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Confident manufacturers look forward to a surge in new orders

Manufacturers in the region are in confident mood and are set for a surge in new orders in coming months, despite a mixed overall picture and a weak economy. According to the Q4 manufacturing outlook survey from Make UK and BDO, ‘output and orders are set to pick up substantially in the second quarter of the year with orders in the next three months especially strong, the second highest of any English region.’ Chris Corkan, region director for the East of England at Make UK, said: “After the economic and political shocks of the last few years there is now strong confidence among manufacturers in the East of England, despite the mixed picture. While growth in the economy is not exactly supercharged, the positive announcements in the Autumn Statement and Budget can at least allow them to plan with more certainty for the future.” However, the survey also shows recruitment intentions and investment prospects have turned negative for the next three months. Make UK is forecasting growth for manufacturing of just 0.1 per cent in 2024 and 0.8 per cent in 2025.

Keith Ferguson, head of manufacturing at BDO in the East of England, added: “Manufacturers in the East of England have continued to show their ability to overcome wave after wave of challenges, but they cannot continue to do this indefinitely without some more long-term support from the government….”

Water utility plans to tackle storm spills and plans for £1 billion of investment

Anglian Water has outlined plans for tackling storm spills across the East of England along with a further £1bn investment in the region from 2025, including nearly £80 million in Suffolk. Each of the 1471 storm overflows across the Anglian Water network has a detailed improvement plan that that the utility says will see spills ‘significantly reduced’. The work will start now and total £1bn of investment across the region by the end of the decade as part of the company’s next five year business plan, currently with Ofwat for approval. The investment will tackle spills by creating more capacity in sewers in 50 locations and involve 30,000 new sewer monitors to spot blocked pipes. Emily Timmins, director of water recycling for Anglian Water, said: “We’ve heard loud and clear from our customers, communities, passionate river groups and our regulators that we need to take action, faster to address storm overflows….Our plans are designed to tackle the problem from as many angles as possible, from boots on the ground to creating more capacity in our network to store excess water and treat it, and using natural solutions like wetlands to remove nutrients, protecting rivers across our region."

Cambridge-based health consultancy acquired by growing global group

Cogentia, a Cambridge-based health and economics consulting group, has been acquired by Helios Global Group, a growing healthcare communications company based at Alderley Edge in Cheshire. Cogentia, which was advised by Alfa Corporate Finance, is one of the UK’s leading market access consultancies, handling projects across therapeutic areas worldwide. James Morris, founder and director at Cogentia, said: “Like Helios, Cogentia has a proven track record in innovation and growth. Bringing together two market leaders with aligned people-focused cultures, outstanding reputations for quality, and a commitment to creating strong client partnerships, will strengthen our market positioning, enhance our solutions, and create development opportunities for our teams.” Helios employs 250 people and also has offices in Manchester and Oxford and an expanding US base in Connecticut.

Lake Falconer, partner at Alfa Corporate Finance, added:“ This is a great springboard for Cogentia to move on the next stage of its development.  Helios like Cogentia is a market leader, and joining forces should be a great opportunity for both.” Legal advice to Cogentia was provided by Robert Matthews of Keyston Law, and tax advice by Jan Fachot and Mike Godfrey of PEM.

Photo (l-r): Lake Falconer (director Alfa Corporate Finance), Mike Godfrey (director, PEM) and James Morris (CEO Cogentia).


East of England closing national broadband gap

The East of England has built and deployed full fibre at a faster rate over the last year than the rest of the country. According to East of England rural provider County Broadband, full fibre networks are finishing construction and going live at an increasingly higher rate as the UK aims to keep up with increasing data demands and catch up with the rest of the world that transitioned to full fibre earlier. The availability of full fibre for all premises across the East rose to 58.7% in February, up from 42.1% a year earlier and a faster rate of increase than across all of England where availability stands at 62.4%. Cambs had the highest availability (65.1%) of full fibre broadband of any county in the region, compared with Suffolk (61.9%), Essex (58.5%) and Norfolk (46.6%). Cambs also recorded the highest increase in full fibre availability over the last 12 months. James Salmon, director of corporate development at County Broadband, said: “It is no secret that the only way for the UK to get closer to the likes of Portugal and France at the top of the league table, and for our rural and remote communities across the East of England to reap the benefits of incredibly fast and reliable broadband just as much as urban areas across the country, is through full fibre connections.”

Norwich biotech start-up raises over £250,000

A Norwich biomaterial start-up, Cellexcel, has closed its first funding round having raised over £250,000 to accelerate the commercialisation of its emission-reducing technology. Based on research from the University of East Anglia, Cellexcel’s  patented technology enhances the water resistance of biomaterials enabling them to be used in applications such as composite panels for the automotive or aerospace industry where they can reduce both weight and CO2 emissions. Investments have come from College Green Ventures, New Anglia Capital, Low Carbon Innovation Fund, and Turquoise alongside angel investors from Anglia Capital Group.

New managing partner at Norfolk property services firm

Norfolk property services firm Arnolds Keys has appointed a new managing partner, and the creation of a senior partner role. Nick Williams (photo, right) who joined the firm in 2016 and was appointed a partner in 2019, becomes managing partner, with a focus on managing the firm and its operations and implementing its strategy. Guy Gowing (left), who has been managing partner for the past 19 years, will become senior partner, with a focus on professional advice for key clients and business developmen and will continue to head Arnolds Keys’ commercial property division. Guy Gowing said: ” I am delighted to be handing over the managing partner role to Nick after nearly two decades in the role.  I know that he will continue to build on the firm’s strong foundations."

Second life energy storage systems specialist recruits in Norfolk

Connected Energy, a provider of second life battery energy storage systems and has a technical centre at Hethel in Norfolk, has ramped up recruitment after being named as part of a consortium to explore battery reuse with a major automotive manufacturer. It has also won a contract to supply its systems to a leading truck and bus manufacturer. Seven new starters are joining its engineering team in Hethel and a further three at its hq office in Newcastle upon Tyne. Matthew Lumsden, CEO of Connected Energy, said: “We are delighted to be delivering more quality engineering jobs in Norfolk as we continue to grow our team....Expanding our teams will enable us to ensure our products can accommodate batteries from multiple manufacturers in a single system while still maintaining the high levels of performance that our clients expect.” Connected Energy is part of a £30 million collaborative project recently announced by the Advanced Propulsion Centre  supported by grant funding of £15m, focused on EV battery reuse, recycling and energy balancing.

Photo: New recruits at Connected Energy

Landmark volume of food waste recycled at Norwich shopping centre

Attleborough-based Anglian Waste Recycling is marking ‘Food Waste Action Week’ having recycled a landmark 88 tonnes of food waste for Chantry Place shopping centre in Norwich in the last 12 months. As the initiative returns for 2024 this week, the aim is to halve food waste by 2030. Anglian Waste Recycling specialises in the removal and recycling of all types of waste, with food waste being a growing area. Waste and recycling director Ryan Marshall said: “Over the last twelve months we’ve collected just over 88 tonnes of food from Chantry Place which has gone for anaerobic digestion in and around the surrounding area....Through our innovative processes, we transform this waste into valuable resources such as biogas and agricultural fertilisers, contributing positively to both environmental sustainability and community well-being." Other businesses Anglian Waste Recycling supports include the Norfolk Showground, Snetterton Racecourse and Norwich School.

Photo: Ryan Marshall with Jo Bates, facilities manager at Chantry Place.

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