North West business briefs: Aztec Interiors; Sci-Tech Daresbury; B-engineering; Seddon Group; Starling Bank; Browne Jacoboson

Iain Peacock and John Doyle

A new fire door business, Firedoors and Frames, has been launched by the team behind Liverpool-based Aztec Interiors with a £500,000 investment.

The manufacturing business specialises in the conversion of fire doors, also supplying fire door brands, Vicaima and Falcon, to main contractors and joinery contractors across the North West, for residential developments and schools. The enterprise has kick-started business employing a skilled team of 10 and has ambitions to become the region’s market leader in this niche area of the building products industry. The Bootle-based industrial unit has been carefully converted, creating a 4,000 sq ft joiners’ shop and offices.

The new venture is led by Iain Peacock and John Doyle, who together have secured the Certifire certification by Warrington Fire, ensuring compliance for the conversion of fire doors and supply of fire door sets.

Iain Peacock, Director at Firedoors and Frames, said: “In recent years, there has been a sea change in the approach to fire strategy. We saw an opportunity to create a company at the forefront of passive fire protection. The barrier to entry to this field of work is necessarily very high, yet the need for certified fire doors conversion so great. We are proud to have achieved the requirements not only needed to supply fire door sets but to also make bespoke alterations.

“The business is very much in its infancy but we have aspirations to grow rapidly as we have taken our time to put into place the right infrastructure, recruiting the right people and developing the best processes, from which we can build. We believe there is huge scope for this company and are excited by its potential.”

Director, John Doyle, said: “This area of work will only continue to grow as legislation around fire strategy is further implemented and policed.”


Future Club 2024

Science and innovation campus, Sci-Tech Daresbury, has revealed the fourth cohort of the Future Club, its exclusive business growth scheme, comprising companies working in machine learning and AI, and HealthTec. The first of the intake is AI Sight, a University of Liverpool spin-out next generation artificial intelligence company that will provide retinal image interpretation for diabetic screening programmes. CEO, Dr Steve Powell, said: “We’re ready to move to the next level, and are confident that becoming a Future Club member will support us in this endeavour.”

Currant Care is an innovative health technology start-up, developing non-invasive, sensor-based solutions to common healthcare-related needs. Its latest project, Sensora, is a patient monitoring device which aims to help with the increased demand for elderly care by facilitating remote care through machine learning, reducing the caregiving burden and enhancing efficiency. CEO and co-fonunder, Raj Kundalia, said, “Membership of the Future Club is exactly what Currant Care needs to bolster our growth trajectory. The club’s offerings align perfectly with Currant Care’s needs as an innovative tech start-up aiming for rapid expansion.”

DermaSense is a Cheshire-based company that manufactures sensors that address needs in the diabetes-1 linked Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) market. A CGM comprises a sensor, a small device attached to the arm or stomach that senses how much glucose is in the fluid under the skin, called interstitial fluid. DermaSense’s products will result in a greater accuracy and sensitivity when compared with the current generation of sensors. Director, Dr Neville Freeman, said, “Sci-Tech Daresbury’s offering to us via the Future Club will be invaluable for us as we look to explore funding routes, explore potential business partners, and network with other health-tech organisations.”

Digital Language Partners create Generative-AI-enabled software solutions for customer contact services. Chatbot+ is its multilingual virtual assistant which can be deployed online for businesses to handle customer interactions. Livechat+ is the web-chat tool that can seamlessly translate chat conversations between users in 100+ languages. The goal is to help companies reduce their operational costs, encourage customers to self-serve, improve customer experience, and adopt AI effectively. Director, Kevin Freeman, said, “Being part of the Future Club’s 2024 intake is massively important for us on a number of levels. Tapping into the resources being made available to us across development, IP/Legal, networking, and mentor support is something we very much value.”

Emerging Data Technologies (EDT) is a Liverpool-based data analytics organisation committed to advancing AI and machine learning technologies in 2024. Its focus is on sustainable growth and introducing its predictive analytics models to the advanced manufacturing sector. Co-founder, George Jones, said: “Joining this year’s Future Club is a significant milestone for Emerging Data Technologies. This opportunity opens up new possibilities for us and a vast network that would be challenging to access without Sci-Tech Daresbury’s support.”

Enturi Solutions, which develops off-grid wind-powered distributed energy systems to help UK companies decarbonise, was selected as part of the 2023 cohort. Founder Alex Shakeshaft said: “We have benefited from being able to access the facilities and community at Daresbury, including the STFC Hartree Centre for advanced 3D CFD modelling, networking events, and support of several of Sci-Tech Daresbury’s Gold Partners and companies, including Tatton Consultancy and Slater Heelis. The amazing network of contacts which John Leake and his colleagues have shared with us has been the icing on the cake.”


Rob Ditchfield, left, and Mike Peacock

Soaring demand for solar panels is driving expansion for a building services group amid an increased focus on renewables projects by its growing client base. Warrington-based B-engineering Group has secured orders totalling £500,000 for commercial solar schemes since October.

The group’s solar business forms part of its renewables division, and has been boosted by the arrival of Mike Peacock in the new role of Solar PV manager. Mike joined from a solar installation and maintenance business based in Liverpool, where he was technical manager.

Managing director, Rob Ditchfield, said: “Mike is a tremendous addition to our team. He’s a true specialist who really understands the market, with a great track record and lots of knowledge about the sector. In addition to those orders already secured, there is a strong pipeline of future projects.”

Alongside its solar operation, B-engineering Group designs, installs and maintains heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, electrical and energy systems in commercial premises. It is a specialist in decarbonising commercial properties and estates.

The family business was founded in 1990 by Bernard Ditchfield, who handed over the reins to son Rob in 2011, when the company was turning over £180,000 and had just six staff. B-engineering Group’s workforce has increased to more than 50 and is poised to grow further as the group looks to expand into Yorkshire, the North East and the East Midlands.


Seddon, the Bolton-based family-owned construction contractor, has supported the expansion of Elite Boxing, a local boxing gym renowned for its positive impact within the community. The contractor donated £3,000, enabling the construction of a new boxing ring, further bolstering the gym’s capacity to serve aspiring and seasoned boxers in Bolton.

An unveiling event was held on January 29, showcasing the new boxing ring, which features Seddon’s branding, symbolising the strong partnership between the contractor and the gym.

Elite Boxing, situated at the heart of Bolton, has not only produced pro boxers, but it has been a cornerstone for local youth and adults, offering free boxing class services and a safe, positive environment for those in need. The addition of the second boxing ring on the upper floor of the gym marks a significant milestone in its efforts to reach more individuals and further solidify its role as a community hub.

Danny McCann, director of painting and maintenance at Seddon who, himself, began training at the gym four years ago, aged 42, said: “This donation is not just about providing a physical space for boxing. It’s about investing in a community initiative that has a proven track record of positive influence, particularly among the youth. Elite Boxing is more than just a gym – it’s a community hub that brings people together, giving them a sense of belonging and purpose.”

Elite Boxing’s founder and head coach, Alex Matvienko, said: “This generous donation from Seddon has been a game-changer for us. The new ring has not only uplifted our facilities but also the spirits of everyone who walks through our doors.”


Digital bank, Starling, which employs around 1,000 staff in Manchester, is the first sponsor of the Greater Manchester bike hire scheme. The partnership is the biggest commercial sponsorship deal in Transport for Greater Manchester’s history.

The cycle hire fleet will adopt a new name, Starling Bank Bikes, with bikes bearing the new branding set to hit the streets of Manchester, Trafford and Salford from this month. The sponsorship is a significant endorsement of the Bee Network, Greater Manchester’s ambition to deliver a fully-integrated, London-style transport system. The scheme has gained 72,000 active users since launching in November 2021, with more than 1.5million kilometres collectively ridden so far.

Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor, said: “The bikes have become part of the city’s fabric over the last two years and support our Bee Network ambition to deliver transport options that are affordable, convenient and sustainable. I’d also like to take this opportunity to welcome Starling Bank’s employees to Manchester following the opening of their new office in St Peter’s Square.”

Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner, said: “The bike hire scheme is a key part of building the integrated Bee Network, providing versatile and affordable journeys for people using both electric and standard cycles, across Manchester and into Trafford and Salford.”

Susanna Yallop, Chief People Officer at Starling Bank, said: “There was no question that Manchester would be home to our next phase of growth – we’ve hired some incredible talent here and have ambitious plans for further job creation. We look forward to seeing how our investment in Starling Bank Bikes will boost the breadth of the cycle scheme, and Starling’s presence in the North.”


Richard Medd

UK and Ireland law firm, Browne Jacobson, has joined forces with a major industry charity to launch a new pro bono strategy that aims to increase and focus its community impact.

The firm has signed up to LawWorks’ not-for-profit programme, which brokers free legal advice from member firms to small and medium-sized not-for-profit organisations that meet certain eligibility criteria on a wide range of issues, to help it identify where its professional expertise can best be deployed on a voluntary basis for worthy causes.

It heralds a new approach from Browne Jacobson to enhance its lawyers’ pro bono activities by ensuring they are targeted, measurable and align with both its practice areas and the firm’s core values – which include being at the forefront of society’s biggest issues, and a commitment to inclusion and fairness.

Browne Jacobson employs more than 1,000 people across seven offices spanning London, Dublin, Cardiff, Nottingham, Manchester, Birmingham and Exeter. It was ranked as one of the UK’s top five employers for social mobility in the 2023 Social Mobility Employer Index.

Managing Partner, Richard Medd, said: “As a top 50 law firm, Browne Jacobson is full of incredibly talented people, which brings a unique opportunity – and also a responsibility – for us to make a positive impact on society. We have the power to use our skills and expertise to help those who need it most, and pro bono work is a fantastic way to do just that.”