enjoyed a long career in engineering and moved to the Midlands for work reasons eight years ago...and immediately fell in love with Warwickshire.

Now he is keen to give something back to his adopted county and, having succeeded Cllr Kam Kaur in the key portfolio, is relishing getting his teeth into the challenges of supporting Warwickshire's businesses post-pandemic.

"Business is my background," said Martin, who has worked for many years as an engineer in the telecoms, electronic fire and security industries. "I have always been really interested in business and growth patterns and making businesses work and making them profitable and I'm really looking forward to getting my teeth into the portfolio. It plays to my strengths.

"I have a very strong background in fire and electronic security. I sit on the board of the Fire Industry Association and the British Security Association and am now busy getting up to speed with all the many amazing businesses across Warwickshire.

"I moved to Lea Marston for work with my family eight years ago and love it here. For a small county, Warwickshire is so incredibly diverse and that's one of the interesting aspects to the portfolio - and one of the challenges. We have rural areas with very small villages to large towns like Nuneaton, Leamington Stratford and market towns like Coleshill and Atherstone. That means we have almost every type of business and the County Council is keen offers support to every kind of business in every sector.

"As a county we did really well through Covid and that is partly down to that diversity. We have a really, thriving commercial base and such a varied one with everything from world-renowned big companies to vibrant SMEs...and fantastic tourist attractions too.

Martin pinpoints among his top objectives to ensure that the opportunities presented by HS2 are fully exploited by businesses across Warwickshire.

"Outside of London we are the most impacted place in the country by HS2," he said. "It is having a massive impact on the whole county, particularly the north, but that works both ways. There is disruption but also benefits and opportunities so, as a council, we are pushing HS2 hard to use local companies and employ local people and they have responded. We have stats that demonstrate that they are employing and training people within our postcodes."

Skills is another big area of emphasis for Martin as he settles into his role.

"Skills and training for our young people are so important, both to give them the careers they want and to supply our employers with the skilled workforce they need," he said.  "We are so fortunate in Warwickshire that we have great connections with our local universities and schools and colleges.

"I was at the University of Warwick recently hearing all about what's going on there around e-sports and that made me think that's one of the special things about Warwickshire - we have a great history and heritage in businesses but are also at the forefront of moving into the future in many ways."

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