Welcome from Cllr Izzi Secombe

Hello and a warm welcome to the May edition of Warwickshire Means Business.

In this edition we are delighted to announce the opening of the latest round of our hugely successful Small Capital Grants programme.  

Since 2015, the SCG programme has awarded over £2million to small businesses in Warwickshire and helped to create more than 200 jobs around the county. It is a real success story and the story goes on! Please do get in touch if a grant might be beneficial to your business or that of someone you know.

Small Capital Grants are just one element of the broad range of business support available from WCC and our partners. A recent addition to the options for businesses to explore is the Business Investment Growth strand of our Warwickshire Recovery Investment Fund. In this issue of Warwickshire Means Business, we introduce the members of our newly-compiled BIG team who are a first port of call for any businesses wanting support as they seek to grow. Again, please do get in touch if that support could help you.

Also in this edition of WMB we feature the Let's Go Rural programme which is bringing together rural employers looking to recruit and young people seeking to embark on careers. We highlight the success of Project Warwickshire in its mission to supply swift support for the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors and we look forward to the mouth-watering prospect of next month's Foodie Awards.

We also focus on some heroes of our community, on-call firefighters, and hear how some of them are happily combining the role of firefighter with running their own business by using their local fire station as an office.

Please enjoy all these stories and much more in the latest Warwickshire Means Business. I hope that some of the support we publicise here can help your business to thrive.


Featured News

New £1million round of Small Capital Grants programme is launched

"Our Small Capital Grants programme has been hugely successful in supporting micro and small businesses over the last seven years."

Warwickshire County Council is pleased to launch the 2022/23 round of its enduringly successful Small Capital Grants (SCG) programme.

Since 2015, the SCG programme has awarded over £2million to Warwickshire businesses as part of a £14 million package of finance, loans and grants for Warwickshire businesses.

The SCG programme has already created more than 200 jobs around the county.

The latest round of Small Capital Grants funding, which is worth £1 million after a recent Portfolio Holder decision to allocate additional funding to support the programme, has an increased intervention rate of 40%. The intervention rate is how much grant WCC puts towards the total eligible cost of the project.

The scheme will provide grant support of between £5,000 and £35,000 for eligible micro and small enterprises.

Warwickshire County Council leader, Cllr Izzi Seccombe said: "Our Small Capital Grants programme has been hugely successful in supporting micro and small businesses over the last seven years.

"The programme is at the heart of our ongoing commitment to help ensure that Warwickshire's amazing breadth of small businesses continue to employ so many people and power our communities.

"I am delighted that its latest round is now open and encourage all appropriate businesses to get in touch to find out whether we can support them."

A micro-enterprise is a business with fewer than 10 employees whose annual turnover or balance sheet does not exceed €2 million (about £1.6 million). A small business is one with fewer than 50 employees whose annual turnover or balance sheet does not exceed €10 million (about £7.9 million). Relationships with other enterprises are taken into account when determining whether these criteria are met.

Applicants must be based in Warwickshire or looking to locate here and be able to demonstrate significant growth potential. This is defined as an existing business seeking to increase turnover by 20% over the next three years or a new start-up forecasting to employ three more staff or generate £300,000 annual turnover within three years.

Applicants must usually have a minimum of 12 months of proven trading history, however start-up businesses with significant growth potential and trading history will be considered. Priority will be given to businesses with the ambition and characteristic to scale-up.

Priority will also be given to applications from businesses in the following priority sectors for Warwickshire:

  • Advanced manufacturing and engineering;
  • Creative industries;
  • Digital media and gaming;
  • Connected and Autonomous Vehicles;
  • Low carbon technologies;
  • Professional services;
  • Tourism and culture.
  • Early-Stage Businesses

Businesses interested in applying will be offered assistance with the application process.

For more information or to register an interest in receiving support, please email business@warwickshire.gov.uk For more information about the small capital grants programme, please visit: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/directory-record/1/warwickshire-county-council-growth-fundsmall-capital-grants

The Small Capital Grants is part of a package of finance, loans and grants including the Coventry and Warwickshire Duplex Fund, a range of economic recovery loan and grant schemes, and the new £140 million Warwickshire Recovery and Investment Fund (WRIF).

For more information, please visit: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/homepage/360/finance-loans-and-grants

Project Warwickshire bringing swift support to hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors

"We have helped business all around the county - there is an example in every area from Dordon to Stratford and Polesworth to Rugby."

A Warwickshire County Council scheme launched to help small businesses in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors has reached more than 100 businesses in its first 10 months.

Project Warwickshire, designed to help businesses bounce back from the pandemic, is being delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce for the County Council.

The project, with £320,000 of County Council funding supplemented by £230,000 of European Regional Development Fund money, will enable the Chamber to implement a wide range of support through to April 2024.

Project Warwickshire has already interacted with 117 businesses, of which more than 50 are receiving support. Skilled and experienced business advisors have supported businesses with developing their marketing strategy, pricing and competitor analysis, workforce planning and Digital Marketing including website and Social Media activities to enable growth.

The project also highlights potential grants, with several referrals to other County Council grants schemes including the Duplex Investment Fund and Small Capital Grants scheme.

To date, 36% of businesses assisted are cafes, pubs, bars or bakeries while 64% have a leisure or experiential offer such as boating, wine tasting, cooking workshops, minibus tours, glamping or bouncy castle hire.

Cllr Kam Kaur, Warwickshire County Council's former Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, said: "Project Warwickshire came out of our recovery programme and commitment to support micro and macro businesses, particularly those that have been recently created.

"It has been brilliant in several ways. It has provided valuable advice to businesses quickly, we have worked with our partners really closely and we supported the brilliant small businesses which work so hard to power our communities. We have helped business all around the county - there is an example in every area from Dordon to Stratford and Polesworth to Rugby."

The tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors were among the hardest hit by lockdown in 2020. Tourism previously translated into significant economic value for the local economy, with Warwickshire’s tourism sector contributing £858 million towards local GVA -approximating to 6.7% of the county’s total economic value. The sector employed 22,123 people as of 2019, equating to 8% of Warwickshire’s total workforce.

Project Warwickshire, involving partners including Shakespeare’s England and Northern Warwickshire Tourism, is helping the sector recover by encouraging businesses to look at their future wants and needs.

"Partnership is key," said Cllr Kaur. "The County Council is delighted to provide the funding for Project Warwickshire but we could not deliver this on our own and our partners have the connections and resources to help.

"Our Economy & Skills team is fantastic and very busy, so this shows the power of collaboration. We needed to get this support out quickly so that we can really support the businesses who needed to think ahead and work out what their future will look like post-pandemic. We couldn't do it on our own.

"We have helped so many companies like Go Cotswolds who have upgraded their customer experience so much that they have more bookings then they had pre-pandemic. That is exactly what Project Warwickshire is all about.

"Shakespeare's Schoolroom is another great example. The Business Minister, Paul Scully, visited last week and was blown away by what has been done there and by Project Warwickshire as a whole."

Project Warwickshire is funded by Warwickshire County Council and the European Regional Development Fund as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale project. It is delivered, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council, by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Shakespeare’s England also working with Northern Warwickshire Tourism.

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

Let's Go Rural programme will bring employers and young career-seekers together

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

Rural businesses and young people looking for potential careers are being brought together by a groundbreaking programme delivered by Warwickshire Skills Hub.

The Let's Go Rural programme is part of the Warwickshire Brighter Futures project, run by Warwickshire County Council and funded by the UK Community Renewal Fund.

It is designed to open up rural workplaces to 16-24 years old who are unemployed or economically inactive. While kickstarting the careers of those youngsters, it will also help employers to fill their skills gaps

To deliver the project, Warwickshire Skills Hub is working closely, as it does in so many ways, with Warwickshire College Group which has set up several day-long courses to take place over the next few months.

The Draycote Hotel, near Rugby, will host a course, supported by Rugby College. Moreton Morrell College and the Garden & Grill pub, near Warwick, will host courses supported by AGCO.

Warwickshire College Group business development manager John Colclough said: "The Let's Go Rural project is a great way to bring together employers and potential employees for their mutual benefit.

"Rural businesses are struggling after all that has been thrown at them in the last  couple of years. The tourist and hospitality sectors have been hit as hard as any and many rural businesses are in these sectors.

"There is a skills shortage and the Let's Go Rural project will help address these by enabling young people to take a look at businesses from within for a day and see and hear what they are about.

"Certain myths persist about jobs in the hospitality sector - that they are all about anti-social hours without leading anywhere in terms of career progression. In reality, there is a huge range of opportunities in the sector - catering, baristas, accounting, event-hosting and co-ordinating, housekeeping, HR and many more. Whatever the skills or passion of a young person, there will be a vacancy to suit.

"It is great that employers and education-providers have got involved with Let's Go Rural and are committed to delivering a really enjoyable and interesting day for the youngsters. We are very grateful to all of them."

Further rural tours, delivered by WCG, Stratford & Solihull College and Hereward College, are coming soon.

Vicki Haslam, senior business skills advisor at Warwickshire Skills Hub, said: "The Let's Go Rural programme is all about connecting people - bringing together businesses which need to recruit with young people looking to embark on a career.

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

Each Let's Go Rural event will take place over one day whereby young people are taken on a morning tour and hear about roles available at those businesses. Over lunchtime there is a breakaway lunch activity where the young people explore their personal skills and attributes and how they might be matched with what the businesses are looking for from employees.

The afternoon brings a campus tour of a local college or training provider to explore the routes into rural work – apprenticeships, full time provision or industry placements.

To be eligible, youngsters must be: 16-24 years old, unemployed or economically inactive (not actively searching for a job) and living at a Warwickshire address. Transport and lunch are included.

* The Warwickshire Brighter Futures project has received £1.1 million pound from the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund. 

 The UK Community Renewal Fund is a UK Government programme which aims to support people and communities most in need across the UK to pilot programmes and new approaches to prepare for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It invests in skills, community and place, local business, and supporting people into employment.

For more information, please visit:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-community-renewal-fundprospectus

Entries flood in for Foodie Awards

"We are very fortunate in Warwickshire to have such a thriving food scene backed up by incredible suppliers. The foodie awards are a great way to celebrate what's great about our area."

More than 200 entries have been received for next month's Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards, a prestige event which will celebrate the very best of the region's vibrant food and drink sector.

The Awards, in partnership with Visit Coventry and Visit Warwickshire, will culminate in a ceremony at The Box at Fargo Village, Coventry, on June 16th.

Entrants will showcase their talents to a panel of judges including chef Paul Foster who runs Salt, in Stratford-upon-Avon. Foster’s career has so far earned him a Michelin star, three AA rosettes and a place in the top 50 UK restaurants in The Good Food Guide.

He will be among those deciding on winners in categories which focus on quality, service and innovation, with an emphasis on farm to fork. Categories include best artisan food and drink producers, farm shop, independent food and drink retailer, newcomer, street food trader and chef or cook of the year.

Paul Foster said: "We are very fortunate in Warwickshire to have such a thriving food scene backed up by incredible suppliers. The foodie awards are a great way to celebrate what's great about our area."

New categories this year will recognise Foodie Start-up, Fine Dining Restaurant and Fine Dining Chef of the Year as well as the International Taste Award.

The Foodie Start-up Award, along with the Independent Food and Drink Business Award, have been sponsored by Warwickshire County Council.

"We are delighted to support these two categories at the Foodie Awards," said Warwickshire County Council's Lead Commissioner for Place Projects and Partnerships, Aaron Corsi. "The quality and range of Warwickshire's food and drink offer, and with so much of it locally-sourced, is breathtaking and the Foodie Award is a brilliant way to celebrate it." 

The Casual Dining Chef of the Year category will be judged live on stage at the Warwick Pub in the Park event on 12 June with Bake Off winner Candice Brown. The Fine Dining Chef of the Year will be decided at a cook-off at The Farm Cookery School on June 7th.

Foodie Awards founder, Jonathan Smith, of Talk Business UK, said: “We have been inspired by the entries we have received in all of the award categories and look forward to having them all assessed and the finalists chosen for the next stage and the Awards presentation event.

“The Foodie Awards shines a spotlight on our region's brilliant Food and Drink sector and give recognition to all those who work so hard across this sector to give us all wonderful eating and drinking experiences.”

The Foodie Awards will once again raise money for The Trussell Trust network of eight food banks in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Any businesses interested in becoming sponsors are still invited to get in touch via: hello@foodieawards.co.uk.

For further information, please visit https://foodieawards.co.uk

Duplex Fund moves Bear Cleaning to next level

"There was a lot of information and due diligence required but it really helped to formalise our business plans and we are really grateful to have received this valuable funding."

An entrepreneurial family-run business is cleaning up in Warwickshire after securing funding to extend its services from a Warwickshire County Council business support scheme.

Bear Cleaning was launched by former Warwickshire police officer Ted Hunter and his wife, Kate, who was a social worker, in Kenilworth in 2017.

The exterior cleaning business focuses on cleaning roofs, driveways, patios, gutters and wheelie bins for domestic properties in Warwick district, Southam, Cawston and parts of Coventry. They also provide jet washing, gutter clearance, steam cleaning and bin cleaning for the commercial sector in Warwickshire and the West Midlands.

Ted spotted an opportunity to complement the existing collection services provided by district and borough councils and increase the range of options for collection for customers.

After meeting Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Chair Sarah Windrum through a peer-to-peer networking programme, she put Kate in touch with the CWLEP Growth Hub, who advised her to talk to the team at the Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT).

They recommended Bear Cleaning should apply to the Duplex Investment Fund, which is a combined grant and loan initiative jointly managed by CWLEP, CWRT, Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council.

The project is being funded by £3.9 million of grants from the Government’s Local Growth Fund and the Growing Places Fund, distributed and managed by CWLEP. Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council have both invested a further £2 million in the scheme managed by CWRT.

Kate successfully applied for a £41,500 loan and £16,600 grant from the Coventry and Warwickshire wide scheme to buy a 3.5 tonne truck to deliver the new service from Bear Cleaning in Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon.

She said: “It was great to meet Sarah Windrum and she was really encouraging about our plans for the business.

“We have three members of staff and we are currently recruiting for a fourth because we are really busy and want to continue growing because we have loads of enquiries coming in and we have built some great relationships with our clients.

“Ted spotted a gap in the market for householders who may want more regular collections. I carried out a lot of detailed market research and realised we needed to buy a small truck – similar to the type you see with a cage picking up litter bags in parks – so I got in touch with the Growth Hub and then CWRT to apply for the Duplex Investment Fund.

“We now have our new vehicle and we’re ready to go. There was a lot of information and due diligence required but it really helped to formalise our business plans and we are really grateful to have received this valuable funding.”

Martin Nwangwa, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said: “The Growth Hub provides support to businesses throughout our region no matter their size or sector and part of that work involves giving information on accessing funding and grants.

“Bear Cleaning is a great example of a family-run entrepreneurial business which prides itself on providing a quality service and has built a fantastic company despite having no previous experience in the sector.”

Alexander Vill, of CWRT, added: “Bear Cleaning’s submission was one of the most comprehensive we have received for the Duplex Investment Fund and Kate had certainly carried out in-depth market research including the Environment Act which became law last year.

“Recycling and disposing of waste responsibly are really important and buying the truck will enable the business to take their firm to the next level.”

Cllr Kam Kaur, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Economy and Place at Warwickshire County Council and CWLEP board director, said: “The County Council is involved in a suite of funding streams to suit the requirements of the diverse range of businesses in the county. Duplex, which has now administered over £1m of loans was ideal in this scenario and I am delighted that another Warwickshire business has benefited, with an increased choice being made available for the county’s residents.”

Tails up for alpaca farm thanks to local business support

“Sometimes it is just great to have someone with expertise to offer a second opinion...a fresh set of eyes can offer a different perspective.”

A business that has brought alpacas and meerkats to North Warwickshire, creating a new attraction for the area, is looking to expand after receiving support from Warwickshire County Council-backed Project Warwickshire.

Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm was opened by nurse Sarah Booth eight years ago in Hurley and now brings in hundreds of visitors each weekend and attracts local schoolchildren during the week.

It’s home to around 50 alpacas, ten meerkats and several special-breed donkeys and Sarah is looking to increase the number of animals and also create a new café to help grow the business.

Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm is now attracting more online attention too after being helped by Project Warwickshire – a free recovery and growth business support programme to help companies in the Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality sectors in the County, in the wake of the of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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

Sarah, who employs five staff, said: “I set up eight years ago. I used to go running in Leicestershire and I’d go past a farm that had alpacas in the field and it just became a dream of mine to farm some myself.

“I found a plot of land, bought it and bought some alpacas too. The original idea was just to breed them but it’s expensive and it takes a lot of time so we launched our alpaca walks and they grew in popularity.

“We added some meerkats into the mix and some donkeys and suddenly we became a tourist attraction for the area!

“The next phase is to add a few more alpacas and meerkats but we have to be very careful when choosing them. The alpacas have to be the right quality and the meerkats need to have the right kind of personality to integrate into the mob so we go all over the country to find the right ones!

“We really want to add a café too. We do pre-wrapped food but we think by creating a café it would be another attraction for the area.”

Sarah added: “The support through the Chamber has been really helpful. It’s improved what we do on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram after we took online masterclasses and they’ve also supported us by analysing our website and have made recommendations.

“Sometimes it is just great to have someone with expertise to offer a second opinion. You can think you are doing something right but a fresh set of eyes can offer a different perspective.”

Warwickshire County Council's Business Growth & Support Programme Manager, Gillian Dale, said: "Lucky Tails is a perfect example of the sort of quirky, engaging small business of which Warwickshire's tourist sector is blessed with so many. These wonderful small businesses do so much to  make the county so very popular with visitors locally and from further field and together form a major asset to the local economy. It is great to hear that Lucky Tails has really benefited from the input of advisors from the Project Warwickshire programme."

Caroline Trainor, Programme Manager at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s great to see Lucky Tails thriving – especially after the issues that all attractions have faced over the past two years.

“We are delighted that we’ve been able to support Sarah with one-to-one help from one of our experienced Business Advisors and provide lots of support and workshops around digital marketing, which is vital for a business of this nature.

“It’s great to see that there are plans for growth and that will only add to its pull to people from all over the region.”

For more information on support from through Project Warwickshire, go to https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/business-support/project-warwickshire/

Project Warwickshire is funded by Warwickshire County Council and the European Regional Development Fund as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale project. It is delivered, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council, by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Shakespeare’s England also working with Northern Warwickshire Tourism.

Commercial units and jobs coming to Southam under WPDG scheme

“This will form a major part of Warwickshire County Council’s post COVID-19 economic recovery and WPDG will be our partner of choice in making our county an even more attractive place to live and do business.”

A new Southam-based scheme that will see new commercial units built creating up to 100 new jobs has been approved by Warwickshire County Council. 

The 42,000 sq ft industrial scheme will be brought forward by Warwickshire Property and Development Group, the Council’s delivery company. 

This is the first investment made by Warwickshire County Council into the Warwickshire Property and Development Group. The scheme will provide nine units of between 2,000 – 15,000sq ft, ideal for SMEs which are starting up or looking for expansion space. 

The site at Holywell Business Park forms part of the established Kineton Road Industrial Estate and will bring into use land that has remained unused for many years. The site will be marketed as Southam Park. 

Councillor Peter Butlin, deputy leader and portfolio holder for finance and property, said: “I’m delighted to see Warwickshire Property and Development Group take on its first development project which will bring a welcome boost to the local economy. 

“We have an ambitious programme to work with partners and external developers who share the same vision as us, taking a holistic approach to building successful, sustainable and high-quality developments. 

“This is why we launched the new company, to fuse the financial support and business acumen of Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Property and Development Group board members and staff, so we can invest in innovative and environmentally-sustainable developments. 

“This will form a major part of Warwickshire County Council’s post COVID-19 economic recovery and WPDG will be our partner of choice in making our county an even more attractive place to live and do business.” 

Warwickshire Property and Development Group was launched by Warwickshire County Council in the summer of 2021 to deliver new affordable and market priced homes and a range of commercial, mixed use and renewable energy opportunities across the county. 

Stuart Buckley, managing director of Warwickshire Property Development Group said: “This is an exciting milestone for WPDG as it is the first scheme to be signed off and meets with the vision and objectives of the Group to be providing new economic activity in the County for local residents. This scheme will meet a gap in the market for space for SMEs who are the lifeblood to the economy. 

“WPDG will play an important role in shaping Warwickshire as a place to invest, live and thrive. It will help the County’s economic recovery, providing new housing and creating jobs, shaping the County as an attractive and desirable place to live, and do business.” 

A planning application for the site has now been submitted with a start onsite in Autumn 2022. Formal marketing of the site is also now underway with Coventry-based agent, Bromwich Hardy, appointed sole agents by WDPG.  

For more information about Southam Park visit https://www.bromwichhardy.com/propertyInfo/2233/  

Minister hails Project Warwickshire as "real boost" for business

Local businesses have been receiving a real boost from Project Warwickshire which is providing help including advice, networking and a range of masterclasses. 

Warwickshire County Council’s Project Warwickshire scheme was high on the agenda when Business Minister Paul Scully visited to hear how tourism attractions in the county are faring following the pandemic.

The Minister visited Stratford-upon-Avon where he toured the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the RSC Tower and the RSC’s Costume Workshop, then also popped into the newly reopened Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall.

Mr Scully met with the RSC’s Acting Artistic Director Erica Whyman and members of the Shakespeare’s Schoolroom Trust to learn more about how each venue is approaching its Covid recovery.

Mr Scully also discovered more about the County Council’s Project Warwickshire, a scheme to aid the recovery of small businesses in the tourism, hospitality and leisure industry. The Minister discussed Project Warwickshire with Cllr Kam Kaur, WCC Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Heather Timms, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate & Culture, WCC's Lead Commissioner (Business & Economy) Matt Epps, Helen Peters, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s England and Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Scully said: “Local businesses have been receiving a real boost from Project Warwickshire which is providing help including advice, networking and a range of masterclasses. Alongside government support like Help to Grow, we’re helping businesses recover from the slings and arrows of Covid-19 so we can level up every part of the country.”

Speaking about the Ministers’ visit and Project Warwickshire, Cllr Kaur, said: “Stratford-upon-Avon is one of the many jewels in the Warwickshire crown and a big contributing factor to making this county the best place to live, visit, work and play.

“We were very happy to welcome the Minister and to showcase the many things that make Stratford such a fantastic town. We were particularly happy to share with the minister the progress with the Project Warwickshire initiative, which was primarily funded by the Council.

“We are proud to say that the project has already assisted 53 businesses across the County including a new gin distillery in Warwick, a camel farm and dairy, a cidery, cat café, narrow boat firm and a glamping site in offering one-to-one business coaching, and practical workshops on subjects including social media, marketing, recruitment and creating an online presence.”

Erica Whyman said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities around the country and feed off each other to create vibrant and great places to live and work. It has been staggeringly challenging for all, and the theatre sector is no exception.

“We are slowly beginning to recover from the pandemic, but it will take time whilst confidence grows amongst audiences and visitors. Ongoing support is needed and welcomed and we will work together with Stratford and the wider region to make sure we emerge with strength and showcase everything our county has to offer.”

Lindsey Armstrong, General Manager of Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall, highlighted the support provided by Project Warwickshire to the 16th century building where Shakespeare went to school.

She said: “Project Warwickshire provided the business with valuable insights towards developing its marketing strategy as well as great knowledge about social media management. The support from the team, particularly Russell Grant, is hugely appreciated.”

Helen Peters, CEO of Shakespeare’s England, the regional tourism organisation for South Warwickshire and surrounding areas, said: “Project Warwickshire has been a useful tool in helping many small tourism businesses across Warwickshire to get back on their feet after the pandemic. We were delighted to partner with CW Chamber in providing the business engagement and ensuring not only Shakespeare’s England Members but all tourism and leisure businesses were aware of the opportunity.

“It is brilliant that so many of our tourist attractions and hospitality businesses have embraced and benefited from the scheme already. There has been some very positive feedback.”

* Project Warwickshire is funded by Warwickshire County Council and the European Regional Development Fund as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale project. It is delivered, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council, by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Shakespeare’s England also working with Northern Warwickshire Tourism. For more information visit: www.cw-chamber.co.uk/business-support/project-warwickshire

Startup school launches to support Warwickshire’s 'Olderpreneurs'

"We want to give older people a platform through which they can take back control by launching a business of their own."

Fifty, sixty and seventy-somethings in Coventry and Warwickshire are being invited to join a free online school for ‘olderpreneurs’ seeking to set up in business post-Covid.
The Startup School for Seniors is the brainchild of entrepreneur Suzanne Noble, 60, and Mark Elliott, 57, who came up with the idea of the free, eight-week course as a result of successive lockdowns causing large rises in unemployment for over-50s.
It’s one of five courses taking place across the UK, with funding for the Warwickshire course provided by the European Social Fund (ESF) - and there are 30 free places available. 
According to the latest Office for National Statistics labour market data, there are now 550,000 fewer people aged over 50 who work than before the pandemic began - the most significant fall over two years in at least 30 years.  At the same time, many older people who were put on furlough or made redundant during lockdown opted not to return to work afterwards.

One in five people over 50 are self-employed, more than any other age group - and Suzanne says that while the pandemic affected the younger generation and over-50s the worst, it’s the older generation who will struggle to pick themselves up in the aftermath.
The online course comprises over 25 hours of video lessons from Suzanne and Mark plus a weekly exploration and collaboration call designed to encourage participants to articulate their business ideas in a safe and welcoming space. By the end of the course, participants will have improved their digital skills via Zoom, and many will have produced a short-form video to showcase their business.
"Covid has changed the employment market irreversibly and made it even harder for workers aged 50-plus to find a job,"said Suzanne. "We want to give older people a platform through which they can take back control by launching a business of their own.

"When people think of start-ups, they tend to picture high-growth tech businesses launched by 20-somethings wearing Converse, but in reality the decision for many people to set up their own company is increasingly driven by necessity and putting food on the table."
Mark advises people to take stock of what they enjoy doing, especially around what's known as soft skills such as creative thinking, adaptability, communication, curiosity and how they can use these to their advantage.
"It could involve them monetising a lifelong hobby or putting the experience they’ve gleaned through their employed careers into use for themselves," he said. "For many of the olderpreneurs on our course, self-employment is also about flexibility and working around caring responsibilities, which affect one in five people over 50."
Of the previous participants in the course first held last year, nearly 40% had made money from their business before they finished the course and 100% reported feeling more confident about running their own business after it.
Startup School for Seniors is free to anyone in Coventry and Warwickshire aged 50+ who is either currently unemployed, has recently been made redundant or is economically inactive. The next course takes place in June - please visit startupschoolforseniors.com to find out more.

Clean Growth: Accelerate Your Journey to Net Zero

Businesses have an opportunity to access expertise from Coventry University and industry experts to achieve Net Zero goals through dedicated collaborative support.

The Coventry & Warwickshire Green Business Programme, in partnership with Coventry University’s Clean Growth and Future Mobility Research Institute, is running a number of programmes to support SMEs develop new skills and expertise to achieve Net Zero goals.

Each programme will support SMEs through a number of interactive workshops and bespoke, one-to-one support to provide them with knowledge, tools and a roadmap to achieve their Net Zero goals.

The collaboration programmes are free to join for eligible SMEs in Coventry and Warwickshire, as they are fully funded by ERDF.

The five collaborations programmes with links to the first workshops are:

Technology Roadmap to Net-Zero: Date to be confirmed

Carbon Accounting:https://Carbonaccounting.eventbrite.co.uk

Metrology for Sustainable Manufacturing: https://metrology2022.eventbrite.co.uk

E-Machines & Drives:https://e-machines.eventbrite.co.uk

Hydrogen Energy Technologies: https://hydrogen2022.eventbrite.co.uk

For further details please contact Gavin Barnett at Coventry University (gbarnett@cusltd.co.uk) or see:




"Let's make this a Small Business Summer"

“These latest findings show that local firms remain resilient and defiantly optimistic."

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has published its latest West Midlands Small Business Index report, which tracks small business confidence across the region.

Its findings are based upon comprehensive research that looks into small firms’ recent performance, current circumstances, and future aspirations.

The latest report, covering the first quarter of 2022 paints a mixed picture, highlighting areas for concern alongside more positive trends. For example: the proportion of small businesses reporting a decrease in staffing levels doubled, compared to Quarter 4 2021. This is the first time negative net employment growth has been reported since the beginning of 2021.

There are significant wage bill pressures, with almost two thirds of respondents seeing their average salaries increase during the past 12 months. An even greater proportion expect average salaries to rise during the next 12 months.

The main barriers to growth were seen to be domestic economic conditions, rising input costs and weak consumer demand. Regional small businesses are less optimistic than they were this time last year, although their outlook is more upbeat than it was in the previous quarter.

The more positive findings include two fifths of respondents seeing an increase in revenue, which is more than those reporting a decrease. Almost half expect an increase in revenue in the next three months. More than half of expect to grow rapidly or moderately in the next 12 months.

Most encouraging of all, more than a quarter expect to increase capital investment, with the region’s small businesses being well ahead of those in the rest of the UK in terms of their net investment intentions.

Hollie Whittles, FSB’s West Midlands Chair and director of two local small businesses commented: “These latest findings show that local firms remain resilient and defiantly optimistic, even though they are facing serious challenges. With small firms accounting for more than 99 per cent of all regional businesses, FSB is urging Government and decision-makers to go further - to address the key challenges they face, such as the increasing cost of doing business, late payment and the gaps in business support.

“The message from us to policymakers and corporates alike is clear: let’s make this a Small Business Summer – backing the 99% on which our local and national recoveries will depend.”

Emergency budget needed to help businesses meet rising costs

Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire have backed national calls for emergency measures to support firms with rising costs.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is calling for an emergency budget to deal with the costs crises facing businesses and people throughout the country. That is being supported on a regional by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

The BCC has developed a three-point action plan that would allow firms to keep a lid on rising prices, boost productivity and ease cost pressures.

The proposals include:

- Ease upfront costs of doing business by reversing the recently introduced National Insurance increase until at least 2023/24.

- Help firms manage the impact of rising energy prices by cutting VAT on their energy bills from 20 per cent to five per cent for a minimum of one year.

- Address labour shortages by reinstating free Covid tests for companies to ease the strain on productivity caused by persistent high absences.

Together the three steps would take the pressure off businesses that are battling to keep the economy afloat and offer a route to higher productivity and tax receipts in the future.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “At the height of the Covid-19 crisis, the Government offered unprecedented support to businesses on a scale never seen before.

“Nobody in business is expecting or calling for that level of help again but with rising costs impacting on just about every company across the patch and, indeed, the country, colleagues at the British Chambers of Commerce are rightly looking to the Chancellor to introduce measures to ease those burdens. We are in regular contact with our members and costs are being raised by them time and again as a real barrier to growth and, therefore, urgent action is needed.”

The measures in more detail:

1. Postponing the rise in National Insurance Contributions would not only ease the immediate pressure on companies’ balance sheets but it would also put money back into the pockets of people – boosting consumer confidence. When supply chain disruption has unwound and global factors influencing inflation have receded the economy will then be in a much stronger position to bear the increase.

2. Cutting VAT on business energy bills to 5%, for all businesses, would provide another quick release valve on soaring costs for firms. For example: a small business which has an energy bill of £10,000 and currently pays the standard 20% rate would pay £2,000 VAT. Our proposal would see that cut to £500. This measure could be adjusted over time to take account of those sectors most in need.

3. Many businesses in the UK are still seeing above average absence rates as Covid continues to impact the workforce. Around two thirds of more than 1,100 firms surveyed in April by the BCC reported staff absences due to Covid symptoms or self-isolation. Bringing back free testing would allow firms to limit the disease’s spread among employees. With wider structural staff shortages continuing to limit productivity this would be a key measure to keep the economic recovery on track.

Protect your business with a sprinkler

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service supported the recent National Sprinkler Week campaign to raises awareness of the benefits of sprinkler systems in keeping businesses, buildings and people safe from fire.

The installation of a sprinkler system is a reliable and cost-effective way to protect your business and the people within it.

It often lowers your insurance premium and, in the event of a fire, the damage will be minimal, enabling business to carry on as usual without incurring any loss of income due to closure.

The provision of sprinkler systems is becoming increasingly incorporated into fire safety regulation. It is required in certain types of new-build premises, such as warehouses larger than 20,000m2 , and in other premises it is widely accepted as a compensatory feature.

It may not always be feasible to make structural alterations to an existing building to comply with the Fire Safety Order. However, because sprinklers reduce the growth rate of a fire and can sometimes extinguish it completely, Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service, as the enforcing authority, will often accept the installation of sprinklers as compensatory measure. By limiting fire spread with sprinklers, less structural fire protection is required.

Controlled the fire in the early stages means occupants have more time to evacuate or, in some cases, avoids the need for evacuation. As a result, people on your premises are safer, as are the firefighters responding to any incident.

The benefits of sprinklers are not limited to life safety, but have an equally positive impact on property protection and business continuity. Research indicates that sprinkler systems operate on 94% of occasions and extinguish or contain fires on 99% of those occasions. This mean sprinklers reduce injuries by at least 80%, reduce property damage by 90% and substantially reduce damage to the environment from fire. It should be noted, too, that only sprinkler heads in the immediate vicinity of the fire will be activated – they will not flood the entire building.

For more information on sprinkler systems, please visit the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association’s website: https://www.bafsa.org.uk/

National Rail Show returns to Warwickshire with opportunities for local SME supply chain

William Shakespeare will make way for trains as Long Marston plays host to several thousand guests and exhibitors when the rail industry descends on the district to attend the major rail technology show Rail Live as it returns for 2022.

The show attracts over 5,000 delegates and this year 200 exhibitors are registered, up from 170 last year. The event takes place every year at the Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre, the Warwickshire home of Porterbrook, and a major UK rail test and development site.

The show is promoted by Bauer Media, publisher of Rail Magazine, and includes live rail demonstrations, displays of the latest rolling stock, showcases of new rail innovation and a full schedule of panels and presentations from key industry and government speakers.

New for 2022 includes direct rail services into the site for delegates from Birmingham and Worcester, and a focus on attracting SMEs, particularly those that are new to, but interested in, getting into rail.

Invest in Coventry & Warwickshire will be exhibiting at the show, to profile the regional rail and transport technology supply chain. The team will also be providing information to businesses looking to find out more about setting up in Warwickshire and the wider Midlands, and signposting to relevant business support for export, skills, rail networks and programmes and access to finance.

The 2022 event marks the first year the show has taken place since rail technology company Porterbrook took over the long lease to the site, renaming the former QRTC site with the new name Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre. Porterbrookplan to retain and develop the site for rail uses, Rail Live being a very good example of this. The event has grown over the years to become for rail what the Farnborough Airshow is for aerospace.

If you are an SME and are either in the rail industry, or would like to get into the rail supply chain, support is available for Coventry & Warwickshire businesses from the Digi-Rail Programme. The project provides support to eligible SMEs looking to enter or grow their business in the rail industry, with a focus on the Digital Railway. Support given on DIGI-RAIL is a minimum of two days and will be at no cost to the company. For more details, please visit https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/partners/sme-support/business-support-programmes/digi-rail/index.aspx

To find out more about attending or exhibiting at Rail Live 2022, visit the Rail Live 2022 website on at https://www.raillive.org.uk/

Special Feature

Greater flexibility makes role of on-call firefighter more accessible

On-call firefighters are integral to Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service's critical work to keep the county's communities safe. They respond to a range of emergencies and engage with their local communities in numerous ways.

They do all this while having a day-job in other industries - an arrangement which is both feasible and very rewarding for both the firefighter and his/her employer.


Most people performing the role of on-call firefighter in Warwickshire live within five minutes of a fire station and respond as needed.

Ideally, this is the case, but it is not essential. The Fire & Rescue Service is now offering greater flexibility to ensure that the service accesses the maximum number of high-quality recruits.

Nick Bance, an on-call firefighter based at Southam Fire Station, lives nine minutes away, in Bishops Itchington. Nick runs an independent fire protection consultancy for businesses and has worked as an on-call firefighter for nine years.

How does he make this work? He works his day-job from a desk at Southam Fire Station and is therefore able to respond to incidents when on-call as necessary.

He said: “When I initially enquired about joining on-call, I spoke with the Watch Manager and he said that I lived too far away, but it might be possible to join if I worked from the fire station. I went along to the next taster session and thought ‘yeah, I'll give this a go.’

"I successfully completed the physical and written tests to advance to the initial training course for new recruits. Two weeks later, we participated in a passing out parade in front of our families and the Deputy Chief Fire Officer.”

Nick finds working as an on-call firefighter very rewarding. On-call firefighters receive exactly the same training as wholetime firefighters, and it can take around three years to become qualified as a competent firefighter.

“I joined up because I wanted to help my community," Nick said. "I would certainly recommend it to gain life skills. I am emergency response vehicle trained and can drive appliances to incidents. I find that I am constantly refreshing my skills and keeping up to date with new fire policies and procedures. It’s enjoyable and rewarding, particularly if you rescue someone from a road traffic collision or save someone’s life, then it’s all worthwhile.”

Finding a balance between his two roles has been made possible by using the station as his office, a move which works perfectly well.

“I have a desk and can do all my paperwork at the fire station," he said. "There’s a kitchen, off-street parking and shops a short walk away...and it's a quicker run if I'm called out! It’s comfortable to combine my two jobs and I am sure there are local people out there with a laptop who could do a similar thing to me.”

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service's Community Engagement Officer, Gosia Zielinska, said: "Nick is a great example of an on-call fighter who is doing wonderful work for his community without detriment to his day-job.

"Those who work remotely may be able to work from one of our on-call fire stations, as Nick does. While he can run his business from his local station, he also provides fire cover and is available for any emergencies. This is very much an option for anyone considering becoming on-call firefighter. Our on-call firefighters choose when they are available - days, times - as long as their weekly availability matches the agreed hours. The hours vary from 40 to 120 per week and the number of weekly callouts varies but, on average, is two or three.

"Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service could not protect the community the way it does without on-call firefighters. We are so grateful to all of them and their employers who have found out that it is not disruptive to their business at all. To have an on-call firefighter on the staff really is a great way for a business to contribute to the community with the minimum of disruption."

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is recruiting for on-call firefighters across the county, especially in Fenny Compton and Shipston-on-Stour. If any business would like to learn more about on-call and the benefits of having an on-call on their books, they are very welcome to contact the service for advice. For more details, please visit: https://bit.ly/OnCallWarwickshire









2022.05.25   &        2022.05.26

Packaging Innovations & Empack 2022 - the UK’s essential annual event driving business and innovation across the whole packaging journey from design and manufacturing to the shelf


10:00 - 17:00


Weblink here


Selling More: Identifying & Utilising Routes to Market Workshop - A workshop that looks towards external growth opportunities, approaches to sell more and
how to best align yourself with other players in the market.


09:30 - 12:30


Weblink here


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

Business Buzz

10:00 onwards

Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

Weblink here


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

Warwickshire County Council

10:00 - 16:00

1 Mill Street, Leamington Spa

Weblink here

2022.06.03 - 2022.06.05

UK Games Show - The three-day event is the largest Hobby Games Convention in the UK - where all aspects of the tabletop gaming hobby are represented under one roof.

UK Games Expo Ltd.

09:00 - 18:00


Weblink here


World Congress on Railway Research (WCRR) - 6th-10th June
RSSB and University of Birmingham will host, on behalf of the UK, the 13th World Congress on Railway Research (WCRR)

RSSB and University of Birmingham

5 days


Weblink here

2022.06.07 - 2022.06.09

RSSB Subcon, the Engineer Expo and MMS - Now in its 45th year, Subcon is the UK’s premier subcontract supply chain event. The Engineer Expo is the dedicated event for the advanced engineering community. It showcases the latest in-house design solutions, alongside cutting-edge developments in advanced engineering technologies.

MA Exhibitions Limited

3 days


Weblink here

2022.06.08 & 2022.06.09

Maintec. Maintec, collocated with Manufacturing and Engineering Week, is the UK’s only dedicated maintenance & reliability engineering exhibition. The event has continued to meet the needs of the maintenance engineer and provides an opportunity to source the very latest technology available on the market.

Nineteen Group Ltd

2 days


Weblink here

2022.06.08 & 2022.06.09

Med-Tech Innovation Expo - This event brings together designers, engineers, innovators & manufacturers from across the medical & healthcare sectors to explore new ideas, understand emerging technologies.

Rapid News Group

2 days


Weblink here

2022.06.08 & 2022.06.09

TCT 3Sixty - The UK's definitive and most influential 3D printing and additive manufacturing event. The event increases awareness and adoption of additive manufacturing and 3D printing technology.

Rapid News Group

2 days


Weblink here

2022.06.08 & 2022.06.09

UK Garage and Bodyshop Expo - The largest gathering of garage and bodyshop owners, technicians, and specialists in the UK. The event provides face-to-face access to leading suppliers, expert training programmes, the latest tools and equipment and business advice.

Messe Frankfurk UK Limited

2 days


Weblink here

2022.06.08 & 2022.06.09

Manufacturing Expo - As part of Manufacturing and Engineering Week, this event provides a programme of CPD accredited live panel discussions, interactive workshops and demonstrations to contribute to personal and professional development.

Nineteen Group Ltd

2 days


Weblink here

2022.06.08 & 2022.06.09

Engineering Expo - An event designed specifically for future thinking engineering professionals from all tiers of the supply chain to network, build new partnerships and source innovative solutions to improve efficiencies.

Nineteen Group Ltd

2 days


Weblink here


Micromobility 2022 - The UK’s only live, dedicated micromobility event. Hear the latest data from industry and technology experts, listen to panel discussions, and have the chance to trial some of the latest micromobility solutions.


09:00 - 17:00

The Slate, University of Warwick

Weblink here


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

Business Buzz

10:00 onwards

Gallachers of Rugby

Weblink here

2022.06.14 - 2022.06.16

Multimodal. The UK, Ireland and Northern Europe’s premier freight transport, logistics and supply chain management event with shippers, retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, importers and exporters all on show.

Clarion Events Limited

3 days


Weblink here

2022.06.14 - 2022.06.16

Traffex Parkex - The UK’s national trade event for all those involved in the traffic management, transport and parking sectors. The event connects forward thinking innovators with central government

Brintex Events

3 days


Weblink here


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

Business Buzz

10:00 onwards

The Globe, Warwick

Weblink here


The Big Zero Show - The largest upcoming net zero event in the UK. Listen to expert speakers from industry leading companies, such as TalkTalk, Tesco, NatWest, and many more - plus network with 500+ of industry professionals.

Future Net Zero

09:00 - 16:30

CBS Arena, Coventry

Weblink here

2022.06.21 - 2022.06.23

InstallerSHOW. This premier installer event moves to the NEC for the first time having grown year on year. The show is attended by professionals in heating, plumbing, commercial engineering, renewable energy and electricity.

Lyrical Communications Ltd

3 days


Weblink here

2022.06.22 - 2022.06.23

Rail Live - The only exhibition to bring the entire rail industry together in a real railway environment. Evaluate products and services via live demonstrations, meet more potential partners and hear from key industry leaders and innovators.

Rail Business Events

2 days

‎Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre

Weblink here

2022.06.22 - 2022.06.24

The Big Bang Fair - UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair is an annual celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for 7 to 19 year olds.

The Big Bang Education CIC

3 days


Weblink here


Hydrogen Energy Technologies

CUE Business Soliutions

10:00 - 15:00

C-ALPS Building, Coventry Innovation Village

Weblink Here


Improving Productivity through Effective Measurement Systems - This workshop will include the basic principles and processes to embed metrology principles and practices into your manufacturing processes.

CUE Business Solutions

10:00 - 15:00

Institute For Advanced Manufacturing And Engineering

Weblink Here

2022.06.29 & 2022.06.30

Vehicle Electrification Expo - The show that enables automotive manufacturers to look at the latest powertrain solutions to improve the performance, efficiency, safety and sustainability of vehicles. Sister event to Battery Cells & Systems Expo.

Event Partners

All Day


Weblink here

2022.06.29 & 2022.06.30

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

Event Partners

2 days


Weblink here

2022.06.29 - 2022.06.30

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

Event Partners

2 days


Weblink here

2022.06.29 - 2022.06.30

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

Event Partners

2 days


Weblink here

2022.06.29 - 2022.06.30

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

Event Partners

2 days


Weblink here


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

Business Buzz

10:00 onwards

Mill Street

Weblink here

2022. 09.07 - 2022. 09.08 

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

Connected Automated Mobility

2 days

UTAC, Millbrook

Weblink here

News in Brief

Latest news in brief from around the region...

World’s first hub for flying taxis opens in Coventry

Air-One® developed by Urban-Air Port® and supported by Supernal is a fully-operational hub for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles and is located at Westminster Car Park, in the centre of Coventry (CV1 3fZ). The technology is set to provide a blueprint for more than 200 vertiports planned worldwide by Urban-Air Port® over the next five years to meet growing demand. The firm says the advanced air mobility (AAM) market is set to take off, with forecasted growth of 9% annually to reach $1 trillion within the next two decades.

Turnover up at Instarmac

Turnover moved towards the £80m mark at Instarmac, the road repairing materials company during its latest financial year. Instarmac Group, based at Birch Coppice Business Park in North Warwickshire, has reported a turnover of £77.6m for the year to 30 September 2021, up from £60.5m in 2020.

Warwickshire-headquartered dumper truck maker sees profits rise

Dumper truck maker Thwaites, based near Leamington Spa, reported a turnover rise of almost £30m according to the latest financial year, increasing its profits by £3.6m in the process. Thwaites designs and makes a range of trucks which can take loads of up to ten tonnes.

Rotala Acquires Historic Henley-in-Arden Bus Company

Rotala has acquired an operator of commercial and contracted bus services in Warwickshire and the southern West Midlands. The Birmingham-headquartered company has snapped up Johnsons (Henley) Ltd's entire bus business and 20-strong fleet. The business being acquired currently trades under the 'Excelbus' brand. Rotala estimates that the assets being purchased have annual revenues of approximately £3.5m.

Logistics Firm Locates to Hams Hall

A Birmingham-based logistics and distribution company, which is partnered with major airlines, has agreed a deal for a 131,780 sq ft unit at Prologis Park Hams Hall, in North Warwickshire. LTS Global Solutions provides a range of services within logistics, transport and shipping worldwide. It is partnered with shipping line and airlines to facilitate the provision of bespoke supply chain services, including storage, just in time delivery and international freight forwarding. 

Two Warwickshire electrical technology firms awarded development funds

Nuneaton company Viritech Ltd and Warwick-based SysElek are among 13 national firms that have been awarded £135,000 each from Coventry’s Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) to help in the race to decarbonise transport.

Former Ferrari boss Amedeo Felisa takes over as chief executive of Aston Martin Lagonda as Tobias Moers steps down

Aston Martin has appointed its third chief executive in three years, with Tobias Moers stepping down after only two years in charge. Moers will leave the board of the British carmaker with immediate effect but will stay until the end of July to “support the leadership team with a smooth transition”, Aston Martin Lagonda announced. The former Ferrari boss Amedeo Felisa will replace him as chief executive. Felisa joined Aston Martin’s board as a non-executive director in July 2021.

Leamington Box Factory Invests in Automation

A Warwickshire packaging business has secured a £2m funding deal with HSBC UK to enhance its automation capabilities. Based in Leamington Spa, The Box Factory is an independently-owned, high-volume manufacturer of corrugated packing. The funding will allow the business to make upgrades to its machinery and production facilities, with capital facilities supporting with the import and installation of machinery.

Growth investment for Leamington company

A data specialist headquartered in Warwickshire has been backed by growth investor FPE Capital.

Leamington Spa-based Egress specialises in cloud migration projects, with clients including a range of blue-chip public sector and private sector organisations such as the NHS, IBM, Fujitsu, University of Birmingham, DHL and Balfour Beatty. FPE will support the company's management team in expanding its executive team and accelerating growth within UK markets.

Penso Power, Luminous Energy secure approval for UK battery storage project

Penso Power Ltd. and Luminous Energy has secured full planning permission for a 350-MW battery storage development in North Warwickshire, U.K. The companies said May 4 that the approved design for the Hams Hall project allows the deployment of more than 1,750 MWh of battery storage, which will support the U.K. electricity system.

Coventry microbiology start-up impresses industry

A microbiology start-up is set for rapid growth after discovering a valuable by-product of its cutting-edge equipment designed for the medical and microbiology industries. Cytecom, based at The Venture Centre at the University of Warwick Science Park, has developed a novel machine that has reduced a two-day process of counting living bacteria into a simple procedure that takes just half an hour.

Coventry University signals international ambitions                                                                    

Coventry University is set to establish an education institution in China, in collaboration with the Communication University of China, as it looks to build on its international success. The project is currently in the development and construction stage alongside a number of other Chinese and foreign universities. Coventry University was recently awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of International Trade.

Kwalee continue to grow global brand

Award-winning multiplatform games publisher Kwalee is opening its fourth global office, in Portugal. This development is the latest in what’s been an incredible period of growth since 2020, during which Kwalee expanded from its Leamington Spa headquarters and opened international studios in India and, China. With remote team members globally, the expansion means that the company has employees across 18 countries.

Construction of 30,000 sq ft unit at Warwick business park underway                         

Clowes Developments has instructed construction firm Benniman’s to begin work on the unit at Warwick’s Tournament Fields. The standalone warehouse and distribution facility sits on a 1.70 acre plot of land and work is due to be completed in November.

Development of commercial units to bring 100 jobs to Southam

Nine new business commercial units are set to boost the Warwickshire town of Southam. The 42,000 sq ft development at Kineton Road Industrial estate has been brought forward by the Warwickshire Property and Development Group (WPDG). The land has been unused for a number of years and will be particularly suited to small to medium sized enterprises, especially start-ups or expansions.

Channel 4 Collaboration to Boost Region’s TV Production Sector

Channel 4 and Create Central have formed a collaboration to support and grow the West Midlands' TV production sector, with funding available for companies in the region. A £30,000 development fund called More4 the West Midlands is open to all production companies based within the West Midlands Combined Authority area and/or one of the three West Midlands' Local Enterprise Partnership regions. Three More4 programmes ideas will be selected for initial development and awarded £5,000 each, with one idea awarded an extra £15,000 funding for further development.

New adult learning courses aims to take Coventry and Warwickshire workforce to the next level

Brand-new courses designed to upskill the Coventry, Warwickshire and West Midlands workforce and equip relevant industries with the ability to do business digitally will be available from the end of this month.

People Profile

BIG team proud to be helping business with brand new support

Warwickshire County Council's Business Investment Growth (BIG) programme is an invaluable first port of call for businesses seeking support and advice for growth and finance. Here we meet the team which is delivering the groundbreaking scheme.

The team behind the Business Investment Growth programme has been newly-assembled to deliver the BIG strand of Warwickshire County Council's £140million Warwickshire Recovery and Investment Recovery Fund (WRIF) while also leading on the business-facing delivery of some of the Council’s existing programmes.

The team works with Warwickshire businesses to raise finance through debt-funding through the WRIF and to access other finance and grants including support from the council’s Small Capital Grants programme.

It's three members - Hardeep Sandhu (BIG Delivery Lead) and Sim Lee and Jo Smith (Business Growth Advisors) - bring to their roles much energy and relevant experience. They also share a real vocational desire to help the county's business community stabilise and grow again following the challenges of pandemic.

Hardeep Sandhu  

Hardeep is eminently-qualified to lead the team, bringing to her role extensive experience from the last seven years working for Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. At the Chamber, she managed two major contracts on behalf of Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council but felt it was time for  a new challenge. She is now relishing getting to grips with the rollout of the WRIF and the BIG strand in particular.

"I have always really enjoyed working in economic development," Hardeep said. "I love making a difference, supporting businesses to put their ideas and visions into reality and having that real impact. That has always been close to my heart and I've been lucky enough that the jobs I have had enabled me to do that, more so than ever in my current role.

"We have recently launched loans for businesses of all sizes through the WRIF and its three pillars - the Local Communities and Enterprise Fund, the Business Investment Growth Fund, and the Property and Infrastructure Fund.

"We are fortunate to also offer businesses the opportunities to take advantage of WCC's Small Capital Grants (SCG), supporting businesses with a lifeline to encourage further growth and employment in the region.

"Working closely with our partners, such as the Chamber of Commerce, Coventry University Services, Coventry City Council, the Growth Hub and Warwickshire's Boroughs and Districts, we can provide up to 12 hours of fully funded business support, focused around accessing finance as part of our European Regional Development Fund support programme."

Sim Lee

Sim worked in a client-facing role within the events industry in Australia before returning home to Warwickshire in 2016. He then joined WCC's Inward Investment team for the opportunity to transfer his skills into business attraction and place promotion. Three years in that role left him with a deep understanding of the economics of the region and key businesses within it. 

In 2019, he took a different role in the Economy & Skills team, delivering the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)-backed business support programme which includes support to access finance and grants including the council’s own Small Capital Grants programme.

"That was a great opportunity for me to help businesses navigate the access-to- finance landscape and to play a part in some fantastic projects happening right here on our patch," said Sim.  "Now I am really excited to be part of the BIG team. In this role I have already assisted over £3.2m worth of projects and leveraged over £900,000 in grant funding from various programmes, something of  which I'm incredibly proud.

"With so many funding streams changing as EU money comes to an end, and new funding regularly coming online from WCC, it's a perpetual challenge to keep up with what's best for businesses, but that is what I love about the role. There's always something new to learn or a new problem to solve and doing that, and seeing businesses prosper with our help is so rewarding."

Jo Smith

Jo has lived in Warwickshire since her mid-teens and first worked for WCC in the team helping to roll out CSW Broadband. After a period in the private sector, she returned to the council and is now delighted to have a role which enables her to actively support her community.

Jo, whose role is part-funded by the ERDF, joined the BIG team four months ago, on the same day as Hardeep. Prior to that, she worked in the council's Portfolio Management Office in project management within adult social care. She has several years experience of working in project management, including in the private sector within the construction and property development industry, so her knowledge of project management and debt finance make her well-equipped for her current role.

"As I have grown, both personally and professionally, it has become clear what is important to me and part of that is working within an organisation which is not just about making profit," Jo said. "My role in the BIG team offers me exactly that. I am proud to work for an organisation that works for social good and the benefit of the community, whilst remaining commercially aware and being careful with tax payers’ money.

"My role now is really community-minded and also a new challenge for me with the council both offering grants, and now loans which is very forward-thinking of a Local Authority. It is a challenging role but also very rewarding and exciting because our team can really
make a difference to people's lives and help safeguard their livelihoods."

* Any business in Warwickshire which is seeking support, is invited do get in touch with our Business Investment Growth team via email:  business@warwickshire.gov.uk or telephone: 01926 412709.  For more information please visit: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/homepage/360/finance-loans-and-grants

* The BIG Team is about to become bigger with the creation of a new role of Business Growth Advisor. For details of the vacancy, please visit here

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