Welcome from Monica Fogarty

Hello and a very warm welcome to the September edition of Warwickshire Means Business – a special edition with emphasis on the wonderful work of Warwickshire Skills Hub. 

The Skills Hub is a fantastic team which forms a bridge between employers and young people and all those who are seeking work. Under the inspirational leadership of Fay Winterburn, they really go above and beyond to match people with worthwhile careers and a future destination that will work for them.  

I know how much the Team’s work is valued by those people and also by our businesses who know they are gaining recruits with the right skills and who are genuinely interested in building a career. 

What sets the Skills Hub team apart is the way they listen to people and understand their wishes and hopes and aspirations, so they can help them find the right directions. For Fay and her team, it’s not just a job, it’s a vocation, as you find with so many of Warwickshire County Council’s staff and services. They just want to do the very best for the people of Warwickshire and are thoroughly invested in getting the best outcomes for all types of people looking for work. 

Also, in this edition of Warwickshire Means Business, we are delighted to launch the £900,000 Future Skills programme which will underpin a range of new projects for the next three years. As part of that programme, we unveil a brand-new role - Future Skills Business Advisor.  

We welcome the Careers Hub team into our fold, in a move which will further integrate careers provision across our County. We also report an extension to the very successful Ukrainians Working in Warwickshire Programme, hear the uplifting story of Jay’s life being turned around by an Inclusive Industry Tour, and feature the new Coventry and Warwickshire Redundancy Support Service.  

Please do visit the Skills Hub website for full details of the vast range of support that they offer. 

This edition is not all Skills though! We also feature Warwickshire’s vibrant food and drink sector, reflect upon the success of the Business Ready programme and hear how WCC’s Local Communities & Enterprise Fund has helped a Rugby business to expand.  

Shipston-on-Stour, where a new energy is infusing the lovely, traditional shops, is the subject of our Talk Up Your Town section while Kim Lynam explains why she would love to see more women join her in the engineering sector

I hope you enjoy all this and much more in the September edition of Warwickshire Means Business. 


Featured News

£900,000 Future Skills programme is launched

A new three-year programme of support for apprenticeships at businesses in new and emerging technologies has been launched by Warwickshire Skills Hub.

The Future Skills programme will see a £300,000 per year investment into a range of schemes in each of the next three years to power apprenticeships across Warwickshire. Sectors to be supported include digital skills, automotive engineering, battery technology and the ever-evolving construction industry.

The programme, which is launched today, has been designed to deliver a diverse range of support to help job-seekers into, or back into, work through apprenticeships.

The Future Skills programme has five strands:

Future Skills Business Advisor: the appointment of Louise Stolz who brings her wide range of skills and experience to a new role at the face of new industry demands, supporting Warwickshire to build a picture of future skills needs. Louise will work with businesses to build a solid intelligence base to enable the team to best support the evolving needs of skills provision.

Salary Support Fund: shaping opportunities for industry experts to support existing provision in colleges and schools by knowledge-sharing through funded sessional support and also providing a real opportunity to future proof their provision. Also support for 30 businesses with the costs of taking on an apprentice.

Apprenticeship Fairs: an apprenticeship fair to be held in each of Rugby, Nuneaton & Bedworth, Leamington, Warwick and Stratford in each of the next three years.

New Direction 50+: support for apprenticeships for the increasing number of people over the age of 50 who are looking to change direction or re-enter work. Funding will also be available for people undertaking training not within apprenticeships.

Accessible Apprenticeships: creation of 50 apprenticeships for people with supportive needs.

The aim of this new package of projects is to support people of all demographics into employment while helping businesses in these sectors address their skills gaps.

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “The Future Skills programme underlines the commitment of Warwickshire Skills Hub to give maximum opportunity to residents of the county to fulfil their potential and help keep the economy strong.

“With its well-thought-out and comprehensive breadth of support, this programme is a major and very welcome addition to the support available from Warwickshire Skills Hub to businesses, education-providers and jobseekers across the county.”

Hub switch is a big step forward for careers provision in Warwickshire

“The opportunity to create a new Warwickshire Careers Hub dovetails perfectly with our future vision for careers provision in the county."

Careers provision for young people across the county has taken a big step forward with the incorporation of the Warwickshire Careers Hub team into Warwickshire Skills Hub.

Following the closure of the Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership earlier this year, the Careers Hub formerly run by the Careers & Enterprise Company needed to find a new home.

Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council both accepted the opportunity to welcome new Careers Hubs into their areas. On September 1st, each launched their own Careers Hubs.

Warwickshire’s is based at the Warwickshire Skills Hub office at Eliot Park Innovation Centre, Nuneaton, while the new Coventry Careers Hub will sit within Coventry’s Education Service and be delivered by Think Higher on behalf of Coventry City Council.

Although the Careers Hubs in Warwickshire and Coventry will function separately, their work will be closely aligned whenever possible. Warwickshire Careers Hub will also have strong links with the WCC education team which will play an important strategic role in shaping the future work of the Careers Hub.

The overarching priority of the Career Hub is to support all education settings to deliver effective careers provision reflecting the future skills needs of Warwickshire’s business community, whilst providing accessible and meaningful careers activity for every student.

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “The opportunity to create a new Warwickshire Careers Hub dovetails perfectly with our future vision for careers provision in the county.

“By incorporating the Careers Hub offer within Warwickshire County Council’s existing careers support to schools, we will greatly extend the range of opportunities for our young people and their career journeys. Working collaboratively with careers leaders, we believe together we will ensure there is accessible and meaningful careers activity to meet the aspirations of every student in Warwickshire.”

Louise at the heart of Future Skills support for Warwickshire businesses

“I find it so rewarding to work with businesses, understanding what their skills needs are to help their workforce grow and prosper."

Satisfying the skills needs of the county’s fast-evolving workplaces is the mission of a new role within Warwickshire Skills Hub.

The role of Future Skills Business Advisor has been created as part of a £900,000, three-year Future Skills Programme launched by Warwickshire County Council.

Louise Stolz will bring her wealth of experience and expertise to the position which will be at the heart of future skills support for the county.

Louise will work with businesses to build a solid intelligence base, from which the Skills Hub team will be perfectly placed to support the evolving needs of skills provision. That intelligence base will also enable them to utilise other strands of the Future Skills Programme to pilot forward-thinking and solution-based projects in partnership with employability and skills providers.

Louise, who joined the Warwickshire Skills Hub team in June 2022 as a Business Skills Support Advisor, has a real vocation for skills support and can’t wait to get stuck into her new role.

“I’ve loved every minute since joining the Skills Hub,” she said. “I find it so rewarding to work with businesses, understanding what their skills needs are to help their workforce grow and prosper. So when the opportunity arose as Future Skills Business Advisor, I knew this was a job for me.

“I will be focusing on future innovation and providing businesses with impartial, specialist support to help them to develop a well-skilled workforce which will reflect their growth plans and their associated innovation led skills needs.

“My focal point will be the skills agenda, building an understanding of what the future skills landscape looks like in our region and establishing a network where we can share knowledge and promote best practice. I’ll be working closely with partners and employers, across various priorities such as vehicle electrification, battery technology, digital skills and activity supporting the net-zero agenda. This will help us identify key skills trends and emerging themes, what the jobs of the future look like and what is the business skills support need.”

Louise will interact heavily with businesses to ascertain their needs and also work closely with those responsible for launching young people on their career-pathways with the right skills and knowledge.

“I will be feeding information back to our educators and training providers,” she said. “This will help us align careers provision in our county and provide integrated and co-ordinated access to skills and employment support for Warwickshire businesses. This in turn, will help them attract and harness new local talent as well as re-skill existing staff.

“I am passionate about boosting skills and employability and I’m excited to be starting on my Future Skills Business Advisor journey. If you would like further information, please do contact me at louisestolz@Warwickshire.gov.uk

Inclusive Industry Tour leads Jay to employment and security

“I am part of a team and I look forward to going to work. I never thought I would say that.”

A young man with Autism and ADHD is enjoying work, security and new-found confidence from a job which grew from an Inclusive Industry Tour delivered by Warwickshire Supported Employment Service

Among businesses to open their doors for an Inclusive Industry Tour was Studley Castle and the team at WSES, which is designed to support customers with autism and/or learning disabilities with an aspiration to work. Leamington Spa's supported employment journey guide felt it would be of interest to Jay Smith, and 12 other customers local to Leamington Spa. 

Jay was searching for a direction after leaving college and had previously enjoyed working in a restaurant. He attended the tour, liked what he saw – and it has proved a perfect fit as he now works at Studley Castle where he is regarded as “very capable and friendly and part of the team.”   

WSES Interim Delivery Lead, Charlotte Smith, said: “We looked at Jay's skills and qualities and matched them to sectors and jobs. Jay had previously enjoyed working in a restaurant so when an Inclusive Industry Tour came up with Studley Castle in the hospitality sector, we encouraged him to attend. 

“We considered the barriers he had to overcome to attend and coached him with coping strategies and calming techniques, for example having headphones for the journey to work and sitting next to someone he trusts on the transport.  

“On the industry tour Jay liked the atmosphere. The staff at Studley Castle were brilliant, making him feel welcome and listened to, so he started looking at jobs there which match his skills and qualities. He identified kitchen porter as a strong match, so we contacted Studley Castle directly and, as a Fair Chance Employer, they agreed to a reasonable adjustment at interview stage.  

“Instead of a formal interview we asked for a work trial, so Jay could show his skills first hand. Jay had all the right experience and skills for the job but finds it hard to talk about them. He also had anxiety around meeting new people in a formal setting, so being able to get stuck in and have a go at the job allowed his true potential to be seen.” 

Jay impressed on his trial and was offered a permanent post. Assisted by his Supported Employment Journey Guide, he filled in the HR forms and induction paperwork. Two months into his role he is receiving regular visits from the Employment Support Advisor and beginning to think about the future. He is considering completing an apprenticeship with Studley Castle and is continuing to grow in confidence.  

“I have learned that I am good at my job,” said Jay. “I am reliable and always on time and have grown in confidence and feel like I am secure and safe, I have never been able to trust people and feel like I am no longer an outsider. I have a purpose. 

“I am not just a kitchen porter, I am part of a team and I look forward to going to work. I never thought I would say that.”

Support for business and employees affected by redundancies

A support service has been launched for businesses forced to confront difficult decisions regarding redundancies.

The Coventry & Warwickshire Redundancy Support Service is a collaborative service created by Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council and partners Department for Work & Pensions and the CW Growth Hub. The service is designed to bring partners and industry experts together to support local businesses which have to consider making difficult decisions about their workforce and business.

The service supports business in looking at ways in which staff can be reskilled and retrained to carry out services that are outsourced, or to help the business grow, such as training sustainability champions, accounts & social media marketing. Business Advisors from Warwickshire Skills Hub are able to carry out business skills reviews and look at training solutions such as apprenticeships, short courses and accreditation and how available funding can be obtained to support businesses in safeguarding jobs and creating a sustainable future.

Where redundancies are unavoidable, the Coventry & Warwickshire Redundancy Support Service works with the business to create a tailored support package to meet the needs of the employees affected. This can range from workshop style support in navigating the digital labour market, CV writing & interview techniques through to mini jobs fairs that link those at risk to businesses recruiting for their skill set.

This unique approach is flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of low and high volume support that spans any sector. The labour market is buoyant at the moment, with a variety of roles on offer, and with specialist support, people are able to find alternative vacancies and explore new opportunities such as self employment.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the economy, the Coventry & Warwickshire Redundancy Support Service has been designed to be ongoing as required. The relevant partners and work streams will offer a highly responsive and effective service to help businesses navigate through turbulent times, whilst equipping them with tools and guidance to make plans for the future, whatever the outcome might be.

Over the coming months, the service will launch a programme of activity encouraging businesses and those facing redundancy to engage with the service and access the support available. From workshops and virtual clinics to live job fairs and training opportunities, supportive services will be designed to be flexible and shaped to meet individual needs.


Whilst in some cases Job loss might be inevitable; it is hoped to engage with businesses who are working through their options and may be suitable for a number of interventions. From emergency funding and finance opportunities to reskilling and staff retainment options, the service will provide collaborative support to explore the options available and build action plans to become more sustainable through periods of uncertainty, preventing job losses and company closures wherever possible.

Our delivery partners

The selection of partners who support the service are established industry experts with an extensive understanding of the Coventry and Warwickshire economy and a clear vison of the support needed. Our partners will respond to support needs and seamlessly cross refer where additional support needs are identified.

It is expected that as the service becomes established and needs grow, the need to introduce additional partners may be needed and discussed collectively.

For more details please visit https://cw-chamber.co.uk/business-support/redundancy-support-services, call the support helpline 0800 998 1098 or email contact@cwgrowthhub.co.uk

UKrainian support programme extended due to its success

"Due to the support of the Ukrainian Working in Warwickshire Programme, I have now got a job and I really enjoy it."

A programme created to help Ukrainian refugees in Warwickshire find employment has been extended due to its success.

The Ukrainian Working in Warwickshire Programme (UWWP), launched in September 2022, was originally intended to run for 12 months, but has been extended initially by a further two months until November 2023. Since delivery of the programme began, 205 Ukrainians have been referred to it and 124 have attended or completed it with 38 gaining employment across several industries, as illustrated by the chart (right).

The programme is delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Community Development Agency (CDA), working closely with Warwickshire Skills Hub. It is also linked to the Fair Chance Employer Programme which shapes inclusive employment opportunities across Warwickshire.

The UWWP programme consists of five community-based employment support sessions. These provide accessible county-wide support to Warwickshire's Ukrainian communities, enabling them to explore employment opportunities and use their existing skills to fill skills gaps.

Among those who has completed the programme and started employment is Larysa Kushnir who is now working as an interpreter. Larysa came to the UK with her seven-year-old child under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme in December 2022 and lives with her sponsor. Having taught English in Ukraine for 21 years, she started the Ukrainian Working in Warwickshire project in February, with support from Employment Support Adviser, Maxine Wykes, attending weekly sessions at her local library.

Larysa was interested in working as a teaching assistant, but her biggest barrier was where to start as she needed to upgrade her qualifications. She also needed help composing a CV and cover letter and had only one reference, so the adviser supplied a second reference, removing that barrier to work.

Larysa attended all weekly workshops offered through the programme (A Guide to Employment in the UK; CVs and Applications; Interview Techniques) and attended one-to-one meetings for further support. The programme also helped her obtain a travel discount card so she could travel for interviews, employability workshops and meetings at the Job centre.

The workshops gave her all the tools she needed to search and apply for jobs, a better understanding of UK employers’ expectations, interview techniques and information about starting a job and paying contributions. A CV and cover letter were created and uploaded to Indeed to enable her to start job searching and a referral made for her to complete a Statement of Comparability, to convert her qualifications.

Support was then given for completion of an application for a position as an interpreter at Long Moor Training Camp. Her commitment and resilience was rewarded when, after interview, she was offered the job.

Larysa is enjoying her new job, in which she provides an excellent service while improving her own fitness and mental health in a role which allows her to fit work around her family life.

“I was looking for a work as a teacher assistant but faced some barriers as I had to upgrade my qualifications first,” she said. “But due to the support of the Ukrainian Working in Warwickshire Programme, I have now got a job and I really enjoy it. Thank you very much to all at for your wonderful support.”

Business Skills Support Service data

In 2022, Warwickshire Skills Hub's Business Skills Advisors provided support to 405 businesses from different sectors and with different needs. Our support package is open to any business in Warwickshire, but the biggest trends in 2022 are listed below.

The most popular sectors that year were Engineering, totalling 40 different companies, Hospitality & Catering from which we supported 35 companies, Construction with a total of 33 and Education and Training with 30 individual companies.

When you break it down into boroughs, you can see that we supported 95 different businesses from Warwick District Council, 88 from Stratford-on-Avon District Council and 67 from Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council, with the remainder being spread between the other districts and boroughs and companies that work across the whole of Warwickshire.

We have offered 470 different types of support to those businesses, with signposting to other partner organisations and supporting businesses in accessing the training providers being the most popular, followed by the Apprenticeship Levy Share Programme and other employment programmes and universities support.

The Business Skills Advisors have already provided support to 263 individual businesses in 2023. The need for our support changes each year, depending on the area and sector.

The most popular sectors this year were Manufacturing totalling at 33 different companies, Education and Training from which we supported 32 companies, Retail with a total of 21 and Hospitality and Catering with 19 individual companies.

This year we have supported 61 businesses in Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council, followed by 49 from Stratford-on-Avon District Council and 47 from Rugby Borough Council, with the rest being spread across other districts and borough and companies that operate throughout Warwickshire.

We have provided 292 different types of support this year, with Fair Chance Employer Programme and referring to other partner organisations being the most popular, followed by the Apprenticeship Levy Share Programme, supporting businesses in accessing the training providers and the Warwickshire Supported Employment Team referral.

Skills Hub offer outlined at Chamber meeting

“We were extremely grateful to Heather for joining us at the branch meeting and it was great to hear that there is some incredible support on offer."

Businesses in mid-Warwickshire have been urged ask for support if they are unable to find people with the right skills to help them grow.

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce held its mid-Warwickshire branch meeting at the Holiday Inn in Kenilworth and a range of topics were discussed.

The event was chaired by Chamber president Tom Mongan and heard how businesses across the area are faring in the current climate.

Skills remains a key issue for many and the meeting heard from Heather Docksey, of Warwickshire County Council, who explained how Warwickshire Skills Hub can support businesses in their search for staff.

Tom Mongan said firms should ask for help if they are unable to fill roles that will support their growth.

He said: “We were extremely grateful to Heather for joining us at the branch meeting and it was great to hear that there is some incredible support on offer. I’d urge businesses who want to grow – but can’t find the right people – to speak up and ask for help.

“They can talk to the team at the Chamber if they need advice and, also, see how the Warwickshire Skills Hub can support them as they offer a very wide-ranging service.

“It’s great that they are looking at different ways to help solve the skills crisis but also looking at how they can support people who may have barriers to employment find work.”

The meeting also discussed more long-term solutions for the skills issue.

Tom added: “There were lots of views on skills and how we train and equip people for the future of the workplace. The Chamber has done some great work on the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) and, with this being given the green light recently, it could be the first step on the way to solving an issue that has been around for many, many years.”

Food and Drink sector is at the heart of Warwickshire's visitor appeal

The latest Tourism Economic Impact study (2021) revealed that 35% of all visitor expenditure in Warwickshire is on Food and Drink, generating over £300m for the local economy. Pre-pandemic, the figures were even higher.

But the sector has a value which far transcends its economic contribution. With its rich depth of quality, enterprise and diversity, the sector is central to the county’s long tradition of rural enterprise and hospitality.

Warwickshire Food and Drink is a collective brand, designed and delivered by Warwickshire County Council, to promote the economic and environmental benefits of local sourcing. The objective is to make it easy and cost-effective for businesses to access produce from the county’s high-quality supplier, thereby shortening the supply chain and enabling food provenance. 

The brand brings together each link of the supply chain, from those involved in food production all the way through to those who prepare and serve it. 2023 has been a bumper year for innovation in Warwickshire’s food and drink networks with several key events taking place, in collaboration with partners. 

Meet the Supplier Event at Stratford-on-Avon Racecourse - organised by Destination Coventry, in partnership with Shakespeare’s England and Warwickshire County Council, took place in April. The event offered an opportunity for producers to reach hospitality, leisure, and tourism sector opportunities. 

Industry experts at the event were keen to emphasise the sustainability benefits of sourcing locally but were also able to offer examples of how building relationships is vital for suppliers seeking to break into the market. A frank exchange on business challenges explored how to manage expectations when working with smaller suppliers, the role of accreditations and food safety. Exhibitors ranged from artisan food producers, distilleries, and hospitality venues to marketing companies, AV suppliers and business support services.  

The Foodie Awards 2023 invited applications between June and September and has received over 150 applications. Judges are currently evaluating the entries before the much-anticipated celebration evening in October. Warwickshire Food and Drink is sponsoring Best Artisanal food, Wine or Spirit Producer and the Craft Drink Award and is pleased to be part of the network.

Food has a beautiful tradition of bringing people together and over the next couple of months, many Warwickshire towns will host their own local food festivals, seen as great footfall drivers to our local centres. Rural Warwickshire is home to an abundance of high-quality produce, artisan makers and irresistible food and drink experiences which appeal to local residents and visitors alike. 

To celebrate this rich diversity, WCC’s tourism website https://visit.warwickshire.gov.uk/foodanddrink showcases a food lover’s tour of Warwickshire – a perfect recipe for an indulgent five-day tour, a short break holiday, or a blissful day out. 

Warwickshire Producers Network 

If you are a food and drink business based in Warwickshire, why not get involved in the Warwickshire Food & Drink story by joining Warwickshire Producers Network?  

Enabling synergy and collaboration opportunities with other Warwickshire food and drink producers and support from within your industry via guest speakers, this network is growing fast. Places are limited at the events, so booking is essential. Booking for meetings in January and March 2024 is now open. 

If you are a Warwickshire foodie, who would like to find out more about any of these opportunities, please contact abiculley@warwickshire.gov.uk 

Women encouraged to consider a career in engineering

"You don’t get many female engineers but I’d love to see more women in the sector."

Women thinking about embarking on a career, or changing career, have been encouraged to consider engineering. 

Kim Lynam has ventured far down that path and warmly recommends it, insisting that, though the world of engineering remains heavily male-led, opportunities do exist for women also to carve out rewarding and successful careers. 

Kim has 20 years’ experience in manufacturing and runs DARL Engineering, in Exhall, with her partner Daren. They started DARL producing general manufacturing and invested to future proof the business in manufacturing crankshafts for automotive and other sectors.  

The business has flourished, despite launching just before the pandemic. The order books are full and they have just taken on a contract with a Tier 1 supplier to Porsche.  

Integral to all this success is Kim who started off simply helping out in the factory part-time but has hugely expanded her role. 

“I always had finance and engineering jobs and was working two days in my main job and three days and evenings here,” she said. “But we realised that I needed to be here full-time and manage the whole business. 

“Daren has been in engineering since age 11 and works the machines. He’s very multi-skilled but we work well together as a team and, as time progressed, I took on more roles like quoting for jobs and running the business.  

“I do all sorts. If I need to go out and work a machine, I can do. I do cleaning and driving, the payroll and the accounts. I get pulled from pillar to post, but any company I’ve been at have been has been like that and I really enjoy it. 

“I have worked at a few engineering companies like Gardner Aerospace and Freeman & Procter, and all sorts in quite a few sectors, and have picked up a lot about engineering. You don’t get many female engineers but I’d love to see more women in the sector. You have to be a certain type of person, you can’t be easily offended and you have to be ‘one of the lads’ to a certain extent, but it is all good fun.” 

In Kim’s in-tray at the moment is a new customer who is providing all the cars for a new Brad Pitt F1 film, being made for Netflix. D.A.R.L are manufacturing multiple parts for the cars that are being crashed into walls to the film-makers’ satisfaction! 

“We are supplying them because they cannot get it done anywhere else to the required quality and short timescale,” said Kim. “We have all sorts of customers on our books and they are all really valued but this is one is unusual!”  

Business Ready programme has been an unqualified success

“The Business Ready programme mirrored the county council’s ambitions. It supported high-tech, low-carbon innovation which will provide employment opportunities into the future."

A major business support scheme helping businesses in Warwickshire and Coventry generated more than £19 million in value and creating 175 jobs in its seven years of existence.

Business Ready, which ran from 2016 to June 2023 to address a market failure, has enabled more than 1,500 start-ups and tech-based SMEs to access targeted business support, mentoring, grants and more from a team of expert business advisers.

The programme has provided advice and assistance to ambitious and expanding companies. It has been delivered by the business support team at the University of Warwick Science Park, and was funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Warwickshire County Council and the University of Warwick Science Park as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme.

Since it began, Business Ready has helped companies raise £19.1m through equity, debt and grants, has facilitated demand-led workshops to more than 2,300 people, and helped create 63 brand new companies.

After seven years of supporting companies, Ian McFarlane-Toms, Business Ready Programme Manager, reflected on the programme’s success.

He said: “When Business Ready was conceived, it really was an innovative proposition. There simply wasn’t fully- funded support available that provided clients with access to the depth and breadth of subject matter experts that we offered.

“Our team of business support advisers had a broad range of expertise across multiple sectors, which meant we were typically always able to match the individual needs of each customer. There was never a one-size-fits-all solution – we’d always come up with a personalised solution for each business we worked with.”

Business Ready’s referrals would come from a variety of sources, such as through third parties like the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub and Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, but many came through the networking ability of the business advisers themselves.

This resulted in a huge variety of companies using the programme’s services, from a firm working to create highly-efficient electric batteries from nanotubes, to a business delivering musical educational tools to schools in the area.

“We are delighted with the success of the programme over the last seven years, and I think we can be really proud of what we achieved,” Ian added.

“Ultimately, being a managing director of a company that is looking to grow can be quite a lonely experience. It’s difficult to know who to turn to at times for support and advice.

“Business Ready has filled that niche incredibly well, and to have helped so many businesses get to where they need to be, while creating dozens of jobs along the way, is a fantastic achievement.”

Cllr Martin Watson, Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place at Warwickshire County Council, said: “The Business Ready programme mirrored the county council’s ambitions. It supported high-tech, low-carbon innovation which will provide employment opportunities into the future.

“For some businesses, that expertise and mentoring has been exactly what they’ve needed to take them to the next level. It’s been another offer in our range of support to businesses that has clearly been meeting a need over the years. Congratulations to all involved in the success of the programme.”

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

Start-up support helps cleaning company move to the next level

“The support helped me to improve my business plan and develop a new service,"

A North Warwickshire commercial cleaning business whose founder swapped laptops and desktops for hoovers and carpet cleaners has urged other small businesses to access the local business support. 

Allan Ward decided to leave his full-time job in IT focusing on website designs, repairs and sales after he saw the potential for winning commercial cleaning contracts when his wife, Toni, started a small cleaning business. 

He started exploring the idea during the pandemic and researched the support that was available for new start-up businesses. 

That led to Allan establishing Mercia Cleaning Services Ltd last March from Austrey in Atherstone after the company was supported by the start-up team at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce

Allan attended a suite of digital marketing workshops that are available to start-up businesses which filled in the gaps in his knowledge to effectively market a business online and gave an overview of the different social media platforms. 

The Start-up support, delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Warwickshire County Council, forms part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme, and was part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Warwickshire County Council and all five District and Borough Councils. 

Allan said the support had been invaluable and he was now ready to take Mercia Cleaning Services Ltd to the next stage of its growth. 

He said: “My wife started a business as a domestic cleaning company but my ambition was to move into commercial cleaning so we pivoted the business and today it is only commercial cleaning. 

“We have contracts in various sectors including offices, schools, hotels, museums, new build projects and university lets which are mainly in the Midlands and some nationwide contracts. We employ ten people, but we are continuing to expand this year and plan to bring more local people into our company and provide them with training. 

“The support helped me to improve my business plan and develop a new service along with the knowledge I had gained from attending the workshops and the Chamber’s advice on delivering marketing campaigns. All of this plus putting together a strategic plan for the year ahead resulted in taking on an additional three staff within five months.” 

Chamber business coach Rita Booth has supported the firm from its infancy right through to enabling growth. 

She said: “It can be daunting launching a new start-up but our tailored support is available to help businesses who are less than two years old every step of the way. As a single director in a business, the start-up programme helped Allan gain clarity on the actions he needed to take, the direction he was taking his business in and helped him identify which opportunities to chase for success rather than wasting time chasing every opportunity.” 

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place Cllr Martin Watson said: "The way Allan pivoted to spot an opportunity and then to pursue it is very impressive and typical of so many enterprising small businesses across Warwickshire. 

"The County Council is fully committed to supporting small businesses at every stage of their development, but it is often in the formative stages that support is often most-needed so I am delighted that the Start-up support proved of such high value." 

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce is delivering free-funded business support workshops on all aspects of business. To get started, please email businesssupport@cw-chamber.co.uk or visit https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/business-support/business-start-up/

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

WPDG helps preserve important allotments site

"This is another brilliant example of how the work of Warwickshire Property and Development Group is key to the county council’s ambition to unlock the potential in local sites and make the most of the county’s assets for the benefit of our people and communities."

Popular allotments in the heart of Warwick have been given a new lease of life after green-fingered allotment holders have agreed a new deal to stay at the site.

Plot holders have sealed a new deal with Warwickshire County Council, through its managing agent Warwickshire Property Management Ltd (WPM), to stay at St John’s House Allotments.

A total of 11 allotment licences have been completed, comprising of 18 plots. Following negotiations with licensees, a fair price per square metre has been agreed and annual agreements have been signed.

The deal has also opened up opportunities for new people in Warwick to take plots to enjoy the physical, mental and social benefits of having an allotment.

Allotments in Warwickshire, and particularly in Warwick District, are hugely popular with many having hundreds of prospective allotment licence holders on waiting lists.

Gardeners regularly share their produce and since the pandemic the community at the allotments has grown.

Peter Lamb has held an allotment at the site for 25 years and represented the plot holders at St John’s House Allotments during the negotiation process.

He moved to Warwick from London in 1991 and took up space at the allotments to grow his passion for gardening. He has had a plot since 1997 at St John’s House and currently looks after a space of around 150 square metres.

Peter said: “It’s great that we now have the new leases in place and have been able to conclude this deal.

“The whole process has actually brought us closer together as a community and we have such a varied range of people using the allotments.

“On my allotment, I grow produce including onions, potatoes, garlic, asparagus, raspberries, strawberries and broad beans. Then others at the allotments grow more exotic, experimental plants.

“We have a culture of cooperation and sharing any surplus produce. The importance of the allotments was really brought home during the pandemic, where they provided an invaluable place to get outside, socialise safely and exercise too.

“It is good for us to now have certainty about the future of the allotments and we can now set about work to improve our plots and get them to a place that we want them to be.”

WPM is part of Warwickshire Property & Development Group (WPDG), which manages the lettings on hundreds of Warwickshire County Council-owned properties.

Dale Partridge, Head of Assets at WPM, said: “We’re pleased to have been able to complete this deal which will enable people in Warwick to continue using the allotment site and experience the widespread benefits which come with horticulture.

“There is a huge demand across the county, and certainly in and around Warwick, for allotments and it’s great that this deal has enabled new people to access the allotments and fully utilise the space.”

Councillor Peter Butlin, Deputy Leader of Warwickshire County Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Property, said: “It is great to see this deal has been agreed securing the future of these much-loved allotments in Warwick. This is another brilliant example of how the work of Warwickshire Property and Development Group is key to the county council’s ambition to unlock the potential in local sites and make the most of the county’s assets for the benefit of our people and communities.

“This isn’t just about delivering bricks and mortar, but about all the elements that make Warwickshire a thriving place to live, work and visit.”

LCE fund opens door for Selina to access vital small business funding

“My business is at a very early stage and applying for funding can be overwhelming, I’m so grateful that CWRT has been able to assist my small business by helping me to apply to the Local Community and Enterprise Fund.”

A start-up catering business in Rugby has received support from a specialist finance and business support provider to fulfil its growth plans.

Selbi Food and Creations was seeking support in raising finance to fulfil it plans to open an African and Caribbean catering business in the town.

The company was referred to Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT) by the Chamber of Commerce where they had been receiving support. The experienced team at CWRT then provided Selbi’s with a personalised approach to ensure they could access the most suitable funding to meet their needs and support their growth plans.

External pressures on the hospitality and catering industry have meant that it is increasingly difficult for businesses to access support from traditional high street banks. Keely Beamish, Business Development Manager at CWRT, said funding had been obtained for the business from Warwickshire County Council’s Local Communities and Enterprise Fund (LCE) which was launched last June as part of the Warwickshire Recovery Investment Fund.

“We are delighted that we have been able to support Selina and her business in its expansion plans through the LCE Fund, at the time when its most needed. We’re really looking forward to seeing how the business grows and serves the local economy,” she said. “At CWRT, we take a transparent, fair, and personalised approach in our decision-making process because we know that accessing the right support and finance can be transformational for businesses.

“If you’re a hospitality business that’s just starting up like Selbi Food and Creations then get in touch with our team to find out how the LCE fund can help support you.”

Selina Siey, director at Selbi Food and Creations, who is originally from Ghana and now living in Rugby, wanted to share her passion for Caribbean food such as jerk chicken, rice and peas, traditional Ghanian dumplings and jollof rice.

She said: “I have worked in the food industry for over 10 years and decided to start my own business. I applied for the government’s start up loan scheme but was declined and since then I’ve been struggling to access finance.

“My business is at a very early stage and applying for funding can be overwhelming, I’m so grateful that CWRT has been able to assist my small business by helping me to apply to the Local Community and Enterprise Fund.”

Cllr Martin Watson, WCC Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, said: “It's great to see that the LCE is continuing to identify and fill gaps in access to finance within Warwickshire by supporting the catering industry, which we know is vital in a county with such a strong tourism economy.”

  • CWRT supports businesses that may have not accessed finance for their business before or maybe facing barriers in receiving support. Reach out to CWRT’s friendly team to discuss your options and learn more about their funding options at www.cwrt.uk.com
  • To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CW Growth Hub on 0300 060 37

Engineering and Design event returns to Coventry

The Autumn is always a busy time of year for trade shows and conferences in the West Midlands area and this includes for engineering and manufacturing.

Next up is the Engineering Design Show (EDS) which returns to The Coventry Building Society Arena on the 11th–12th of October. This two-day exhibition has been put together specifically for design engineers and will bring together over 200 suppliers, thousands of products and all the latest industry innovations.

The exhibition space is fully taken, with local companies including Dassault and Small Fry Design exhibiting at the show.

Alongside the exhibition, visitors can attend 30+ hours of free conference sessions and workshops, bringing together the biggest names in the industry. There is also space for one-to-one meetings and time to network, with the dedicated lounge, a central café and a networking reception held at the end of the first day.

Invest Coventry & Warwickshire will also be there, on stand A22, looking to engage with local companies and also to meet those looking to set up here in the Midlands, to offer help with finding space and getting established. Invest is the inward investment promotion and support service for Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council.

Other conferences and shows in the area coming up include Tomorrow’s Science and Innovation Clusters, Medlink Innovation Day, Meet the Buyer: Shaping the Future of Sustainable Housing, Birmingham Tech Week, Solar and Storage UK 2023, The Advanced Engineering Show, Motorcyle Live. More details can be found in the ‘Events’ section of this edition of Warwickshire Means Business.

Meanwhile, EDS has everything to support UK design engineers in 2023. The event is free to attend and more information and registration details can be found on the website https://www.engineeringdesignshow.co.uk/

Driving the future of Immersive Technology

European business leaders will visit Coventry University for a two-day programme of events showcasing some the best immersive technology (XR) the UK has to offer. 

The European Business Network (EBN) Techcamp, on October 19th and 20th, will bring together experts from various fields across Europe to share their knowledge and experience, and provide a platform for networking, collaboration, and co-learning in business support methodologies. This unique participatory and interactive event is led by a

nd created for business support experts and skilled innovation practitioners. 

Leading Techcamp for 2023 is Coventry University’s Director of Innovation, Paul Fairburn, who has lined up academic experts and businesses to demonstrate how they collaborate to develop new immersive technology products and services. 

Guests will hear from keynote speakers, visit research facilities, and attend workshops to learn more about how immersive technology is accelerating the future of transport, evolving healthcare training, supporting the creative industries, and driving changes in manufacturing. 

European business leaders will visit the university’s Simulation Centre and experience how immersive technology solutions are used to better business ecosystems. 

Speakers at Techcamp 2023 will delve into: 

· How to can create the optimal environment for (deep) technology businesses to start, scale, and grow 

· How to best support disruptive, immersive, technology-based businesses 

· How to collaborate with large industry-leading corporations 

· The different business needs of start-ups and scale-ups in using and deploying simulation/immersive technology. 

To register for this this event, please visit: https://www.ebn-techcamp.eu/ 

Neighbours voting for their 'fave' local businesses

Business urged to prepare for new fire safety legislation

“If you haven't yet reviewed the latest legislation, we urge you not to delay taking action. Our team of fire protection experts are readily available to provide the guidance and support that businesses require."

Businesses across Warwickshire are being advised to prepare for changes in fire safety legislation set to take effect on the 1st of October 2023.

To ensure that businesses are ready for the changes, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service will be taking proactive measures to raise awareness of this new legislation locally, as the changes coming soon will apply to all businesses.

Effective from October 1st, the introduction of Section 156 of the Building Safety Act mandates that all businesses, irrespective of their size, employee count, or business type, must comprehensively document their fire risk assessments and fire safety arrangements. Additionally, the revised legislation stipulates that in residential buildings housing two or more domestic premises, residents must receive information regarding fire risks and the fire safety measures implemented for their protection.

Many premises will be affected by the changes including small shops, take-aways, holiday lets and small blocks of flats. The main changes businesses need to be aware of are:  

  • All businesses will need to record a fire risk assessment and fire safety arrangements in full – regardless of the number of employees, and size or type of business.
  • There are increased requirements for cooperation and coordination between Responsible Persons in multi occupied buildings or those where the occupier and owner are not the same person. 
  • In residential buildings with two or more domestic premises residents must be provided with information on the risks from fire and the fire safety measures provided to keep them safe. 

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Fire Andy Crump said: “Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is committed to helping businesses across the county to reduce the risk of fire and adhere to fire safety legislation. We understand that this can pose a significant challenge for businesses, especially smaller ones that may lack in-house expertise to offer the necessary guidance. However, disregarding proper fire safety measures not only jeopardises the safety of employees and customers, but it can also result in severe financial repercussions for your business. 

“If you haven't yet reviewed the latest legislation, we urge you not to delay taking action. Our team of fire protection experts are readily available to provide the guidance and support that businesses require to ensure ongoing compliance with fire safety standards." 

 For information on the legislation please visit here https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/fire-safety-legislation/new-requirements-businesses-building-owners-building-safety-act-2022  or https://www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk/Building-Safety-Act-2022-Section-156  

Meanwhile, local businesses and organisations have been asked to support Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service is they have an office or base within five minutes of an on-call fire stations, or a team who work remotely and could use a fire station as a base?

If so, they could make a huge difference in your community by supporting your employees to become on-call firefighters. It’s a fantastic way to show corporate social responsibility while empowering colleagues with a whole range of new skills. Find out more in our downloadable leaflet: https://bit.ly/on-call-employers

The WFRS team are more than happy to talk through this exciting opportunity with you – please email ffrecruitment@warwickshire.gov.uk to arrange a call.

Special Feature

Why not let WCC help fund an apprenticeship at your business?

Apprenticeships are a great way for SMEs to invest in future skills either by recruiting new talent or supporting existing staff to expand their workplace skills and knowledge and pursue further qualifications. Two well-established programmes delivered by Warwickshire County Council's Warwickshire Skills Hub are supporting SMEs to do this, as Future Skills Business support adviser Louise Stolz explains.

In Warwickshire we have a high standard of apprenticeship-providers, many of whom are approved by us and train our own apprentices. 

The opportunities to reskill and recruit staff to a site are endless and we have two programmes that can support Warwickshire SMEs to do this: Warwickshire County Council Apprenticeship Levy Share Programme and Warwickshire Apprenticeship Progression Programme.

Our Apprenticeship Levy Share Programme helps businesses cover the associated cost of apprenticeship training, allowing them to address skills gaps and shortages in industry and support growth. We work with businesses to help them explore which apprenticeship pathways meet their business needs.

This enables us to identify a local provider and access Warwickshire County Council’s own levy funds, which can be shared with small and medium sized businesses. In 2022, we shared £643, 919 of our Apprenticeship Levy funds with 70 Warwickshire businesses, across 13 industry sectors, supporting 107 apprentices in 25 different qualifications.

We received the most applications to our programme from Childrens Early Years Childcare and Adult Care, followed by Hospitality and Manufacturing. The most popular apprenticeship standards were for Adult Care Worker Levels 2, 3, 4 and 5, Early Years Educator Level 3, Commis Chef Level 2, Business Administration Level 3 and Bricklaying Level 2. However, we also supported apprenticeships in Plumbing and Domestic Heating Technician Level 3, Operations/Departmental Manager Level 5, Geospatial Level 3, Field Care Supervisor Level 5, Engineering Technician Level 3 and many more! 

Among businesses to have benefited are Storm Geomatics Ltd and Farmers’ Fayre.

Polly Hopkins, from Storm Geomatics. Said: “When I approached Warwickshire Skills Hub for support with an apprenticeship opportunity for one of our employees, I was very pleasantly surprised. The whole process of registering with the WCC Levy Share Programme was completely painless and took no time at all due to the guidance received from the Skills Hub staff.

“In addition, we were offered the opportunity to record a professional careers film promoting what opportunities we have at Storm Geomatics. This video transformed our recruitment possibilities and consequently brought in an excellent standard of candidates, some of whom are still with us today.

“I have continued to reach out to the Skills Hub when I need further support. Their help is always given with no fuss and a great deal of efficiency and Storm Geomatics hope to continue this relationship far into the future.”

Sarah Doyle, of Farmers Fayre, said: "We have recently enrolled six members of our team on apprenticeships with the amazing support of the Warwickshire County Council Levy Share Programme. This has enabled us to fund all our training costs, which will enable us to develop and upskill them to Level 3 and Level 5 ILM Team Leading/Supervisor & Management, an accredited qualification.

“The application process was completed smoothly and swiftly with the support of our training provider and WCC and they were able to register for their courses within a matter of weeks. I think this is an amazing benefit for both business and team. It’s a win, win!"

Meanwhile, if you are a business who wish to invest in your staff and build upon a previous qualification which contributes to the new needs of the business, you can also apply to our Warwickshire Apprenticeship Progression Programme. Available to Warwickshire micro and small to medium size businesses, the programme offers a £1,000 incentive which is paid directly to the employer.

To be eligible, the learner must have completed a previous apprenticeship with their current employer in the last three years and be about to enrol on a new apprenticeship course. There is no requirement for the apprenticeship to be at a higher level than the previous one, but it must support the business and the individual employee's progression.

The first £500 is paid to the business on completion of the apprenticeship start declarations and the second payment of £500 on the first satisfactory assessor visit.

* Warwickshire Skills Hub not only provides apprenticeship support but can also potentially unlock a whole variety of business services from our partners such as staff training, business growth funding, property search, tender opportunities and growing your network. If you would like to know more about how Warwickshire Skills Hub can support your business, please contact louisestolz@warwickshire.gov.uk or heatherdocksey@warwickshire.gov.uk

Guest column

Auf Wiedersehen Pet sowed seeds for career in construction

Phil Eves, Social Sustainability Specialist at construction and property services company BAM, is passionate about skills and supporting young people to find fulfilling careers. In this Guest Column for Warwickshire Means Business, he outlines how his passion was shaped by barriers he encountered as a youngster. 

I believe my passion to support anyone who wants to get into construction stems from endeavouring to remove barriers that I encountered as a 16-year-old leaving school in 1985 with no careers guidance and limited options due to the economic pressures at the time. 

My careers information was based on series one of ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’, where Gary Holton – who played the character Wayne, opened my eyes to the world of site carpentry. You could say Mr Frenais and Mr Clements who wrote the series, were my careers advisors! 

My first job in Warwickshire 

My roots are firmly based in Warwickshire, as I recall the early mornings and numerous pick-ups on the way to my first site in the rear of a transit van, as we headed over to Stratford-upon-Avon and was greeted by the sight of the RSC Swan Theatre covered in scaffolding. 

I will never forget the sensory overload – strange sounds and the smell of steel being ground with angle grinders as I walked inside this huge historic building; discovering the auditorium; a sea of Douglas Fir timber as the replacement curved audience seating was being installed. I’m not sure you could beat that as a first project and it definitely gave me an interest in heritage construction and historic buildings, which I am still involved with today in Birmingham. 

Supporting Nuneaton and Bedworth communities 

My experience with encountering barriers to employment after leaving school has drawn me to support the twenty Princes Trust twelve-week pre-employment TEAM programmes, managed by Warwick College Group – with three of these programmes supporting students on the Nuneaton TEAM programme. These programmes are run through Nuneaton Fire and Rescue Service, which also enables us to identify and support community projects in partnership with EH Smiths Charitable Trust, including Mary Ann Evans Hospice, near George Eliot Hospital. 

Through support of the TEAM programme, we provide students two weeks work placements on site at our Hampton by Hilton project in Abbey Street, including our latest T Level transformation programme learner, who enrolled onto a course at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College in Business and joined us back on site in September 2023. 

We are continuing to support NWSLC providing ongoing support for another T Level course at the college, through ‘site work-based placements’, where students spend a minimum of 45 days or nine weeks on site over the duration of their course. 

We have also worked with NWSLC, Imagineer and Artichoke and provided financial support for learners who were involved in the creation of the Sanctuary Project in 2022, located in Miners Park in Bedworth. This culminated in over 10,000 people attending a memorial to those who were lost due to the pandemic, through an art installation that was created by David Best, famous for his Burning Man festivals in the US. 

Careers Support 

We recently supported six careers’ events as part of our ‘Nuneaton and Bedworth First’ – initiative at NWSLC and St Thomas More RC High School, where we set students a series of problem-solving STEM focussed challenges and link this to the skills that we require to help us plan a pipeline of potential construction management, business studies and quantity surveying apprentices at Level 4. 

Planned T Level Placements 

The success of our first cohort of Level 3 T Level placements resulted in four former students being offered apprenticeships with BAM Construction and BAM Nuttall across the UK. Following this we will be working with WCG – Leamington Campus to facilitate students studying the Design, Planning and Surveying pathway linked to a new school project on the outskirts of Nuneaton with placements scheduled to start in the Spring 2024. 

Community Challenge 

The site team is supporting an unusual community-based application for a Show Garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival in 2024. We have set this as a challenge for our team of apprentices across the Midlands and T Level learner on site at Hampton by Hilton, to support their qualifications where they need to demonstrate KSB’s (Knowledge Skills and Behaviours) through completing this challenge and working alongside other organisations including NWSLC. This project application will be submitted in September 2023 and linked to a brief set by Mary Ann Evans Hospice, following the work we undertook with the students on the Nuneaton based Princes Trust TEAM programme. 

Planned trade placements 

In addition to T Level placement opportunities, we will be working with our supply chain and NWSLC to roll out our project based BAM Work Placement programme, aimed at providing students with a two-week trade-based work placement in Brickwork and Carpentry on site at Hampton by Hilton in Abbey Street in the coming months. Our commitment to giving young people every opportunity to forge a career in constriction is total and ongoing. 

Phil Eves 


Upcoming events

2023.09.28 Brokers meet Local Businesses
"Brokers Meet Local Businesses" is here to help commercial lending brokers meet local businesses, and for businesses to find out about local alternative funding options.
CWRT 1700-2000 To be Announced Weblink here
2023.09.29 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 0730-0900 The Farm, Stratford Weblink here
2023.10.03 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.
Built Environment Networking 0800-1530 The Custard Factory, B'ham Weblink here
2023.10.04 Stratford-upon-Avon Business Networking Brunch (Wednesdays)
Meets every Wednesday morning and members benefit from new business, business advice and a support network for when times are challenging. Members hold one business category each, (one solicitor, one accountant, etc.) – if you book and the slot is already taken, we’ll try point you in the direction of a local group with the seat available!
 This group follows a hybrid model of 3 online and one face to face event every month.
Network B2B 0930-1030 In person once a month, then online for other Wednesdays Weblink here
2023.10.04 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 0730-0900 Delta Marriott - Warwick Weblink here
2023.10.04 Business Support Event at Space Business Park
Space Business Park will be hosting a business support coffee morning on October 4 where you will be able to find out about the funding and guidance available to small businesses in Warwickshire.
Feel free to drop by Space Warwick in Tachbrook Park from 9am to 11am for coffee and an informal chat about your business!
WCC/ AC Lloyd 0900-1100 Space Business Park, Tachbrook Park  
2023.10.05 Talk Property Brunch - Coventry/ Warwickshire (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 1000-1130 Virgins and Castle, Kenilworth Weblink here
2023.10.05 Medlink Innovation Day
This year’s Medilink Midlands Innovation Day will welcome the Midlands life sciences community to Coventry to share the latest inspiring developments from across the sector. Innovation Day sits proudly within our annual programme as the flagship event of the year for those in the Life Sciences sector.
The full day event includes:
A conference of high profile sector specific speakers
An exhibition
Networking opportunities
Medilink Midlands 0900-1630 DoubleTree Coventry Weblink here
2023.10.05 Meet the Buyer: Shaping the Future of Sustainable Housing
Join Finditin for our latest Meet the Buyer event on Thursday 5 October | 8am - 10am, which will give West Midlands suppliers the opportunity to meet housebuilders working in the region.
Made Smarter WM 8000-1000 NEC, National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. B40 1NT Weblink here
2023.10.05 South Warwickshire In-Person Networking
Join us for an in person networking meeting of our Warwick and Leamington businesses for a friendly, informal way to grow your network over a post-work drink.
FSB 1730-1900 Regency Arcade, 148-150 Parade, Leamington Spa, CV32 4AG Weblink here
2023.10.06 First Friday networking lunch at Martin Brower UK Limited
In business for more than 60 years, Martin Brower has grown into a multi-billion dollar company. Its relationship with McDonald’s began in 1956 with deliveries to the first restaurant in Illinois and as Supply Chain Solutions partner to McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland, Martin Brower has made significant investments in its distribution centre in Coventry, enabling it to exclusively supply hundreds of McDonald’s restaurants throughout the region.
We will hear about this fast moving supply chain specialist before having a guided tour behind the scenes.
CW First Professionals 1230-1400 Dolomite Avenue, Coventry Business Park, Coventry CV5 6UQ  Weblink here
2023.10.06 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 Bar+Block Steakhouse 148-150 Parade CV32 4AG Weblink here
2023.10.09 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 1800-2000 Coton Sports and Social Club Weblink here
2023.10.10 BAB Networking - Coleshill Brunch
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 1000-1200 Swan Hotel Weblink here
2023.10.11 Stratford-upon-Avon Business Networking Brunch (Wednesdays)
Meets every Wednesday morning and members benefit from new business, business advice and a support network for when times are challenging. Members hold one business category each, (one solicitor, one accountant, etc.) – if you book and the slot is already taken, we’ll try point you in the direction of a local group with the seat available!
 This group follows a hybrid model of 3 online and one face to face event every month.
Network B2B 0930-1030 In person once a month, then online for other Wednesdays Weblink here
2023.10.11 Engineering Design Show (2 Days)
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.
Mark Allen Group 11 - 12 October  Coventry Building Society Arena Weblink here
2023.10.12 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 0700-0900 Whittle's at Binswood, Binswood Ave, Leamington Spa, CV32 5SE Weblink here
2023.10.12 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 1000-1200 Tax Assist Accountants
66 Church Street, Rugby. CV21 3PT
Weblink here
2023.10.12 AI for the Factory Floor: Harness Smart Factory Data for Maximum Value and Reduced Risk
Manufacturers are embracing data science and AI technologies to collect, analyse and gain insights from their shop floor data; finding new ways to meet their sustainability goals, lower the cost of production, avoid downtime, improve quality, and bring more products to market faster.
Altair 0830-1630 The Slate, Warwick University. CV4 7SH, UK Weblink here
2023.10.12 Networking Breakfast with Alcester Business Club @ Minerva Mill
This monthly networking event is an ideal opportunity for business people and owners from Alcester and the surrounding areas to get together in a professional but relaxed and zero-pressure environment to network with like-minded locals, make new connections, and enjoy a delicious breakfast too.
Alcester Business Club 0915-1045 Minerva Mill Innovation Centre, Alcester. B49 5ET Weblink here
2023.10.13 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 1000-1200 Pen & Parchment
Bridge Foot, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6YY
Weblink here
2023.10.16 Birmingham Tech Week
Birmingham Tech Week is the UK’s largest regional tech festival and conference with over 7,500 people attending. Events will be taking place across the entire West Midlands covering a variety of important and innovative topics.
WMGC 3 Days Birmingham - various Weblink here
2023.10.17 BAB Networking - Bulkington (Nuneaton) Breakfast
BAB Brunch in Brandon. You will be welcomed and educated with like minded business entrepreneurs. By Networkers for Networkers.
BAB Networking 0800-1000 Weston Hall Hotel, Bulkington Weblink here
2023.10.17 BAB Networking - Bulkington (Nuneaton) Breakfast
BAB Brunch in Brandon. You will be welcomed and educated with like minded business entrepreneurs. By Networkers for Networkers.
BAB Networking 0800-1000 Weston Hall Hotel, Bulkington Weblink here
2023.10.17 Solar and Storage UK 2023 (3 Days)
Solar & Storage Live is the UK's largest renewable energy exhibition that celebrates the technologies at the forefront of the transition to a greener, smarter, more decentralised energy system.
This year will bring together 20,000+ attendees including 250+ exhibitors, 300+ speakers, 60+ start-ups, 30+ partners and associations, and more.
Terrapinn All Day x3 days NEC, Birmingham Weblink here
2023.10.17 BAB Networking - Bulkington (Nuneaton) Breakfast
BAB Brunch in Brandon. You will be welcomed and educated with like minded business entrepreneurs. By Networkers for Networkers.
BAB Networking 0800-0900 Weston Hall Hotel, Bulkington Weblink here
2023.10.19 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
2023.10.19 Warwickshire Investors Network
Every 3rd Thursday of the month, come join us for a relaxed and friendly meeting in the Coventry & Warwickshire area from 6pm. Whether you're an established investor or just starting your business journey, this event is perfect for learning new strategies and opportunities in property investing, wealth creation, tax planning and inheritance planning.
Sam Cooper and Jo Davies 1800-2100 Draycote Hotel, Rugby Weblink here
2023.10.24 BAB Networking - Coleshill Brunch
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 1000-1200 Coleshill Hotel Weblink here
2023.10.26 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 0700-0900 Audley Care, Binswood Weblink here
2023.11.01 Advanced Engineering 2023 (2 Days)
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.
Easyfairs 1st and 2nd November NEC Weblink here
2023.11.01 West Midlands Bright Solar Future - Join us for a learning and networking event about the potential of Solar Power in the West Midlands Climate Change Solutions 1st Nov Birmingham & Midland Insitute Weblink Here
2023.11.10 Lancester Insurance Classic Motor Show (3 Days)
Every 3rd Thursday of the month, come join us for a relaxed and friendly meeting in the Coventry & Warwickshire area from 6pm. Whether you're an established investor or just starting your business journey, this event is perfect for learning new strategies and opportunities in property investing, wealth creation, tax planning and inheritance planning.
Clarion Events 3 Day Event NEC, Birmingham Weblink here
2023.11.18 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. 
NEC 18-26 November NEC Weblink here
2023.11.29 CropTec Show 2023
CropTec 2023, will bring together forward-thinking growers, agronomists, advisors, and technical experts over two days for seminars, discussion, and networking across busy exhibition halls. The technical arable event offers knowledge exchange and top-quality networking opportunities with 81% of the main decision-makers and influencers on the farm. Forward-thinking farmers, agronomists, and industry professionals attend CropTec to learn the very latest techniques, network, and do business. 
Agriconnect All day x2 days Stoneleigh Park Weblink here
2024.05.15 Battery Cells & Systems Expo (2 Day Event)
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 2 Days, 15th and 16th May NEC, Birmingham Weblink here
2024.11.12 Euro Bus Expo (3 Days)
Showcase of the bus and coach industry, free to attend. Includes latest equipment and services.
It is a must-attend for operators, local authorities, transport planners, and industry stakeholders.
Diversified Communications UK All day x2 days NEC, Birmingham Weblink here

Talk Up Our Towns

Shipston injecting new energy into its elegant offer

                                                                                                                                                       Photo: Little Bird Soaps

"An amazing town – while it may look traditional at first glance, it is forward thinking and vibrant with an independent spirit."

Shipston-on-Stour is truly blessed by location. At the southern end of rural Warwickshire and the northern tip of the Cotswolds, it is a gorgeous small town, full of elegant, listed buildings. For centuries it has welcomed and charmed visitors. It is rich in history and heritage. 

But Shipston is much more than easy on the eye. This is no sleepy rural small town. It is home to a wealth of vibrant independent businesses beating at the heart of their community – and right now those businesses are “energised” as they plan how to continue to take the local economy forward into the future. 

Most importantly perhaps, it’s a town that remembers its key market – residents. It offers the perfect focal point for those wanting to access the town’s services and spend time in the many independent cafes and restaurants. There is a brilliant retail offer ranging from food, electrical and pet supplies, to clothing, gifts, floristry and home interiors: this place does just feel quite literally, like home. 

Shipston is a town which is comfortable in its own skin. It doesn’t shout about itself which means that, tucked away between Stratford, Warwick and Oxford, it eludes many potential visitors. That is the passers-by's loss but, in these challenging days for high streets, it also denies the town’s traders an important dimension of their market. So those traders are now getting together to bring Shipston out from under the radar. 

Stuart Walsh, owner of Shipston Spokes bicycle shop in Church Street, is delighted that the town unexpectedly popped onto his radar. Eager to relocate from a small town in Essex, he was told about a little place which is the northern gateway to the Cotswolds…and now he and his wife Sara each run a business there. 

“We had never heard of Shipston,” said Stuart, “but a friend suggested it and, as soon as we saw it, we thought, ‘wow!’ 

"It has all the beauty of the Cotswolds but whereas other Cotswolds towns are full of big-name franchises, Shipston is full of independent shops which means it has totally retained its unique character.” 

Those independent shops are now getting together. It’s time to bring Shipston’s light out from under the bushel and that mission is gaining a lot of traction around the town. 

“Everyone is really energised by the idea of celebrating what we have got,” said Stuart. “I think all the local businesses realise how important our roles are. We all need to be ambassadors for Shipston. More and more people around the town are getting involved and it will only gather more momentum as we go. Local groups are keen to get involved too which is great. 

“There is so much to be positive about in this town and positivity always attracts people to a place, whether its businesses or customers or visitors. It was hearing somebody saying how great Shipston is that sowed the seed for us to not only live here but to set up businesses here to.” 

Warwickshire County Council is supporting the initiative by deploying highly-experienced retail consultant Kim Hulse on a short-term project in the town. Kim is working to bring together business stakeholders to open multiple channels of communication between the businesses and create new local visitor initiatives to complement all the existing events and projects.

“It’s such a pleasure to be working in Shipston,” said Kim. “It’s an amazing town – while it may look traditional at first glance, it is forward thinking and vibrant with an independent spirit. It is a hidden jewel with a Bohemian backdrop. With almost every shop being independent, Shipston really does have a unique offering. Businesses are invested and embedded in the town, knowing their customer well and that camaraderie shapes their offer as they can curate their range based on their customers’ preferences.

“The businesses also really value all the work that other community groups do for the benefit of the town, like the ever-popular food festivals and Shipston Proms. There is little you would want to change about Shipston – it’s just about giving the town a higher profile. It’s tucked away between Stratford-upon-Avon and Moreton-in-Mash and Stow, so a lot of people drive straight past it along the A429. They are missing a true hidden jewel.” 

Wellbeing underpins many of the businesses and in a town surrounded by the rolling hills of south Warwickshire’s Cotswold landscape which provides access to National Cycle Network’s route 48 and an abundance of walking routes, this is but another part of the town’s offer. 

A supportive environment will make all the difference. 

“It’s great that Warwickshire County Council are supporting us,” said Stuart. “Running a small business can be hard work and pretty isolating, so it’s fantastic to feel supported, whether it’s by fellow businesses around you, or the local council." 

Businesses are currently exploring project ideas within the wider community which will help them in their quest to be ambassadors for the town. This will include a shared message on how to tell the unique story of place to customers digitally so the town can continue its long history of offering unique and memorable experiences. Anyone interested in finding out more can contact towns@warwickshire.gov.uk. 

News in Brief

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. 


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