Coventry & Warwickshire’s ERDF Technical Assistance Newsletter

Thursday 19th of December 2019 10:38 AM

The Technical Assistance team is available to provide support on further developing any ERDF project ideas you have on the four themes of the ERDF programme within Coventry & Warwickshire:

  • Supporting Research & Development (R&D) and Innovation within businesses;
  • Enhancing access to and the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for local businesses;
  • Improving the competitiveness of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs);
  • Supporting the development of the low carbon economy.

In this edition we bring you up to date on some projects funded through the 2014-2020 ERDF Programme in Coventry and Warwickshire and show you examples of what this funding has achieved for local businesses.

ERDF News

Update on the ERDF Reserve Fund - priorities for 2020 investment​

Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government set out plans to launch a new type of calls early next year – the ERDF reserve fund. The reserve fund is designed to ensure that full value of the programme is invested, maximise local growth opportunities, maintain a strong record in value for money and achieve output and spend targets.
 
The details of the overall call values, allocations by category of region and specific activities that will be supported will be published in calls early next year.  
 
In the meantime, partners and potential applicants are encouraged to develop new project ideas that could be delivered against the following priorities:

  • exploiting ideas and embedding technology and innovation in businesses (Priority Axis 1), 
  • promoting entrepreneurship and helping entrepreneurs to start businesses including community enterprise (Priority Axis 3a),  
  • helping existing businesses to develop and grow, improving resilience and productivity through new technology and ways of working (including support to enhance digital capability of SMEs) (Priority Axis 3c, 3d), 
  • helping places and businesses respond to the Clean Growth challenge (Priority Axis 4a, 4c, 4e, 4f) 
  • local green and blue infrastructure, including green infrastructure designed to improve flood resilience (Priority Axis 6)
  • ERDF 2014 to 2020: case study booklet 2019 includes a selection of ERDF funded projects showcasing local growth across England.

Inward investment remains strong in Coventry and Warwickshire: Local businesses heard how Coventry is a top five entrepreneurial city during a major conference at FANUC UK last month.

Around 100 business leaders attended Coventry City Council and its delivery partners ‘access to finance’ conference to hear from a range of speakers about on-going investment in the region.

The event was held during the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Festival and brought together the business community under one roof to celebrate the first year of success of the 3 ERDF funded programmes: Business Support, Green Business and Innovation.

Adam Dent, Managing Director of Advent Communications, chaired the event which was hosted by Tom Bouchier, Managing Director, FANUC UK and supported by the local Growth Hub, Chamber and Warwickshire County Council.
 
The Council’s Director of Business, Investment and Culture, Andy Williams said Coventry and Warwickshire is restoring pride in its region with some major events to look forward to.  He added that a world class automotive sector is being created with the new National Automotive Innovation Centre and the Battery Industrialisation Centre, which will enable local industry to work side-by-side on some very exciting projects.

He continued to add that Coventry and Warwickshire is the fastest growing economy outside the South East and with new investment and infrastructure growth there has never been a better time to invest in the area.  He also outlined all the ERDF funding opportunities that are available to SMEs around business support and capital investment grants to enable growth going forward.

The final two speakers, Pamela Cain from Marchant Cain and Steven Bell at Pashley Cycles, two local organisations who have received ERDF grant funding, shared their successes of their capital investments which have enabled them to grow as a business.

Upcoming Events

7-8 January 2020 SketchUp for Architectural Design and Construction: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sketchup-for-architectural-design-and-con...

A two-day course that matches concise, straightforward explanations with hands-on exercises and tutorials to teach new users of SketchUp the software's core features and functions

16-17 January 2020   Sustainability and Strategic Business Management: https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/event/sustainability-and-strategic-busines...

The workshop will aim to provide the company with the tools to plan, decide and implement strategies to deliver a sustained competitive advantage in the future, which in this case is about exploiting the sustainability agenda.

22 January 2020    5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation: https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/event/5g-acia-conference

Manufacturers and businesses interested in the possibilities of 5G are invited to attend a free thought leadership and networking event.
 
4 February 2020 Creative Springboard Workshops: https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/event/creative-springboard
 
Creative Springboard is calling freelancers and businesses trading in the creative sector in Warwickshire who would like to enhance their business foundations, build on their personal & business skills, understand the benefits of digital marketing and learn all the ins and outs of social media.

27 February 2020 CWRT Jumpstart - Exploring being your own boss: https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/event/cwrt-jumpstart-exploring-being-your-...
 
This workshop covers all the essential elements you need to consider in making that important decision of whether to start your own business.

Case Study - App makes a life easier

A Coventry technology entrepreneur has launched a new app that makes busy people’s lives easier when trying to find local businesses, after being inspired by his father and supported by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

Phil Mattu gave up his job selling software to help look after his father, who had suffered at the hands of several strokes and was later diagnosed with vascular dementia. Phil’s time became even more precious and he found tracking down the businesses he needed for certain services was becoming too cumbersome. He was using various forms of communications to stay in touch, so he wanted to devise a solution using technology.

The new app – CastGrab – has been created to offer a quick and easy route to businesses and professional tradespeople for users who require any service, either personally or professionally.

He has been given support by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce through the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Support Programme which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to get the free app out to market.
 
He received free mentoring from Chamber adviser Margaret Bull and also attended events and workshops, which proved invaluable in helping to lay the foundations for launching the business.
 
He said: “There were lots of things to sort out. I found I was repeating myself in terms of ‘what I needed’, using all forms of communications, email, phone, web forms, social media, it was getting difficult to track who was coming back to me, who was available and who could do the work.

"I thought it would be so much easier if there was one place that would allow me to confidently request all type of services I needed and for people or businesses to come back to me privately, using one platform.
 
“CastGrab offers all of this and more. We have also built a seamless chat live service which businesses can download onto their website which keeps them connected to customers at any time through the app.
 
“The support from the Chamber has been incredible. My business mentor, Margaret Bull, has been a great sounding board for me and sometimes you just need someone to be able to bounce ideas off.

“The app was inspired by my father and family situation and I want it to be a success for him as well as helping to solve problems people face in their everyday lives.”
 
Chamber adviser Margaret Bull said: “It’s a great concept and it has been really good to work with Phil and to see his journey thus far in creating an app that can be used by anyone who needs services. 
 
“We are here to help people when they want to establish a new business and need advice and support on the various aspects of what goes into that.”

To get the free app – called CastGrab – visit the App store or Play store to download and use or go to www.castgrab.com.
 
Click here for further details about the Business Support programme and support available: https://www.coventry.gov.uk/info/13/invest_in_coventry/2423/business_inv....

Case Study - Comesto Limited supported through Coventry University Enterprises Innovation Network project

Comesto is a digital platform where professional buyers in the hospitality industry (pubs, restaurants, hotels and cafes) can purchase top quality food and drink items from established and smaller specialist producers.
 
Following market research, product build and testing Comesto Limited was looking for a platform focused brand creation contractor to undertake the specialist task of finalising the user journey to maximize buy-in and profitability. Through a six weeks project of hands-on workshops with buyers and suppliers in the industry they managed to gather information to be used in the journey, content, visual design and best service tools in order to finalize the platform prior to trade.

The grant provided by CUE Business Solutions through the Innovation Networks ERDF project have allowed the company to ensure the product Comesto Platform was market ready.

Results

With the Innovation Networks ERDF funding Comesto Limited was enabled to go to market and retain enough working capital to assist them through the first six months of trading. The platform is now live, making great progress and attracting interest from investors to take them to the next stage.
 
The project was successfully launched and the company have also managed to increase employment in the company. Thanks to the grant, they have become the first platform for the hospitality market replacing e-commerce with trade accounts.

The director of Comesto, Valentine Smith, said “The Innovation Networks grant application process was direct, simple and flexible enough to enable us to work with the exact contractors required to complete the job on time and in budget."

Case Study - Lyra gears up for growth

An engineering business focusing on creating power solutions for zero emission vehicles is gearing up for a major period of growth after securing a key role in a major project.

Lyra Electronics, which is based at the University of Warwick’s HRI site in Wellesbourne, will work as part of a consortium to facilitate the creation of an End-to-end Supply Chain for Automotive Power Electronics in a £33 million Government funded project called ESCAPE.

ESCAPE aims to advance the UK’s transition to zero emissions transport, with Lyra assisting in creating a hyper charger capable of rapidly increasing the time it takes to fully charge electric vehicles.

Led by McLaren Applied Technologies, ESCAPE is one of five projects awarded funding, ranging from the development of high-performance battery packs and electrified construction equipment to hydrogen-powered engines.

After recently doubling the size of its base, the company is pressing ahead with ambitious growth plans to double staff size on the back of securing a role in the project, with assistance from the University of Warwick’s Business Ready programme.

Peter James, co-founder of Lyra Electronics, said: “Working on ESCAPE is a major project for us and we are delighted to be working as part of such an esteemed consortium.

We are aiming to roughly double our staff total over the coming months and continue to expand our site in early 2020.

“I think that we were trusted to help on ESCAPE because of our unique talent pool, there isn’t another company in the UK who does what we do to the level we do it.”

The firm, which currently employs 14 people, focuses on designing and producing power electronics components, charging technology and battery management systems for automotive, off-highway and green power markets.

Its growth over the years has been aided by the relationship with the University of Warwick Science Park’s Business Ready programme.

Business advisor Dirk Schafer, who works with Lyra through the Business Ready programme, said: “Lyra Electronics are about to enter a period of substantial growth and are part of a major project which they can really make a lasting impact with. It also means that Lyra can now even more capitalise on their innovative developments.

“We will be working alongside them throughout this journey to help facilitate this exciting transition.”

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, added: “Warwickshire County Council is absolutely committed to doing everything in its power to reduce the county’s carbon footprint. The manufacture of zero emission vehicles is a key component in any strategy to do this.

“We are also committed to supporting high tech businesses and bringing them to the county and keeping them here. I am absolutely thrilled that Lyra Electronics have been able to expand. This maintains Warwickshire’s profile as a hotbed of innovation.”

Business Ready programme, which is run by University of Warwick Science Park and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme, is helping tech-based SME firms across the area which have ambitions to grow and scale.

For more information on Business Ready and the help available go to http://www.business-ready.co.uk/

If you would like more information about the county council's business support programme, please visit https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/business.

If you would like more information about Coventry City Council business support programmes, please visit: http://www.coventry.gov.uk/businesssupport

For further updates on the ERDF Programme in Coventry & Warwickshire, please visit http://www.cwlep.com/funding/european-structural-and-investment-funds.