Welcome from WCC Strategic Director for Communities, Mark Ryder

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

Spring is in the air, at last, and this month we have lots to report which underlines how much there is to be positive about regarding our local economy. Despite all the ongoing challenges and those of recent years, our business community remains strong, resilient and Warwickshire County Council (WCC) continue to do all that we can to offer support.  

This month is the third birthday of Warwickshire Skills Hub so we celebrate its amazing achievements. The work of the talented and creative Skills Hub team, under the inspiring leadership of Fay Winterburn, has benefited so many businesses and individuals in it's first three years, Congratulations to Fay and the team for achieving this milestone. 

Just as passionate and productive in their field are Aaron Corsi’s team in Place, Projects and Partnerships. They work imaginatively to support and improve our town centres and this month’s Warwickshire Towns Network Conference was an outstanding success. Communities throughout the county came together with expert speakers to consider what more could be done to ensure that our Towns and Villages remain vibrant centres of economic and social activity. The ideas, passion and energy at the conference demonstrated how Warwickshire has stood up so strongly to challenging times and is as well-equipped as any county in the UK to ‘go again’ post-pandemic. 

In this edition we announce some great news: Nuneaton has been named as the town with the best growth potential in the UK, and that 2022 was a record year for start ups in our county which is cited as ‘evidence of the ambition, creativity and resilience of entrepreneurs in Warwickshire.’ 

We bring the inspiring story of how Top of the Rock is, through music, bringing jobs to local people and joy to children in local schools - and the catalyst was an Adapt & Diversify grant from Warwickshire County Council. We also hear about the great work of The Smarter Outreach Service who are making a real difference after support from WCC’s Local Enterprise & Communities Fund, delivered by Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust. 

There is so much business support available from ourselves and our partners in the region and more is coming on stream all the time. This month we launch the Property and Infrastructure Fund, the third and final strand of the Warwickshire Recovery and Investment Fund.  

Please do click on the links throughout this edition of WMB to get straight where you need to go for information - or visit https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/business-support 


Featured News

Grant was the springboard for Top of the Rock to soar

"They express themselves on the drums and they express themselves to us and it's really beautiful - six hours of the day when it's just the music."

A drum tuition studio in Warwick is set to expand and reach further into the community - and founder Kris Farrell says the catalyst for its success was perfectly-timed grant support from Warwickshire County Council.

Professional drummer Kris opened Top of the Rock Tuition at the West End Centre, Hampton Road, early in 2020. Two days later came lockdown with all its challenges but the brand new business struck an immediate chord with customers young and old.

The business having become established at the most difficult time, then came the opportunity to grow and in 2021 Kris applied for an Adapt & Diversify Grant from the County Council. This enabled him to buy two top-quality electric drum kits, a laptop and, crucially, recording equipment to deliver lessons online.

The support truly took the brakes off a business which has now grown to employ ten people and bring the joy of music to more than 300 tutees plus pupils at ten local schools. Its Warwick studio at full capacity, Top of the Rock is set to open a second base in Coventry.

“A year ago we had 120 pupils and facility for two lessons at a time,” said Kris. “But we added a third room and are now fully booked every day. We have more than 300 pupils, work in ten schools and are opening a studio in Coventry.

“Our ten staff visit schools during the day then see pupils in the evening. It has gone amazingly and the catalyst for all this was the council grant. We were just getting on our feet again after Covid and having that extra support meant we could go online and stay connected to our pupils. Then when things returned to normal, we had all this top quality gear which the kids love using.

“It wouldn't have been possible without the grant - the positive impact of it on the business has been immeasurable."

The uplifting story of Top of the Rock far transcends its business success. While it brings employment and adds to the county’s wonderfully diverse small business offer, it is also enriching the lives of young people through the power of music.

“We are a business but hopefully much more than that,” said Kris. “We are huge mental health advocates. I come from an unstable background and know how playing the drums helped with my anger management and just helped me clear my head. A lot of kids come here with problems or disabilities and other musical instruments might not be so accessible for them, but drums are universal. It's man's first instrument - even before we used our voices we were communicating by hitting stuff. I think it's innate in everyone.

"Our Scholarship Fund gives free lessons for disadvantaged kids and while, as with any business, there are difficult days, as soon as the music starts it's brilliant. You see the smiles on faces and the confidence we give them just by being a reliable, friendly presence in their lives. We sometimes feel like therapists because people feel they can open up to us. They express themselves on the drums and they express themselves to us and it's really beautiful - six hours of the day when it's just the music.

“My staff are extraordinary. Some have degrees, some just learned the drums in their bedrooms, but they are all brilliant with people. We work with some of the best drummers in the country, but just as enjoyable and rewarding for us is working with kids who have never picked up a drumstick before.

“We've also now moved into guitars so there is just no more room for growth in our Warwick studio so we are planning the same set-up in Coventry. I'm really excited - it feels like I've built a big ship and am now setting off on an adventure in a little dinghy, but in five years time hopefully we'll have five or six studios.”

In total during its two rounds, the Adapt & Diversify scheme supported 120 small businesses with grants amounting to just under £1.4million

Warwickshire County Council’s Assistant Director for Communities, Dave Ayton-Hill, said: “Top of the Rock Tuition is a real success story and Kris and his team deserve huge credit for making the business such a success and engaging with schools in such a positive way.

“I am delighted that our Adapt & Diversify Fund was such a catalyst for Top of the Rock and so successful in supporting so many small businesses at a very challenging time. It was a really effective scheme and stories like Kris’s vindicate all the investment and hard work from the WCC teams that underpinned it.”

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Warwickshire towns offered "great place leadership" by WCC

"In many ways, I think the work that Aaron Corsi and his team do is best practice and I think a lot more regions should aspire to the level of place leadership that they demonstrate."

The 2023 Warwickshire Towns Network Conference “stimulated new discussions and connections” which will now be taken forward to benefit the economy county-wide, believes Joe Barratt, Expert Co-Ordinator of the High Streets Task Force.

Barratt was among the speakers at the conference in his role with the Task Force which has been running since 2019 with a remit to support 150 locations across the UK.

He loved seeing the passion and commitment on show from towns and villages across Warwickshire to work together to overcome the challenges facing high streets today.

“What I appreciated most about the conference was how it stimulated new discussions and connections between all those who attended, setting the stage for further collaboration and progress in the region,” he said. “I look forward to carrying these discussions on, including how we can put a regional strategy of support in place for young people through the delivery of Teenage Market events.

“I was incredibly impressed by the leadership shown by Warwickshire County Council in bringing together 80 stakeholders from across the region for the conference. The session provided a great opportunity to share the High Street’s Task Force’s frameworks for revitalisation and see the Institute of Place Management's principles put into practice, with the Atherstone Town Partnership standing out as a shining example of what can be achieved when communities work together.”

The Towns Network Conference was a resounding success and Barratt paid tribute to the County Council team which organised it – and delivers support week in and week out for the towns of Warwickshire.

“What’s great about Warwickshire is that at Warwickshire County Council you have got great place leadership on show,” he said. “They do a fantastic job in coordinating the towns to network, not just in terms of organising the conference but in all the work they do behind the scenes. In many ways, I think the work that Aaron Corsi and his team do is best practice and I think a lot more regions should aspire to the level of place leadership that they demonstrate. 

“That leadership is so important because a collective approach is the only way forward. It’s all about redefining the high street. The high streets of yesteryear were mainly places of retail. Our mission is to talk about how we need to move away from that monoculture of retail and much more towards a diverse mixture - health, housing, culture, education and green space, making places that people want to visit and stay in.

“Warwickshire has some amazing towns, great raw material, so it’s just a question of how we make the most of them.”

Nuneaton has the best growth potential in the UK

“It's clear from the fact that there are shops opening in Nuneaton that people are already looking to invest here and for the town to be named as number one for potential is brilliant news."

Nuneaton has been named as the town offering the best economic opportunities in the whole of the UK in 2023 according to a highly-respected expert report.

The 2023 UK Vitality Index is an annual health assessment of the UK’s largest towns and cities outside London, undertaken by property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton.

The report includes an Opportunity Ranking and this year that list is topped by Nuneaton, ahead of St Helens, Wigan, Telford and Wakefield.

Such growth potential was identified due to the population growth forecasts for 20-44-year-olds in Nuneaton and the input of government funding, the town having made successful bids to the Future High Streets Fund and Towns Fund.

Nuneaton is also benefiting from the Transforming Nuneaton Programme, delivered by Warwickshire County Council and Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council. This is a suite of projects designed to provide Nuneaton with the economic boost it needs and help it become a strong hub for its community.

Transforming Nuneaton focuses on diversifying the offer in the town centre, recognising that the town needs to evolve to meet the needs of our future communities. The programme is creating opportunities for new businesses by opening up new office work spaces, growing the leisure offer, specifically at Grayson Place, so that people have new reasons to come into the town.

The programme is also supporting skills and education by facilitating the provision of new learning spaces in the town centre, bringing in new residential schemes and improving local infrastructure to enable the town to grow.

The funding secured by the councils, from both government and internal capital investment, has driven the programme forward. Delivery is picking up pace as a new hotel begins to take shape and key demolition begins to make way for the new leisure offer.

All these initiatives are helping the resurgence of Nuneaton and for the town to be pinpointed by independent experts as a home of such rich potential is “brilliant news,” says Jo Williams, who runs Joco Gifts and Terry's Bed Centre in Queens Road.

"It's absolutely fantastic, said Jo. “It's clear from the fact that there are shops opening in Nuneaton that people are already looking to invest here and for the town to be named as number one for potential is brilliant news.

“There's going to be such a buzz around the town in the months and years ahead with all the planned redevelopment work and opportunities coming up, not only for retail but leisure facilities, office space and residential and the college is moving into the town centre. 

“It’s no wonder people from outside are looking at us and saying, 'I want a part of that.' That’s great to see. Now some local people need to share that positivity about what we have got rather than dwelling on negativity about what we don't have.

“We all know things have been a little bit tough but I'm really positive about Nuneaton town Centre. I've lived here all my life and have invested tens of thousands of pounds in the businesses and am really proud to be here.” 

Warwickshire County Council’s Strategic Director for Communities, Mark Ryder said: “It is excellent news that the rich economic potential of Nuneaton, which we all know about here locally, has been identified at a national level. Everyone that reads this well-respected list will no doubt want to know more about Nuneaton and we will warmly welcome their interest and hopefully their investment.

“The Transforming Nuneaton programme continues to advance excitingly and WCC will continue to do everything it can to support and promote the town.”

Warwickshire FDI excellence recognised by international awards

"Warwickshire is one of the most attractive investment locations for business in the UK, and we continue to be innovative and proactive in the support we provide to business, such as the recently launched Property Infrastructure Fund.”

Warwickshire’s place as a leading centre for FDI foreign direct investment has been recognised in the latest ‘fDi Intelligence’s European Cities and Regions of the Future 2023 FDI Awards.

The Coventry & Warwickshire area placed third for FDI Strategy, and top 10 placings for Economic potential (ranked 8th) and business friendliness (ranked 9th). The rankings benchmark European cities and regions according to their economic, financial, and business strengths.

The local investment strategy stood out due to the strength of its soft-landing support, close collaboration with local partners and unique offer to inward investors, with OLA Electric, Polestar and Switch Mobility amongst recent new investors into the area.

Data released by the Department for Business & Trade (formerly the Department for International Trade) for 2022 revealed that the area attracted 45 foreign investment projects in the year 2021/22, maintaining the trend of recent years. Key local sectors featured strongly in the data, with 15 of these projects related to software and games development, ten related to automotive and future mobility, and five to e-commerce and logistics.

Coventry & Warwickshire area is the highest performing area in the Midlands per capita, where the number of projects is compared to the local population. For 2022 the area scored one project per 26,000 people, with the next comparable LEP area coming in at one project per 31,000, and elsewhere as low as one in 71,000.

Overall, the Coventry and Warwickshire area has seen 19,519 jobs created from 347 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects over the last eight years (to 2022).

Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry & Warwickshire all took top-three rankings in their respective categories, emphasising the attractiveness of the West Midlands’ inward investment offer. The West Midlands is the best performing region outside of London and the South-east for FDI investment.

Mark Ryder, Strategic Director for Communities at Warwickshire County Council, said: “These rankings emphasise the strength of our FDI proposition to new and existing investors, the work we do with partners and the innovative approaches we are taking to attract investment, including foreign investment to the county.

Warwickshire is one of the most attractive investment locations for business in the UK, and we continue to be innovative and proactive in the support we provide to business, such as the recently launched Property Infrastructure Fund”.

Warwickshire County Council provides soft-landing support to businesses looking to set up in the UK Midlands, through Invest Coventry & Warwickshire. More information can be found on the dedicated website, www.investcw.co.uk

Record number of start-ups in Warwickshire

"It has long been our commitment at Warwickshire County Council to support start ups in every was we can. I would urge anyone considering starting a business, or in the early stages of running one, to get in touch and see how we can help.”

More new businesses were established in Warwickshire during 2022 than in any previous year to date, making it one of the UK’s most successful counties. 

A total of 5,540 new formations were registered in Warwickshire in 2022, an increase of 8.3% on 2021 when 5,117 were recorded. This brings the number of registered companies in the county to an all-time high of 42,564. 

The statistics are taken from the Inform Direct Review of Company Formations, using data from Companies House and the Office for National Statistics. 

Warwick formed the highest number of new businesses (1,513), followed by Stratford-on-Avon (1,438) and Rugby (991). 

John Korchak, Managing Director at Inform Direct said: “It is great that Warwickshire can celebrate a record year for the number of new businesses established. The last few years have been turbulent for businesses, with inflation and a cautious economic outlook following the impact of the pandemic. However, in these figures we see evidence of the ambition, creativity and resilience of entrepreneurs in Warwickshire, as well as the benefits from the county’s support for a range of enterprises.” 

Warwickshire County Council has played a significant part in the surge of new businesses. It offers support via its Start-up programme, delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the Council, and Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust’s JumpStart programmeIt also offers support to tech-based start-ups via the Business Ready programme with University of Warwick Science Park and loans for start-up and early stage businesses via its Local Communities & Enterprise Fund.

WCC’s Start-up programme and Business Ready, part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale Programme, have supported 500 businesses under 24 months old and individuals starting a business, while Jumpstart has supported a further 225 individuals. 

Warwickshire County Council’s Lead Commissioner for Business & Economy, Matthew Epps, said: “It is great news that so many new businesses are launching in Warwickshire and shows that the spirit of entrepreneurialism for which the county is renowned remains as vibrant as ever. 

“It is long been our commitment at Warwickshire County Council to support start ups in every was we can. I would urge anyone considering starting a business, or in the early stages of running one, to get in touch and see how we can help.”  

Warwickshire Districts 

New Company Formations in 2022 

Total Number ofCompanies end 2022 










Nuneaton and Bedworth 



North Warwickshire 



The start-up programme is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, forming part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme. It is also funded by Warwickshire County Council and all five district and borough councils.

* To find out about the Council’s support for new and start-up businesses, please visit: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/setting-moving-business-warwickshire/start-business

WCC launches new fund to support and enable new development

"The County Council is prudent with finances which has put us in the position to step in and use our money to stop this situation in the money lending chain from becoming an obstacle for economic growth in the county.” 

Businesses looking to grow in, or relocate to, Warwickshire now have access to £40m of financial support as the latest pillar of a major economy-boosting initiative goes live. 

The Property and Infrastructure Fund is the third and final strand of the Warwickshire Recovery and Investment Fund.  This major £100m initiative was launched to provide access to debt finance and safeguard businesses in, or those expanding to, Warwickshire from any of the adverse economic effects caused by the pandemic 

The focus of the PIF is on supporting and enabling new development that will help provide sites and premises needed to drive the future growth of the local economy and, with ambitions that match the County Council’s goals on reducing emissions, to build on the strong links that the county has established in low Carbon fields such as digital creative, electric vehicle development and battery manufacturing. 

The £40m fund will be managed by CBRE following a competitive procurement process, providing loans of £2m-£10m to support commercial projects, with repayment terms available up to five years. Eligible developments include office, industrial and warehouse developments and refurbishments, new housing projects offering innovative sustainability solutions, early-stage infrastructure funding and mixed-use schemes. 

Warwickshire County Council's Assistant Director for Communities, Dave Ayton-Hill, said: “The council recognises many businesses will have had to invest significantly to adapt and survive through the pandemic and beyond and may struggle to access the finance they need to recover fully and prosper in the current climate. 

“Banks and mainstream lenders are likely to be more risk-averse in the near-term, restricting the availability of development finance which is already constrained in the local economy. The County Council is prudent with finances which has put us in the position to step in and use our money to stop this situation in the money lending chain from becoming an obstacle for economic growth in the county.” 

The PIF is the final section of the wider £100m Warwickshire Recovery and Investment Fund initiative to launch. The other two funds are the Business Investment and Growth, which provides £50m in loans for medium/larger businesses in growth sectors, and the Local Communities and Enterprise fund, which will deploy £10m in small loans for micro and small businesses and social enterprises. 

Most of the funds will be available in the form of secured senior loans, however other forms of finance such as mezzanine debt will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

George Richards, Senior Director of Investment Advisory at CBRE, said: “The property and infrastructure impact fund is a flexible investment scheme that can be deployed to help the development of new land or commercial space to support employment and the growth of Warwickshire’s economy. 

“Our focus is on supporting new development that will help provide the land and premises needed to drive the future growth of the regional economy. Funding is available to new development opportunities as well as companies wanting premises to grow within, or relocate to, the county and will be linked to supporting growth in key priority sectors: automotive technology; digital creative and digital technologies; future of mobility; low carbon technologies; R&D and innovation facilities; and new start-up incubator and accelerator space.” 

Mr Richards added that other priority sectors would be considered including retail, hospitality, culture, leisure, health and wellbeing, community-based enterprises, co-working/flexible workspace as well as health and social care facilities. 

Those looking for more information or wishing to discuss investment proposals with the council should use the expression of interest form on the council’s website at https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/wrif 

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Happy Birthday to Warwickshire Skills Hub

As Warwickshire Skills Hub reaches its third birthday, it's an appropriate time to celebrate its excellent achievements during three very productive years... 

Happy 3rd Birthday.  It is a great pleasure to work alongside the team at the Warwickshire Skills Hub. We are enormously proud of the work we do together and the difference it makes to residents across Warwickshire. 

Mary Dunleavy, Partnership Manager, Department of Work and Pensions

We would like to wish a very happy birthday to all the fabulous team at Skills Hub. We have really enjoyed working with you over the last year and are excited to be a part in the next phase of your journey!

Sam Lees, Operations Manager, NABCEL

Skills hub 1 million

CWCDA has worked closely with the Warwickshire Skills Hub. The Skills Hub team has been supportive and is extremely knowledgeable. This has enabled us to work successfully towards common goals. Thank you and Happy Birthday to you all.

Mandy Bygrave, Operations Manager, Coventry & Warwickshire CDA 

The Warwickshire Skills Hub team has collaborated with us on a number of projects over the past few years. Working with a team that has a clear vision for what they want to accomplish is always a pleasure. The entire Parallel team would like to wish you all a happy third birthday.

Leigh Torrance, Creative Director, Parallel

Having worked closely with colleagues at the Warwickshire Skills Hub as a referral partner, we have seen first-hand the impact it can make to businesses. Our team of Business Advisors has referred a number of businesses to the Warwickshire Skills Hub. The breadth of work they do across a number of sectors, with a skilled and experienced staff that listen and respond to business needs, is of great benefit to our members and the wider business community.

Keely Hancox, Head of Operations, Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce 

Skills hub awards

Happy Birthday! Warwickshire Skills Hub team has supported us to become a Fair Chance Employer and gain support in finding the correct apprenticeship training for us and their advice has been invaluable and their patience unbounding! Thank you for your support.

Sarah Parrin, Director, Solutions Services Ltd 

Skills hub films

The work of the talented and creative Skills Hub team, under the inspiring leadership of Fay Winterburn, has benefited so many businesses and individuals in it's first three years, Congratulations to Fay and the team for achieving this milestone.

Mark Ryder, WCC Strategic Director for Communities

Skills hub 1 million


LCE Fund supports helps TSOS to help others

Women-led family business The Smarter Outsource Service is breaking down barriers and making a difference thanks to their own passion, drive and expertise…and some support from Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust. 

Women face various challenges when leading a business, including gender bias, limited access to funding and resources, societal expectations around gender roles and family responsibilities and a lack of representation and support networks

However, Rugby-based family firm The Smarter Outsource Service (TSOS) is proving to be resilient and resourceful enough to overcome those obstacles. TSOS, led by Tracey Coetzee, has dealt with those challenges as well as the additional complications caused by Covid-19 and is now thriving in the business world – and helping others to thrive as a result. 

This independent women and BAME-owned business connects SMEs with carefully selected and trusted independent services suppliers that share the same core goal of supporting businesses. TSOS advisors work closely with clients to ensure that they get the right help from the right provider at the right time. 

TSOS has established a successful business while at the same time also creating a lasting social impact as a Fair Chance employer, having signed up with Warwickshire County Council’s Fair Chance Employment Scheme. They work closely with Warwickshire Skills Hub, the Department for Work and Pensions and local colleges, schools and care homes to ensure equal opportunities for everyone. Under the DWP Kickstart Scheme they provided support to nine young people who were struggling with a lack of employment due to inexperience, lack of confidence or circumstances. 

It has not all been plain sailing. The business, as well as its directors, was severely impacted by the effects of the Covid lockdowns which created additional barriers, specifically with regard to accessing finance. However, Tracy Coetzee didn’t let new challenges stop her. She reached out to Simon Hooks (Business Finance Director from Riqueza Business Solutions Ltd) who introduced TSOS to Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT). 

CWRT were able to support TSOS with a loan to help grow their business under the Local Communities and Enterprise Fund (LCE), funded by Warwickshire County Council. Tracy praised CWRT and the dedicated team members who assisted her with the application process.  

“We would like to say a huge thank you to Keely and Sahib from the CWRT who put so much effort into helping us with our funding application,” she said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.” 

CWRT is continuously working towards supporting more women-led businesses within the region through their specialist finance packages.  

Keely Beamish, Business Development Manager said: “As an all-women management company, we appreciate the struggles that women encounter in the business world and would love to help even more local businesses break down barriers especially when it comes to accessing finance.  

“To achieve this, we are relaunching The Financial Fit (TFF) programme later on this year. TFF aims to support women-led businesses with their financial and strategy journeys. We are currently looking for investors to join us in funding this powerful programme.”  

  • To find out more about CWRT support and funding please visit www.cwrt.uk.com 

Rugby ready to grab it and run...

"This is a very special year for Rugby with so much going on around the bicentenary and the town's illustrious history coming together alongside the exciting growth plans of today."

Businesses in Rugby have been urged to take inspiration from William Webb Ellis by ‘grabbing the ball and running with it’ in the 200th anniversary of the sport.

Around 80 tourism, hospitality, leisure and retail businesses from across the town and borough attended the Rugby Means Business event at the Benn Hall.

The event was organised by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce through Warwickshire County Council’s Project Warwickshire programme in conjunction with Rugby Borough Council and Shakespeare’s England. Project Warwickshire is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, forming part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale Programme. It is also funded by Warwickshire County Council. 

The attendees heard from Keely Hancox and Russell Grant, from the Chamber, on the support available for businesses in the borough – from start-ups through to firms looking to access help to grow.

Delegates were then given an insight into major redevelopment plans for the town centre by Rugby Borough Council’s chief officer for growth and investment, Nicola Smith.

Nicola explained how there are 27 development projects in the pipeline with six ‘catalyst’ projects to help move the regeneration programme forward, including Rugby Market, Rounds Garden and Rugby Central.

There was also an update on some of the events coming to Rugby in the coming months – from rugby bicentenary celebrations through to the King’s Coronation.

Vicky Henderson, Rugby School’s 2023 Celebrations events manager, told businesses that they could benefit from the exciting events taking place at the school to celebrate the anniversary.

She said: “Over the coming weeks, we are holding rugby festivals and tournaments with hundreds of young people and their families coming to Rugby. While the matches will be taking place at the school, those families will be looking for other places to visit and places to eat and drink in the evening.

“We are more than happy to promote businesses in the town if they get in touch with us. They need to take inspiration from William Webb Ellis and pick up this ball and run with it as it’s such as good opportunity for the whole town.”

Plans for the Festival on The Close at Rugby School, which will take place from June 25 to June 29, including comedy, music and theatre, were also revealed to the audience.

Keely Hancox said: “We were absolutely thrilled to bring so many businesses together and everyone left feeling excited and inspired by some of the events, opportunities and developments coming to Rugby.

“It was also a great opportunity for businesses to hear about the support we can offer at the Chamber and we’d urge them to get in touch so we can help them with their plans for growth over the coming years.

“We also brought together a whole range of partners who are all working together to help the economy of Rugby thrive.”

Warwickshire County Council Contract and Project Monitoring Officer Hayley Lineker said: "It was great to see the Rugby Means Business meeting so well attended with so much positivity and energy in the room. This is a very special year for Rugby with so much going on around the bicentenary and the town's illustrious history coming together alongside the exciting growth plans of today.

"Warwickshire County Council will continue to offer all the support we can to Rugby, and all our other towns, through Project Warwickshire and our range of other schemes."

Helen Peters, Chief Executive at Shakespeare’s England, added: “The bicentenary events are a great showcase of what Rugby has to offer and businesses were given a real insight about what is to come, how they can get involved and where they can go for help.”

For more information on how Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber and Project Warwickshire can support your business, and capitalise on activities and events across Rugby and throughout the county please contact businesssupport@cw-chamber.co.uk

Fresh approach will transform Leamington town centre

"Transforming Leamington wants to attract investment and guide developments meaning that the town is as attractive and appealing as possible."

Leamington businesses and residents are being asked to engage in a major new initiative to help revitalise the 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.

It was launched at the Annual Town Assembly meeting in the Royal Pump Rooms, and attracted almost 100 local people who raised a range of topics around future developments in the town.

Mark Lee, who has been recruited to chair the new organisation, urged those interested to sign up to the initiative through its new website.

He said: “This a fresh approach from the three layers of government so that everyone is working to ensure that future developments meet the current and future needs of local people and businesses.

“There are opportunities and challenges in equal measure, and the town is therefore at something of a crossroads, and Transforming Leamington wants to attract investment and guide developments meaning that the town is as attractive and appealing as possible.

“Part of our role is to refresh the Vision for the town and set out a Framework that will plot a route for the transformation.

“While Transforming Leamington does not have any direct decision-making powers, it has a great deal of influence which it can bring to bear for the good of town centre life in areas including development, improved access, and creating attractive and safe public spaces.

“We were really encouraged by the turnout for the meeting and everyone was truly engaged in achieving the same ambitions.

“We had questions on accessibility, active travel, car parking, public transport and affordable housing. Of course, views will vary but it is vital that people are not only passionate about the town and its future, but they now have a vehicle to help make positive things happen.

“We want to hear from the community and I would urge people to register through our website - www.transformingleamington.co.uk and follow us on twitter via @TransformLeam - so we can take their views into account and also call on people to provide help when it is needed, as the more people we bring with us, the more we can bring influence to bear.”

Small Capital Grant makes "great dIfference" to exhibition company

"The Small Business Capital Grant is perfect for businesses with this kind of issue; where they need an injection of capital to enable them to make the next step and grow their business."

A family-run and events business in Warwickshire has designs on a brighter future after investing in new machinery and AV screens thanks to support from Warwickshire County Council.

Exhibition Equipment UK Ltd provides modular exhibition stands and shell scheme graphics from their state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Alcester.

Warwickshire County Council awarded the company over £16,000 from its Small Business Capital Grant Scheme – a funding scheme in 2015 which has now supported over 100 Warwickshire businesses.

The business invested in two new printers and a digital finishing table to improve its efficiency three months before the first Covid-19 lockdown. After losing much of its business and staff during the pandemic, Greg Bruner, a director at Exhibition Equipment UK, contacted his accountant, David Murphy from Stratford-based Grenfell James, to find out if any funding was available to help rebuild the business.

David pointed him in the direction of Jim Clark at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub, who suggested the business should apply to WCC’s Small Capital Grants programme.

The result was a £16,400 grant and Exhibition Equipment UK has added a further £25,000 to buy a rollover application table and AV screens to hire for exhibition and events – which has already led to winning a new contract.

Greg said the grant was particularly timely and would help the business to diversify into new markets.

He said: “Many exhibition and event organisers are including the hiring of AV screens as part of their turnkey packages along with graphics and furniture. We work on a number of these small shows where we have been asked to provide all the infrastructure, and the goal is clearly to do more.

“In the past that has involved a third party for the screen hire but we will now be able to provide the televisions ourselves. It will give us access to other areas of the business such as corporate markets, weddings or funerals where people might want to hire a big screen for just a day or morning and locally we’re aware of opportunities for that.

“We have also used the funding to buy an illuminated table which will be a more efficient and economical way of applying graphics. Previously, applying the graphics by hand put a lot of strain on our bodies particularly with the bigger panels and often involved two people, something now we don’t have to worry about which makes a huge difference.

“The funding will make a great difference to our business. It has enabled us to create two new trading divisions Kickstart Signs & Display, and Simply Screen Hire both of which have shown already that there is requirement locally within a relatively short distance of ourselves for these services. Jim from the Growth Hub has taken us under his wing and his support has been fantastic. We wouldn’t have got off the ground in applying for the grant without his input and guidance. The same goes for the grants team at the council.”

Dave Ayton-Hill, Warwickshire County Council's Assistant Director for Communities, said: “The Small Business Capital Grant is perfect for businesses with this kind of issue; where they need an injection of capital to enable them to make the next step and grow their business.

“It’s great to see Exhibition Equipment UK coming back after being hit so hard by the pandemic and winning new contracts again and, hopefully, offering job opportunities in the county. I’m really pleased we were able to help.”

The small capital grants are part of the County Council’s package of loan and grant programmes for businesses also including the Warwickshire Recovery & Investment Fund and the Green Recovery Grants. For more information on Small Capital Grants please visit here or email business@warwickshire.gov.uk

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Workshops will give employers scope to speak directly to talented potential recruits

Employers are invited to get involved and help proactively inform and shape the career choices of young people in a new series of employability workshops.

Delivered by Warwick-based Career Seekers Direct, the workshops are funded by Warwickshire Skills Hub’s Future Careers Fund which was created last year to build engaging, innovative and aspirational activity for students pondering how and where to enter employment.

More than a dozen workshops will take place across the county from March to July. The aim is to give students in secondary schools and Further Education colleges practical advice and real insight into the world of work to help them understand how they prepare themselves for leaving education and getting jobs.

Many local employers have already pledged their support but more are needed to provide insights into a wide range of sectors including building, games design, health, hospitality, law, media and vehicle maintenance.

Employer involvement can be just for an hour or for half a day or a full day. The schools and colleges taking part are spread throughout the county from Shipston-on-Stour across to Southam and through Warwick up to Nuneaton.

Employer inputs usually involve a short talk about their company, role and career pathways in the sector followed by setting a task related to their work for students to complete in teams supervised by CSD trainers and teachers.  

All employers involved will be making a big contribution to preparing the workforce of tomorrow – and will also get a great opportunity to pitch their careers offer to some very talented young people.

Any interested employer is asked to please call 07901 517012 or email sara@careerseekersdirect.co.uk so their interest and availability can be matched with an appropriate workshop.

For any queries regarding the Future Careers Fund, please contact skillshub@warwickshire.gov.uk

Business Ready support helps Black Ivy to climb

"I can now begin to plan longer term in terms of recruiting additional people and moving from my home office into a purpose-built office space – something which I may have hesitated to do without the support of Business Ready.”

An entrepreneur who started a hospitality interior design business on her own following redundancy during the Covid pandemic is set to mark the firm’s two-year anniversary with a growing turnover and plans to take on new staff.

Leanne Armstrong founded Black Ivy Design from her home in February 2021 after spending seven years as an interior designer working on projects for major hospitality brands.

Since then the business - which Leanne runs on her own with support from on-demand freelancers - has enjoyed year-on-year growth and is set to celebrate its second birthday with a five-figure annual turnover.

Black Ivy Design has worked on around eight major projects already in its short life – including conceptualising and designing the inside of Dhillon’s Spire Bar and the Sky Blue Tavern in Coventry city centre, as well as diversifying into helping dental practices in Birmingham and Hinckley to create a welcoming, ‘hotel-feel’ for customers.

Despite getting off to a positive start by generating clients via word of mouth, Leanne had one eye on the company’s long-term future, and so, in 2022, she sought help from Gaynor Matthews and Steve Tipson from the Business Ready programme on ways that she could grow the business to strengthen its long-term future.

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

Leanne said: “Before now I had never run a business before, so Gaynor and Steve have really helped to equip me not only with the basic approaches to managing a company, but also what I should be doing to grow my client base.

“Anybody can have a website, but Steve has given me with ideas of how I can drive customers to my online platform – including the use of content and certain phrases to boost my website’s search engine ranking, as well as utilising videos and using Google advertising so I am reaching the right customer base.

“Although Black Ivy Design is still in its infancy, I feel that thanks to Gaynor and Steve, it now has some key foundations in place to consistently generate new business in the years to come.

“With that peace of mind, I can now begin to plan longer term in terms of recruiting additional people and moving from my home office into a purpose-built office space – something which I may have hesitated to do without the support of Business Ready.”

Steve, who has worked closely with Leanne on growth avenues, believes she is an inspiration for other entrepreneurs who are currently going it alone.

He added: “Juggling the day job alongside winning new business is challenging, and even more so if you’re the sole business owner, so Leanne deserves a huge amount of credit for getting the business to where it is now in such a short space of time.

“We have advised Leanne to focus on her unique selling point, which is interior design within hospitality, alongside harnessing new routes to market online – including refreshing her website to ensure it ranks highly in online search engines, as well as pay-per-click advertising, and outreach approaches on LinkedIn.

“With a combination of word of mouth and strong online visibility, Leanne now has a really strong launchpad for growth over the coming years.

“Leanne is proof that if you have high levels of energy and motivation, and make the effort to seek the right professional support, then your start-up can thrive.”

Warwickshire County Council’s Assistant Director for Communities, Dave Ayton-Hill, said: “I am delighted that the Business Ready support has proved so valuable to Leanne and is helping Black Ivy Design to grow. Anyone who runs a small business has so much to think about, so to take on board the bespoke, detached expertise of Business Ready advisors like Gaynor and Steve often proves invaluable.”

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Jumpstart workshops coming up for budding entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs in the process of starting their own business can benefit from a variety of expert advice in the latest series of free upcoming workshops.

The workshops, run by Coventry Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT) and part-funded by Warwickshire County Council as part of the JumpStart project, will take place at the Techno Centre, Coventry between April 20th and May 4th.

They will cover a broad range of topics: Goal Setting for Success; Market Research; Business Planning; Cash Flow Forecasting; HMRC and how to Register (this workshop only will be via Zoom); Social Media; and Digital Marketing. The project also features up to 3 hours of 1-2-1 mentoring support from business specialists.

The JumpStart initiative, which in the past year alone has seen over 70 individuals receive its help, provides support to people from the early stages of deciding whether to set-up their own company through to producing a business plan and getting to grips with the financial element of running a fully functioning and operational business.

Warwickshire County Council’s Assistant Director for Communities, Dave Ayton-Hill, said: “The Jumpstart workshops have provided of great support and benefit to aspiring entrepreneurs over the years and contributed to a record number of start-ups being registered in Warwickshire in 2022. Warwickshire County Council is pleased to continue to support Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust with its efforts to assist residents to set up new businesses.”

To book a place and join one of over 25 businesses in starting their journey, or to secure one-to-one mentoring sessions with a business support specialist, please call 02476 551 777, email bizsupport@cwrt.uk.com or message CWRT on social media by searching ‘JumpStart Project’ on Facebook.

Exhall business competing with the best after Growth Hub support

A north Warwickshire aerospace supplier is continuing with its growth plans after buying a state-of-the-art machine to fulfil its orders.

Arrowsmith Engineering, based on the Bayton Road Industrial Estate in Exhall, manufactures bespoke precision components for clients across the globe from Singapore to the USA.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub helped Arrowsmith Engineering’s managing director Jason Aldridge apply for a grant to purchase a new CNC machine for specialist work for orders for Rolls-Royce, Meggitt and Incora.

The business received a top up grant of £8,400 from the Coventry and Warwickshire Investment Fund, which is part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with the business contributing £76,000. This was the second grant the business has received through the Investment Fund after receiving £24,026 towards a CNC fourth axis machine and a cobot in March 2019.

Jason said the new advanced machine would enable the business to operate more efficiently against competitors from overseas.

He said: “The CNC machine makes us more cost effective because it can be linked to our automated cobots and is therefore assisting Arrowsmith to achieve our digitisation and automation plans.

“With the importance and introduction of digitisation and automation, our older machines are not suitable. Purchasing this digital ready machine allows us to adapt our milling system which makes us more compatible to the latest technology which is required by our aerospace customers all over the world.

“We need to be cost-effective so that our customers like Rolls-Royce, Meggitt and Incora continue to bring their work to us, which is keeping work in the UK. This grant has let us buy the newest equipment to enable this.

“Our order book is growing again after Covid-19 and there is growth throughout the aerospace industry. Customers are buying their products from all over the world which means we have to be as cost effective as anyone else and to do that we have to have the best kit to make full use of technology since it allows us to be competitive.”

Laura Delahunty, Account Manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said Arrowsmith Engineering is competing with the best manufacturing firms in the world in the aerospace sector.

She said: “Arrowsmith Engineering is one of the region’s leading aerospace precision component manufacturers and this grant is helping them to meet their increasing number of orders cost-effectively as well as hopefully winning new work. The aerospace industry was severely hampered by the pandemic and it is great to see such an established business from our area bounce back stronger.”

The Growth Hub is supported by funders including Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire’s District and Borough Councils.

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Help to Grow: Management course starts in April

Warwickshire businesses can obtain some guidance on resilience and how to target potential growth from the latest cohort of the Help to Grow: Management course delivered by Aston Centre for Growth.

Help to Grow: Management is a government-backed twelve-week leadership course from ACG, part of Aston University.

The course offers:

  • an opportunity to stand back from the business to review the business strategies, build resilience and create a set of action plans.
  • improvement of your leadership skills to create a work environment which keeps your staff motivated in the midst of change.
  • the opportunity to discuss and exchange information with other business participants and learn from your peers
  • access to a 1:1 mentor with whom to assist in tackling your key challenges.
  • advice on how to maximise your marketing to create opportunities and new markets.
  • help to identify new technologies, tools, and digital approaches to become more innovative and productive.

 Four of the 12 modules are scheduled to be delivered face-to-face with the remaining eight provided online, designed to enable business-owners to complete the course alongside running your business.

The course is 90% funded by the government with businesses paying just £750 per participant. Eligibility criteria applies.

Programme Eligibility:

  • Be a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) based in the United Kingdom
  • Be from any industry sector, employing between five and 249 people
  • Have been operational for at least one year
  • Be a decision-maker or member of the senior management team within the business, such as Chief Executive, Finance Director, Operations Director etc.
  • If your business employs between 10 and 249 people, you can send up to two participants on the course.

 The next cohort starts April 2023. To apply or express interest, please visit www.aston.ac.uk/helptogrow

 Course overview: https://youtu.be/0F-IkpDY450

Video case study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO-P__vb45k

Chamber hits 120-year milestone ready to take on the challenges of 2023

“Coventry and Warwickshire has some of the most incredible businesses on the planet based here as well as fantastic universities and supportive local authorities and that’s why I am confident for the future.”

A major event in Warwickshire has marked the start of a landmark year for the region’s leading business membership organisation.

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce held the BIG Business Celebration Lunch at the IXL Events Centre in Southam with well over 200 businesspeople and regional stakeholders in attendance.

The event marked the start of the 120th anniversary celebrations for the Chamber, which was established in 1903 and has supported businesses through world wars, depressions, recessions and the global pandemic.

Guests heard from Chamber chief executive Corin Crane followed by Atul Lakhani, of IXL Events Centre, and Richard Harrison of No Ordinary Hospitality Management, which works in collaboration with the IXL Events Centre.

The event was then treated to a performance by Imagineer Productions before an inspirational keynote speech by Baroness Lane Fox of Soho CBE, one of the founders of Lastminute.com and the president of the British Chambers of Commerce.

She said: “This Chamber has seen so much over its 120-year history and continues to support businesses in this amazing part of the country. I did not think for a second, when I started my business that the world would look like this in 2023. There have been so many changes and unexpected events.

“I believed that technology would lead to more women being empowered to start and lead businesses and I thought it would help us to be even more of a ‘Global Britain’ that would build greater relationships around the world and lead to more trade. Some of the promise of technology is still yet to be realised.

“We also know that there are mammoth challenges that businesses are facing including energy costs, inflation and the tightening labour market.

“I often get asked how the economy is doing and it’s not a straightforward answer as it can be different for each sector, for each geographical area and for the generation of the business. I am, however, an optimist and I do think there is an opportunity to improve things for the better – in some cases its taking the low hanging fruit and, in other ways, it is solving more complex problems.

“There are three areas where businesses have to be ready to adapt. Everything that can be digitised will be in the coming years so there is no point fighting it. Adopt it and use technology to make us the most robust, resilient economy we can be.

“Sustainability and net zero are hugely important and will continue to be very high on the agenda for the future. And, we must ensure we build diversity into the economy whether we are thinking about gender or ethnicity.

“If we can move on those areas quickly, we can grow the economy and we, as a Chamber network, must continue to listen you our members to make sure we know what is important to businesses.”

Corin added: “When you look back 120 years ago to the establishment of the Chamber there were issues around skills, infrastructure and global trade that business leaders came together to solve. And, more than a century on, we are facing new challenges but, fundamentally, they are similar issues that we are collectively working together to overcome.

“As a Chamber, we’ve supported our members through so much – through global events that have impacted us here and through boom times in the region as well as Ghost Towns. We truly are standing on the shoulders of giants and that is why it is such a privilege to serve the businesses and wider community of this region.

“Coventry and Warwickshire has some of the most incredible businesses on the planet based here as well as fantastic universities and supportive local authorities and that’s why I am confident for the future.”

MNB Precision "incredibly proud" to receive Queen's Award

“We are all incredibly proud of what the team has achieved.”

MNB Precision is one of the latest businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire to be formally presented with The Queen’s Award for Enterprise (QAE), and, as the applications period for 2023 opens from 1 May, The Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire, Tim Cox, is urging more Warwickshire and Coventry-based companies to apply for the newly named King’s Award for Enterprise (KAE). 

The KAE is the highest accolade available to UK businesses and brings unparalleled prestige, exposure, and credibility to a company, as well as pride and inspiration to employees. It is presented for outstanding achievement in four categories:  

  • Innovation 
  • International Trade 
  • Sustainable Development  
  • Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility).  

MNB Precision is based on the Warwickshire/Coventry border. The family-run engineering firm received its award in the International Trade category, having increased its exports from five per cent of its turnover to 75 per cent.  

Warwickshire Means Business caught up with MNB Precision Director Luke Benton to hear their story:  

How do you feel about receiving the prestigious QAE? 

Luke: “There is an excitement about how we have been rewarded for years of hard work. We are all incredibly proud of what the team has achieved. Everyone recognises The Queens Awards as being the top of the top when it comes to accolades, so to know that we have been awarded this most prestigious iconic “trophy” is amazing. The feeling is surreal.”  

Exports used to account for five per cent of MNB’s turnover…now they account for 75 per cent. How did this happen?  

Luke: “The sales team at MNB highlighted the requirement for high complexity machining around the globe and pinpointed these international customers within MNB’s existing industries to target. It was a very direct and deliberate move that has garnered great success. The sales team has been involved at every stage to ensure that MNB’s distinct reputation travels before we do. A business’ reputation is everything so to have a strong international flavour to ours is terrific. There is no secret to our success. It is our people. Straightforward and direct; our people understand the requirements of working at MNB and they strive to deliver more than what is expected. This is what we do for our customers.”  

So, what advice would you offer to businesses looking to crack the overseas markets?  

Luke: “Understanding the market and the potential limits is a good place to start. By understanding the limits, you can plan your way through them and onto great things. Also, first ensuring a business has a sound and respected local reputation, then national business reputation, is a key factor. Selling “Made in the UK” internationally is fairly easy, the world wants British-made, but making sure you supply the UK with a first-class product or service is the first stage to taking your business to higher heights.”  

Key benefits of the KAE include improving opportunities to break into new markets, attracting new investment, raising awareness of brand and products, attracting new talent, and raising employee morale. Successful companies can fly the King’s Award flag and use the emblem on marketing materials for up to five years. They are invited to a Royal reception and presented with their award by the Lord Lieutenant, The King’s representative in the county. 

The Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire, Tim Cox said: “I am delighted for MNB Precision to be recognised in this way for its outstanding achievements. I am also keen to see more Coventry and Warwickshire companies applying for The King’s Awards for Enterprise in 2023. They are the highest accolade available to UK businesses and offer unparalleled prestige, exposure, and credibility to your company.”  

The applications period for the KAE opens on 1 May 2023. To find out more about The King’s Awards for Enterprise, visit www.gov.uk/kings-awards-for-enterprise  

Positive signs from regional economy

“The regional economy has proved to be very resilient"

A panel of business experts from Coventry and Warwickshire believe there are ‘positive signs’ ahead for the economy, though strong growth is still some way off.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce held its Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) Breakfast Briefing at Stockton House in Southam, the home of regionally based property and development company The Wigley Group.

The event, hosted by the Chamber’s head of policy Sean Rose, featured a panel of four experts from finance, professional services, manufacturing and international trade who discussed the challenges and opportunities for the economy in front of an audience of regional businesspeople.

The panel reflected on the improved QES results from the final quarter of 2022 and looked ahead to the coming year.

Steve Harcourt, director of Prime Accountants Group, the Chamber’s QES partner, said: “We are getting some very positive responses from a lot of our clients – some are really growing – while we have others who are quiet. One of the big issues we have seen over the past year is how costs have gone up and that has put a real squeeze on margins.

“Looking ahead, I don’t think we are going to see dramatic growth in 2023 but a year of stability would be something most businesses would welcome with a view to hitting the accelerator the following year. It was good news that we avoided recession because, although it was only by a small margin, the very mention of the R-word can cause issues with confidence within the economy.”

Roger Scott, of Lloyds Bank, added: “The regional economy has proved to be very resilient but I am certainly seeing more businesses starting to spend the cash that they built up during Covid. If that’s investing in growth, that is positive news, but if it is just to cover shortfalls in cashflow they need to be mindful of that, and address the core profitability issue.

“Looking at the economy more broadly, the fact that inflation and interest rates are expected to stabilise means businesses should be able to start planning with a bit more certainty around their cost-base.”

Tim Squires, of Squires Gear and Engineering, said some of the supply chain issues in manufacturing had eased rather than disappeared completely.

He said: “There was a point in 2022 when steel suppliers were only holding prices for two hours. It was like we were working in the stock exchange, rather than in manufacturing at times as we were having to make instant decisions with our customers whether to buy! The situation has eased but it is not resolved and I think there is a real need to make manufacturing in the UK less expensive to make us even more competitive around the world. British manufacturing is, however, seen as high quality in other countries and that gives us real hope.”

Sean Rose said: “It is clear that there is some way to go before we see the economy growing sustainably but our panel certainly backed up our QES results that there is light at the end of the tunnel. As a Chamber, we are delighted to be able to offer such valuable insight to our members, while our survey means we can speak to decision makers with a real understanding of how businesses are feeling.”

Special Feature

Inspiration and practical help in abundance at Towns Conference

“The conference was fantastic...we can only do this together and it's everyone coming together like this, with thoughts and ideas and opportunities to support each other, that will take us on to the next level."

Positivity and creativity were the watchwords when placemakers gathered at the Warwickshire Towns Network Conference to discuss how to energise the county’s diverse and delightful array of towns. 

Warwickshire truly came together as towns and villages from all over the county attended the event at Warwick Racecourse. 

 A series of speakers offered honest and challenging views from their own perspectives, each planting ideas for the attendees to consider moving forward with. Perhaps the greatest value of the event, organised by Warwickshire County Council, however was the networking opportunity it afforded as place practitioners and activists were brought together to swap information and ideas. 

The speakers were carefully chosen to provide inspiration, transferable concepts, and practical solutions. Chaired by Ojay McDonald from The Association of Town and City Management, who is regularly linked into strategic policy making discussions, the event provided a chance for all specialist speakers to offer their expertise to delegates within the very local frame of pride in place. Presentations from these speakers are usually offered at major events in London, Birmingham, and Manchester and are not always accessible to Warwickshire's towns.

Overall satisfaction with the event was extremely high indeed with 91% of delegates stating they were extremely or very satisfied.

When asked what people liked most about the event, responses can be broadly grouped into:

  • Positive speakers
  • Atmosphere
  • Interaction and networking.

Morning speakers included Ojay McDonaldIain Nicholson (Tackling Vacant Shops Challenges) and Joe Barratt (Institute of Place Management). The afternoon brought a fascinating workshop to discuss how community power contributes to thriving towns and then some information-packed Elevator pitches about skills, transport, tourism and local food and drink.

Ojay McDonald said: "The conference was extremely enjoyable, full of energy and as insightful as ever with great speakers, a broad range of delegates and participants and excellent hosts. Events like these can be the breeding ground for the partnerships and collaboration that help our towns to thrive." 

Feedback from the sell-out event was hugely positive with delegates from all over the county taking home much to digest.

Elisabeth Uggerlose, Clerk to Bidford-on-Avon Parish Council in the south of the county, said: “It was very useful and positive and exactly the type of event that is needed. It was great to talk about the challenges we all face and how to deal with them.  

“I found the event very informative and focused. All the speakers were impressive and, while it was valuable to hear about what is going on across the county, it was also really useful in terms of specifics. A few days after the conference a small business in Bidford said to me they wanted support to spruce up their shop front and improve their profile and I could give them exactly the right contact at Warwickshire County Council!” 

From further north, Jo Williams, owner of Joco Interiors, in Nuneaton, said: “I really enjoyed the conference, just as I did the previous one. It was a great mix of people and there was real positivity in the room. We all know town centres have to change but this conference showed how much there is going on to make them change for the better.  

“It was so useful to hear about what other towns have done. The idea of the teenage market is fantastic and we are already speaking with people who could put that in motion in Nuneaton.” 

The conference could not have been held at a more appropriate location. Warwick Racecourse was opened in 1707 to attract people back to the town following the Great Fire of Warwick. That same sense of adventure and resilience filled the room 316 years later as the county’s towns community squared up to the challenges of 2023.  

Warwickshire County Council leader, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said: "It was a great event, full of ideas and with a real sense of togetherness.  

“We are very fortunate in Warwickshire to have such a diverse array of towns each with their own unique history and sense of place. They are all special and we should celebrate that individuality because that's what people really value. But alongside that are problems common to all and everyone attended the conference to tackle those. How do we address the changing face of retail and the changing ways that residents want to use their town centres?  

“For us as councils, BIDS and other organisations, it's about being ‘can do’ and imaginative about how we bring footfall into places and make people see our lovely towns as ones to visits – some amazing history, some great shops and some of the culture of each individual town.  

“The conference was fantastic because no-one can do this individually. We can only do this together and it's everyone coming together like this, with thoughts and ideas and opportunities to support each other, that will take us on to the next level." 

Guest column

Warwickshire Skills Hub: A plan that came together perfectly

In the spring of 2020, Warwickshire Skills Hub was launched to coordinate all the skills and employability support offered to businesses, education-providers and jobseekers by Warwickshire County Council. Three years on, it has proved an unqualified success. WCC Assistant Director for Communities, Dave Ayton-Hill, reflects with pride on the work of Fay Winterburn and her team at the Skills Hub.

Warwickshire Skills Hub was launched in 2020 on a mission to do something new, collaborative and creative around skills and employability in the county: To make a real difference.

Three years later is a good time to reflect on the journey so far. And, without question, the Skills Hub team has achieved everything they set out to do and more.

That journey continues apace - new and innovative projects are perpetually in the pipeline to add to those already having a positive impact. But on the Skills Hub’s third anniversary, it is appropriate and entirely justified to celebrate a real success: A plan that came together to deliver in style for the people of Warwickshire.  

Warwickshire Skills Hub was launched with a mantra of "innovate, shape and create." Under the inspiring leadership of Lead Commissioner (Employability & Skills) Fay Winterburn, it has truly walked the walk. The Skills Hub engages with 600 businesses per year, a proactive connection which enables the building of a really strong, evidence-based understanding of the barriers experienced by businesses.

The Skills Hub team then works creatively to design and launch solution-based programmes which respond to the businesses’ needs. I am immensely proud of Fay and the team and also very thankful to the strategic partners, businesses, education settings and communities who work with them. As with every element of business support, collaboration is key.

Let’s look in more detail at the work of the dynamic Warwickshire Skills Hub team,

Careers support to schools 

Warwickshire Skills Hub has delivered over £240,000 of careers activity to over 40 Warwickshire schools, colleges and sixth-forms. It supported over 19,000 students to engage in meaningful careers activity and access digital careers during the COVID 19 pandemic and has created over 43 careers films showcasing Warwickshire employers. 

Business supported 

A total of 1,002 businesses have received over 5,000 hours of skills support. WSH has developed 66 Inclusive Employers who have committed to shaping inclusive jobs.


A total of £1,113,419 of Warwickshire County Council’s Apprenticeship Levy Funds has been shared with small-to-medium-sized businesses. WSH has created 120 apprenticeship opportunities for Warwickshire young people. This work contributed to WCC winning the FSB Small Business Friendly Award while the Council received the Hight Sheriff Award for commitment to promoting apprenticeships. 

Young people 

Warwickshire Skills Hub has supported 190 young care leavers, unemployed and those who are NEET to engage with employment activities and explore Warwickshire job opportunities. 


A total of 155 Ukrainians have engaged in employment support activity.

Warwickshire Supported Employment Service 

A new service was recently launched to support over 400 young people and adults with learning disability and/or Autism to gain employment in the county.

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All this support is delivered by a staff which has grown from just two, when the Skills Hub began, to 18 which now operates in three separate teams under the Skills Hub umbrella based in a unit at one of Warwickshire County Council’s business centres, Eliot Park Innovation Centre, in Nuneaton.

The Careers and Employability Team works with schools, colleges, 6th forms and employability specialists to shape careers and employability activity.

Current activity: 

  • Future careers schools programme, working with businesses and schools to showcase future skills needs and promote key sectors
  • The Ukraine Working in Warwickshire Programme -supports the Ukraine community to gain employment skills, explore employment opportunities and identify roles which complement their transferable skills

The Business Skills Support Team supports businesses to create skills plans to complement their organisational business plan. This incorporates all kinds of support and solutions to building skills and attracting new talent to their roles. 

Current activity:

  • Business Skills Support - To support businesses to build a skills plan unique to their business whilst exploring apprenticeships, funded training programmes, intern, post grand and T-level industry placement opportunities.
  • The Fair Chance Employer programme, which supports employers to shape inclusive jobs and recognise the adjustments care leavers, NEETSs, Ex- Armed Forces and many more groups of high priority groups of people might need when re-entering the world of work.
  • The Warwickshire Small Business Apprenticeship programme which supports SMEs to gain access to crucial supportive funding to support the cost of the apprenticeship training.

Warwickshire Supported Employment Service supports young people and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to move into paid and sustainable employment

Current activity: 

  • Supporting over 400 people per year to attend Working in Warwickshire Job Clubs and Employment sessions. All individuals in the service will also connect to the Fair Chance Employer Programme who provide a valuable bank of employers who are able to make reasonable adjustment and overcome any barriers or supportive needs individuals may have.



Date Event Host Timings Venue Link

Made in the Midlands, Sold to the World' Roadshow

Brought to you by the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), the 'Made in the Midlands, Sold to the World' roadshow pulls together all the best of export growth support available not only from around the Midlands but from across the world.
The 'Made in the Midlands, Sold to the World Roadshow' is designed to connect West Midlands businesses with export experts to give insight and inspiration to support them in making their business a global success story.

Dept for Business & Trade Drop in Botanical Gardens, Birmingham Weblink here

National Manufacturing Summit 2023 - 2 day event

The National Manufacturing Summit is an annual event run by the Manufacturing Technology Centre at its training and conference centre at the Ansty Business Park in Warwickshire.

MTC 2 Days MTC Weblink Here

BIGBreakfast - Let's Talk Business Networking at The Farm

Let's Talk Business Breakfast. Bringing the members & guests of Talk Business UK together for a live networking event.

Talk Business UK 07.30-09.00 The Farm, Stratford Weblink here

asSIGnations - Self Employed Special Interest Group - A Bolder Brand

To co incide with the rebranding of a well known professional body, you have the opportunity to look at the essence of good branding and review your approach to your own brand. We will be joined by well known marketing experts Rob Harrison and David Wilson from Glued to share their views on what works – and maybe does not – especially for independents like ourselves. This session will be highly interactive and offers the opportunity for a professional review of your branding and logo – if you wish – and is bound to help you develop your marketing further.
Plus usual networking and chance for questions in our self-employed community.

CIPD Coventry & Warwickshire 10.00-11.30 Farmers Fayre, Stoneleigh Park Weblink here

Planning an effective website

Often businesses fall into the trap of developing a website that they believe is right for their business but the reality is that the website is not right for their customers. We’ll look at the key elements to consider when planning your first website, or re-vamping an existing website.

You’ll gain an understanding of how to plan your website so that it meets its purpose. At the end of the session you'll have an outline website brief to provide clarity around your thoughts and an outline website hierarchy to demonstrate the simple structure of your website.

CU Services Ltd 09.30-11.30 Online Weblink here

BAB Networking -Apr 2023 - Bulkington Breakfast 1

Face to Face Networking in Bulkington Warwickshire -Business at Breakfast. You will be welcomed, included and educated with like minded business entrepreneurs. By Networkers for Networkers. Including a 10 Minute Education slot 15 Min Spotlight and one to one Networking Opportunities!Face to Face Networking in Bulkington Warwickshire -Business at Breakfast. You will be welcomed, included and educated with like minded business entrepreneurs. By Networkers for Networkers. Including a 10 Minute Education slot 15 Min Spotlight and one to one Networking Opportunities!

BAB Networking 08.00-10.00 Weston Hall Hotel, Bulkington Weblink here

Warwick Uno - Talk Business Networking

LIVE NETWORKING Twice a month - face 2 face. Come along and help create the Talk Business Warwick UNO group A 'single seat' business networking group - WHAT SEAT WILL YOU WANT?
Everyone has the opportunity to introduce themselves and their business.

Talk Business UK 07.30-09.00 Delta Marriott - Warwick Weblink here

Talk Property Brunch - Cov/Warks (Networking)

Fantastic to be able to once again host the popular monthly Talk Property Brunch. Just 18 Property ProfJust 18 Property Professionals meeting for Brunch, one table, one conversation ....mostly around property!
Estate agents, mortgage brokers, planners, conveyancers, property lawyers, bankers, insurers, architects, interior designers, garden designers, builders, trades etc.

Talk Business UK 10.00-11.30 Virgins and Castle, Kenilworth Weblink here

Business Buzz Leamington Spa

Business Buzz Leamington Spa is a fresh vibe in business networking. This Face to Face drop-in session is a great way to catch up with the local business community in Warwickshire. First Friday of the month.

Buzz Networks 10.00-12.00 1 Mill Street Weblink here

BAB Networking - Coleshill Breakfast

Face to Face Networking in Coleshill -Business at Breakfast. You will be welcomed, included and educated with like minded business entrepreneurs. By Networkers for Networkers. Including a 10 Minute Education slot 15 Min Spotlight and one to one Networking Opportunities.

BAB Networking 08.00-10.00 Coleshill Hotel Weblink here

No Code Taster Session

You would probably agree with the statement that creating software is both expensive and time-consuming. However, it does nYou would probably agree with the statement that creating software is both expensive and time-consuming. However, it does not have to be. There are tools in the market that can help business people without technical abilities create their own software. Gone are the days when we absolutely needed a developer to make an app for our business. Find out what these tools are and how to use them in this short course.

CU Services Ltd 11.00-13.00 Online Weblink here

Business Buzz Rugby

Business Buzz Rugby is a fresh vibe in business networking. This face-to-face drop-in session which takres places on the 2nd Thursday of each month and is a great way to catch up with the local business community in Warwickshire. 

Buzz Networks 10.00-12.00 Gallachers of Rugby Weblink here

Business Buzz Stratford-upon-Avon

Business Buzz Stratford-upon-Avon is a fresh vibe in business networking. This Face to Face drop-in session which takes place on the 2nd Friday of each month and is a great way to catch up with the local business community in Warwickshire.

Buzz Networks 10.00-12.00 Cork & Tile Portuguese Weblink here

Leamington Networking Breakfast

 independent group, run by members. Everyone who attends our breakfast meetings has a chance to talk about what their business can offer

Leamington Business Network 07.00-09.00 Audley Care, Binswood Weblink here

FindaBiz Networking Nuneaton

FaB Networking with FindaBiz is a local business networking and business support organisation. Serious about helping you grow your business, in a positive and friendly setting with no scary rules. Help for business owners to make connections, build business relationships and find opportunities to do business. 2nd Monday of the month.

FaB Networking 18.00-20.00 Coton Sports and Social Club Weblink here

Email Marketing for startups

Boost your impact with this information crammed session. We’ll introduce email marketing as a channel that can achieve fantastic return on investment (ROI). We'll share techniques on how to effectively use email as a marketing platform and how to leverage this format into meaningful interactions such as increased conversions on their website and improved relationships with existing clients.

CU Services Ltd 09.30-11.30 Online Weblink here

Commercial Vehicle Show

Join us at the UK's BIGGEST display of vehicles, equipment, and technology for the road haulage industry. The Commercial Vehicle Show will be unmissable for thousands of fleet owners, directors, senior managers, engineers and to anyone operating commercial vehicles as part of their business.

NEC 18-20 April NEC Weblink Here

Help to Grow: Management Course with Aston University

Build a community of like-minded business leaders while focusing on improving your resilience and potential for growth. Help to Grow: Management is a government-funded* 12-week leadership course delivered by Aston University, a world-class international Business School.

Aston University/ Centre for Growth 13.00-14.15 Aston University Weblink here

Getting Started on TikTok

In this 2-hour session, we'll be covering an introduction to Tik Toc.
What will you take away from the session?
· Confidence, knowledge & understanding of how the social media platform works.
· Useful tips to get more success from Tik Tok
· How to measure the success against their business objectives

CU Services Ltd 09.30-11.30 Online Weblink here

Warwickshire’s food and drink producers' network

We are delighted to announce the launch of Warwickshire’s fWe are delighted to announce the launch of Warwickshire’s food and drink producers' network on Wednesday 19th April 2023,  9.30-11am at Stoneleigh. Providing the opportunity for you to connect, and collaborate with other Warwickshire food and drink producers, support for your industry with guest speakers and the chance to vote on future topics.
Future network events are planned at various locations around the county, so even if you cannot attend this time, hopefully there will be opportunity in the future. You are encouraged to attend as many as you like. 
Provisional future dates for the network meeting:
21st June 2023 
13th  September 2023
31st January 2024  

Warwickshire Food and Drink Producers Network 09.30-11.00 Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire Weblink here

A presentation by Warwickshire Property & Development Group

Join us on Wednesday 19th April where our guest speakers, Stuart Buckley and Rob Andrews will give a presentation outlining the strategic objectives of Warwickshire Property & Development Group, the progress made so far, and an overview on future schemes.
The Warwickshire Property and Development Group was established to drive regeneration and development schemes across the County, including delivery of significant new housing to meet local needs, as well as promoting low carbon living.

FoRCE 08.00-10.00 Market Hall, Warwick Weblink here

No Code Programme

For startups, no-code tools can be extremely valuable, as they allow them to quickly build custom software solutions that meet their specific needs. With no-code platforms, startups can create minimum viable products (MVPs) in a matter of days instead of weeks or months, enabling them to test their ideas and validate their assumptions before investing significant resources into development. Additionally, no-code platforms can be much more cost-effective than hiring a team of developers, which can be especially beneficial for startups with limited budgets. During the workshops, we will cover the following no-code tools: Airtable, WordPress, Canva, and Shopify.

CU Services Ltd 13.00-15.00 Online Weblink here

Business Buzz Warwick

Business Buzz Warwick is a fresh vibe in business networking. This face-to-face drop-in session which takes place on the 3rd Thursday of each month and is a great way to catch up with the local business community in Warwickshire.

Buzz Networks 10.00-12.00 The Globe Weblink here

The Battery Tech Expo

The Battery Tech Expo brings together the latest technologies and services involved in the battery technology covering battery storage, battery management systems, fuel cell technology, lithium-ion batteries to name a few.

10 Four Media 09.00-16.30 The Wing, Silverstone Weblink Here

Understanding Export Procedures

Our Understanding Export Procedures course gives an extensive overview of the process of exporting and all the associated documentation. It contains a wealth of wide-ranging information from the earliest point of enquiry to the final point of dispatch. This course will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the export and customs procedures and offers practical tips to help you develop your international trade strategy.
This course will be especially beneficial to anyone involved in the areas of finance, sales, procurement, import/export administration, despatch, and shipping.

CW Chamber/ Dept for Bus. & Trade 09.30-12.30 Online Weblink here

The New Product Development Journey

Transform your product business from garage to glory! Join us for a dynamic journey through the exciting world of new product development. Gain valuable insights and tips on the 8 crucial steps, from idea to commercialization. Learn how to research and analyse the market, create a competitive advantage, and grow your business. Whether you're a first-time product business owner or looking to expand your portfolio, this 2-hour session is the perfect opportunity to bring your vision to life.

CU Services Ltd 09.30-11.30 Online Weblink here

Instagram for small business - an introduction

Learn how to make the best use of Instagram – and give your business an extra boost.
- Instagram introduction for a small business user
- Tips & best practice for using Instagram
- How to measure success against your business objectives.

CU Services Ltd 09.30-11.30 Online Weblink here

Universities as Drivers of FDI into UK R&D - Interactive Panel Discussion

This event will feature a live speech from George Freeman MP (Minister for Science, Research and Innovation), and introduction to the report by Alexis Brown (the report author), and an interactive panel discussion featuring a range of experts, chaired by Dr Joe Marshall (Chief Executive of NCUB). Discussion will be based around the recent HEPI report: The role of universities in driving overseas investment into UK R&D.

HEPI/UUKI/NCUB 13.30-14.45 Online Weblink here

The A – Z of Hashtags

In this one-hour webinar, we will be:
Looking at the creation of tangible hashtags to help support your business | Creating collections | Doing quality research | Looking at how to apply hashtags for platforms | Using hashtags as an engagement tool
You’ll also gain tips on creating a hashtag strategy and developing usable hashtags for your business.

CU Services Ltd 10.00-11.00 Online Weblink here

Why you should blog?

This one-hour webinar tackles blogging. Covering:
· The creation of a blog strategy for your business
· How to plan and schedule blogs for your business
· Creating and adding blogs to your website with the required SEO support
· Distributing your blog
You’ll leave with tips on how to create your blog strategy and plan blog posts for the next 12 months!

CU Services Ltd 10.00-13.00 Online Weblink here

SAVE THE DATE – Opportunity to Exhibit at Coventry & Warwickshire - Meet the Supplier Event

Warwickshire have been invited to collaborate with Visit Coventry on a Hospitality and Tourism Buyer/ Supplier event.
Members of Visit Coventry are entitled to a free stand at the event. For any Warwickshire based producers We will be offering subsidised places at the event. Places are limited so please register your interest with abiculley@warwickshire.gov.uk 

Coventry & Warwickshire Partners All Day Stratford-upon-Avon Racecourse abiculley@warwickshire.gov.uk

Leamington Coffee & Coworking

A coworking space for businesswomen to gain support and empowerment because no woman has to build a business alone.

Women's Business Club UK 09.00-12.00 Mallory Court Weblink here

An Evening With Triumph Motorcycles - HISTORY IN THE MAKING

Join the Triumph Motorcycle Design and Engineering team for an interactive evening discussing the history of Triumph, sharing stories and thoughts that drove Triumph from its Meriden era into the dawn of new beginnings at Hinckley.

You'll hear from key members of Triumph's Design and Engineering team, past and present, including Triumph's current Chief Design Officer - Geoff Hurst, who will be joined by Vehicle Lead Design - Robert Morrison, Lead Chassis Engineer - Ben Kerrell-Vaughan and retired Head of Development Workshop - Nick Wilson.

BMM 18.00-22.00 British Motor Museum Weblink here

Improving your Sales Process (In-Person Workshop)

In the sales function, we tend to talk about the “Sales Process” without considering that it is actually a process. Why is this?
One of the reasons may be that we are so focused on the end result, that we forget or do not have time to consider the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales process itself. In essence we don’t consider it as a process.
In this session, we will consider how using LSS can help you Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control your sales processes to meet your goals.

UWSP Business Ready 09.30-12.30 Warwick Innovation Centre Weblink here

Micromobility UK Event 2023

Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from speakers discussing the latest data from industry and technology experts, listen to panel discussions, and have the chance to trial some of the latest micromobility solutions.

University of Warwick 09.00-16.30 Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire Weblink Here

First Friday networking lunch at East Chase Distillers, near Kenilworth

We will hear about the process behind the first product to hit the market from this new independent artisan gin distillery, a product which has been designed and created by the owners from scratch.

Based on East Chase Farm outside Kenilworth, the process of converting a barn building into a gin distillery began with the aim of opening early in 2020, before Covid caused nearly three years of disruption and delays. In addition to the building project, we’ll also hear about plans for the future including new flavours and gin tasting evenings.

Our visit will include a tour and an opportunity to sample the product.

CW First Professionals 12.30-14.00 Chase Distillers, Kenilworth Weblink here

UKREiiF Annual Event 2023 - 3 Days

UKREiiF connects people, places and businesses to accelerate the Levelling Up Agenda, whilst unlocking sustainable, inclusive and transformational investment across the UK.

UKREiiF 3 Days Leeds Royal Armories Weblink here

Coventry Transport Innovation Event

Midlands Connect will host an innovation event at the beginning of MotoFest in conjunction with Coventry City Council to highlight and showcase the great work going on the city and beyond to use innovation and technology to tackle some of the big questions we face in transport. Join us for a morning of discussion and debate at Friargate in Coventry.

Midlands Connect/ CCC 10.00-13.00 Friargate, Coventry Weblink here

Coventry Motofest - 2 days

MotoFest Coventry is a weekend of non-stop cultural celebration and motoring madness. Free family fun in the UK’s Motor City. Discover how Coventry’s heritage is shaping the city’s future.
It brings together thousands, young and old, to celebrate the industry that moves us. Thrilling motorsport, heritage displays, global street food, live music and more: MotoFest is the one summer party invite that’s just too good to turn down.

Motofest Coventry All Day Coventry City Centre Weblink here

Midlands Economic Summit - Reimaging the Midlands

Event to explore the opportunities and challenges of the largest economic region outside London.

Nachural All Day The Vox, Birmingham Weblink here

The Big Zero Show

The Big Zero Show, where you will network with hundreds of businesses and public sector organisations taking bigger steps to net zero. You’ll hear from great thought leaders across various sectors and we will help you with practical advice and solutions.

Future Net Zero 09.30-17.30 CBS Arena, Coventry Weblink here

Midlands Development Conference

The Midlands is aiming to grow the region’s economy to £34 billion by 2030. The region is set forThe Midlands is aiming to grow the region’s economy to £34 billion by 2030. The region is set for over £10bn in inward investment to improve infrastructure, deliver housing, logistics and commercial space in the next 18 months. This conference will provide a platform for regional leadership to share insight into their plans to develop an inclusive, innovative Midlands.

BEN 08.00-15.45 CBS Arena, Coventry Weblink here

Battery Cells & Systems Expo

Battery Cells & Systems Expo will bring together automotive manufacturers, electric utilities, battery system integrators, cell manufacturers and the entire manufacturing supply chain. A truly unique showcase, companies from around the world will use the show to launch products and demonstrate their technology to an audience of over 4,500 professionals.

Event Partners 09.00-17.00 NN12 8TL Weblink here


Bringing together the UK’s biggest and best geotechnical suppliers, manufacturers, contractors and clients. A single focussed event, helping to promote the very best specialist services, products and innovations the industry has to offer.

Equipe Group 09.00-17.00 Warwickshire Exhibition Centre Weblink here


Cenex-LCV is the place to meet UK decision makers and industry experts; the perfect opportunity to showcase your business, your industry and your technology.

Cenex All Day Millbrook Weblink here
03.10.2023 Tomorrow’s Science and Innovation Clusters - 2 Days
Tomorrow’s Science and Innovation Clusters is the new INDUSTRY LEADING destination event for investors, developers, occupiers and policy influencers across LIFE SCIENCES, MANUFACTURING, SPACE, BUSINESS PARKS and TECHNOLOGY convene and talk about how the built environment sector is delivering major regeneration schemes allied to their industry. UK Government has pledged £25bn per year to unlock schemes that support economic growth, skills stagnation and which keep UK PLC at the forefront of emerging markets and over it is estimated that over £100bn of private capital will be deployed into projects by the end of 2024.
BEN 2 Days The Custard Factory, B'ham Weblink here

Engineering Design Show

The UK’s biggest event dedicated entirely to engineering, electronics and embedded design. Design engineers benefit from direct access to the latest products, services and innovations available to the sector.

Cenex 11 - 12 October  Coventry Building Society Arena Weblink here

Be inspired by innovation at Advanced Engineering 2023

The 14th edition of Advanced Engineering will celebrate innovation, collaboration and sustainability within the engineering and manufacturing industries. Engineering professionals from all sectors come together to network, learn and discover innovative new solutions and suppliers from the engineering supply chain across two action-packed days.

NEC 1st and 2nd November NEC Weblink here

Motorcycle Live - November

Motorcycle Live in association with Bikesure Insurance welcomed thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts across the weekend as the doors swung open to the UK’s biggest motorcycle show. The nine-day show kicked off in style with a star-studded line-up of riders and celebrities including show regulars Steve Parrish and James Whitham, the fastest man around the Isle of Man TT Peter Hickman, round-the-world explorer Nick Sanders and Rory Skinner, fresh from his announced move to Moto 2 for 2023, to name just a few.

NEC 18-26 November NEC Weblink here

News in Brief

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.


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