North West business briefs: CW4.0; Together; Createc; Edge Hill University; Shorrock Trichem

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SME manufacturers in Cheshire and Warrington can now access free hands-on support and local R&D expertise to help them make the most of industrial digital technologies, following the launch of a new initiative: CW4.0.

It is open to manufacturers at every stage of digital transformation, from those needing to understand how emerging technology can benefit their operations, through to businesses further along the adoption curve looking to trial and implement cutting-edge tech, such as sensor technology, advanced scanning, 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence and data analytics. Expressions of interest from SME manufacturers are now being invited, with the first cohort of businesses expected to be enrolled on the initiative within weeks.

The £5.6m CW4.0 initiative is the successor to the successful LCR4.0, which ran for three years and supported more than 300 SMEs to harness emerging technologies in the Liverpool City Region. Hailed as an exemplar project in a government review, LCR4.0 has left an enduring digital legacy for the city region, resulting in hundreds of new jobs, more than 50 new products to market and a long term boost to GVA expected to be around £31m.

The strategy is set to deliver a similarly transformative impact for Cheshire and Warrington’s economy. It is being delivered by a consortium of North West organisations with decades of experience helping businesses transform digitally. It is led by the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), in partnership with the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Liverpool John Moore’s University, and the Northern Automotive Alliance. The initiative is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

CW4.0 has been tailored to support the specific requirements of manufacturers working in many of the region’s high growth sectors, including automotive, pharmaceutical, chemicals, and renewables. Some of the business cases expected to be supported include making factory floors smarter, safer and more productive, building resilience and predictability into supply chains, and developing better products.

SME manufacturers can get involved with CW4.0 by visiting https://candw4.uk/ or contacting the team on 01925 864 854 or vec@liverpool.ac.uk

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Simon O’Brien

Specialist lender, Together, has agreed a sponsorship deal for a second series of the BAFTA-winning national property renovation TV show, The Great House Giveaway, presented by Simon O’Brien.

Following the Cheadle-based property finance company’s support for the hugely successful first series, it has agreed a £4.5m commercial facility for the producers, Welsh indie Chwarel, allowing contestants featuring in the new series to buy and renovate run down houses across the UK.

Each episode of The Great House Giveaway sees teams of two who have never met or owned their own homes before. They are given a set budget and six months to refurbish a property before selling it. If they don’t sell, the house goes back to auction.

Chris Baguley, commercial managing director at Together, hailed the “phenomenal success” of the first series, which took the BAFTA UK award for Daytime, beating ITV’s The Chase, Jimmy McGovern’s Moving On for BBC 1 and Richard Osman’s House of Games for BBC 2. He said: “We’re incredibly proud to be sponsoring The Great House Giveaway for a second series. The first was a huge hit with viewers who tuned in in their hundreds of thousands to watch the drama of property buying and refurbishment. It is testament to the show’s phenomenal success that it’s been re-commissioned by Channel 4 – with some of the episodes moved to prime time slots.”

He added: “As one of the leading players in the specialist finance market, The Great House Giveaway is the perfect fit for Together. We’re delighted to once again be supporting this ground breaking format and can’t wait to see how the contestants fare with their televised refurbishment projects.”

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Matt Mellor

Createc, an advanced technology company based in Cockermouth, Cumbria, has launched Fusion, a business creation programme for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Fusion seeks to bring together talented individuals with Createc’s cutting edge technologies to develop a group of skilled CEOs and CTOs who will head up a new generation of technology start-up companies. With the Fusion programme, Createc aims to accelerate and de-risk the adoption of new technologies that will have positive societal impact, drive economic growth, and create jobs.

In addition to its core business of development and application of advanced technologies in robotics, computer vision and radiation measurement, Createc also develops and funds initiatives that support entrepreneurs, young people, and local economic growth. Through its Fusion initiative, Createc will employ aspiring entrepreneurs for up to two years, during which time they will explore Createc’s technology and IP portfolio in depth, identify viable commercial opportunities and work together to develop these opportunities into technology start up businesses.

Fusion will deliver a comprehensive business training and mentoring programme, to help entrepreneurial CEOs and CTOs on the programme to develop the skills and tools needed to successfully start up a sustainable company. Candidates will also be offered support in securing funding, including introduction to potential investors.

Matt Mellor, Createc managing director, said: “At Createc we are passionate about delivering solutions to global problems as well as driving local economic growth. Fusion is an exciting opportunity for ambitious entrepreneurs to team up with our Createc experts and identify new opportunities to bring our technologies to market. Developed from our own experience in creating successful start-ups, our carefully designed programme aims to maximise economic growth and societal impact by providing comprehensive support to help candidates to overcome challenges and deliver sustainable new businesses.”

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John Mercer

Edge Hill University’s Business School has celebrated reaching a new milestone after signing more than 600 employees across 300 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Lancashire to its leadership skills programme.

The Leading Lancashire project, part-funded by the European Social Fund, aims to develop the skills of employees and embed new leadership and management capabilities in the region’s SMEs, through the delivery of professional Chartered Management Institute (CMI) qualifications.

The effects of COVID-19 have prompted businesses and employees of SMEs across the region to seek support to help build resilience among their management teams and for individuals to strengthen their personal portfolio with a nationally recognised qualification.

John Mercer, associate director of Ormskirk-based Edge Hill’s Business School and director of the university’s Leading Lancashire programme, said: “This is a significant milestone for the Leading Lancashire team that stands testament our expert tutors and the quality and flexibility of their delivery. The programme has now helped hundreds of local employees and SMEs across the region to motivate and bring out the best in their staff, build efficiency and effectiveness in their business and as we continue to expand the programme, we are looking forward to welcoming even more companies and help them compete in the ever changing SME sector.”

Leading Lancashire is encouraging applications from females and members of the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and disabled communities. Priority will be offered to those applications during 2021. Minority groups have been the focus of the leadership project since it began in January 2020 and 69% of applicants have enrolled onto one of the CMI courses available.

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Duncan Fishwick (3rd left) and the EnviroShot team

Lockdown litterbugs who left a beauty spot covered in plastic rubbish started a business on a green quest that has led to a range of new, innovative, environmentally friendly commercial cleaning products.

EnviroShot is the first in a new range of sustainable products from hygiene product, services and equipment supplier Shorrock Trichem. They have been designed to reduce the use of single use plastics and to help cut the amount of waste going to landfill. Duncan Fishwick, founder and managing director of Shorrock Trichem, based in Atherton, Greater Manchester, has invested £250,000 developing the newly-launched range.

A keen country walker, he started the business on the search for innovative and environmentally friendly products after being shocked by the damage being caused by non-recyclable products and packaging during the COVID-19 pandemic. The result of his subsequent work is a range of dehydrated versions of popular cleaning products, turned into small dissolvable capsules. Add a capsule to a trigger bottle or mop bucket filled with water, stir and start cleaning.

Duncan Fishwick said: “Non-recyclable products and packaging are destroying the very beauty that we admire by piling walkways, roads, and landmarks full of rubbish. Although we are not all responsible for the damage, we all have a part to play in putting this right.”

To support the vision, Shorrock Trichem recruited a new team of like-minded people with a dedicated focus on creating a strong eco-friendly brand. The result is EnviroShot, with more green products in the pipeline. Duncan said: “The next generation is now coming into the business, including my son, with other second generation employees. That drives the importance of sending the business in a sustainable direction as we think about what we are leaving behind for them.”

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