Coventry and Warwickshire’s automotive excellence has been shown off to key figures from the industry from across Europe.
Delegations from France, Catalonia and Sweden visited the Manufacturing Technology Centre to find out about the work being undertaken across the city and the county.
They met Coventry City Council, London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), Aston Martin and Penso and heard about the innovation and developments taking place by the businesses and others in the area.
The delegation also gave presentations on their work and how they could potentially tie-in with the sector in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Delegates from CCI International Hauts-de-France – a body from the north of France – also visited MIRA, the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering and Jaguar Land Rover and have already written to Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in a bid to develop long-term relationships.
James Ahearne, the International Trade Commercial Executive at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This was an extremely positive couple of days and really helped to raise the profile of Coventry and Warwickshire’s automotive expertise with some key regions across Europe.
“The Automotive Summit gave companies from our patch the chance to find out more about the capabilities and potential partnerships they could strike with the organisations who visited from France, Sweden and Catalonia.
“They were also very keen to hear more about our businesses too.
“It really showed that, despite Brexit, there is a very positive outlook towards Coventry and Warwickshire and there is still huge potential for growth and investment here.
“Within just a couple of days of the visit, we received a note from CCI International Hauts-de-France saying how impressed they were with what they had seen in Coventry and Warwickshire and the real depth we have here.
“They are very keen to strike up new partnerships and relationships with companies here in the city and the county and that is extremely encouraging for us.”
He added: “We have a great story to tell when it comes to the automotive sector in our region and the Summit provided a great opportunity to hear about some of the investments taking place in Coventry & Warwickshire and the fantastic innovative work going on here.
“We’re now looking at how we can take this forward and plan future trade missions and events in 2018 and beyond.”
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£17 million of new funding has been announced for the UK’s Life Sciences sector. The Government says the money, as part of its ambitious industrial strategy , will help new drug discovery and support mental health treatment, translating the UK’s scientific expertise into real life treatments.
The life sciences industry provides medical treatments which the NHS and its 60 million patients rely on every year. The industry is also critical to the UK economy - with over 5,000 companies employing nearly 235,000 workers and generating £63.5 billion turnover.
Read our full report on the Life Sciences sector across the region in our November issue of Business & Innovation Magazine, out on 3rd November , including an interview with Dr Gordon Sanghera, CEO of the £1 billion-valued Oxford Nanopore.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said: “My focus now, and going into the Budget, is on boosting productivity so that we can deliver higher-wage jobs and a better standard of living for people across the country.”
Science minister, Jo Johnson said: “The UK is home to world-leading expertise in life sciences and the government is committed to continuing to help this sector go from strength to strength.
He added: “Through the recently-published Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and our progress towards a Life Sciences Sector Deal, we are determined to cement the UK’s position as a global leader and capitalise on its strengths to encourage both economic growth and improve health outcomes for patients.”
The Chancellor announced funding for three new areas:
1. Cryo-electron microscope – £5 million for a state of the art microscope to build 3D models of biological components. This can help drug discovery become faster and cheaper
2. Innovation hub – £7 million to set up a new lab with state of the art equipment and research scientists. This lab will establish the UK Centre for Engineering Biology, Metrology and Standards
3. Business catalyst – £5 million to expand the ‘Confidence in Concept’ business catalyst scheme and boost treatment for mental health. This scheme has already produced 26 business spin-outs, 70 patents and £277 million of follow-on funding from the private sector
The UK is a world-leader in the life sciences. The UK represents just 0.9% of the global population but produces 15.2% of the world’s most highly-cited articles. Research productivity in this sector is twice as great as the United States and almost three times greater than in Germany. We have an internationally-recognised life sciences cluster in the South East of England, comprising Oxford, Cambridge and London and the area between them. It houses four of the world’s top twenty universities (three in the top ten), four of the top ten medical sciences faculties in the world and some of the world’s largest research institutes – the Sanger Institute, the Francis Crick Institute and Harwell. The government is supporting the sector by increasing investment in R&D by an extra £2 billion a year by the end of this Parliament.
The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy was published in August. It is an industry led project bringing together businesses, from across the medical technology, biopharmaceutical, and digital sectors, as well as charities, academia and the NHS.
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.”