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SPARK team attends Coventry & Warwickshire Business Festival 2018

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coventry business festival

As part of Coventry and Warwickshire Business Festival, SPARK team attended  a national conference in Rugby entitled “Business Support – What Works? Harnessing the power of productivity“. The conference included business support professionals, and representatives from Local Enterprise Partnerships, Growth Hubs, Economic Development Officers, Accelerators, Incubators, the Department for International Trade and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Round table discussions enabled delegates to explore the productivity challenges facing the UK today and how Business Support professionals can help businesses drive improvement and growth.

The conference included a line of speakers and representatives from the UK’s leading business support institutions;

–       Andrew Paterson, Deputy Director at the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy

–       Rebecca Riley, Business Development Director, City-REDI, West Midlands Productivity Commission

& Birmingham University

–       Professor Stephen Roper, Director, Enterprise Research Centre, Warwick Business School

–       Dr Jacob Salder, Research Fellow at Birmingham City University

–       Professor Nigel Driffield, Professor of international business and Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor,

Warwick University

–       Jacqueline Moore on behalf of Paul Uppal, Office of the Small Business Commissioner

–       Kerrie Dorman, Association of Business Mentors

–      James Phipps, Head of Economic Analysis and Policy Development, Innovation Growth Lab, Nesta

 

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Lift off for former Carillion employee, and director of new company Savesta Construction Ltd.

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Business is booming for a former Carillion employee who has set up his own construction company in the City of Wolverhampton. Samuel Hudman, established Savesta Construction Ltd within days of leaving his post as a Bid Manager at industry giant Carillion when it announced it was going into liquidation in January.

He secured his first contract the following month and now employs four other former Carillion workers from Savesta’s base at SPARK Business Incubation Centre at the University of Wolverhampton Science Park in Glaisher Drive.

Specialising in new build and refurbishment building projects up to a value of £6 million across the West Midlands, the company has drawn on help and advice from City of Wolverhampton Council and SPARK Business Incubation Hub.

It is also using the local supply chain and its first project to construct a £3 million stand-alone new art block at Heath Park Academy School is progressing well. The building is expected to be completed in November and will house the school’s art and media provision.
Samuel said: “When Carillion collapsed a number of projects and clients in the West Midlands were left in limbo, this coupled with a desire to put our large main contractor experience to good use locally and a long-standing hunger to work for myself culminated in the formation of Savesta Construction Ltd.

“Savesta’s USP is our early contractor advice offering. We want to help customers through the construction project lifecycle by offering clear and honest advice from initial design development, through costing advice, planning development and then go on to deliver the construction works. Effectively creating a one-stop shop for the delivery of a construction project.

“Our focus moving forward is to deliver exceptional projects to delighted customers. We hope this approach of high quality insight and delivery will enable us to develop a strong order book of repeat customers.”

Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said:

“This is a fantastic phoenix from the flames story and Sam deserves a huge amount of credit for what he has achieved in such a short space of time. It is an example of the entrepreneurial spirit in the city and shows how businesses, with support from the council and city partners, are thriving in Wolverhampton. It is great to see a Wolverhampton company and local people in the supply chain benefiting from city contracts.”

Immediately following the Carillion news in January, the city council combined forces with local training providers to offer ongoing support packages to former Carillion employees and staff affected by redundancy in supply chain businesses affected by the Wolverhampton-based company’s liquidation.

For further information on the support available visit: www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/carillionsupport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SPARK companies give student a taste of entrepreneurship.

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People always ask me, ‘What do you want to do when you’re older?’ and I always sit there contemplating to myself “what do I want to do?” At school I have a strong idea of the subjects I dislike and don’t plan on exploring as well as the subjects I have an interest in.

This is why work experience has been of so much use to me. In my school we get a week long period to do a work placement. I decided to take this opportunity to gather a greater understanding of what I wanted to do. I reached out to SPARK Incubation Hub who help new businesses to succeed. They agreed to take me on for the week and gave me an agenda for the week mainly based on technology which was what I had discussed in the meeting and in my CV.

When I first arrived I was a little nervous but also quite excited to start. I was given a tour of the building and introduced to the people I’d be spending the week with who all seemed really nice. After this I was informed of fire procedures and other cautions to be weary of.

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On my first day I spent the day with School of Coding, a business that offer workshops, after-school clubs and summer camps that aim to  improve children’s programming and general skills using technology. I was given tasks such as putting together a set of kits for the workshop they had booked for the next day, helping prepare resources and installing software onto a set of laptops. This gave me an idea of what working in a business that is heavily centred around technology would be like. I went onto do another day there later in the week which was also very useful.

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During the week I also worked with Code Consult who recruit skilled programmers and software developers for other businesses. From spending the day with them it gave me a firm chance to look into the recruitment process including the skills employers are looking for, how candidates can stand out and how a good CV is written.

 

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On the penultimate day of my week I spent the day with Dominic Bennett who taught  me about cryptocurrencies and how these are used in everyday life as well as how they are created and how they grow. I was given a chance to use Photoshop to design photos to upload to his company’s social media which was enjoyable.

Overall my experience at SPARK Incubation Hub has been very positive, giving me a good idea of the areas I want to go into within the next few years.

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ICB honours August Financials as inspiring female entrepreneur.

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August Financials owner Augusta Moses, has been honoured as part of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers 100 inspiring women alongside top cosmetic brand Elizabeth Arden.

Spark tenant August Financials has been featured in ICB yearlong campaign to recognise inspiring women entrepreneurs. Many of whom, like Florence Nightingale Graham, one of the wealthiest women in the world, and owner of cosmetic brand Elizabeth Arden, started their careers as bookkeepers. For a lot of women, the appeal to go into this profession is primarily to gain a firm grasp of business accounts, to provide key support services to business leaders, and to help improve financial literacy within the business community.

Augusta Moses, a mother of four children, started August Financials because of the flexibility that self-employment provides, and chose to establish her bookkeeping practice in SPARK.  The practice has since grown, with the company moving from a personal workstation to a 1 person office in just 9 months. Augusta now uses her copywriting, and digital marketing skills to promote the start-up community in SPARK.

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Augusta Moses

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CodeConsult bridges IT skills gap

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SPARK welcomes new company, CodeConsult, a bespoke IT Staffing Solutions provider. Their slogan is “Connecting Excellence”.  CodeConsult operate within a very specific market, both in terms of skill-set and location. They provide bespoke staffing solutions to businesses’ ranging from small level start ups’, to billion pound turnover blue chip giants. They’ve successfully been able to bridge the IT/Digital Technology skills gap, specifically within the West Midlands, and have proven to be experts in their field.

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For decades now, the IT/Digital space has been boisterous– in simple business terms, demand has always outweighed supply. On the topic of growth, Founder of CodeConsult, Suraj Basra, forecasted that things aren’t likely to change anytime soon.

“I’ve been operating in the IT/Digital space within the West Midlands for pretty much all of my consultancy career. It’s always been a relentless, energy-sapping, and ridiculously fast paced arena. However, in recent times, the demand for IT/Digital Talent has ascended exponentially. I’ve found customers have had to really think twice about their recruitment strategies. Personal recommendations have been for customers’ to consider more Junior level candidates (with a focus on tailored development), placing heightened emphasis on building their value proposition/voice to market when engaging candidates (something CodeConsult offer to do, free of charge), and re-considering how more value could be added to remuneration packages on offer”.

The company have a genuine candidate network, this has been developed through years of relationship building through successful placements, attending local Tech Meet Ups and placing strong emphasis on meeting as many candidates as possible face to face. Another candidate source has been to pro-actively attack the market, and individually head-hunting top tier Talent. It’s rare to find the best talent actively looking.

CodeConsult are currently seeking multiples of the following positions (all within the West Midlands):

  • Software Developers’/Engineers’ (C#, ASP.NET MVC, React, Angular 5 – Junior to Principal Level)
  • DevOps Engineers’ (C# essential – Mid to Senior Level)
  • Software Development Team Leads’ (.NET background essential)
  • Solution Architects’ (.NET background, strong emphasis on Microservices Architecture)
  • Scrum Masters’ (.NET background, strong Agile experience)
  • Front End Developers’ (HTML, CSS, Javascript, as well as React)
  • Automation Testers’ (C#, Selenium)
  • Manual Testers’ (Web Testing experience)
  • Business Analysts’ (.NET background)

Contact sb@codeconsult.co.uk, for more information.

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SPARK hosts Careers Development Week!

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As part of the university’s week long events and activities for students to help build new skills, and enrich learning in their subject areas, SPARK team hosted an event, ‘meet the entrepreneurs’. The goal was to inspire students to engage in entrepreneurial activity while connecting them to potential collaborators and mentors. The event included motivational speeches and information from SPARK entrepreneurs about starting a business, and a tour of SPARK office spaces.

The Global Gallery’s internationally renowned sculptor Donald Brown used his art work to take students through the ups and pitfalls of business management and development. Students were enthralled with his sculpture, ‘A Sporting Chance for Peace’, which depicts numerous sports, and promotes positive principles for life, including perseverance, resilience, focus and risk taking.

Donald Brown is an Award Winning Sculptor, an Elite Masters Athlete and a graduate from Wolverhampton University with a BA Honours Degree in Fine Art Sculpture. He was invited in 2006 to speak at The United Nations in New York. In 2016 Donald made the Fortune Magazine list of Game Changers and in 2017 was nominated as one of the 100 Masters by Creative Black Country.

The School of coding, duo Manny Atwal and Gus Basson, also inspired students with their start-up story. Manny talked to students about the formative stages, to how together , he and Gus have managed to attract investors, grow from a one man band providing private tuition within homes to running a tuition centre in SPARK, and delivering coding lessons in independent and LEA schools across the city of Wolverhampton.

 

 

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What’s New This December?

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With the holiday season just around the corner, and as the year also draws to an end, productivity levels tends to drop. However SPARK resident companies have not slowed down in fact for some December is set to be the busiest so far.

Resident company Dark Realities this month launched the world’s largest free-roaming, 4D, multiplayer, VR experience in the centre of Birmingham.

Using the latest in virtual reality and motion tracking technology, visitors get to experience an immersive and interactive virtual world, in which teams of four work together to solve puzzles, as their senses are tested.

SPARK also welcomes new companies TMC Applications and BCID. Travel Money Club Applications Ltd is a provider of innovative technology platform, including an exclusive smartphone app which allows members to order Euros and US Dollars at near perfect exchange rates for free next day delivery to their home or office.

BCID is an approved training provider and offer nationally recognised qualifications across a number of sector industries. They specialise in providing an online platform where individuals can gain teaching qualifications to enable them to stand out from the crowd.

Paperless Bookkeepers August Financials, ahead of many traditional Accounting firms in the country has put in place innovative software to accommodate the government plans of making tax digital.

Your Psychology prepares to deliver its second series of mental health training, a 2 day course aimed at teachers and those working with young people aged 8-18 on how to spot the signs of mental health issues in a young person, how to offer first aid and guide them towards the support they need.

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What’s New This November?

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Delivering an effective presentation is an art that needs to be perfected” Dale Carnegie

Presentation skills are an essential part of business communication and this month our SPARK community have been busy delivering presentations to different audiences across the West Midlands. The presentations ranged from teaching on finance management processes, to training primary school teachers on mental health issues, to interviewing celebrities at a charity conference, to a VR demonstration.

We asked the Directors of  School of Coding, August Financials, AtmosVR and Your Psychology to share some of their tips on the Do’s and Don’ts for an effective presentation.

AtmosVR, Director Kevin Blair guided people through a ‘Walk the Plank’ VR experience at the Black County Chambers exhibition earlier this month, Kevin shares his presentation skills for a successful interactive demonstration;

  • Speak clearly
  • Pronounce your words
  • Project your voice
  • know your subject

School of Coding recently presented to an audience of over 500 delegates at an annual charity conference. Director Manny Atwal shares his key tips;

  • Engage with your audience- connect with them emotionally or through a personal experience to break the ice
  • Prepare your slides – Don’t create a presentation that has too much information in it. This could confuse people.

August Financials led a presentation on finance management processes to business professionals, Director Augusta Moses shares her tips on overcoming nerves;

  • Be consistent and constantly practice so that you are comfortable with your presentation and can deliver it with confidence.
  • If possible, meet the audience before the presentation so you are not overwhelmed by them.
  • Always arrive early so you can relax and familiarise yourself with the audience. Once you have worked on yourself, giving a great presentation will become easier.

A few more tips from our business community;

  • Don’t worry about the nerves, nobody notices them but you
  • Don’t panic if you can’t answer a question

Most important of all, overcome your fear of public speaking and turn the nervous energy into enthusiasm for your work.

For further information on Presentation tips and advice, or for support in Public Speaking visit Wolverhampton Speakers Club.

 

 

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WEST MIDLANDS CREATIVE INDUSTRY GETS £2.1M BOOST!

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Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson and Sophie Rundle are among the stars arriving in Birmingham today for the Premier of Peaky Blinders, which was produced in the West Midlands. The event will give another boost to the West Midlands film industry, following last month’s launch event for a £2.1m Production Fund and new Screen Bureau.

Andy Street, Mayor for the West Midlands, announced the fund for the region. Speaking at the launch event held at Birmingham University, the mayor reportedly said;

“The West Midlands Production Fund and Screen Bureau will play a key part in both of these efforts. By bringing together regional partners and industry leaders in the film, TV and digital production sectors, the West Midlands will have a much more powerful voice and a clearer direction.”

The potential for the creative and digital industries in the West Midlands is vast. These high growth and future-facing sectors not only offer huge job potential but also drive innovation and support other important industries.”

As a part of his vision for the creative and digital industries, the Mayor has also announced the formation of the West Midlands Screen Bureau, a new initiative that seeks to boost the region’s film, TV and digital production industry by increasing partnership working between industry leaders and production agencies across the West Midlands Combined Authority area. The sector will also be supported by the Creative Industries Toolkit. The Toolkit will be rolled out across the country as a national resource, which identifies the distinctive structure and personality of creative industries in each region and the socio-economic contributions they make to the UK.

The West Midlands Production Fund (WMPF) will be available for production companies to apply for through Creative England.

 

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Wolverhampton Art Students wow at Gallery

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The University of Wolverhampton School of Art Master’s graduates recently showcased their work at the Wolverhampton Art gallery. The exhibition was impressive and dynamic demonstrating a breadth of talent from multi-disciplines, from Fine Art to Virtual Reality. SPARK team went along to engage with future creative and tech entrepreneurs.

Tavis Booth, a visual communication graduate has allowed visitors to experience the spectacular architectural highlights of Liverpool Cathedral and Gloucester Cathedral. Booth’s work is a combination of film, photography, computer coding and virtual reality technology. Through this work visitors can appreciate the architecture, stained glass and artefacts of these extraordinary historical national treasures.

The exhibition also introduced photographers, jewellery makers, glass work artists, fabric and fashion designers. A few of the student artists expressed a disconnection between their future career goals and their arts education. Their opinions suggested that they were unsure which direction to go upon graduation, either towards employment or entrepreneurship.

Naturally, being a self-employed artist or a creative entrepreneur can be a daunting experience when you don’t feel prepared. If you’ve never had experience handling business administrative tasks like

 invoicing and budgeting, then you might be hesitant to start your own business and risk not budgeting correctly for your own living expenses. Similarly, if you have no experience with business development practices, it’s understandable that you’d be afraid to step out on your own. However, that’s precisely why SPARK incubation hub exists; to provide a space where creative individuals can network with other creatives, combine their talents with entrepreneurial skills, test drive their ideas and develop a successful start-up.