All the latest news-in-brief from our county and region...
New electrification skills hub to plug UK manufacturing gap
Delegates at the first ever Electric Revolution Skills Hub (ERS Hub) heard how skills and training people are the two biggest barriers to ensuring the country leads the way in the global electrification race. Leaders from the sector believe if action is taken now the country can still become a hotbed for the production and development of power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD), generating more than £12bn of domestic revenue by 2025.
More than 200 delegates gathered at the ICC Birmingham to hear this rallying call and celebrate the official launch of the ERS Hub, an integrated digital platform providing inclusive access to training, development, and jobs led by Coventry University with funding from UKRI.
Drinks company BRITVIC unveils £13M Investment at Rugby facility
Soft drinks business Britvic has outlined plans for a further £13m investment into a fifth canning line at its Rugby factory. The investment is expected to create up to 20 jobs across engineering and manufacturing, as well as providing Britvic's apprentices with an opportunity to take up full-time positions in the business.
TATA Technologies announces major expansion of 350 engineers
A global product engineering and digital services company has revealed plans to scale-up its West Midlands operations in a move expected to create about 350 jobs in the region. Tata Technologies, in Leamington Spa, has committed to developing and leveraging the next generation of digital capability and talent in the West Midlands through strategic collaboration with the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Warwick to establish centres of excellence for cybersecurity, functional safety for automotive (FUSA) and automotive open system architecture (AUTOSAR).
Bravissimo Moves into New Leamington HQ
National lingerie and swimwear retailer Bravissimo has officially opened its new headquarters in Leamington Spa. The multi-channel retailer, which employs more than 700 people, has moved staff into 14,500 sq ft of office space at 1 Athena Drive as part of continued investment into the company’s growth.
London EV Company celebrates 10,000 unit Milestone
The London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) has hit a key milestone at its manufacturing plant in Ansty with the production of its 10,000th vehicle. Since delivering the first TX electric taxi to London in 2018, the factory has built and sold cars to more than 20 countries, with markets in Paris, Madrid, Cairo, and Tokyo. Last year saw the sale of 2,508 TX vehicles, marking the company’s strongest output to date.
French software group signs at former IBM campus
A French technology corporation has signed a lease with FI Real Estate Management (FIREM) for 18,500 sq ft of space at the former IBM campus in Warwick. Dassault Systèmes has agreed a deal to occupy space at The Woods, with the deal following the completion of FIREM's £5m refurbishment to transform the former IBM campus into a flagship CAT A development, including co-working spaces aimed at the region's freelance market.
Kwalee looks forward to further expansion in 2023
Kwalee, a Leamington Spa-based video games developer and publisher, is planning further expansion this year following its ﬁrst acquisition in 2022. The studio, led by CEO David Darling, co- founder of the legendary Codemasters studio, acquired French narrative-based mobile games developer Tictales in January of 2022.
Former Ford chair to Drive MTC
The Ansty-based centre for advanced manufacturing technologies, the Manufacturing Technology Centre or MTC, has appointed Dr Graham Hoare OBE to succeed Dr Clive Hickman OBE as its new CEO. Dr Hoare brings more than 35 years’ top-level industrial and commercial experience to the role. Dr Hickman will retire as CEO of the MTC on March 31 and, as announced last year he will become Chair of the MTC board with effect from April.
HILO EV set to unveil AI-Powered Electric Scooter
Warwickshire-based Hilo EV is getting ready to unveil a new electric scooter which uses AI to improve safety for both riders and other road users. Founded by Leamington-based Robin Harris and James Browne in 2019, Hilo EV scans its surroundings for hazards such as pedestrians and vehicles using AI and applies a number of functions to warn of the danger.
WMG and Conigital receive £16m funding for ambitious CAM R&D project
WMG at the University of Warwick and Birmingham-based deeptech firm Conigital, have been awarded a share of £81 million in joint UK government and industry support to develop a self-driving vehicle at WMG. The project – Multi-Area Connected Automated Mobility (MACAM) – has been awarded a total of £16.6 million by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), to establish a remote driving control hub, to oversee self-driving vehicles operating in Solihull and Coventry.
PEMD Innovator E-Propelled moves to UWSP
US Electric motor startup ePropelled has moved to the University of Warwick Science Park’s Venture Centre, with plans to bring 30 jobs to Coventry in the next few years. ePropelled is developing a system called eDTS which applies high torque – the force that gets a vehicle moving – without drawing high current from the batteries.
Coleshill Flooring Company Headlam Sees Profits Rise
Headlam Group, the Coleshill-located floorcoverings distributor, has reported an increase in pre-tax profits despite experiencing "very challenging" industry headwinds. The company has posted total pre-tax profits of £41.8m for the year to 31 December 2022, up from £27.6m in 2021. Revenue went from £667.2m to £663.6m over the same period.
Rootwave Grows with Support from Coventry University
RootWave, a Warwickshire-based company using electricity to kill weeds, is getting ready to go to market following support from Coventry University. The company’s solution uses an electric current to heat up the roots of weeds and kill them, cutting out the need for conventional herbicides which have a high carbon footprint and can damage the environment.
West Midlands Levelling-up Zones to be established
Levelling up zones aimed at driving economic growth are to be established by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) as part of the newly signed Deeper Devolution Deal. Six zones have already been identified as having the potential to accelerate growth, development and regeneration, including the West Midlands Gigafactory site at Coventry Airport. Key investment sites within each will be unlocked by a new agreement with the government that enables the region to retain Business Rates growth over the next 25 years, worth about £500m.
£5.5m SME Business Centre opens in Warwick
A £5.5m business and industrial scheme which aims to provide space for entrepreneurs in Warwickshire and the wider West Midlands has become fully operational. Space Business Centre Warwick comprises 61 units ranging in size from 285 sq ft to 840 sq ft along with two facilities blocks containing a kitchen, toilets and shower room. One or two car-parking spaces is allocated to each unit and there is 12 electric car charging points installed, along with solar panels on some of the roofs and a cycle shelter.
Stoford to Spec Build Units at Redditch Gateway
Commercial property developer Stoford has started work on the second and final phase of a multimillion-pound logistics and manufacturing scheme in the West Midlands. Construction has commenced of two grade A warehouse buildings that will provide almost 450,000 sq ft of logistics accommodation at Redditch Gateway, near Junction 3 of the M42, south of Birmingham in Stratford-on-Avon District.
New development landing at airfield site
Plans are being drawn up for a major employment park which aims to support the revitalisation of an airfield near Stratford-upon-Avon. Land promoter Gladman and commercial property developer Stoford are bringing forward proposals for Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield, releasing up to 140 acres of employment land along the M40 corridor. A memorandum of understanding was agreed last year between the owners of the airfield and Stratford-on-Avon District Council, which ensures that aviation will continue at Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield.
Mixed Use scheme for Rugby Central redevelopment
An application proposing the partial redevelopment of a Rugby shopping centre to provide new commercial and residential facilities has been backed by the council. Karenor Partners Ltd sought planning permission to demolish the northern part of the existing Rugby Central shopping centre, followed by the construction of two blocks rising to seven storeys. Rugby Central first opened in 1979 and accommodates more than 50 outlets. The ground floor of the blocks will provide space for 11 commercial units extending to approximately 16,500 sq ft. The upper floors will comprise 200 apartments, including a mix of one- and two-bedroom units. Roof gardens will also be provided to each block.
Businesses Invited to contribute to Transforming Leamington Initiative
Businesses are being asked to engage with Transforming Leamington, a major new initiative to help revitalise Leamington town centre. Transforming Leamington, involving all three levels of local authority and chaired by a leading private sector regeneration expert, has been established to help ensure that development in the heart of the town can bring long-term prosperity and sustainability.
West Midlands Set to be UK Fast Growing Region – EY
The West Midlands is set to be one of the UK's fastest growing regions – and will be home to one of the UK's top locations for economic growth – according to the latest research from EY. EY's latest Regional Economic Forecast said the West Midlands is one of five regions set to match or beat UK average annual GVA growth of 2.1 per cent between 2024 and 2026.