NW business briefs: ChangeMaker3D; Visit England; HyNet North West; Bottled Imagination; River Capital; Made in Cheshire

ChangeMaker3D founders Natalie and Luke Wadley

Warrington-based United Utilities and tech innovators ChangeMaker3D have achieved a first in the UK water industry by demonstrating the use of 3D concrete printed components – with significant carbon, cost and labour savings.

The trailblazing move sees the water sector taking the lead in the development of the new tech known as ‘Printfrastructure’ technology. During a 12-month period, ChangeMaker3D worked in partnership with United Utilities to successfully design, 3D-print and install a wastewater chamber at one of the utility company’s test facilities in Cheshire. With testing now complete, the partners say it proves the huge potential of 3D printing for construction and could lead to widespread benefits for other sectors.

‘Printfrastructure’ is shown to deliver a 25% reduction in carbon, 20% cost saving and 55% reduction in labour versus traditional methods. The team also points to the extremely fast build time – the chamber was printed in under four hours, and with a significant reduction in the materials used. The printing process for the water chamber has also demonstrated safety benefits by reducing the requirement to work at height or in confined spaces.

United Utilities chief engineer (innovation), Lisa Mansell, said: “This is important for us in realising our aim to drive efficiency and improvement in everything we do for the benefit of our customers. The future is exciting for water companies like United Utilities who are trailblazing innovation. We have a huge capital programme to deliver under tight deadlines. Digital technologies such as 3D construction printing can drive efficient construction and help us meet our Net Zero goals for carbon.”

Natalie Wadley, co-founder and CEO of Gloucester-based ChangeMaker3D, said: “After months of hard work, we are thrilled to see the water chamber in situ, with proven environmental and cost benefits. It’s the result of a brilliant collaboration with United Utilities and our team of delivery partners, including CyBe Construction, Costain, Constructure, Ainscough Crane Hire and AutoMutatio.

“Thanks to them, we have achieved several UK ‘firsts’ – including the design, print and installation of a 3D concrete printed component for this sector, and the UK’s first crane lift of a 3D printed structure.”

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Jamie Christon

Two of Cheshire’s tourist attractions have been listed in the 10 most visited attractions in England last year.

Visit England’s Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions in England for 2021 shows that Chester Zoo was the second most visited paid attraction in the country last year, with Tatton Park also making the top 10 in eighth.

The survey shows that 1,601,327 people went through the doors at the zoo while 740,000 visited Tatton Park. Both of these figures are up on 2020 (1,182,652 for Chester Zoo and 580,000 for Tatton Park) but down on 2019 (2,086,785 for Chester Zoo and 769,000 for Tatton Park), the last year before the coronavirus pandemic.

The strong figures show that the county’s visitor economy is starting to bounce back from the pandemic but there is still progress to be made to return to the levels seen before 2020. Dunham Massey, which sits on the Greater Manchester and Cheshire border, also made the top 20 in 18th with 522,346 – promisingly up from its 2019 figure of 340,352.

Jamie Christon, CEO at Chester Zoo, said: “Our charity zoo puts everything into our global conservation work – and that all starts right here in Chester. From our animal and plant care, to our scientific breakthroughs, our policy work in government, our education programmes helping people to learn about nature, through to our field projects in more than 30 countries. We’re doing whatever it takes to create a brighter future for endangered species around the world.”

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Hydrogen pipeline route corridors

Re-scheduled consultation events for the HyNet North West Hydrogen Pipeline will commence on October 1. The events were postponed in acknowledgement of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. The consultation will now run until November 10, and include nine in-person consultation events across the project area and two online events throughout October.

The proposals being consulted are for the UK’s first 100% hydrogen pipeline at scale and comprise the construction, operation and maintenance of up to 125km of new pipelines that would distribute hydrogen from Vertex Hydrogen based at Essar’s Stanlow manufacturing complex to several industrial gas customers across the North West.

The pipeline itself will be underground, with approximately 10 ‘Hydrogen Above Ground Installations’ (HAGIs) required along the pipeline route. Cadent, which is bringing forward the proposals, is looking to understand any views or information that can help it develop and finalise its proposals. Rob Donovan, project director, Cadent’s HyNet North West Hydrogen Pipeline, said: “We look forward to hosting events to meet and talk with the public and gather more views from local people to help us develop the best possible pipeline route.

“This is a really important project – both for the local area and nationally. The North West Hydrogen Pipeline and wider HyNet North West programme have a key role to play in helping the UK achieve net zero by 2050, as well as to home-grow energy security. It will also unlock numerous opportunities for the North West, including the attraction of new business to the area due to low carbon energy being available.”

Details of the events can be found here.

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From left: James Hayward-Browne, Katy Powell, Luke Cope

Three former Rise at Seven employees have launched a new digital PR agency, Bottled Imagination.

The Manchester-based agency was established in June, and offers a digital PR, digital strategy and creative ideation service to brands in addition to consultation to agencies. Bottled Imagination hired its first employee and has already won three accounts, including luxury fashion retailer Fenwick.

Luke Cope, creative strategy director, said: “After working together with Katy and James on multiple successful projects, it felt like it was our time to do something of our own. The digital PR and content marketing side of the industry has seen rapid growth. We want to put a real focus on strategy and the creative ideas as much as, if not more than the execution side.”

James Hayward-Browne, marketing director, said: “We’ve managed to pick up a strong list of clients such as Fenwick in a short period of time and recruit our first team member, which means we are already on track for our ambitious year one targets. We want to put the story at the heart of our work and create content that can work across multiple channels.”

Katy Powell, PR director, said: “We are really excited to be working together to create creative and innovative work for our current and future clients but we are also all committed to creating a supportive and inspiring place to work where people truly thrive. The digital PR industry is booming and securing results and proving value is harder than ever, but this is a challenge we’re ready to take on.”

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Mark Borzomato

As part of ongoing growth plans, Liverpool-based Alliance Fund Managers has moved new premises and undergone a brand refresh and will now be known as River Capital. The business moving from its previous Exchange Court offices to modern facilities at the Plaza in Liverpool’s commercial district.

The changes reflect the business’s desire to build on its impressive achievements over the past 20 years. Having been established in 2002 as a subsidiary of the Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF), the company has made a significant contribution to the regional economy, supporting more than 2,000 businesses, investing £163m and creating or safeguarding 14,000 jobs in the Liverpool City Region (LCR).

To date the majority of the funding has been provided through MSIF. Building on its success in managing these funds, it has and increasingly continues to secure funds from other clients including British Business Bank, the LCR Combined Authority and other private sector investors.

River Capital CEO, Mark Borzomato, said: “I’m genuinely excited for the future of River Capital. The repositioning provides a framework for us to expand the funds we manage and better meet the needs of businesses. Our core market, SMEs, remain the backbone of the UK economy, accounting for over 60% of employment and 50% of the turnover of the UK private sector. Access to finance for these 5.5 million businesses is key to their continuing growth, particularly at a time when small business owners and entrepreneurs are facing unprecedented challenges.”

MSIF chairman, John O’Brien, said: “Over the past 20 years the close relationship between MSIF and River Capital has proved advantageous for the LCR with more than 2,000 businesses receiving funding and support. We’re proud to see River Capital develop its own identity as the next stage of its development to enable them to provide further support to businesses.”

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Clare Hayward, Cheshire & Warrington LEP

Cheshire and Warrington says it is leading the way when it comes to celebrating innovation and great products. From spirits made from wild foraged ingredients and drive through ice-cream to luxury cars, green technology and innovative cancer research, these are some of the products made in Cheshire and renowned globally.

Next month, an economic summit will be held at The Engine Rooms in Warrington, which will be an opportunity for the region to come together to understand what is Made in Cheshire and explore what could be Made in Cheshire building on its assets, innovation and creativity.

Clare Hayward, chair of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “Cheshire is a world leader on so many fronts and scales, from the small boutique shops and SMEs to large international businesses that impact all of us in our day-to-day life. We have an incredible offer for all – people that visit, live and work here. This region is known for its world leading innovation and creativity. Building on our strong platform of R&D, entrepreneurialism and the desire to create strong, sustainable growth means there are many great business opportunities for those that are located here and for those that would like to be.

“Names like Bentley, Siemens and AstraZeneca are known the world over, and it’s no coincidence they have chosen to make their home in Cheshire. Facilities such as Alderley Park and Birchwood make visiting and investing in Cheshire an easy choice for your business and your people to thrive. Our economic summit is our chance to highlight the innovation that is happening here and look forward to our ambitions to the next year. I’d urge businesses to get involved and sign-up today, to hear what others are doing or perhaps have the chance to share what your business has Made in Cheshire.”

The event, which is also Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership’s AGM, is on Tuesday, October 4, from 9.30am to 12.10pm.

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