Latest news-in-brief from the region...
Cutting-edge R&D and vehicle propulsion projects secure government funding
The government has invested £22 million in automotive vehicle projects, in a bid to make the UK "the best location in the world to manufacture." Funding worth £11 million is being delivered through the Advanced Propulsion Centre in Coventry, with industry match-funding grants. Local projects include Warwick-based Involution Technologies, for demonstrating an innovative electric drive unit (EDU) suitable to drive any large on/off-highway commercial, construction or agricultural vehicle.
Wolf Systems Moves to New Site in Bulkington
German construction technology company Wolf Systems Ltd is moving into a new 40,273sqft facility in Bulkington. Commercial property agent Siddall Jones was instructed to dispose of the former XK Engineering facility following the insolvency of the previous occupier. Wolf Systems were located on Shilton Industrial Estate, which houses much of its UK design team, and they had been looking for an alternative freehold site for some time.
University awarded funding to lead electrification forum
Coventry University has been awarded £700,000 from The Faraday Battery Challenge (FBC) to lead a National Electrification Skills Framework and Forum. The institution will head the National Electrification Skills Framework and Forum in collaboration with colleagues from Enginuity, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC). The group will help support employers and skills training providers through the identification of current and future skills needs at a local and national level. They will focus on linking the demands of employers to the availability and relevance of training provision to support the UK's future workforce. Coventry University is already the lead university on the Electric Revolution Skills Hub, a related initiative.
West Midlands confidence up for third month running
Business confidence in the West Midlands rose four points during August to 42 per cent, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. Companies in the region reported lower confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, down eight points at 43 per cent. When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, up 17 points to 42, this gives a headline confidence reading of 41 per cent.
Companies receive UK Government funding to advance self-driving vehicle technology
Companies in Warwickshire were among those which have received UK government funding to help advance the technology surrounding self-driving vehicles. The grants, totalling £18.5 million, are part of the government's Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility competition. Among the project winners is CERTUS, a collaboration between Nuneaton-based Horiba Mira, Coventry university, Connected Places Catapult, Polestar Automotive UK and Solihull-based IPG Automotive UK, which has been awarded £1.5 million.
Green light for 80-acre solar farm near Nuneaton
An 80-acre solar farm has been proposed for development in the Nuneaton area. Novus Renewable Services, a solar PV development company, has been granted permission by Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council to develop, construct and operate a solar project at Tolldish Hall Farm, North East of Aldermans Green. The solar farm will generate 25MW of electricity, which will be fed back to the grid. This is sufficient to power 7,091 homes.
Quantum Catalyst Fund names Warwickshire winners
Quantum computing companies from Warwickshire are among the winners in a £15 million government competition exploring the benefits of using quantum technologies in various areas. The companies covered a variety of sectors, including health, transport and net zero. Funds for the winners were drawn from the Quantum Catalyst Fund, a fund and initiative aiming to accelerate the adoption of quantum solutions by the public sector. Local winners included Rugby based Vorsus Ltd with their Quantum-Accelerated Recombinant Protein Drug Embedding Frameworks and Coldquanta UK Ltd in Warwick with Q-CALC (Quantum Contextual Artificial Intelligence for Long-range Correlations).
West Midlands with ‘Silicon Spa’ forms one of the biggest video games development centres in the UK
With ‘Silicon Spa’, the West Midlands has seen employment in the region’s video games development sector grow by 16 per cent, and the area is the fourth biggest games development centres, according to new research published by TIGA, one of the trade associations representing the games industry. The report demonstrates that games industry talent is dispersed across diverse regions throughout the country, with the sector contributing strongly to the UK’s Levelling Up agenda. Almost 80 per cent of those working in the UK games industry are not based in London.
Carsten Astheimer launches SO1O bike at national technology exhibition
Industrial design firm Carsten Astheimer and advanced engineering group Prodrive have helped launch the SO1O bike – a unique pedal assist, zero-emission electric vehicle that’s been designed to bridge the gap between bicycles and car – at the Cenex-LCV exhibition at Millbrook. Warwick-based Carsten Astheimer worked with Banbury-based SO1O Bikes founder Jamie Richards on the design of the interior and exterior, and built the prototype. The chassis and drive train was engineered by Banbury-based prodrive.
Triton Showers certified carbon neutral for second year running
Nuneaton-based shower manufacturer Triton Showers has been awarded carbon neutral certification for the second year running, marking another important step on the company’s journey to becoming Net Zero by 2035. The accreditation has been awarded by Planet Mark, an internationally recognised sustainability certification.
New Ownership for Henley Software Firm
A software provider based in Henley-in-Arden has been acquired by Everfield, a growth-focussed investor in B2B software businesses. Depotnet's field service management software enables companies in the telecoms, utilities and infrastructure sectors to manage functions including job management, reinstatement, commercial management, conducting audits and inspections, and managing fleet, plant and other assets. Its customers include Openreach, Kier Construction, CityFibre and MJ Quinn.
Local Hotel shortlisted for major industry award
Coombe Abbey Hotel, located in Rugby Borough just outside Coventry, is gearing up for more awards success after it was named one of the best venues in the region. Coombe Abbey Hotel, part of the No Ordinary Hospitality group, has been shortlisted for the West Midlands Tourism Awards 2024 in the Large Hotel category. The nomination comes off the back of major investment at the hotel, with a new artisan market and a 1950s themed dessert parlour and party room launched in The Avenue at Coombe, and a history-inspired play area – Hermit’s Hollow – added within the 500-acre grounds.
New Engineering HQ in Alcester reaches milestone
The new HQ facility for CALGAVIN, the Alcester chemical engineering company, has reached a key point in its construction. Developer Graftongate has confirmed that the steel frame is now in place for CALGAVIN's new home, with cladding installation set to start shortly. The 36,381 sq ft development is being constructed on a 2.3-acre site at Alcester Employment Park, Arden Road. It will be known as the Centre for Flow Processing and will become a focal point for the integration of commercial and university-led research. The building will provide grade A office facilities and laboratory and product development space, as well as production and testing capabilities, and will be a flagship development on the Alcester Employment Park development.
Self-storage company expands with new Warwick facility
A business centre and self-storage company has completed the purchase of a site in Warwick to support its expansion. Squab Storage, which has its headquarters in Leamington, has purchased a site at Tournament Fields Business Park and will have invested close to £3.5m in the facility to create the new self-storage operation.
Supply, raw materials and import costs top UK manufacturing concerns
Nearly 90 per cent of UK manufacturing firms have been affected by the price and availability of raw materials in the past year, according to the annual Manufacturing Outlook Survey conducted by national audit, tax, advisory and risk firm Crowe, in partnership with the Confederation of British Metalforming (CBM). And 78 per cent say they have been affected by supply chain issues, with 66 per cent reporting that import costs have risen in the past 12 months. A significant 69 per cent are considering reshoring.