Business & Innovation Magazine

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 18 Oct, 2017
19 businesses and entrepreneurs from across the Midlands have won places to showcase their game-changing products at the UK’s leading innovation show – Innovate 2017 – which takes place on November 8 and 9 at the NEC in Birmingham.

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).

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 18 Oct, 2017

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.

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 13 Oct, 2017

England’s Historic Cities consortium which includes Oxford through the local Destination Management Organisation (DMO) Experience Oxfordshire, and Worcester has secured a £1 million investment from the Discover England Fund for an innovative new project to encourage more US visitors to explore regional England.

The Collection brings history to life through story-telling enhanced by augmented reality and will feature itineraries that link the cities by rail, making it easy to plan and book a multi-destination trip. Delivered through the historic cities app, it will act as a central point for local information that highlights places to eat and stay alongside trips, tours and travel options. www.heritagecities.com .  

Marking the first time that England’s Historic Cities have collaborated in this way, The Collection is one of a number of successful projects to receive funding from the UK Government’s £40 million Discover England Fund. The Fund is administered by VisitEngland and aims to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing global tourism industry, by offering world-class English tourism products to the right customers at the right time. The Fund is a central government funded programme of activity, supported by match funding by partners in the public and private sectors.    

Hayley Beer-Gamage, CEO of Experience Oxfordshire, forms part of the Project Board for The Collection project and said “Heritage is a huge draw for US visitors to England. The Collection will enable Oxford and the wider County to share our amazing stories through cutting edge technology, and bring wider exposure to this important international market. This is a great opportunity for us to use new technology to attract visitors to our fantastic destination and a very exciting project for us to be part of.”  

 The project is being managed by a board chaired by consortium member Ruth Connor, CEO of Marketing Lancashire. Ruth said “We are thrilled to have secured investment from the Discover England Fund. England’s Historic Cities represents some of the best experiences that England has to offer to international visitors and we can’t wait to bring them to the attention of the US market. The consortium has a strong track record of working together but this is the most ambitious project we have tackled together. We are grateful for the support of our partners and look forward to showing the results of our work.” 

Joining the 13 members of England’s Historic Cities for this project are Truro and Worcester and the City of London. The project is also supported by London & Partners, English Heritage and UK Inbound.  

London & Partners Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Cooke, said "London & Partners is delighted to be partnering with England's Historic Cities' consortium to promote England's rich cultural heritage to an international audience. As both the gateway to these cities and a unique reflection of England's history in its own right, London is central to the visitor experience. We look forward to working with the consortium to help visitors to make the most of London and their onward journeys throughout England."

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe, said: “The calibre of submissions reflects the innovation in product development thriving across the country’s tourism landscape. The successful projects will boost international and domestic visitor growth creating a step-change in the industry and spreading the economic benefits of tourism across England. England’s Historic Cities winning project uses augmented reality to place the user at the heart of England’s history, making visiting a compelling proposition.”




by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 29 Sep, 2017
A farm in Worcestershire has received a £30,000 grant to enable it to plough on with a water and fertiliser application efficiency project.
Arnold Farms Ltd in Ombersley is a third generation farming business with a strong horticultural production heritage. It farms just over 800 acres with a diverse range of cropping. Cropping consists of outdoor and forced rhubarb, dried and fresh herbs, sweetcorn, potatoes and cereals.
The money it received from LEADER has helped bosses buy a highly accurate GPS fertiliser spreader, a 64metre wide irrigation boom which reduces the water pressure required to operate it over conventional methods and a highly efficient electric irrigation pump and associated pipe work to allow for efficient pumping of irrigation water over 300 acres.
The project will allow Arnold Farms to reduce weather/climate related risks to crop yield and quality allowing them to hopefully create a more robust profit margin and employment portfolio throughout the year.
John Baines, Farm Manager at Arnold Farms Ltd, said: "The LEADER grant process has been very efficient and straight forward. It has help Arnold Farms immensely by enabling an investment planned over 10 years to be completed in one year knowing that the full efficiency savings and decreased business risk will be felt straight away.
"Please don`t hesitate to enquire whether the LEADER grant is available to you, it`s defiantly worth a go."
LEADER is part of the Rural Development Programme for England and is delivered locally by Worcestershire County Council and the Worcestershire Local Action Group on behalf of Defra.
The focus of the LEADER programme is on growing the economies of rural communities by enabling local people to identify and implement solutions to local problems.
The project has received funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development under the Rural Development Programme for England. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is the Managing Authority for the Rural Development Programme for England.
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 01 Sep, 2017
Regional lender BCRS Business Loans has been announced as a fund manager for the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.

BCRS will manage the Small Business Loans fund in the West Midlands and will oversee the delivery of £17 million to small and medium sized businesses over the full life of the fund.

Loans will be available from £25,000 to £150,000 for a wide range of projects, including start-ups, working capital, expansion projects, leasing commercial premises and asset acquisitions.

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), operated by the British Business Bank, has been established to support start-up and existing businesses in the Midlands that are looking for funding to grow, develop and prosper.

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank. The initiative is also supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as well as ten Local Enterprise Partnerships across the region’s geography.

Patrick Magee, Chief Commercial Officer at the British Business Bank said:
“The Midlands Engine Investment Fund will build relationships with the region’s diverse small business community, through its appointed fund managers and its own relationship managers. MEIF will play a pivotal role in plugging the gaps currently present in the funding landscape, seeking to ensure that all businesses have access to the finance they need to grow. BCRS will have an instrumental role in the successful allocation of the fund, and we’re looking forward to working with the team to mobilise fast-growth businesses across the region.”

Paul Kalinauckas, chief executive of BCRS Business Loans, said: “We are delighted to have won the competitive tender to deliver Small Business Loans across the West Midlands for the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.

“We believe in our local SMEs, and aim to leave no viable business unsupported. With robust systems in place and an eighteen-strong team, we are well positioned to meet the targets of this initiative and support even more businesses.”
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 29 Aug, 2017
The Malvern Festival of Innovation returns for its sixth year. From Monday, 2 October to Saturday 7 October, this fantastic showcase for social, technical, business and enterprise innovation takes place in the heart of the UK’s cyber security industry.
Worcestershire is where Radar, LCD Displays and touch screens were invented, and is currently home to a slew of exciting and ambitious companies, from cyber and design to automotive. Business & Innovation Magazine is proud to be media partner for this week-long festival of innovation and enterprise creativity which draws visitors and delegates from a much wider area.
Dr Adrian Burden, Festival founder and Managing Director of the social enterprise Innovate Malvern, said: “The week brings together a topical mix of themes with industry experts who wish to contribute to the growing national conversation on Britain’s contribution to the world’s scientific and business ambition. With Brexit looming we share inspiring ideas to remain competitive and globally relevant. “We also have to inspire the next generation to follow careers in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Last year around two thousand visitors, including professionals, entrepreneurs, students and the general public attended eight events.
This year’s events include:

The free-to-attend launch evening in Great Malvern on Monday 2 October with inspiring keynote speaker.

Next Generation Innovators:

Tuesday 3 October offers a day of STEM, design and entrepreneurship talks and workshops for Years 7-9 pupils. Businesses can exhibit and engage. The event is free to attend, but teachers should register in advance. The day attracts about 800 students and teachers from around the region.

Automotive Advances:
A symposium on Wednesday 4 October looks at developments in the auto industry, particularly around alternatives to fossil fuels and the trend towards driverless cars. Hosted at the Morgan Motor Company at Malvern, join a free factory tour after the talks.

Start-up Stories:
Successful entrepreneurs spend the evening sharing their stories at the Coach House Theatre, Wednesday 4 October. Refreshments from Malvern’s crowdfunded brewery the Friday Beer Company.

Cyber Security & AI:
Thursday 5 October. Some of the UK’s most exciting cyber security SMEs are showcased, with a slant towards artificial intelligence (AI). Free to attend at the Malvern Theatres.

Festival Dinner:
Thursday 5 October. A reception and formal dinner at Malvern College. Mix with colleagues and entertain business guests.

The Business of Innovating:
On Friday 6 October, hear keynotes from Emma Jones MBE and Rashik Parmar MBE about scaling-up innovative businesses in the digital age. The day will also elevator pitching sessions with entrepreneurs facing a panel of experts.

Creative Careers:
Friday 6 October, an afternoon event for students in Years 10-13 in which STEM Ambassador and Aston Martin engineer Dr Bal Choda will arrive in an Aston Martin and showcase how these iconic sports cars are designed, tested and manufactured.

The Family Day:
Saturday 7 October at the Malvern Theatres, a ticketed family show and a free exhibition of hands-on science and technology exhibits.
Check out all the events: www.festival-innovation.com/programme
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 23 Aug, 2017
FOLK2FOLK, the national, award winning, Peer-2-Peer lending platform for local and rural business today announces its expansion into the Three Counties (Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire) by repurposing its Tewkesbury office into a regional hub.
As a result of increased interest and local demand, FOLK2FOLK will extend its services and geographic footprint beyond Gloucestershire to cover the thriving local and business communities of Worcestershire and Herefordshire.  FOLK2FOLK’s existing Tewkesbury branch will be rebranded as the Three Counties Hub to serve the needs of both investors and businesses looking for finance across the region. The hub will also offer a “hot desk” facility for business people looking to work on the move and will host a number of local events to encourage a positive community spirit. FOLK2FOLk will also be encouraging local groups to apply to use the space for meet ups and networking.
FOLK2FOLK exists to help create and sustain financially and socially successful local communities, empowering local businesses seeking to borrow money by matching them directly with investors through its Peer-2-Peer lending platform. FOLK2FOLK enables people who wish to invest their money locally to do so easily and transparently, becoming Lenders who help and support local businesses growth and diversification, driving ­­positive outcomes in local communities, creating job opportunities and contributing to the UK economy.
Giles Cross, Chief Marketing Officer, at FOLK2FOLK commented “This is an important and exciting move for us. We’re passionate about enabling local investment and the free flow of capital within local communities to help support and grow local businesses, something we believe will be vital in a post-Brexit environment. The Three Counties possess a rich and diverse business community with thriving agricultural, leisure, manufacturing and professional sectors. There are brilliant businesses across the region, large and small. Our decision to expand our services into Herefordshire and Worcestershire is based not only on the increasing requirement of those businesses to find alternative sources of business finance but also by the obvious desire of people wanting to in invest their money locally and transparently, seeing the huge and positive impact their actions are making at first hand and receiving a great investment return at the same time. For our investors, becoming a FOLK2FOLK Lender is a “win-win” decision.”
We want to become the “first choice call” for local investors and business owners and intend to participate fully in Three Counties life over the coming years – You can expect to see a lot of us!”

FOLK2FOLK recently launched its ‘local’ Innovative Finance ISA to allow investors to earn tax-free interest by supporting local businesses helping them to access vital finance to enable them to grow.


by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 07 Aug, 2017
30 of Worcestershire’s best apprentices, employers, training providers and schools have been announced as finalists at the Worcestershire Apprentice Awards 2017 and tables can now be booked.

All 10 categories received a large amount of nominations and a record number of entries have progressed through to this year’s awards finals. Judges for the awards have described the finalists as highlighting the exceptionally positive contribution that apprenticeships have on the local workforce.

Awards finalists, businesses and guests will attend the Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards at 6:30pm, on Thursday 16 November at the Tree Tops Pavilion, West Midland Safari Park, where the winners of each category will be announced. The ceremony is once again set to attract a large audience of over 300 people.

The popular celebration event will culminate in the two overall awards of Apprenticeship Employer of the Year, which is sponsored by Yamazaki Mazak UK Ltd and Apprentice of the Year, sponsored by Worcester Bosch Group, to recognise outstanding achievement.

Tables have now gone on sale and spaces at the high-profile event are limited. Seats cost £85 each and a table of 10 can be bought for £800 and those who wish to attend are being urged to secure their places at the earliest opportunity.

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “To reach the finals of the awards is an incredible achievement and highlights the outstanding ability and dedication of our local apprentices, employers, schools and training providers. I look forward to celebrating these achievements at the awards and I would urge all interested parties to book their place at the event as soon as possible.”

Cllr Marcus Hart, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Education and Skills at Worcestershire County Council, added: “My congratulations go to everyone who has been shortlisted for the Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards final. The fantastic quality of this year’s entries and nominations highlights the hugely positive impact that apprenticeships have for the growth of apprentices and businesses all over the county.”

For the full list of the finalists for this year’s awards and for more information on taking on an apprentice,
To book a table or secure your seat at the awards, email awardsbookings@worcestershire.gov.uk

Awards Finalists 2017

School of the year –  Sponsored by Careers and Enterprise Company
  • Droitwich Spa High School
  • Pershore High School
  • Worcester Sixth Form College
Intermediate Level Apprentice of the year – Sponsored by Titania
  •   Ben Hyde – Sanctuary Group – Worcester
  •   Marc Dixon – Amtek Components Kidderminster Ltd - Kidderminster
  •   Michael Hope – Thursfields Solicitors - Worcester
Advanced Level Apprentice of the year  Sponsored by Southco Manufacturing Ltd
  •   Dale Astley – Yamazaki Mazak – Worcester
  •   Lauren Baker – Green Lighting Ltd – Worcester
  •   Tom Morris – Morgan – Malvern
Higher Level Apprentice of the year – Sponsored by Morgan Motor Company
  •   Emily Draper – Worcester Cathedral – Worcester 
  •   James Ashcroft – Sanctuary Group – Worcester
  •   Ryan Harrison – Titania - Worcester
Newcomer Apprenticeship Employer – Sponsored by Vestia Community Trust
  •   AW Computers - Redditch
  •   Hogarths Stone Manor Hotel – Kidderminster
  •   Ping Marketing - Evesham
Small Apprenticeship Employer of the year – Sponsored by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce
  •   Bradley Haynes Law – Worcester
  •   Buzz Electrical Ltd – Evesham
  •   Green Lighting Ltd – Worcester
Medium Apprenticeship Employer of the year – Sponsored by WBL Consultancy
  •   CP Foods UK Ltd – Kidderminster
  •   GT Access Ltd - Bromsgrove
  •   Heller Machine Tools - Redditch
Large Apprenticeship Employer of the year –  Sponsored by Sanctuary Group
  •   Amada UK – Kidderminster
  •   Southco Manufacturing Limited - Worcester
  •   Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust - Worcester
Apprentice Ambassador of the Year –  Sponsored by Heartbeat – The Training Academy
  •   Faisal Ziab (Sanctuary Group) – Worcester
  •   Pippa Dressler-Pearson (Southco Manufacturing Ltd) - Worcester
  •   Sam Batkin (Ormerod Rutter) - Droitwich
Training Provider of the Year –  Sponsored by Worcestershire Training Providers Association
  •   Midland Group Training Services Ltd – Redditch
  •   The Development Manager Ltd - Bewdley
  •   Warwickshire College Group - Pershore
Worcestershire Apprentice of the year   Sponsored by Worcester Bosch Group
The Apprentice of the Year will be decided from winners of other awards.

Worcestershire Apprenticeship Employer of the year –
Sponsored by Yamazaki Mazak UK Ltd
The Apprenticeship Employer of the Year will be decided from winners of other awards.

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 03 Aug, 2017
90 of the best local food and drink producers attended a FinditinWorcestershire breakfast event at Sixways Stadium in Worcester, where they learnt how to become retail ready from leading suppliers and retailers in the region.
The event was a huge success and enabled local businesses the opportunity to network with potential buyers from the sector, as well as helping attendees understand how the supply chain works and gave them advice on how to present themselves to potential buyers.
Celebrity Chef, Felice Tocchini, held a live cookery demonstration, a first for Find it in Worcestershire – creating two dishes with ingredients from around the Food and Drink Hall. Felice is passionate about using fresh, local produce to create delicious food with an Italian twist and he took time to meet with growers and producers at the event – taking every opportunity to celebrate all things Worcestershire.
A. F. Blakemore & Sons Ltd, a leading food, retail, wholesale and distribution company and the largest SPAR distribution centre in the UK, was a key speaker. The Company celebrated 100 years in business this year and addressed delegates about how to work with regional buyers as well as supermarkets to maximise their business potential.
Other inspirational speakers included Emma the founder of Little Soap Company, who spoke about how she first sold to Waitrose and her key lessons learnt when dealing with large retailers and building her successful brand. Food Science Fusion Ltd discussed the science of managing food company growth and how 'consistency' was key to making it in front of key retailers, Worcestershire Regulatory Services, gave advice about food standards and what food businesses need to know, as well as providing an introduction to the new business-led Worcestershire Food & Drink Association.
Lorna Jeynes, Business Growth Manager at Worcestershire County Council, said: “Worcestershire has some of the best food and drink suppliers in the country and hearing from the key speakers today has been inspirational. It really was a bumper event with so much advice and support on offer - We really hope this event has given food and drink businesses in the region the opportunity to link with potential buyers to provide retail opportunities they can take advantage of.”
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 12 Jul, 2017
Detailed plans to transform Kidderminster railway station into a landmark gateway to Worcestershire are revealed today (Thursday July 6).
The station is to undergo a dramatic redevelopment , including a new glass-fronted station twice the size of the existing building. Facilities will include a new café or shop, toilets and indoor seating and waiting areas.
The station, which has direct trains to the heart of London, Birmingham and Worcester, was used by 1.6 million people last year, with numbers predicted to rise 50% within five years.
Clearly marked waiting and taxi areas will be created in front of the station to make it safer for pedestrians.
The scheme also proposes significant improvements to nearby bus facilities and a new pedestrian crossing close to the station on Comberton Hill.
Ken Pollock, Worcestershire County Council's Cabinet member for Economy and Infrastructure, said: "We have listened to the concerns of travellers about the inadequate facilities at Kidderminster.
"It is the second busiest train station in the county and is a major gateway into Wyre Forest and beyond.
"These proposals mean the station will better reflect our ambitions for the area as a place to live, work and visit and really improve the experience for the 1.6 million passengers now using the station each year."
The scheme is being led by Worcestershire County Council with support from Wyre Forest District Council, SLC Rail, Network Rail, London Midland, Chiltern Railways, the Severn Valley Railway, Kidderminster Railway Museum and local bus operators.
Funding has been made available from growth deals in place with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) to the value of £1.8 million and through the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership to the value of £2.5 million – a total available investment of £4.3 million.
Mike Lyons, GBSLEP Board Director said: “We are delighted that the Kidderminster Railway Station transformation plans have been unveiled.
"This is an excellent example of how neighbouring LEPs can work together successfully to support shared priorities for both their businesses and residents.

“Kidderminster is an important part of our economy, and this is a high priority project for GBSLEP.

"The improvements outlined will go a long way to improving connectivity and supporting economic growth for the area. We look forward to working with our colleagues at Wyre Forest District Council and the Worcestershire LEP to bring the scheme forward.”

Tenders will be invited from contractors with a view to project completion by summer 2019.
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