The Williams Martini Racing Formula 1 team has been home to some of the world’s fastest racing drivers since 1977: Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve are among the most exciting drivers of their generations. However, it’s the Williams name itself which stands out as the mark of automotive excellence.
As Williams launched its FW40 car for the 2017 season, Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams talked about working in the business started by her father Frank. She admits it hasn’t always been an easy ride.
Did you always want to work for the family firm?
I never really grew up aiming to forge a career in Formula One because my father told us he didn’t want us working at Williams. He rightly wanted us to make our own way in the world and didn’t want to be accused of nepotism. Nevertheless, I had a passion for the sport as I was exposed to it from an early age. My first job after graduating from university (Claire studied politics) was as a press officer at the Silverstone Circuit. I loved my time there, and after two happy years, Williams’ then head of marketing, Jim Wright, approached me about joining the communications team. My father had no idea, as Jim knew he would be against it, but the role interested me. Jim lobbied Frank hard to hire me, and eventually, in 2002, he relented.
What was it like when you began working for Williams?
My first feeling was of pride. I was finally being paid to work at the team I love. I suppose I was also a little bit awestruck that I’d been given the opportunity. But most importantly I felt I had to quickly get on and prove myself. I was a girl in a man’s world and the boss’s daughter. I needed to show everyone I could do the job and that I deserved the job.”
Did you ever consider becoming a racing driver yourself?
My passion for Formula One never extended to wanting to become a racing driver. I’m extremely competitive but I didn’t have the talent to win so left it to the professionals
What are your best memories of growing up in the industry?
It’s difficult to pinpoint one memory. My happiest is probably of Nigel Mansell winning the 1992 Championship in Hungary. It was one of the first races Dad took me to by myself, rather than going to the British Grand Prix as a family.
I still picture Nigel at the end of the race with journalists and fans swarming around him. I remember the music being played in the garage at the end of the race: ‘The Final Countdown’.
It felt a privilege to be part of it.
What were your biggest issues as Deputy Team Principal in 2013?
2013 was a challenging season to say the least, finishing ninth in the Constructors’ Championship. Turning the team around seemed an almost impossible task. So finishing third in the 2014 Championship was phenomenal. It was the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people who wanted Williams back on track. We left no stone unturned, we analysed our weaknesses and put a plan in place to rectify areas of concern. If you want to change something you have to roll your sleeves up, take a deep breath and get stuck in. It was a real exoneration for me personally, but also for the team and everything it means to our family.
What do you most enjoy about being at Williams?
Everything. But if I had to pick one thing it would be the sound of engines firing up after a long winter filled with withdrawal symptoms. I love the sounds and smells of the cars. To me, and my Dad, the cars aren’t inanimate objects; they are almost part of the family.
What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
The 2017 season marks our 40th anniversary - a phenomenal achievement. So that’s definitely something to look forward to. I’m also hoping it can be a successful year, but it’s going to be difficult. With the new regulations there’s an opportunity, but we’re a team that always pushes and always fights.
What keeps you awake at night?
The biggest focus every year is ensuring we have the budget to compete. This is a priority and something that I work really hard to oversee. I’m lucky to work with some of the best people in the business at Williams, which makes my extremely varied job a little easier.
Talk us through the innovation going on at Williams’ Grove HQ
We first dipped our toe in the commercial world by creating a business called Williams Hybrid Power to take the flywheel technology developed for our F1 car into other industries such as public transport.
Motorsport can bridge the gap between research and production, acting as an enabler for technologies that may have struggled or at best been delayed for years. Williams Advanced Engineering assists industry with this.
The focus is on transferring technology from the pinnacle of motor racing, Formula One, to applications in the automotive, motorsport, defence and life sciences sectors, including green tech, a key growth area globally.
We harness know-how and expertise learnt in Formula One, such as aerodynamics, advanced lightweight materials, electrification, simulation and training, and apply them to applications outside motorsport to support and promote UK innovation.
How is Williams celebrating its 40th anniversary?
We have a series of exciting events and special Williams 40 content planned for our fans, partners, media and our many friends in the paddock. We kicked off our Williams 40 celebrations at this year’s Autosport International show in Birmingham, with an immersive experience allowing fans to look back on our 40 years of history in Formula One, and we have a lot more exciting events coming up, which we’re looking forward to sharing with our fans.”
Head Office: Grove, Oxon
Group Revenue: £80 million
Williams Grand Prix Holdings Ltd comprises a Formula One racing team and an advanced engineering business. It is based at Grove, Oxfordshire on a 33-hectare site which is a hub for the Group’s research, design, manufacturing and commercial activity.
The racing team has secured nine FIA Formula One Constructors’ Championship titles and seven Drivers’ Championship titles, making it the third most successful team in the sport’s history
Williams Advanced Engineering provides world class technical innovation, engineering, testing and manufacturing services to customers across the automotive, aerospace, defence and energy sectors
4 Facts on Claire Williams
1. Her favourite car is her Audi RS6. “It’s a monster”
2. If she wasn’t in motorsport, she’d pick a career in politics
3. Paws for thought: Time out from F1 is time walking her two labradors
4. While men are in the majority in motorsport, she considers gender irrelevant in F1. “There isn’t scope to carry someone who isn’t performing simply because of their gender. The sport is a meritocracy.”
The facility was opened by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Inc. The student-centric venue aims to build a community of innovation across the University, inspiring and supporting Oxford’s 23,000 students to develop their entrepreneurial skills or create and scale commercial ventures.
The Oxford Foundry will embrace students across all academic disciplines from engineering, medicine, history, philosophy and more. It will be a place for students from different backgrounds to experiment, learn from one another, and generate ideas and initiatives that address business and societal issues: whether their ambition is to launch their own start-up or to develop an entrepreneurial mind-set to drive innovation from within an organisation. Students will be encouraged to play a major role in designing and leading activities.
As a world-leading university, Oxford University has produced more founders of Unicorn businesses ($1 billion upwards) than any other in Europe, and has a strong history of students launching and establishing successful start-up companies. The Oxford Foundry will support the institution to continue to translate its academic research into innovative solutions with commercial and societal impact, on an international scale.
Building on the success and popularity of the Oxford Launchpad at Saїd Business School, which is home to the Entrepreneurship Centre and Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, the Oxford Foundry was initiated and developed by Oxford Saїd for the benefit of the whole of the University.
The Oxford Foundry is housed in a renovated Victorian ice factory in central Oxford and is spread over two floors. It offers co-working space, presentation areas, and a café at ground level - enabling entrepreneurially-minded people to meet, collaborate, create new ventures, or build the skills to bring innovation into their careers. Upstairs, there is an incubator space for accelerating new ventures.
Ana Bakshi, Director of the Oxford Foundry said: “Entrepreneurship is of increasing importance to students. As a generation, millennials desire to be more socially responsible, innovative and to make an impact. Whether starting their own ventures or aspiring to lead in organisations, the Oxford Foundry will develop students’ entrepreneurial skills, understanding and self-efficacy. The aim is to create future leaders whatever career they pursue.’
The Oxford Foundry has been made possible by the generous support of the some major donors: Reid Hoffman, Co-founder of LinkedIn, the Amersi Foundation, EY, Barclays, Meltwater Fairhair.ai, and DeTao Education Group. An Advisory Board, chaired by Brent Hoberman, will bring expertise, insight and advice to the Foundry community.
Reid Hoffman comments: ‘I am a firm believer that to solve big issues and challenges, we need more entrepreneurial thinking and development, and what better place than within education. The Oxford Foundry will act as a hub to support and develop entrepreneurship within Oxford and bring students together from lots of different backgrounds and academic areas to experiment and prototype new ideas. This will create amazing, transformative ventures that will make a real impact, and ultimately make the world a better place.’
Peter Tufano, Peter Moores Dean, Saïd Business School, concludes: ‘The Oxford Foundry will be a hub for innovation and idea-generation. By inspiring and developing new generations of Oxford student entrepreneurs we can hopefully transform their lives and our collective future.’
Ecotricity is to revise its existing planning application for its Eco Park development by junction 13 of the M5, scrapping its business park plans, and expects to submit its changes to the council before the end of the year.
The current proposal was submitted back in January 2016, and with no end date still in sight Ecotricity has decided to adapt the application to focus solely on facilities for Forest Green Rovers football club – as part of this the Zaha Hadid Architects designed wooden stadium will move to the north side of the A419, on the site of the currently proposed Green Technology Hub, and there will be no development on the south side.
This means there will be no Business Park in the revised plan, where facilities for up to 4,000 jobs would have been created, generating a £300m a year boost to the local economy.
The revised plans will be accompanied by updated environmental reports, looking at key issues including traffic, noise, lighting, biodiversity and landscape.
Dale Vince, Founder of Ecotricity, said: “We’ve taken this decision because of the on-going delays with the planning process for the original concept. It’s a pragmatic decision recognising that Eco Park as proposed was just a bit too much for the council to get their heads round right now. The stadium is the most important part in the short term – the thing we need the most, and the easiest thing for planners to approve, so we’re removing the obstacles, which ironically we thought were the major benefits to the District, the 4,000 job green tech business park.
“Eco Park has just been earmarked by the council for employment use as part of the local plan review. The message we’re getting is that we need to come back in a few years’ time. We may do that.”
Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced the universities which will lead pioneering research into the next generation of battery technology.
Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced the consortium of UK universities that will form the Faraday Battery Institute, a new £65 million research institute responsible for building the UK’s status as a global leader in battery research and technology.
The Institute will bring together the expertise and insight from its 7 founding partner universities, industry partners and other academic institutions to accelerate fundamental research to develop battery technologies. Ensuring the UK is well placed to take advantage of the future economic opportunities from emerging technology.
The universities forming the institute are:
· University of Warwick
· University of Oxford
· Imperial College London
· Newcastle University
· University College London
· University of Cambridge
· University of Southampton
Announcing this major investment in the UK’s research base Greg Clark said:
“Through the Faraday Research Challenge we are cementing our position as the ‘go-to’ destination for battery technology so we can exploit the global transition to a low carbon economy.
“The Faraday Battery Institute will have a critical role in fostering innovative research collaboration between our world-leading universities and world-beating businesses to make this technology more accessible and more affordable.
“We have huge expertise in this area already and the Faraday Battery Institute collaboration between our 7 founding universities provides a truly unique opportunity for us to bring together our expertise and an effort in this area behind a common set of strategic goals to ensure the UK exploits the jobs and business opportunities.”
With £65 million of funding through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Institute will invest an initial £13.7 million to set up a headquarters.
EPSRC Chief Executive Professor Philip Nelson said:
Climate change and moving towards low carbon economies mean the demand for clean energy production and effective energy storage, in the UK and globally, is rising.
The Faraday Institute will bring leading academics in the field of battery development together to explore novel approaches that will meet these challenges and accelerate the development of new products and techniques
EPSRC is pleased to be helping establish the Institute, and the drive to keep the UK a prosperous and productive nation.
The Business Secretary confirmed in July that the government would be making an investment of £246 million, over 4 years, in the Faraday Research Challenge to ensure the UK builds on its strengths and leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries.
The Faraday Research Challenge is divided into 3 streams - research, innovation and scale-up which is designed to drive a step-change in transforming the UK’s world-leading research into market-ready technologies that ensures economic success for the UK.
The Faraday Research Challenge is just 1 of 6 areas that the government, together with business and academia, identified through its flagship Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) as being one of the UK’s core industrial challenges and opportunities, where research and innovation can help unlock markets and industries of the future in which the UK can become world-leading.
As part of cementing the UK as a global leader in autonomous and battery vehicles, the government will unveil shortly the winners of its first £55 million Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) testing infrastructure competition.
This follows the government opening its £100 million CAV test bed competition in April, inviting proposals for how to create a cluster of excellence in driverless car testing, along the M40 corridor between Coventry and London, to accelerate the development of this technology, grow intellectual capital and attract overseas investment in the UK.
A ground breaking ceremony at Gloucester Business Park has marked the start of construction of a new 100,000 sq ft, state-of-art manufacturing facility for TBS Engineering, a world leader in automation for the battery industry.
The ceremony was attended by the project teams from Arlington, owners of Gloucester Business Park and TBS, together with Winvic the contractors on the development, to officially mark the commencement of construction.
The facility, includes 80,000 sq ft of manufacturing space together with 20,000 sq ft of office accommodation and is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2018. When completed it will serve as TBS’s new global headquarters, and provide employment for 170 people.
Dan Williams, Development Director of Arlington said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with TBS on the development of this exciting new HQ and look forward to working with them for years to come. This development comes hot on the heels of us completing the new HQ office for Horizon Nuclear Power and is testament to the skills of our delivery team and the opportunity at Gloucester Business Park to deliver new business space for all sorts of companies. It is also the first major announcement for Arlington following its corporate acquisition by TPG, and demonstrates the new owner’s commitment to the strategy of developing out the significant landbank held by the business.”
David Longney, TBS Engineering Group Managing Director, added: “Our investment in the new facility, is testament to the expertise, talent and engineering capabilities available to us in Gloucestershire. It is this local resource that has enabled us to stay at the forefront of our industry. Over the last fifty years TBS has led the world in the manufacture of lead acid battery equipment. At the heart of this growth, is our commitment to innovation and engineering and this new facility will support our continued expansion, research and development and position as a global leader.
Gloucester Business Park is home to a large business community of over 70 companies, includes extensive onsite amenities and is located at Junction 11a of the M5 and A417 dual carriageway.
TBS Engineering were represented by Cushman & Wakefield and Arlington by Alder King and Strutt & Parker.
Former managing director of Gloucester-based Barnwood Shopfitting, Chris Gabb, celebrated his retirement by picking up an award recognising his outstanding contribution to the shopfitting industry.
Chris’s achievement in the National Association of Shopfitters (NAS) Design Partnership Awards 2017 has rounded off a long and distinguished career with Barnwood that began in 1971.
During that time he supported more than 90 apprentices, many of whom are still in the business today and have gone on to senior positions. This is testament to the importance of the trade apprenticeship and the support it is given by the leadership in the business.
After an apprenticeship with a local joinery company, Gloucester-born Chris joined a national building company, who were undertaking a major redevelopment project in the city, giving him valuable site experience.
After joining Barnwood, he assisted in all aspects of the high quality bespoke bank and building society fit-outs, taking part in all aspects of the operation from estimating to site management.
He took over control of the joinery business after former director, Bert Davies, retired, developing and widening the scope of works into the retail area and complete fit-out works.
Chris’s input, initiative and forward thinking developed the company to become a major part of the Barnwood Group, resulting in Barnwood Shopfitting being established within the group.
During Chris’s stewardship of the company, he has led controlled expansion of the business to become a major successful player in the shopfitting sector, currently turning over more than £25 million per year, with an enviable list of blue chip customers.
But it’s not all about personal successes. Chris’s down to earth and practical approach has developed a culture within the business of helping customers and staff, which continues today.
He worked closely to understand the clients’ needs and shaped the business to support these, regularly making the impossible possible. Helping others has been important to Chris and he has always been a strong advocate of the trade apprenticeship.
Barnwood Shopfitting joined the NAS in 1974, and have been long-standing members and supporters, with Chris being elected to the council of the NAS on 7th February 2001. Since then Chris has served the association in many roles, most latterly as treasurer, before his retirement from the NAS last year.
Barnwood Group is one of Gloucestershire’s longest established companies, employing more than 230 staff with a turnover of £90 million. The group includes three divisions: Construction, Shopfitting and General Works, and is responsible for such prestigious projects as the new John Lewis store at Terminal 2 and the Perfectionists Café-a restaurant created by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal for air travellers.
Leading alternative network provider, CityFibre , has partnered with Cheltenham-based ICT company, Bamboo Technology Group Ltd, to unleash the power of full-fibre beneath Cheltenham and Gloucester’s streets, giving businesses access to next-generation digital infrastructure and ultrafast internet speeds.
Local businesses will soon be able to harness the benefits of full-fibre connectivity after CityFibre unveiled new, alternative digital networks in both Cheltenham and Gloucester.
The move by CityFibre responds to growing demand for ultrafast connectivity in the region. A recent survey conducted by the company and Bamboo, revealed that over 60 per cent of businesses are languishing with an internet connection below 50Mbps.
With the modern full-fibre infrastructure introduced by CityFibre in place, businesses across the area will now have affordable access to almost unlimited bandwidth, with 500Mbps and 1Gbps internet services. This, in turn, will bolster further digital growth across the region as well as providing a boost to local business, driving investment and inspiring new start-ups.
CityFibre is now calling for local businesses to register their interest to discover more about the Cheltenham and Gloucester networks, their capabilities and how they can support their digital ambitions. Connections to the network can be secured through Cheltenham-based telecoms and ICT service provider, Bamboo.
With the core network in place, many businesses will be able to access the network and benefit from ultrafast speeds very soon. And due to ambitious growth plans, more businesses will be able to benefit as the network expands in Gloucester and Cheltenham and surrounding areas such as Staverton and Quedgeley .
Nick Gray, City Development Manager at CityFibre, explained: “Poor connectivity has been an issue for businesses across Gloucester and Cheltenham for a number of years and there’s a recognised need to invest to meet the demands of the digital age, where slow and unreliable connectivity can be a real barrier to local businesses.
“We’ve successfully rolled out full-fibre infrastructure across the UK, including Bristol in 2016, and our expansion into two new areas will help the region reach its digital potential. Our investment in Gloucester and Cheltenham will stand to give businesses and services a modern foundation for growth, investment and innovation and a proven toolkit for increased efficiency, productivity and competitiveness. Together, these elements form the building blocks of a thriving regional economy and sustainable growth and position both areas alongside some of the most connected locations in the UK and the world. We’re looking forward to working alongside Bamboo in Cheltenham and Gloucester, as their experience, local insight and diverse range of solutions will be invaluable to aiding businesses take full advantage of the new infrastructure.”
Lorrin White, Managing Director of Bamboo added: “We’re excited to offer businesses across the area truly affordable, ultrafast fibre connectivity for the first time. With over 85% of businesses we spoke to expressing an interest in affordable 500Mbps, there is clearly a growing appetite and need for the service.”
“We have a wealth of industry in this area, and sectors like science and technology have made huge leaps in the region in recent years. We must have the infrastructure to allow these industries to continue to thrive. The gigabit network will make a real difference to Gloucester and Cheltenham’s digital landscape and we’re looking forward to working with CityFibre to support businesses across the area. We encourage more to get in touch and find out how they can join the network.”
ZPG Plc, which owns and operates some of the UK’s most well known digital brands including Zoopla, uSwitch, PrimeLocation and Hometrack, is buying money.co.uk, one of the UK’s leading financial services comparison websites, for £80 million on a cash-free, debt-free basis, plus a performance-based earn-out of up to £60 million.
Established in 2008, Money.co.uk is one of the UK’s leading financial services comparison websites, allowing consumers to compare thousands of deals from over 600 providers across more than 60 product categories including mortgages, loans, credit cards, bank accounts and insurance. The business has a strong brand position with over 2 million visits per month to its website.
Money generated revenues of over £24 million in 2016.
The acquisition is a core part of ZPG’s strategy to offer the widest range of relevant products across its platforms and is an ideal fit, with both businesses focussed on empowering consumers to make better-informed property and home-related decisions.
Following completion, Money will continue to operate as a standalone brand and platform, headed up by Founder & CEO, Chris Morling.
Alex Chesterman, Founder & CEO of ZPG said: “We are delighted to announce this transaction. Adding Money, one of the UK’s leading financial services comparison websites, to our existing brand portfolio will further enhance our product capabilities and consumer engagement across both our comparison and property platforms. Broadening our financial services offering has long been a key part of our strategy and I look forward to welcoming Chris and his team to the ZPG family.”
Chris Morling, Founder & CEO of Money added : “I am very proud of what we have achieved over the last nine years. We have developed a strong brand and loyal following and are looking forward to the next phase of our growth. ZPG has led the way as an innovative digital consumer champion and we are looking forward to helping even more consumers make better-informed decisions as part of ZPG.”