North West Business Briefs: Edge Hill University; Electricity North West; Slater Heelis; Blackburn College; BlackOwned Studios + Marketplace; Fourth Day PR |

Edge Hill University’s Small and Medium Enterprise Product and Innovation Centre (SME PIC) is launching a new training programme to develop the talents of business leaders in the Liverpool City Region.

The Leadership for Growth programme will be delivered by academic experts from Edge Hill’s Business School. They will develop the capabilities of existing and aspiring leaders working in SMEs with ambitions to grow. The training will enable them to improve business performance, productivity and resilience. The programme will be available to SMEs across the Liverpool City Region and will run until March 31, 2025.

Director of the SME PIC, Prof Simon Bolton, said: “Our programme aims to create dynamic leaders who can lead businesses and employees through change, growth and development. This help for businesses will boost their profitability and productivity, ultimately boosting the economy of the entire city region.”

Everyone who completes the course will be awarded professional Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Management and leadership qualifications recognising their new operational and strategic leadership capabilities.

Leadership For Growth has received £409,342 from the Liverpool City Region’s £44.4m UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) allocation. The fund is a central pillar of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda, providing £2.6bn of funding for local Investment by March 2025.

Jay Cullen, director of Edge Hill’s Business School, said: “Our team of business experts are looking forward to delivering the programme to SMEs across Liverpool City Region. Enhancing local businesses with the leadership and management skills to support business growth is not only vital for the local economy, but it also provides high quality work related opportunities and graduate jobs for our students.”


Victoria Turnham

Two projects which will tackle energy efficiency and decarbonisation challenges across the North West have been awarded significant funding.

After successfully advancing through the initial stage of Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund, Electricity North West’s Net Zero Terrace and RetroMeter projects have been awarded a further £1m.

Engineers from the North West’s Stockport-based power network operator will use the funds to carry out a six month project where they will prepare and test the solutions developed. Should the testing prove successful, Electricity North West can apply for the final stage where funding could be granted for up to five years for deployment of the solution

Victoria Turnham, Electricity North West’s head of network innovation, said: “We operate one of the most digital electricity networks in the world and across the North West, we’re starting to see an increased uptake as more people are using technologies such as heat pumps and electric vehicles. Both of the projects will provide significant benefits to our customers and we’re all looking forward to the next six months and the results we can produce.”

Earlier this year, Electricity North West was initially awarded £427,000 to explore projects which included Net Zero Terrace and RetroMeter. Now, a further £494,502 has been awarded to Net Zero Terrace and £483,934 for RetroMeter. Net Zero Terrace will demonstrate how to decarbonise an entire terraced street using a smart local energy system that is integrated with the network but is also optimised and affordable to consumers and easily replicable across Great Britain. RetroMeter will examine the energy and cost savings benefits of retrofit energy efficiency measures in a residential building, such as fitting loft insulation and draft proofing.


Phil Rimmer

Law firm Slater Heelis is expanding its employee offering with the next phase of its launch of The Academy, an in-house centre of excellence offering a range of learning and development opportunities via both legal and non-legal pathways.

The Academy will focus on five key areas of learning and development including leadership and management, talent and succession and early careers.

Chief People Officer at Slater Heelis, Phil Rimmer, said: “Empowered people empower people and at Slater Heelis we pride ourselves on our people-led approach and creating an environment that encourages continuous learning and development is a huge part of that. The Academy will accelerate that learning culture for all of our employees, from early careers to partner level, and give them the opportunity to expand their knowledge and apply them with the tools to achieve growth that will impact them positively both in and out of the workplace.”

The courses are both self-led and structured to cater for all learning types and embody various methods of learning, including digital, formal, informal, on the job training and off the job learning opportunities.

Phil added: “Our first courses are now available on the platform covering leadership and management, career development and mandatory compliance training and it’s fantastic to see so many employees already showing an interest.”


Blackburn College ICZ opening

Blackburn College has unveiled its latest large-scale investment to promote collaboration between industry, stakeholders and education providers, and help enhance in-demand skills in high growth areas such as tech, cyber security, health and engineering.

The ‘Industry Collaboration Zone’ – or ICZ – has been established to provide a high tech, central hub to open up new opportunities through collaboration. Businesses of all sizes, public bodies and other organisations can use the space to host their own events, and it will provide a base for the college to expand its own industry events programme.

The ICZ will also bring new co-working spaces to the town centre to support business start-ups and, importantly, will allow students to network and learn from a range of business experts. Based in the college’s Harrison Building, the Zone features a 1,670 sq ft of conference and events space, as well as co-working desks, five meeting rooms to seat up to 12 people and a fully equipped, modern boardroom. All equipment has been sourced from local suppliers.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Fazal Dad, Blackburn College’s Principal and Chief Executive, said that establishing the ICZ has been his personal ambition since joining the college in 2019: “Everything we do at Blackburn College is focused on ensuring that the young people who leave us at the end of their studies are equipped with the skills they need to take on the world of work. In the age of technology, what that world looks like is ever-changing.

“What we do know is that there are huge skills gaps in digital, cyber security, healthcare and more that need to be filled to enable our regional economy to fulfil its potential. There are also many great organisations who are working together to solve this challenge. As one of the largest FE Colleges in the region, our role is key, not only in the lives of our students but in the business and wider community, too. We see the ICZ as a fundamental part of us continuing to forge relationships and encouraging collaboration for action.”


BlackOwned beauty community

In an initiative poised to reshape the landscape of the Black beauty and hair industry, BlackOwned Studios + Marketplace is to launch next month (November) Manchester’s Red Bank arches. This groundbreaking venue will create flexible co-working spaces for Afro-beauty stylists and retail a wide range of Black-owned beauty products while building a community space of events, panels, and workshops.

With only 0.7% of the 45,000 salons in the UK able to cater for Afro and textured hair, the hair and beauty industry has suffered from a lack of diversity and inclusion. This disparity has led to limited resources for Black stylists and a lack of representation and accessibility for the Black consumer entering these spaces.

BlackOwned Studios + Marketplace was born from a deep-rooted commitment to addressing these issues and creating a more inclusive, supportive ecosystem in the beauty industry. The platform offers three key components: Co-Working Studios; marketplace; and events. Founder and CEO, Efia Mainoo, said: “BlackOwned Studios + Marketplace is more than just a business – it’s a movement. Our mission is to empower, inspire, and celebrate the beauty of Black beauty, by uplifting stylists and fostering connections between all members of the beauty industry.”

The Red Bank area is being transformed by property developers Far East Consortium (FEC). Its experience-led meanwhile-use strategy from FOUND, has created a hotspot of independent restaurants and venues including Love Factory, Green Arches Brewery, Half Dozen Other bakery, Foundation Coffee House, The Sparrows, indie street food venue GRUB, and multi-events space, Fairfield Social.

Jake Scott-Thrale, asset manager at FEC, said: “The ethos of FOUND has always been to create inclusive and accessible spaces where the local community can come together to network, socialise, and be creative. We’re really excited to partner with BlackOwned Studios + Marketplace in the next leg of this journey.”


U10s Pumas

Stockport Vikings Pumas and the newly formed Stockport Vikings Jaguars Under 10s football teams have had their sponsorship renewed by Manchester PR company, Fourth Day.

All match kits will sport the firm’s logo as the girls compete in this season’s Cheshire Girls Football League (Stockport Division).

Stockport Vikings FC is an England Football accredited three-star football club with girls’ and boys’ teams ranging from the ages of seven to 18, a development section for five- and six-year-olds, and an open age team.

The club launched its dedicated girls’ teams following the success of its FA Weetabix Wildcats sessions in 2020, an ongoing Football Association grassroots initiative set-up to encourage more girls to get involved in football. Shaun Wilkinson, treasurer of Stockport Vikings, said: “Over the past few years we have developed our girls’ football section and established girls’ teams from U8s right through to U14s, and have developed a clear pathway for those wanting to enjoy football. The continued expansion of Stockport Vikings girls football section has been in part down to the sponsorship we have received from companies like Fourth Day.”

Caroline Fletcher, senior account manager at Fourth Day and mother of Puma Clemmie, 10, helps as team manager with the Pumas U10s and is girls’ co-ordinator for Stockport Vikings. She said: “It’s a pleasure watching them develop as teams and individual players. It’s also fantastic to see a second U10s team starting this season. Their support for each other is brilliant to watch and be part of.”

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