They have been selected from over 300 applications by hosts Innovate UK – the UK’s innovation agency – to be part of an exhibition of 96 shortlisted companies, with several of these very best of British innovators launching new products.
The annual event is expected to attract 2,500 businesses to the West Midlands. It offers attendees a chance to network with investors, hear from pioneering thinkers and find out about a range of expertise and government support.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street is a keynote speaker, while Birmingham Innovation Hub and the Midlands Engine are also involved.
In the past year, Innovate UK has provided £30.4 million in core grant funding to 240 organisations in the West Midlands – this includes 160 SMEs.
Mr Street said: “Innovation is what drives the economy and our region's future prosperity is focused on key growth sectors. Innovate UK brings the best of innovation to the West Midlands and I am delighted with the opportunity to be involved in something that showcases this and our region.”
Through a programme of speakers, Innovate 2017 will explore major themes relevant to the region such as smart cities and urban planning and what this means for the individual, businesses and government. Other topics include artificial intelligence, robotics, alternative food sources and space exploration.
Innovate UK Chief Executive Ruth McKernan said: “We are very excited to be taking our annual flagship innovation showcase to the Midlands this year. Innovate 2017 will be an excellent platform for showcasing the strength of Midlands innovation to a national and international audience.”
West Midlands businesses taking part include:
· Warwick Music Limited, www.warwickmusicgroup.com , the company behind pTrumpet – a hybrid innovation in trumpet manufacture using the very latest in plastic technology, which is lightweight and robust with a high quality performance compared to an equivalent brass trumpet (Tamworth).
· Adelan, www.adelan.co.uk , who are developing a prototype fuel cell generator for the high-value leisure market, which includes campervans, barges and sail boats. (Birmingham).
· Daden, www.daden.co.uk , who use 3D and VR products to support the latest training and learning in both corporate and educational environments (Birmingham).
· MOVONIx, www.movoball.com , who have invented and patented MOVOBall, a product that transforms a gym ball as a joystick and directional motion controller. (Birmingham).
A south Warwickshire software company, which has grown its staff levels, turnover and international markets in the past year, has been recognised with a major award.
Vectric, which moved to Alcester in 2016, makes software for CNC machines that is used both in industry and by hobbyists, and the company now boasts 70,000 customers worldwide.
It exports into more than 70 countries across the globe – with North America being its biggest overseas market – and its achievements have seen the firm recognised as the Export Business of the Year for the region in the Chamber Business Awards.
Vectric will now go forward to represent the West Midlands in the national finals, which take place in London in November.
Brian Moran, the owner and managing director of the company, accepted the regional award from Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.
Brian, who set up Vectric in 2005, said: “We are very pleased to be recognised in this way. The company is growing – we’ve just risen to 20 staff and turnover is forecast to be up by more than 30 per cent this year.
“We are exporting all over the world and we believe one of the secrets to our success is just how easy it is to use the software.
“Many of the CNC machine manufacturers supply their customers with our software but we are also very popular with hobbyists. In the US, there is a growing culture of people buying their own machine to use in their home workshop and our software is used to help them create woodwork that would be extremely complicated to do by hand.
“We are also very popular in Germany and Spain as well as having a presence in China and India – but we still feel there is plenty of potential to grow internationally and will be tapping into the support available from the Chamber’s international trade hub.
“It’s a proud moment to be representing the West Midlands in the national finals and, fingers crossed, we can bring home the national prize.”
Louise said: “Vectric are an incredible success story and they very much deserve this honour.
“We look forward to finding out if they pick up the national award and also working with them on their growth plans for the future.”
Voneus, the rural community broadband specialist, has acquired Cotswold Wireless, the local high-speed broadband provider – its first acquisition since raising over £5 million in growth funding in June 2017.
Aiming to be the UK’s market leader in rural broadband provision, Voneus expects this acquisition to increase the company’s capacity to connect a further 3,000 homes and businesses – growing its reach while increasing its market credentials. Cotswold Wireless specialises in high speed broadband for the Cotswolds, helping over 400 homes and businesses in the local region. This purchase strengthens Voneus’ network and will help additional households and businesses in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire become connected.
It is the first time either firm has undertaken a move of this scale. Part of the Voneus ‘buy and build’ strategy to accelerate its growth plan, this purchase is the first of many to ensure the business scales quickly and efficiently, while importantly ‘connecting the nation’.
Expanding the Voneus network throughout Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, this purchase will connect more local families, enable remote-working and ensure enhanced access to education through heightened rural connectivity.
Cotswold Wireless was founded in 2004 and specialises in delivering fast, reliable broadband to the Costwolds. Voneus which first entered the market in 2011 has already scaled its expansion plans since raising £5.3m growth funding in June 2017. Specialising in Wireless ‘Air Fibre’, Voneus is accelerating its rapid growth to achieve a national footprint, while bringing parity between rural areas and city dwellers.
“Our mission is to rescue rural communities from the pain and indignity of slow broadband, without them having to wait years for Fibre”, says Steve Leighton, CEO, Voneus. “Buying Cotswold Wireless, helps accelerate this. The important thing is increased access to communities and we want to make sure the ‘digital divide’ between urban and rural areas drastically decreases so people can go about their everyday lives interruption-free”.
Tristram Charnley, Founder, Cotswold Wireless says, “Being part of the bigger Voneus network will give our existing customers access to new products, increased service benefits and other opportunities over time”.
New customers can be live and receive high speed broadband within months, not years, with no roads required to be dug up. Voneus works with supportive Tier 1 providers on initial connectivity to install broadband quickly and effectively to deliver speeds between 35Mbps and 50Mbps using an innovative Wireless Fibre To The Home (WFTTH) solution, rivalling other services in the industry. The company currently has ongoing installations in Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire.
The first ever Coventry & Warwickshire Business Festival is set to ignite the local business scene says organisers.
From 20th November to 1st December the region will host a fortnight of exciting business events put on by local organisations from right across the region.
From small networking workshops or seminars to large trade shows or national conferences – there will be an abundance of opportunities to grow your business, as well as to drive economic growth and inward investment for the region.
Whether you need information on starting a new company, developing your supply chain or exporting to new markets, there will be something for everyone.
There are many ways for Coventry & Warwickshire businesses to get involved in this unique opportunity - whether that be through running an event, offering venue space or attending any number of the events taking place across the Business Festival fortnight.
Get involved in the Coventry & Warwickshire Business Festival and help to place our region as the centre of UK business.
The Coventry & Warwickshire Business Festival has been developed by the Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub, and it is managed by Associate Events Limited.
The inaugural Festival will take place between 20th November and 1st December 2017 and will include a wide-ranging programme of business events hosted by local organisations from across the region.
The aim of the Festival is to bring Coventry & Warwickshire businesses together on an annual basis under one unified banner to encourage collaboration, networking, innovation, learning and sharing opportunities. Similarly, the Business Festival will provide a great platform to show the rest of the world Coventry & Warwickshire’s strengths and investment potential and will place our region at the heart of UK business.
The Business Festival is run by business, for business. It is a unique opportunity for local organisations to get involved in a completely new concept whether this is becoming a Festival sponsor or sector lead, by hosting an event, offering venue space or attending one, two or several events in the programme.
Every event will provide many ways to grow or enhance your business. This could include sourcing new supply chains; spotting cross-selling opportunities, through to trade shows, learning how to export for the first time or targeting new markets. The possibilities are endless. Businesses of any size can apply to run an event - which can take any shape from a small networking workshop or seminar to a large trade show or national conference.
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.