Business & Innovation Magazine

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 23 Nov, 2017
Hazlewoods take a look at the Chancellor’s first Autumn Budget. The gloomy downgrading of the UK’s growth forecasts was offset, during his speech, by some positive announcements about increased spending for education, housing, the NHS and to improve productivity. However, with a distinct lack of tax raising measures, you have to question where the money is going to come from.

On top of the £3.5 billion previously scheduled increase in funding for the NHS, Mr Hammond announced an additional, exceptional £2.8 billion with £350 million available immediately to help improve A&E waiting times.

In an attempt to assist the next generation with the new digital economy, investment is to be made into education or, more specifically, into maths. Schools and colleges, who support their students to study Maths, will be rewarded by giving them £600 for every extra pupil who decides to take Maths or Further Maths A Levels, or Core Maths.

It was widely predicted that housing would be at the heart of this Budget and the Chancellor didn’t disappoint, with wide ranging plans aimed at achieving 300,000 new homes per year, but only by the mid 2020s.

One of his major tax announcements also related to the housing market, where first time buyers of houses worth up to £300,000 will be exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax. Those acquiring higher valued properties of up to £500,000 will receive a nil rate band on the first £300,000, the aim being to assist 95% of first time buyers and help turn their dreams of home ownership into a reality.

The Chancellor announced that there is to be an increase in the tax free personal allowance in 2018/19 to £11,850 and for the higher rate band to £46,350.

Companies took a hit with the announcement that ‘indexation allowance’ will be frozen from 1 January 2018, meaning companies will no longer benefit from relief for inflationary rises when selling chargeable assets, which individuals lost back in 2008.

There was relief that the VAT threshold was not reduced, as had been talked about in advance of the Budget, although the registration threshold of £85,000 is to be frozen for the next two years.

It is perhaps of no surprise that there were no controversial measures announced from the Chancellor of a minority Government. The last thing they need at the moment is a Finance Bill that is not passed by the House.

It remains to be seen as to whether the measures announced appeal to the youth that appear to have deserted the Conservatives in droves. Regardless, the Government appears to be committed to giving them every opportunity of watching the next election from their own home.
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 26 Oct, 2017
We’re launching a brand-new campaign to find talented business people who have the confidence, ambition and skill to put themselves in the driving seat of this region’s economy. We’re calling it The Talent 2018…

You can nominate yourself, someone you admire, a friend or colleague, or even the boss. If you’re an employer, then nominate a promising member of your staff.

We’re keeping the entry criteria as loose as we can, because who knows where and when talent will reveal itself, but it’s likely that most of those who make our Talent list will be under 40, making a real impact in their chosen field of work, and have ambition and determination in bucket loads.

You can be an entrepreneur or in the corporate world. Or perhaps you’re working hard in the charity sector, a leading light in the creative industries – or just doing what you do brilliantly in a more administrative or professional role. Apprentices, graduates are also eligible, if they’ve been quick off the mark to demonstrate their talent.

Just get in touch. Whatever our Talent is doing, they’ll stand out from the crowd. Better than all the rest.

We want to hear from you…

We’ll kick off the New Year by showcasing The Talent 2018 in our January issue and we’ll be hosting a special event to celebrate the list. We’ll add to the list each year, making a unique and growing networking group which has the potential to make a huge impact on this region, and the UK’s economy.

Are you better than anyone we’ve ever met?

To nominate, send us the following information:

  • The name of the person you wish to nominate (you can nominate yourself)
  • Your/their age in 2018
  • The company you/they work for (if any)
  • Your/their job title (or what you do)
  • Your 30-word pitch for inclusion in The Talent
  • A photograph if you have it

Email us at  with THE TALENT in the subject line.

Nominations close on 8 December.

Good Luck!


What is Talent?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Talent as  ‘natural aptitude and skill’,  but we think talent can also be developed through commitment and hard work.

Are leaders born or made?

Bookshop shelves are weighted down by heavy tomes on the topic. Some people are born leaders, others are savvy enough to gain confidence, learn through experience and rise to leadership roles later in life. And some just aren’t ever going to be leaders. That’s life, get over it (and it doesn’t make them less valuable in a team. After all, not everyone can be the engine driver).

What is an entrepreneur?

There are probably more entrepreneurs today than before the industrial revolution.  The growth of the ‘gig’ economy has meant an increasing acceptance that it’s OK to try things, not succeed and try again. As long as you learn from what went wrong. Leaders and Entrepreneurs see opportunities which others miss, and often use their business to capitalise on them.  But entrepreneurial flair can sometimes only take a business so far and some individuals often don’t make good CEOs where other skill sets are required. However, it’s used, Talent is never wasted. Whether you’re leading a business, or inspiring others through your creativity, Talent can take you, and your business to the very top.

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 25 Oct, 2017
Packaging contractor Wasdell has invested in the first blister packaging machine of its type in the UK with an investment of approximately £1 million.

The Noack 950 blister packaging machine will enable Wasdell, which is the country’s largest independent pharmaceutical packaging contractor, to increase their production speeds by 10% on this machine.

From their headquarters at Euroway Industrial Park, Swindon, Wasdell packages and distributes all types of pharmaceutical products, from natural remedies to prescription drugs, for companies across the globe. With production working 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, this new machine will be an additional upgrade to the company’s eight blister machines currently used, allowing the business to process contracts recently won as well as increase their capacity for future work.

Forming the plastic sheets that tablets sit in, and sealing them with foil, the Noack 950 is run by a team of workers overseeing the safe and hygienic packaging process. The machine can package up to 500 tablets per minute and also increases Wasdell’s flexibility to create different and more varied packaging solutions according to each product and customer’s needs.

Phil Vines, director at Wasdell, said: “At Wasdell we are always looking to improve our offering to our clients, and this includes investing in new equipment and machinery. We recognise the need to invest to go forward, however this year represents a four-fold increase in what we would normally spend due to an increase in the number of contracts we are winning and also due to getting ready early for other changes in the industry.

“We are confident that this investment, plus more we have planned in the near future, will open doors to business growth and so will help secure our future as the UK’s leading independent pharmaceutical packaging contractor, as well as positively impact on the local economy.”

For more information on Wasdell, visit
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 26 Jul, 2017
Earlier this summer, just one day before the General Election, I took part in two Economic Question Time (EQT) events. They were organised by Royds Withy King, and co-hosted with HSBC and Bishop Fleming (Bath) and Shaw Gibbs (Oxford). I’ve been involved with these EQT events since 2009, and always find them interesting because of the local flavour of the concerns raised by attendees.

For both Bath and Oxford, their long history and well-preserved town centres make them a magnet for tourists and visitors. But there’s a constant tension between local authorities keen to preserve their olde-worlde charm, and the need to provide new housing, modern infrastructure, and up-to-date office space. The shortage of such space was uppermost in the minds of many questioners at both EQT events.

In Oxford, it was said that the university colleges snaffle most of the development sites that do become available. In Bath, it was reported that such sites tend to be snapped up by developers keen to convert buildings into student flats. More troubling here were reports that businesses are relocating to Bristol on account of the lack of suitable space. There seems to be a particular dearth of premises for businesses which expand to the point where they need to accommodate a few hundred employees.

But there is also an important difference between the two cities. Although Bath these days has its fair share of students, it would never claim to be an innovation hub in the way that Oxford is. This is largely because Oxford University has a long history of launching spin-offs into the world of commerce, one notable example being the development of penicillin in the early 1940s.

At the Oxford EQT I was fortunate enough to have a long chat with Dr Matt Perkins, who is the CEO of Oxford University Innovation (OUI). In the period between April 2015 and July 2016, OUI was responsible for spinning off 21 businesses, and is hoping to do just as well in the current financial year. In this respect, the University is extremely lucky to have the financial backing of Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), which has raised £580 million to provide spin-off businesses with long-term finance. Dr Perkins told me that just six universities account for 90% of the UK’s academic spin-off ventures: a figure which didn’t altogether surprise me, but does make me wonder what many of our long-established higher education institutions are getting up to.

This brings us back to Oxford’s availability of office space. In their early days, many spin-off businesses like to stick close to the university mother-ship, often locating themselves within walking distance of the department that spawned them. This may be possible when they’re young and small, but becomes more difficult as they scale-up.

But if they can bear to tear themselves away from the university’s tender embrace, then the Harwell Campus is only about 20 minutes away. This swanky business park is emerging from the former UK Atomic Energy Authority site, which was once known the world over for its work in the spheres of nuclear energy and weapons. The site is now being transformed, and is home to the Satellite Applications Catapult, the European Centre for Satellite Applications and Telecommunications (an offshoot of the European Space Agency), and also the Diamond Light Source. I visited the Catapult a few months ago, and it’s certainly an impressively modern venue. As for the presence of the European Space Agency, the good news is that it is not an EU institution, so its activities at Harwell shouldn’t get caught up in the Brexit argy-bargy.

What struck me in relation to both Bath and Oxford is the difficult balancing act which the planners have to strike between preserving those characteristics that fuel the visitor economy, while also allowing new businesses to thrive and create jobs. Nice as it may be to wander round these old towns, it won’t do them any favours in the long term if they become theme parks.

The EQT in Oxford was moderated once again by Nicola Blackwood, who for the past seven years has served as the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon. I can’t comment on her qualities as a local MP, but she is great at extracting questions from sometimes-shy audiences and at stimulating debate. Politics, as we all know is a cruel business, and Nicola was defeated on election night, with her seat being taken back by the Lib Dems. I can only wish her all the best, and hope that our paths will cross again.

Mark Berrisford-Smith
Head of Economics for HSBC UK Commercial Banking

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 12 Jul, 2017

The first intake of students from an innovative new training programme have graduated with flying colours.

The youngsters, who are all students at Swindon Academy, have been attending Retail Codex, a project instigated by Swindon's Brunel Shopping Centre, and run in partnership with Marks & Spencer and learning partners Imparta.

Over the last eight months the students have been learning about the many aspects of working in the retail industry. Using classroom teaching, project work and hands-on experience, the training course helps students improve their confidence, communication and customer service skills and problem solving abilities. The programme is designed to give the teenagers a much broader understanding of careers within retailing, including the often lesser recognised careers, such as marketing, shopping centre and store management and finance.

Jane Stewart, Deputy General Manager at The Brunel Centre, initiated the idea for Retail Codex. Jane said: “Knowing that retailers often struggle to recruit engaged and confident young people we decided to put together the Retail Codex programme. Its aim is to challenge the narrow perceptions of jobs in the retail industry and to help youngsters develop their confidence and customer service skills.

“We’re absolutely delighted with this initial pilot course. We have seen the group blossom since they started in October 16. The “Dragon’s Den” style presentations they delivered to an audience must have been nerve wracking for them. They are to be congratulated. They were all full of great ideas and presented exceptionally well, with confidence and professionalism.”

Andrew Martin is Manager of Marks & Spencer Swindon who hosted the training and arranged for the students to work on the shop floor and alongside their own staff. Andrew said: “M&S were really pleased to be able to support this initiative. It’s important to us to help those in school and their parents better understand what it is like to have a career in retailing, and just how varied a career it can be. Anything that helps to challenge inaccurate perceptions of working in retail is very valuable and helps us recruit for our own Apprenticeship Scheme and our Marks & Start programme, which is helping people who face barriers getting into work.”

The training programme was put together and delivered by Imparta, a specialist sales, marketing and service company. Nigel Webb, Imparta’s Chief Product Officer, said: “It is widely accepted that employers increasingly feel that many candidates fresh from school lack the life skills needed to transition smoothly into working life. This programme proposes to address that gap. It is very rewarding knowing that we have been able to give the students some practical transferable skills to take away into whatever career they choose.”

The students were presented with their certificate and congratulated by Jenny Groves, Chair of Switch On to Swindon, the campaign that is highlighting the reasons why Swindon is a good place to live, work and do business.
Ruth Robinson is Principal of Swindon Academy and was at the certificate presentation to see the students graduate. Ruth said: “What a wonderful opportunity this has been for our youngsters. This course has enabled them to receive a quality experience that will prepare them for their future careers. We are very grateful to The Brunel Centre and Marks & Spencer for involving us in this pilot scheme and we very much hope that it will continue in the future so that more students are able to benefit.”

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 07 Jul, 2017

Based on the Wiltshire-Oxfordshire border, UTAX (UK) Ltd, one of Europe’s largest Document Management companies specialising in the sale of high-quality printing and copier systems, has recently launched The UTAX Community Print Project . The new initiative provides FREE printing services to pre-approved community events and charitable activities across the UK.

It means that charities and local not-for-profit organisations including Parish, Village and Town event organisers, with little or no access to printing facilities, can now apply to have their event publicity material or public information notices printed.

Head of Marketing at UTAX (UK), Sarah Mackay, said: “As you might expect, we have a large technology suite here at our Head Office with the complete range of our latest printing equipment. It makes perfect sense for us to utilise our advanced printers, when not in use, to help community groups and projects from near and far with their printing requirements. In these increasingly demanding economic times, companies need to be imaginative in how they can support their local communities.”

From colourful A5 programmes, booklets and A4 flyers to black and white A3 posters, UTAX are able to offer a wide variety of printing options to accommodate most requirements.

The company has recently helped Oxfordshire-based SpecialEffect  with their Twin Town Challenge : the charity’s fundraiser, Nick Streeter, said: “ We would like to say a huge thanks to UTAX for their support of the charity via the Twin Town Challenge and are so grateful for their continued support. Their expertise and support not only saves us vital funds that we can use to help more people with disabilties it also adds to the overal impression of this amazing event .”

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 09 Jun, 2017

It’s been a torrid night at the elections. We look at some early views and opinions from business support organisations.

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General, of the CBI said:

“This is a serious moment for the UK economy. The priority must be for politicians to get their house in order and form a functioning government, reassure the markets and protect our resilient economy.

“Politicians must act responsibly, putting the interests of the country first and showing the world that the UK remains a safe destination for business. It’s time to put the economy back to the top of the agenda.

“For the next Government, the need and opportunity to deliver an open, competitive and fair post-Brexit economy that works for everyone across all our nations and regions has never been more important.

“This can only be achieved if the next government doesn’t put the brakes on business, remains open to the world and sets out a pro-enterprise vision.

“Firms will support the UK develop our inclusive, innovative and open economy. More than ever, the new Government must work together with business to make the most of the opportunities ahead. Firms can provide the evidence, ideas and solutions from the shop, office and factory floor to secure our future prosperity.”  

The Forum of Private Business is calling more loudly than ever for the UK’s politicians to recognise that the economic strength of the UK is reliant on the country’s five million small businesses.

Chief Executive of the Forum, Ian Cass said: ‘The voice of small business has been completely ignored during the election campaign, with both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn both demonstrating that they have no real understanding of the critical role played by businesses to the importance to the UK, both in economic contribution and job creation,’

Facing a period of increased instability and uncertainty that a hung parliament will once again bring to the business community, Ian Cass is pushing for business to be put at the heart of government, with a Small Business Minister sitting at the Cabinet table and having teeth.

‘Businesses are tired of being paid lip service to. We have over five million business leaders in this country. Young and old, North and South, Remain and Leave, who have their feet firmly on the ground and need, once and for all, to be taken notice of, as the negotiations with Europe are progressed’

The Forum’s ‘Get Britain Trading’ campaign welcomes Members of Parliament into Forum member businesses so that they can truly understand what is needed to make the British high street great again.

‘With such a divisive split in the UK political scene, it is time for business to take control of the Country’s future,’ adds Ian Cass, ‘Not just big business with their sights purely on shareholder value, but small businesses who live and breath common sense survival in a changing world. In pushing for a proper, long term, Small Business Cabinet Minister, the Forum stands ready to support the government and its members in creating a strong and stable future UK. This will not come from politicians throwing verbal stones at each other and trotting out sound bites. It will come from a sensible and calm business approach,’ emphasises Ian Cass, a business owner in his own right.

‘The politicians have a choice. Listen and take note of the business voice, or continue sounding the ‘mayday’ siren,’ concludes Ian Cass.


Sophia Haywood, Policy Manager at Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce: “These results place even more uncertainty on our local business community, who have already persevered through recent years of political and economic turbulence. Businesses are already grappling with currency fluctuations, rising costs, and the potential impacts of Brexit. It is vital there is a swift formation of a functioning government to build business confidence and our wider economic prospects ahead of the EU negotiations. Just as businesses come together in difficult times, so should our politicians.”


By Ian Mean, director for Gloucestershire, Business West

With a hung Parliament today - no overall majority for the Conservatives - business will be very concerned about more and more uncertainty and delays in the Brexit process.

When you think that Theresa May had committed us to start the initial Brexit talks in just over a week’s time, the political earthquake that has now erupted puts a big question mark over the whole Brexit negotiation.

Will the opening Brexit talks actually go ahead on Theresa May’s timetable?

Will she even be prime minister by the end of today? Or even in a few days? There are already calls this morning for her to resign.

Our Business West members have told us in our recent survey  how frustrated they are with the lack of information on the ongoing Brexit process.

They will be even more annoyed that our government’s standing will be at rock bottom with the EU now that Theresa May’s credibility has been shattered by the General Election result which she totally focussed on Brexit.

Calling a snap election with just eight weeks to give herself a stronger hand in the EU talks was a big gamble which the British people rejected.

Never underestimate the electorate is an old adage used by experienced politicians and today they have confounded expectations.

For many months now, companies I have talked to in Gloucestershire have been doing their best to ignore the “noise” generated by politics in order to focus on their own operations and ensure they retain good relationships with their export customers.

So, what will happen now?

More frustration for these businesses who now face the prospect of those initial Brexit talks being further delayed, because we might now have a Tory Party leadership election on our hands.

If Teresa May does resign, that delay in the talks could be as much as three months, and on top of that she will not be in charge of the Brexit process.

How can she retain any credibility with the EU, having had her wish for a stronger mandate for Brexit well and truly torpedoed?

For many companies in Gloucestershire where the strength of the pound is a big issue to make them more competitive, the lack of urgency created by a hung parliament could well affect their profitability for quite a period.

The key word here for companies is: confidence.

From day one when David Cameron committed us to an ‘in or out’ referendum, confidence has been the key issue for business.

In my experience in Gloucestershire, few companies have had any confidence in the government’s secretive Brexit process and during the Prime Minister’s election campaign, it became no clearer at all.

And at the heart of the government’s poor showing in the election was that the British public rejected the Prime Minister’s hard-line focus on getting the best deal for Britain.

She failed with a lacklustre election campaign where she almost hid from real voters - as opposed to party activists. This was the case particularly when she made a whistle stop tour to Cheltenham this week.

Most voters did not understand her Brexit argument in my view. They were more interested in domestic matters like the so-called ‘dementia tax’ and the NHS.

By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn ran an old-fashioned people-focused election campaign meeting everyone he could possibly meet.

Despite his obvious political shortcomings and a vicious right-wing press campaign against him, his anti-austerity ticket resonated with the public - particularly young people.

Business has been largely ignored in the election campaign.

That has to change and quickly.

Whoever now leads the country has to understand that the whole Brexit process will not be successful unless companies are regarded as important passengers on the journey - they must not  be left standing on the platform

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 31 May, 2017

The Corsham (Institute) Augmented and Virtual Environment brings together research, innovation and reality in an area designed to optimise thinking.

This technology is currently used in a variety of sectors; at MTC it is used by architects and constructors to formulate building plans; at BP it is used to train for oil platform usage. At Welsh Water it is used for touring sites using Google Earth, and at the University of Brighton, VR is used for sports training – timing starts and analysing performance.

In our CaVE there’s a work zone with a conventional set up, where a group of people can plan and deliberate. The adjacent tech zone provides a space that has projections on three walls, so that visitors are surrounded by a different reality. Although the space is for one person, others can see in, interact and make suggestions from the outside.

There is also an HTC Vive Virtual Reality headset.

The Corsham Institute says it is creating a real eye-opening experience to encourage out of the box thinking and dynamic discussion and is hoping to work with developers on projects that will deliver Corsham Institute’s vision of a fair, inclusive, prosperous and creative society.

Corsham is a southern Cotswold market town in Wiltshire. In 2010, the Ministry of Defence consolidated its core communications and ICT activities onto a single site in Corsham to form the Global Operations and Security Control Centre and in 2016 the Government announced that a further £40 million would be spent on a new Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) centred on Corsham.

This activity has been mirrored by investment and development by the private sector with secure data centres located in Corsham and clusters of SME digital activity, making Corsham of strategic importance to the UK’s digital economy.

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 11 May, 2017
Chippenham-based Good Energy has announced the launch of its second corporate bond.

The sustainable energy utility company was founded in 1999 to transform the UK energy market by helping homes and businesses to be part of a sustainable solution to climate change. All the electricity Good Energy provides comes from over 1,000 different locations across the UK, harnessing local, natural sources like sunshine, wind, rain and biofuels. It owns solar and wind sites including Delabole Wind Farm in Cornwall, Woolbridge Solar Park in Dorset and Hampole Wind Farm in Yorkshire. The company has invested in the planned Tidal Lagoon in Swansea Bay to further diversify its sources of renewable energy.

Good Energy has more than doubled revenues and profits since 2013, when it launched its first corporate bond. Last year revenue growth was 41% to £90.1 million.

The first corporate bond raised £15 million in an oversubscribed offer, and the proceeds were primarily used to support the development of solar farms that supply electricity to tens of thousands of UK homes.

The company said it was now seeking to raise £10 million via a second corporate bond, as part of a diversified funding strategy.

CEO Juliet Davenport said: “In the four years since we launched our first corporate bond, Good Energy has grown significantly and successfully adapted to the changing energy and regulatory environment of the UK.

“New technologies and the way we use energy are bringing a modern, decentralised, low carbon structure to the UK energy industry. We are excited about this evolution and the opportunities it creates, and we believe Good Energy is ideally placed to thrive in this new landscape. In addition to growing our core generation and supply business, we are focusing on developing sustainable energy solutions in areas such as energy storage, electric vehicle networks and green business consultancy to support consumer and business needs in this new environment.

“Good Energy has a long history of customer ownership and we are continuing this with the launch of Good Energy Bonds II, which will be used to develop renewable energy projects and broader corporate initiatives to fuel the future growth of the Company.

“Our strategy is clear – deliver sustainable, profitable growth by understanding and meeting our customers’ needs. We believe this aligns with not only the interests of our investors and customers but ultimately our purpose of supplying 100% renewable and carbon neutral solutions to UK customers.”
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 02 May, 2017

A new and vibrant marketing company, Whistance Hillman Creative has opened its North Wiltshire doors to the world. Headed up by Marketer, Natalie Whistance, the Malmesbury-based marketing firm specialise in small business growth but are also used to working with larger scale companies too! They can offer the following expertise to help you increase sales, drive traffic to your website, guests to your events, or to simply get your brand the recognition it deserves.

Natalie has over 15 years of experience in marketing and creativity across the board in sectors including hospitality, education (further, higher and independent), the creative arts, property and charity and a wealth of marketing experience to draw upon. She is also an event planner extraordinaire and has also spent time guest lecturing for marketing apprentices and acting as a mentor. Whistance Hillman Creative is currently working with varied clients such as: a farmer’s market, a milliner, an author and on various charity initiatives and brand development work.

They can offer the following marketing expertise

  • Marketing strategy
  • Brand development
  • Social media planning and delivery
  • Marketing workshops for small business
  • Basic design
  • Photography
  • Video
  • PR
  • Copywriting
  • Proofreading
  • Website development
  • Event planning and management
  • Personal branding

Director, Natalie says: "Having worked in marketing since leaving university, to work for myself one day (doing what I love most) was my ultimate goal. My diverse and exciting career in marketing, events and PR has put me in great stead to set up my own company. Ultimately l just love to see success achieved through clever marketing and to be responsible for making that happen!"

If you would like some help with the marketing of your business, project or idea, please contact or 07790 703440.

Twitter: @WhistHillman

Facebook: Whistance Hillman Creative

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