Friday 19th April 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 28/03/2019

New digital skills centres to be set up in Norfolk and Suffolk in £14.5 million investment

Four new projects to boost digital skills in Norfolk and Suffolk which involve new education and training centres in Ipswich and Norwich have been announced by New Anglia LEP in a new £14.5 million capital growth funding package. At the University of Suffolk, a new £6.5 million digital skills & innovation accelerator will be set up as a 'nationally significant' ICT research and training centre with 1,600 sq m of space. Working with BT and the Adastral Park tech cluster, it envisages some 520 new students, 145 apprentices and 36 new jobs. Meanwhile, at City College Norwich a new £6.1 million 'digi-tech factory' (photo, right)  will involve a new 2,780 sq m building focused on education, with innovative workshops and IT facilities for some 477 students, 100 new apprentices and local SMEs. Meanwhile, a £1.6 million digital & technology skills hub at Suffolk New College will serve local SMEs and around 264 new students and 28 new apprentices in a new 462 sq m building near the college’s Ipswich campus. A new £440,000 Norfolk & Suffolk Innovation Network will also be set up to focus on Internet of Things technology, creating 75 new jobs. Paul Winter, chair of the New Anglia Skills Board, said: “ Evidence gathered for our digital tech sector skills plan tells us our two counties will need 10,000 new highly skilled workers in the sector by the middle of the next decade. But that number quadruples when you include skilled digital jobs serving other sectors. These projects will help address that need with leading edge resources, whilst also providing the environment for our next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to thrive.”

New lettings underline confidence in Cambridge commercial property

A series of new lettings in recent weeks have highlighted the continuing buoyancy of the commercial and industrial property markets around Cambridge. A month after practical completion, developer Salmon Harvester Properties has completed the first letting at its 68,000 speculative industrial/warehouse development in south Cambridge (photo, right). Cambridge University spin-out Eshion Technologies has taken a 10-year lease on a 2,185 sq ft unit at a rent of £10 per sq ft. At Duxford, near Cambridge, Savills has sold the freehold of Heathfield House to a developer who has started work on refurbishing the building and has plans to extend its offices and subdivide a warehouse unit. Elsewhere, Barker Storey Matthews’ Cambridge office has made two industrial lettings to new occupiers involved in the beer business, Pastore Brewing and Blending and Distant Lands, on neighbouring units at Denny Road Industrial Estate in Waterbeach. Meanwhile, CBRE Global Investors has completed a 40,000 sq ft office development and decked car park at 270 Cambridge Science Park in a development which was pre-let to Worldpay on a 15-year term.

Bank launches £14 billion fund help SMEs through Brexit

Barclays has launched a 14bn dedicated lending fund as part of a series of initiatives to help SMEs through the uncertainties of Brexit and beyond. The bank is also running more than 100 SME Brexit clinics and seminars across the country. Barclays said the initiatives are designed to help SMEs think about managing cash-flow and working capital, exporting goods abroad, labour, supply chain management, and broader issues of preparedness. Barclays Group CEO  Jes Staley, said: “Barclays stands ready to help local businesses in towns, cities and rural communities, up and down the country, during this period of uncertainty. Today’s £14bn fund, along with our broader package of support, shows our commitment to the local businesses that are the backbone of the UK economy – we are here to help them plan for the future and invest for growth.”

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Business confidence slips in the region

Confidence in firms’ own business prospects in the region in March fell slightly to 13 per cent, compared with 15 per cent in February, according to a Lloyds Bank business barometer survey. Hiring intentions also slipped two points with a net balance of six per cent of firms in the East of England now looking to create new jobs in the next 12 months. But overall business confidence – an average of business prospects and economic optimism – dropped to minus two per cent in March. Steve Elsom, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Businesses in the East of England are some of the most resilient in the country but, speaking to management teams across the region, many are being cautious with their operations."

Law firm advises on $4m tech company investment

East Anglian law firm Ashtons Legal has assisted a London-based tech client, Medical Management Systems, to secure a $4m minority investment from a US-based investor to help accelerate its growth plans, particularly in the US. Medical Management Systems provides a secure cloud solution for integrated electronic healthcare management, Meddbase, and the company has grown substantially in recent years. The deal was led by Ashtons Legal partner James Tarling (photo, right), who leads the firm’s tech team, supported by its corporate and employment teams. Will Temple, CEO of Medical Management Systems, said: “In looking for the right partner, we needed an attorney and a law firm that could work with us locally and understood the complexity of setting up an international presence. The team at Ashtons was able to work with us to complete the deal and continues to provide us with advice as we grow globally.” Ashtons Legal has expanded its international footprint recently, working with other law firms to deliver a joined-up service for clients. Ashtons recently advised New York-based Palisade Corporation on the UK aspects of a private equity-backed deal and advised the shareholders of US-based engineering company, Slimdril Holdings Inc, on its $12m sale.

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Cambridge biotech firm hire new staff after fund-raising

Sphere Fluidics, a Cambridge-based biotech firm which is commercializing single cell analysis systems, has appointed six new employees and plans to hire four more staff in its UK and US sites. Rob Treanor and Andrew Campbell join as director of operations and director of finance, respectively alongside new hires to its sales, operations and scientific teams. Dr Rob Marchmont, vp of sales and marketing, said: “These hires follow Sphere Fluidics’ recent successful fundraising round and strong early market acceptance of our flagship Cyto-Mine instrument requiring us to expand and strengthen our commercial operations.”

Separately, the 10th one-day Babraham Investor Conference will bring together investors in Cambridge on 15 May to focus on early-stage and scale-up life science and medtech opportunities across the UK and Europe. The conference is sponsored by Taylor Vinters and Handelsbanken.

New partners at accountancy firm

Lee Green, director of insolvency and recovery at chartered accountant Larking Gowen and Bruce Masson, director in the firm’s farm and landed estates team are to become partners. at East Anglian based chartered accountant Larking Gowen, with effect from 1 April. “We are delighted to announce the appointment of two new partners at the firm,” said Jon Woolston, Managing Partner. “Lee joined us after sixth-form, he came third overall in the country in his Joint Insolvency Board examinations, and first for students from firms with smaller insolvency teams. Bruce joined Larking Gowen 12 months ago as director of our widely respected 46-strong farm and landed estates team, bringing his invaluable perspective to this core part of our business.”

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Offshore windfarm consultation brings 600 responses

ScottishPower Renewables’ phase 4 consultation on its East Anglia TWO and ONE North Offshore Windfarms has closed after receiving around 600 responses. The company will be reviewing the feedback and finalising its plans before submitting development consent applications for the projects to government in October. David Walker, development director at ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Every response is carefully reviewed and considered. Where possible suggestions will be taken into account and will help to shape our plans before submission.

New client wins at PR & marketing agency

Pier PR & Marketing has secured a raft of new client wins in the opening months of 2019. The Felixstowe-based agency has been appointed to handle the PR for Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, Round the Island Race, Barn Farm Drinks on the Essex/Suffolk border and Ipswich-based SimpleClick as well as the communication management for commercial wood chipper, Timberwolf. Kate Bowden Smith, Pier’s managing director, said : “It has been an incredible start to the year and I’m very proud of the team. We have a breadth of experience across the PR and marketing arena, offering clients tried and tested expertise and creativity. These new client wins really play to our strengths and we’re looking forward to helping them build their businesses.”

New £1.1 million order for safety firm

Colchester-based Blackline Safety Europe has won a £1.1m order from Yorkshire Water for its connected safety products and services, through its distribution partner, Breathe Safety. Blackline will deliver its G7c detectors with integrated 3G wireless alongside a five-year G7 Insight service programme.

ABP Port of Ipswich to sponsor 5k race

ABP's Port of Ipswich and Ipswich Building Society have launched the ABP Business Challenge , a Twilight 5K race, which will involve 84 teams of runners from local businesses competing for the trophy on 11 May. Around 1200 runners are expected to race in the event which is organised by the Ipswich Jaffa Running Club. ABP project engineer Robert Page said: “ABP is delighted to sponsor the Twilight 5K Business Challenge once again. We look forward to welcoming the runners and visitors to Ipswich Waterfront, as well as seeing ABP compete against many other local businesses in May.” To a place in the Twilight 5K and the ABP Business Challenge visit www.runbritain.com or see http://ipswichtwilightraces.com/

Cambridge venues to showcase for international group

Cambridge and the region has been selected as an outstanding destination for a visit by international event organisers looking for venues for their conferences and meetings. A successful bid by Meet Cambridge, the conference and events bureau, has led to a three-day visit by a party of ten from 8-10 April, ahead of the international Meet GB exhibition in Windsor. The group will stay at Newnham College, which has just opened new conference facilities and bedrooms, dine at both Jesus College and Trinity Hall and take a private tour of the Pepys Library at Magdalene College. Over the three days, they will also visit: Robinson College, The Møller Centre, The Cambridge Union Society, Jesus College, Gonville & Caius College and Doubletree Hilton Cambridge City Centre, as well as Newmarket Racecourse and Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Kelly Vickers, director of Meet Cambridge, said: “We are thrilled to have been chosen as the destination to host our international party and to have the opportunity to showcase exactly what we can offer. It’s a packed itinerary for the three days but it will give our visitors the chance to see how unique and inspiring Cambridge and the region is for all types of events.”

Photo:  The Meet Cambridge team, left to right: Leah Gibson, Laura Rayyan, Kelly Vickers, Amy Beschizza and Judith Sloane.