Business & Innovation Magazine

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 07 Aug, 2017
A cutting-edge Coventry company has created a new, world-first form of plastic that could revolutionise the way limb conditions and injuries are treated.

Torc2 Ltd, based at the Bilton Industrial Estate, has protected the Intellectual Property (IP) on the material as well as a new process method using their flexible, durable compound that can be re-shaped at temperatures safe for patients.

Gary Blundell and Ron Taylor, who are part of the team that runs the firm, have a background in engineering and plastics and originally developed the new material as a potential replacement for Plaster of Paris casts.

But after seeking opinion from the medical profession including surgeons at University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire, the pair turned their attention to devices such as splints and supports for the treatment of Cerebral Palsy, Talipes (club foot), Hip Dysplasia, Idiopathic Toe Walking and liners that can be reshaped for lower limb prosthetics.

The company has also sought help from the CWLEP Growth Hub to assist in raising finance for its product development as well as the manufacturing process behind it.

That has led to a grant from Coventry City Council under the Coventry & Warwickshire Innovation Programme – part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund – which is supporting SMEs in the region to develop innovative products or services involving emerging technology.

Torc2 is the first SME to be awarded a grant through the programme.

Gary said: “The key property of our torc material is the fact it can be softened at low temperatures. It can be reshaped directly on the patient at around 55 degrees and, therefore, the types of products we are looking at can be altered to exactly fit the patient very quickly, easily and without waste.

“When we talked to orthopaedic experts in the field, they liked the concept around Plaster of Paris but said it wasn’t an area of particular concern. Instead they recommended that we look into other applications that could provide both cost-savings for the NHS and a far better patient experience.

“There is a whole range of supports and splints required for a number of conditions, many of which have to be changed and altered regularly – the properties within torc material allows that to happen very quickly and easily.

“In some cases, Spica casts being a typical example, it can cut out the need for extra trips to the operating theatre – which is a huge cost saving to the NHS and much better for the patient.”

He added: “We are incredibly grateful for the support from the Growth Hub and from Coventry City Council – it’s great that organisations in the city want to get behind innovative, local companies.

“We’ve also been supported by Warwick Manufacturing Group with trial production and have had significant help from our friends at RDM Group.

“The next phase is to upscale the current lab micro 3D printing process to enable production of full size devices for clinical trials. We are seeking additional funding to help us to do that and the feedback we are getting is that this is a very exciting new material that has the potential to revolutionise the way in which this area of treatment is delivered.”

Jeremy Moore, of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said: “From my first conversations with Gary and Ron, I could see the passion they have for this exciting new material.

“They are doing exactly the right thing too by listening to the advice of experts from the medical profession.

“I am pleased that we’ve been able to help them reach this stage and it would be great to see this innovation used the world over, knowing it started right here in our area.”

Coventry City Councillor Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, said: “Coventry has always innovated and this is yet another example of a local business being at the cutting edge of new developments.

“I’m pleased that we could secure grant cash to support the development of this new concept and I hope it leads to the on-going growth of the company and opportunities for local people.”
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 03 Aug, 2017
ADEY’s pioneering work in maintaining and protecting central heating systems has been rewarded with a second Queen’s Award for innovation, presented by Gloucestershire’s Lord Lieutenant, Dame Janet Trotter.

ADEY’s staff were joined by local dignitaries to celebrate receiving the certificate and Queen’s Award bowl, as well as a citation signed by HRH The Queen and Prime Minister Theresa May.

The Queen’s Award for Enterprise celebrates the excellence achieved by Cheltenham-based ADEY in developing its innovative range of high performance chemicals used by heating engineers and plumbers in households and workplaces all over the UK – and to a growing international customer base too.

Specifically, the award recognises the development of new chemical formulations for the company’s MC1+ ‘Protector’ and MC3+ ‘Cleaner’ range of products, uniquely designed to work in tandem with ADEY’s market-leading MagnaClean magnetic filters. The chemicals safely help to clean the water that circulates inside central heating systems and prevent further corrosion, before the water passes through a magnetic filter which makes it easy to capture and remove the ‘sludge’. By keeping the system clean, the boiler will work more efficiently, saving energy and reducing repair costs.

“We were delighted to welcome Dame Janet Trotter to ADEY and incredibly proud to receive this great honour,” says John Vaughan, ADEY Chief Executive. “It’s a real achievement to be able to show the Queen’s representatives around the business and have the highest recognition for what we do. We also celebrated with an afternoon tea for the whole team.

“Since our original invention of magnetic filtration and the MagnaClean filter – which also received a Queen’s Award for innovation – we’ve been committed to developing an integrated approach to heating system protection. The introduction of a new arm within the business to research, create and test innovative and highly advanced chemical formulations was a natural step,” he adds.
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 07 Jul, 2017

The Stroud Metal Company has been awarded £3.5 million by the Gloucestershire Infrastructure and Investment Fund (GIIF) to facilitate the relocation of factory and office space, to a new site located off Brunel Way in nearby Stonehouse.

The business has been producing precision components at their site in Stroud, for over 100 years. With roots dating back to the 19th century, Stroud Metal Company was officially incorporated in 1926 and is still a privately owned, family run business continuing to build upon their £6m turnover. More recently they have acquired Cotsworld Plastics Ltd, thus further growing their workforce.

The loan will enable the organisation to bridge the gap in between the construction of the new premises and the relocation of the business.

The two phase project, which will create 100 local jobs, will begin by constructing a new factory and office complex. The factory is due to open in December 2017 and will incorporate a green energy initiative including the installation of solar panels. Once fully operational, the company intend to offer three apprenticeships per annum to further grow the local economy.

Matthew Large, Managing Director of Stroud Metal Company and Cotsworld Plastics, said: “The support of GFirst LEP, Gloucestershire County Council and Stroud District Council were key to this project and without their assistance we could not have made it happen. Stroud Metal Company is thrilled to confirm that the construction of their new premises at Brunel Way, Stonehouse, has now commenced.

The land at the 5½ acre site has been cleared and is being prepared to accept a 79,000sqft bespoke premises to accommodate both Stroud Metal Co and their sister company, Cotswold Plastics. The investment in this new factory safeguards 62 highly skilled engineering jobs and will reinforce our position as a global player in the manufacture of deep draw metal pressings and plastic injection mouldings to the Advanced Automotive, Aerospace and Medical markets; as well as helping us develop the young engineering talent we need to help us grow further.”

David Owen, Chief Executive of GFirst LEP, added: “I’m pleased that a long established county business has been able to secure this loan from the Gloucestershire Infrastructure and Investment Fund - it’s great to see that Stroud Metal Company will create over 100 new jobs and support apprenticeships within the county.”

David Hagg, Chief Executive of Stroud District Council, added:  “We supported the Stroud Metal loan application as a critical part of retaining the company and jobs within Stroud District. By helping the company move and expand into Stonehouse, its existing site in Dudbridge can be redeveloped as part of a wider regeneration scheme.”  

Gloucestershire County Council acts as Accountable Body and provides the programme management for the GIIF fund on behalf of GFirst LEP. For further information about the Gloucestershire Infrastructure Investment Fund, visit .

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 07 Jul, 2017

The new North Worcestershire Engineering Centre of Excellence run by specialist training provider Midland Group Training Services (MGTS). Lee Weatherly, CEO of Midland Group Training Services gave attendees a tour of the new £1.5m facility which includes new CNC machinery and manufacturing equipment

The centre which will provide a dedicated facility to ensure that young people within the area can be trained with the engineering skills that local companies require, has been set up to deliver advanced manufacturing education, training and assessment at Levels 3 and 4, with an emphasis on advanced CNC and automation. MGTS, as a registered educational charity, has invested £800,000 in the centre to deliver apprenticeships and engineer development programmes, which is set to train up to 200 young apprentices over the next 4 years.

The new £1.5m advanced engineering and manufacturing training centre in Redditch opened earlier this year, following a private and public sector collaboration with Midland Group Training Services (MGTS) investing £800,000 and both Worcestershire LEP and Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP investing £350,000 each. The North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration (NWedR) team worked with partners on behalf of Redditch Borough Council.

Lee Weatherly, CEO of Midland Group Training Services (MGTS), said: “It was a pleasure to showcase the North Worcestershire Engineering Centre of Excellence and to give a tour of our fantastic new machinery and facilities. Our new centre of excellence will help to train hundreds of apprentices and I am confident that the centre will have a hugely positive impact on the future of the local engineering and manufacturing industry in particular.”

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire LEP, said: “It’s great to see a large attendance for the North Worcestershire Engineering Centre of Excellence open event, following its Ministerial opening earlier this year. We have part funded the modern training facility to provide the relevant STEM based skills for the long-term development of our local workforce.”

Andrew Cleaves, Board Director – Skills, Greater Birmingham and Solihull, said:“We are delighted the facility is operational and helping the region’s engineers develop their skills in this vital sector. This project is an excellent example of what can be achieved when LEPs work jointly together with the private sector to inspire local people and deliver the skills the local economy needs”

Cllr Bill Hartnett, Redditch Borough Council Leader, said: “This Council is committed to providing apprenticeship opportunities because we want our young to be the entrepreneurs of the future and continue to live and prosper in their hometown. So I welcome the news that this excellent facility is now open.”

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 07 Jul, 2017

Chris Mould a Partner at the Cheltenham office of national audit, tax and advisory firm Crowe Clark Whitehill specialises in corporate audit and advisory work with particular knowledge and expertise of the manufacturing sector. Chris looks at the skill shortage issue in this sector…

Triggering Article 50 has intensified media speculation about what will happen to UK businesses when we leave the EU. The reality is that no-one knows what the shape of the marketplace will be until deals are agreed. In the meantime, it is important that the big issue in manufacturing is not swept under the carpet. Whatever

the future marketplace looks like, manufacturing businesses will not be able to capitalise on it without a skilled workforce. Manufacturers I have spoken to are

desperate to attract the younger generation to a career opportunity many overlook.

Local manufacturers have highly valued, skilled technicians on whom they rely, most of them belonging to the older generation. What happens when the experienced, skilled workers retire? Essential manufacturing skills need to be passed on and retained.  For most of the last 20 years, the UK education system

has promoted the advantages of a university education and the attraction of working in service or leisure industries. The importance of manufacturing and

engineering skills has been overlooked to such an extent that the new skilled workers needed right now do not exist in sufficient numbers.


T Levels: The new technical A Levels


The new £500 million a year investment in T-levels announced in the spring budget gives hope for the future. T-levels will be offered from age 16 and aim to be equivalent to A-levels specifically focussed on vocational technical skills. Fifteen T-level courses will be offered initially. They are expected to include construction, engineering, manufacturing, transport and logistics. The courses will include core subjects such as English and Maths and are expected to require a three-month work placement.

This is great news for the manufacturing and engineering sector as it plans for the mid 2020s, but it doesn’t address the problem faced now. T-levels will not be offered until 2019/20. The problem remains: how to address the skills shortage in the sector over the six to eight years before T-level qualified students start to look for work. But some students leaving full time education at 18 or 19 could already have the right skills and sufficient interest to get involved in manufacturing, and they don’t have to complete a traditional degree level course to do so.

The government recently introduced the apprenticeship levy to encourage manufacturing and engineering businesses to take on apprentices. While the largest companies are attracting apprentices, smaller specialist firms still desperately need to attract their share of the talent.


Manufacturers: Go back to school


So what can be done?

Communicating the satisfaction of contributing to creating something useful has been overlooked in the drive to encourage students to go to university. There is a positive message which needs to be shared with schools and colleges. Businesses in the manufacturing and engineering sectors need people who are skilled in making things and enjoy it.

Manufacturing businesses need to forge better links with schools and technical colleges. They need to make themselves known as employers with opportunities for students, and provide mentors who can pass on their enthusiasm. The satisfaction to be had from working in the sector, and being at the forefront of new ideas and new products needs to be shouted from the rooftops. After all, not everyone wants to sit at a desk all day.


by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 21 Jun, 2017

Jaguar Land Rover and the animated band Gorillaz (created in 1997 by rock group Blur frontman Damon Albarn and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett), have joined together to find the next generation of world-class electronics and software engineering talent. They have designed a code-breaking challenge found in the virtual band’s app.

The best performers will be fast-tracked through the recruitment process, helping to meet Jaguar Land Rover’s ambition to employ thousands of bright new talents over the next year. It’s a major change in the way the business looks for candidates, aiming to tackle the engineering skills gap and inspire and attract a diverse range of talent and new thinking.

The Gorillaz App launches a new Jaguar Land Rover recruitment area in the form of a 360-environment in the garage of the band’s home, which also features all the iconic vehicles from Gorillaz past. Here, applicants can explore and take a two-part challenge. The first part, designed to educate users about the benefits of electric vehicles, involves assembling the Jaguar I-PACE Concept, Jaguar's first all-electric five-seater sports car. Users can learn about the vehicle’s performance, battery technology, space, charging and range.

The second and more demanding part of the game, developed to engage and recruit budding electronic wizards and coders, will focus on cracking code in Alternate Reality Game format (ARG). The challenge takes them on a series of code breaking puzzles, that will test their curiosity, persistence, lateral thinking and problem solving skills - all real world attributes of a new generation of software and engineering talent.

Alex Heslop, Head of Electrical Engineering, at Gaydon-based Jaguar Land Rover, said: “As the automotive industry transforms over the next decade, fuelled by software innovation, we have to attract the best talent and that requires a radical rethink of how we recruit. Here we’ve found an engaging way to recruit a diverse talent pool in software systems, cyber systems, app development and graphics performance. It will be the first of its kind.”

The Jaguar I-TYPE, Panasonic Jaguar Racing's all-electric Formula E racecar, appears in the garage. Users can click on a poster of Noodle with the I-TYPE and ‘FanBoost’ which enables them to vote for the @JaguarRacing team drivers to gain a power boost during their next race or to follow @JaguarRacing twitter channels.

The project follows on from Jaguar Land Rover’s STEM initiative with Gorillaz in 2016, where founder member and female guitarist, Noodle, became Jaguar’s Formula E Racing Ambassador. As the UK’s leading investor in research and development, Jaguar Land Rover is putting Noodle at the forefront of its campaign to  address the skills gap that manufacturing worldwide is facing.

The company has used its debut season in Formula E to promote Jaguar Land Rover’s thought-leadership position as a business that is shaping the future to solve the technology innovation and skills gap challenges.

Interested applicants can download the Gorillaz App now at the iTunes App Store ( ) or Google Play ( ).

To find out more about Jaguar Land Rover recruitment, click here . For specific roles in Electrification see:

Traditional application methods remain open and CVs will be accepted, but Jaguar Land Rover invites potential applicants to download the app and break the codes and solve the problems to fast-track their way into employment.


by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 02 Jun, 2017
Arc Energy Resources Ltd is proud to announce that it has now joined the small number of elite welding engineering companies certified to BS EN 15085 Class 1. This is the top level accreditation for Welding of Railway Vehicles and Components (CWRVC).

Arc Energy, based in Eastington, Gloucestershire, specialises in the supply of corrosion resistant weld overlay cladding and the manufacture of specialist fabrications, delivered by a highly qualified and experienced team. Established in 1994, Arc Energy has built its reputation in the nuclear, oil & gas, renewable, water & waste water and naval industries based on quality, gaining and retaining an array of accreditations relevant to the industries it supports. This new qualification enables them to provide their excellent service to
the rail industry.

Managing Director, Andrew Robinson, explains: “Arc Energy Resources has vast knowledge and engineering expertise. The company has dedicated Welding Engineering and Project Management teams who take an innovative approach to engineering to find the perfect solution for each project in an effective and efficient manner.”

For more information on Arc Energy go to
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 12 May, 2017
This summer, WMG has 20 places available for manufacturing organisations to host a talented student or graduate to work on a strategic project in their business.

Part funded by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, WMG’s SME group at the University of Warwick has been delivering this internship scheme since 2010, with over 120 businesses so far benefiting from a range of impactful outcomes.

The scheme encourages students studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects to consider careers in the manufacturing supply chain. Coupled with this, it supports SME manufacturers to increase productivity by embedding new technologies and processes into their businesses for minimal cost (£2000 per 8-week project).

One of the companies to benefit last year was Threeway Pressings Ltd. They took on University of Warwick Engineering student James Burt to explore novel manufacturing methods and materials for a particular product that they were sourcing in the thousands from the far east. The project helped to determine how they could manufacture the product in-house and re-shore the product type back to the UK.

Philip Stanley, Director at Threeway Pressings said: “It has been valuable to us to have someone look at a high priority challenge in our business. James was very diligent and his findings useful for the future direction of our business. The results of this project could help us save costs in the business, generate a new income stream, and bring more manufacturing work back to the UK.”

Sado Nuuer, another Engineering student from the University Warwick worked with two of her classmates Lewis Wing and Navid Mehrabi to solve productivity challenges using Lean Six Sigma for three West Midlands based manufacturers – Autins Group, Exactaform Ltd and Precision Technologies Ltd. She said: “What I gained from the internship was how the theoretical knowledge from my course can be applied in practice and also some of the constraints to ideal application. Furthermore, this internship cemented my interest in working in the manufacturing supply chain in the future.”

Dr Mark Swift, CTO of WMG’s HVM Catapult centre said: “Our internship programme acts as a valuable bridge between our students’ academic studies and a future career in the manufacturing industry. Our small manufacturers are able to get access to fresh new thinking, backed up by WMG centre HVM Catapult expertise. This is crucial if we want to tackle the well documented UK skills gap.”

Any SME wanting to register an interest in this scheme or more information about the range of support that WMG offers SMEs in the region should email by 19th May 2017.

What does WMG’s SME internship programme offer?

  • 8-week summer internship based at the host business, starting early July until the end of August
  • 50% of intern costs funded by WMG (intern paid national living wage - £10.14 per hour including holiday pay)
  • SME accesses WMG supervisor and equipment as well as talented student/graduate
  • Administration management provided, including the writing of job specs, advertising the role, setting up interviews and monitoring progress
The interns will be employed by WMG, University of Warwick, for the duration of the project and SMEs will be invoiced £2000 to pay for half of the costs. The intern can be based between both the host SME and WMG.

  • Must be a registered business
  • Must be an SME (an organisation with < £35 million turnover and < 250 employees)
  • Must be a manufacturing organisation in the UK, or deliver activity that adds value to the UK manufacturing supply chain)
In general, projects should relate to the expertise available in the WMG team including manufacturing, materials, product development, digital systems, factory 4.0, and automation.
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