Information for current, new and potential business within Wolverhampton. This includes business rates, training and opportunities.

We’re determined to keep Wolverhampton’s business community vibrant and resilient by being on the side of our local businesses, their employees and those who are self-employed.

ERDF

Award winning Business Support

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

City of Wolverhampton Council has just been awarded a prestigious ‘best in the region’ award for its support for the local small business community. 
 
Wolverhampton was among 250 councils in England who entered the inaugural England-wide Local Government awards run by Britain’s biggest business representation group, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), and it emerged triumphant in the Future Ready regional category. 
 
Local authorities from all across England responded to the call when FSB launched their inaugural Local Government awards, sponsored by Maybe*, which were aimed at celebrating and recognising those that had made the biggest impact on local SMEs during the Covid crisis and beyond. And Wolverhampton was named as the West Midlands regional champion winners with judges being impressed by the council’s work to help the local small business community by putting in place a series of measures aimed at helping small businesses to survive, revive and thrive after arguably the toughest two and half years of trading.  
 
Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said:

"Our Relight Business Programme has supported around 200 sole traders, micro and small businesses. Following our work delivering the Covid grant support programme, we wanted to give local businesses the tools and knowledge to build resilience during the pandemic and grow as the economy opened back up. We did this by running a series of webinars, funded FSB and Chamber membership, carrying out financial and digital reviews as well as business diagnostics, and providing access to a grant to implement recommendations from the reviews. Supporting fantastic local businesses in our city is one of our key priorities as a council and we will continue to do this through projects like our Relight Business Programme."

FSB Development Manager for Staffordshire and the West Midlands, Karen Woolley said:

"It is really pleasing to see the City of Wolverhampton Council rewarded for its hard work and effort to help local SMEs through what has been a very challenging couple of years.  Both the quality and quantity of entries from this region and beyond was incredibly high so Wolverhampton should feel very proud to be among the winners. We look forward to continuing to work with them - and all our other business-supporting councils - to ensure we have a vibrant and strong local SME community."

What we do - through 50 examples

We may be a small team but like our small business community we believe we have made a big impact. We hope this booklet gives a flavour of what we can do; and how we have adapted through the pandemic to ensure our support is tailored to the changing needs of the business community. Working together we continue to have a big impact on the Wolverhampton economy.

Small Business - Big Impact Issue 4

Upcoming Workshops

Breakfast Workshop - Financial Management for Small Businesses

Date: 19th January, 2023
Venue: Wolverhampton Science Park

A great opportunity to kick the year off with an insight into, and tips on, managing cashflow and effectively managing your business finances as well as some networking with business colleagues over refreshments and a breakfast bap.

Our first networking breakfast workshop of the year is on Thursday 19th January at the Technology Centre, Wolverhampton Science Park. Refreshments and breakfast baps will be available form 8.15am with the presentation on “Financial Management for Small Businesses” starting at 8.45am. We will finish no later than 10.00am.

This workshop is free to attend and is part funded by the AIM for GOLD ERDF Programme. Here you can find further information.

Book your place

ERDF

Advice & Guidance
Employment and Workforce Development

These continue to be challenging times for us all, however we are committed to continuing to provide the best support we can to businesses and jobseekers. We are here to help you plan your current and future workforce needs as you navigate the current  economic difficulties.

Wolves at Work business services are ready and available to offer support to businesses looking for assistance on the following:

  • Recruitment - we can advertise and promote your vacancies and assist with sourcing new talent through the highly successful Wolves at Work project
  • Redundancy support
  • Advice on upskilling your workforce to meet future business needs
  • Useful connections to further business support

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for recruitment or workforce support: recruitment@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Or call the Business Support line: 01902 290242 between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Thursday or from 9am to 4.30pm on Fridays

Useful links

There are several useful websites to further explain the support available to businesses and their employees:

Useful links

Black Country-specific advice and support for businesses is available through the Black Country Growth Hub.

The Federation of Small Businesses has also published guidance on what you can do to protect your business and employees.

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce have also published a number of interpretative and advice documents on the Government support schemes.

Guidance for food businesses reopening and adapting their businesses during COVID-19 can be found on the Trade with Confidence website.

The University of Wolverhampton Business School has a range of courses for managers and a dedicated COVID-19 Business Support Hub.

GOV.UK and other business support

GOV.UK – Finance and support for your business

The Government website provides a search facility allowing you to identify live support most appropriate to your needs. You can search against business stage, sector, number of employees, and nature of support be it advice, grant, loan or equity

https://www.gov.uk/browse/business/finance-support

In addition more general advice and information can be found at

https://www.gov.uk/browse/business

Be the Business

Mentoring support Programme that can focus across the business or hone in on specifics such as digital, leadership, workforce, sales or growth. This can be run as a 12 week or a 12 month programme and to be eligible your business must have been trading for at least a year with at least 3 FT employees. The website also hosts a number of useful templates for managing and growing your business including technology strategy, inclusive workforce, streamlined sales process, online competitor analysis, and managing risk; as well as guides on subject including boosting employee motivation without increasing salaries, keeping cashflow forecasts up to date, improving staff onboarding, and top tips for good management.

www.bethebusiness.com

Compete for Contract service

Free support to help businesses compete for major public and private sector contracts – with access to a brokerage service that matches buyers with potential suppliers.

https://www.competefor.com/

Entress 2

This Programme delivered but the University of Wolverhampton supports SMEs with the adoption of environmental technologies and resource efficiency processes to improve business competitiveness. It provides 2 days free support to enhance the business knowledge linked to the areas of sustainability and the circular economy.

https://www.wlv.ac.uk/business-services/funding-and-support/entress/

Help to Grow Management

This gives you access to …..

  • 12-weeks of learning designed to fit alongside work commitments
  • develop a bespoke business growth plan to help your business reach its full potential
  • get 1:1 support from a business mentor
  • learn from peers and network with businesses just like yours

The programme is 90% funded by the government so you only pay £750. Delivered in partnership with Small Business Charter, courses are running at leading business schools across the UK.

https://smallbusinesscharter.org/help-to-grow-management/

Innovate UK Edge

This Programme provides free bespoke support to empower innovation-driven businesses through a dedicated innovation and growth. There is a perception that innovation is only led by the large companies or in the tech sector but the reality is quite different. Innovation UK EDGE have worked with a family owned fabric weaving business – Stephen Walters; a start-up business based around novel children’s plates with in-built train tracks – Munchy Play; and a drinks carrier manufacturer that developed what they called the ‘world’s most versatile drinks carrier’, using a combination of recycled post-industrial, household, and marine plastics – Muggi; to name but a few. All of these benefitted from our from their free  consultancy support to develop their product and service, and we are sure that there are companies in Wolverhampton that have had innovative ideas and could benefit from a discussion with and support from their team of consultants to take them forward and make them a reality. It’s a free government funded service, and over the coming months we will be working with Innovate UK EDGE to engage with companies who could benefit from the support that is available. For more information

https://www.innovateukedge.ukri.org/

Nat West Accelerator

The NatWest Accelerator supports and empowers entrepreneurs to scale their businesses to the next level.

The free Programme specialises in wrap around support and provides:

  • one-to-one coaching with our experienced Acceleration Managers
  • a programme of thought leadership and events
  • access to a network of like-minded peers, supported by their Ecosystem Managers
  • focused support with access to experts from across your specialism
  • use of their modern co-working spaces in one of our nationwide hubs

There is a competitive application process and for further details please click

https://www.natwest.com/business/business-services/entrepreneur-accelerator.html

There are two Discovery Events and Hub Tours at the Brindley Place Hub in Birmingham on 2nd and 13th February

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/natwest-accelerator-programme-discovery-event-hub-tour-tickets-445974490707?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

Case Studies

Over the past 12 months we have worked with hundreds of local companies providing direct support, advice information and guidance. Here are some of those that we have supported through a capital grant on the ERDF AIM for GOLD Programme.

AGTV Ltd

AGTV

AGTV is a local independent broadcasting and media production company who has worked with a range of sporting companies including Wolverhampton Wanderers. Earlier this year they joined the Black Country AIM for GOLD programme and worked with City Council Officers to secure a grant to help purchase new equipment.

Alex Gage, owner of the business added,

“What I can say is that the grant allowed me to ensure that my company was able to remain competitive at the very top end of my industry. The purchased kit put me in position to compete for many jobs, at all levels of production”.

Aldridge Trimming

Aldridge Trimming Ltd

Aldridge Trimming Ltd is an Employee Owned business based in the heart of Wolverhampton and have been trimming classic cars since 1931. Over the years the business has expanded and evolved. They have gained a world-wide reputation for high quality British craftsmanship, supplying the major Jaguar, Ford and Triumph restoration companies around the world.

The company was started in a shed in 1931 by Don Newcombe, he provided a general trimming service for cars and coaches. In the Eighties it was taken over by his grandson, Simon Aldridge, who had helped his grandfather since 1963 during his time at school.

 Aldridge Trimming has always catered for classic cars, but moved into the mail order market in 1980 after Simon purchased a Jaguar E-type and needed parts for it. It was when Simon started making new trim for his car that he realised there was a big market for replacement interiors that customers could order via phone or internet, and be shipped straight to their door.

The company’s latest growth plans were based on investing in a Low-Pressure Polyurethane Dispensing Machine, otherwise known as a foam making machine. This machine has provided the innovation for Aldridge Trimming Ltd make the foam for all makes of classic cars. It has also helped in reducing costs, improving production time, increasing efficiency, and allowing the company to increase its product range. It also allows for expansion into other industries that are not necessarily car-related. A successful £10,000 AIM for GOLD grant supported by the City Council has enabled the company to make the full £33,000 investment in the new machine.
 
Simon Aldridge , owner of Aldridge Trimming Ltd, commented, “We have again had a positive experience dealing with the City Council and have had the same high standard of service as on previous grant programmes. The machine has been a fantastic addition to the company. In truth it has delivered more than we were initially hoping for, it has reduced our lead-times and our dependence on unreliable suppliers. We have created jobs as a result of this and have also massively increased the range of products that we offer. We are looking forward to working with Wolverhampton Council again in the future.”

Ceandess

Ceandess

Ceandess (Wolverhampton) Ltd has been operating in Wolverhampton since 1924 and is a well-established manufacturing company supplying component pressings to the automotive, agricultural and plant machinery industries.  The company is ISO 9001 accredited and manufactures a range of fuel and oil filters, base and filler assemblies and also fuel, engine and hydraulic oil filler caps.  These products are distributed globally, and the company also offers a range of services to local businesses, such as sheet metal forming, powder coating, drilling, tapping and machining. The company supplies to a range of well known businesses including JCB, Caterpillar, Garret Motion GTX, Kuehne & Nagel, Kingspan Water & Environmental, Rolls Royce and Volvo to name a few. They have also recently started supplying filters to the electronic and technological sectors.
 
The business approached the Council for support in a growth strategy based on investment in new equipment to reduce waste and energy and to improve the quality of the finished product. Their existing capstan manually operated lathe was old, damaged and with limited functionality impacting on business productivity. A new CNC lathe would dramatically increase the accuracy and quality of all of these products and allow the company to bring all of the turning back in-house. In addition to turned products, a new CNC lathe would also enable the company to start offering services in tool-making and concept tool development.
 
Company Director Ed Davies noted, “As a company we are extremely pleased to have been able to take part in the AIM for GOLD Programme, develop a growth plan, and secure the grant towards the purchase of a CNC turning lathe. It has really changed the culture and attitude towards modern methods of manufacturing and as a team has pushed the boundaries of what is achievable for our customers. The lathe has enabled us to reduce tool down time by at least 75% and we are now able to manufacture tooling components in house reducing cost and regaining control over the process”.
 
As well as having an immediate impact on the culture and on productivity levels the new lathe is also providing the opportunity to develop a stronger offer to existing customers. Ed added, “In terms of winning subcontract work for the lathe it is still early days but it has allowed us to win larger scope work as we have been able to take the whole job of Manufacturing TV brackets for camper vans as we were able to put accurate Radiuses on the hinge pin rapidly and repeatedly accurate. This encouraged the customer to put the whole assembly with us as we now had start and finish processes and this made savings in transportation. We are also in the process of quoting for fastener bosses on coach seats as we already do the powder coating of these. The next step will be to add a bar feeder so that we can rapidly manufacture large volume components. It has been extremely encouraging to have received such support throughout the AIM for GOLD Programme and to also meet and engage with others taking part in the process.”

Future Genetics

Future Genetics is a precision medicine research company focused on the discovery and development of disease biomarkers in areas of unmet clinical need. Set up in 2007 by Dr Mohammed Kamran who has a PhD in Molecular Science from Imperial College London, the business is based at the Wolverhampton Science Park.

Dr Mohammed commented, “Future Genetics has immensely benefited from the Relight Business Programme. The staff running the scheme form a highly knowledgeable and skilled team that are truly effective supporting small businesses. I would have struggled to proceed and likely given up without the excellent guidance and support provided through the entire process. We are grateful for his expertise, professionalism and flexibility. The start to end support provided to our organisation”

The business were accepted onto the Relight Business Programme and then approached the Council with the outline of a growth plan based on the purchase of £160,000 DNA Sequencing Machine. We quickly recognised the value and impact of such an investment so worked with the business to develop the growth plan and develop an AIM for GOLD grant application. The DNA Sequencing Machine would enable the company to offer a new product in the form of DNA Testing leading to an additional revenue stream. This would not only add resilience and underpin growth but it will also perform a crucial role in funding the ongoing research and development the business carry out in relation to the long-term endeavour of identifying and validating a biomarker associated with treatment failure. This creates a virtuous circle where a successful biomarker could be patented and sole to a pharmaceutical company to not only secure funding for more research and development for the company, but it would also allow pharmaceutical companies to develop more effective drugs and treatments, improve health outcomes for patients and improve efficiencies within the NHS in the future.
Dr Mohammed added, “as a small business we are not that experienced in carrying out high quality grant-quality financial reviews. The well-structured support systems provided by the Relight Business Programme, where again Ross Edgley along with Stanley Ugwueze were great in educating and guiding us to successfully complete our financial reviews”

The company were successful in their grant application and secured over £40,000 toward their investment. As the business were also on the Relight Business Programme they also benefitted from a Digital Review from MNA Digital, as well 12 months free membership of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce.

Meji Media

Meji Media

Meji Media are an award winning events company led by Gurmej Singh Pawar that is based at Wolverhampton Science Park. Graduating with a Masters in Economics, Gurmej traded the volatile world of investment banking for the even more unpredictable world of events management. Having discovered a real talent for creating exciting experiences the business now organise events globally for tens of thousands of customers a year.

A guiding philosophy for Meji Media is that creativity and innovative thinking must be supported with good financial and business acumen to ensure very event achieves a tangible return for the customer. It was this mix of innovation and business return for the customer that led Gurmej to develop his unique brands of firstly the Moonlight and Misteltoe Christmas parties and the team building focused Banter Experiences; and then more latterly the venue and conference finding Venkey system. It was the development and adoption of this latter system that the City Council part funded through the ERDF backed AIM for GOLD Programme. After supporting Gurmej with his growth plan we went on to work up the grant application and then successfully secured a £20,000 grant toward his £60,000 investment.

Company Director Gurmej Singh Pawar commented, “it was tough during covid but we used the time to invest in technology; the grant support really helped us, and now we have gone from 4 staff to 9”.

Venkey with its comprehensive database of venues and its innovative search engine now helps thousands find the right venue at the right price at the right time – adding real value to the marketplace through the provision of its free venue finding arm.

Relight Business Support Newsletter

Issue 24 - January 09, 2023

Read Issue 24 here

Issue 23 - December 02, 2022

Read Issue 23 here

Issue 22 - November 18, 2022

Read Issue 22 here

Issue 21 - October 19, 2022

Read Issue 21 here

Issue 20 - September 16, 2022

Read Issue 20 here

Issue 19 - August 31, 2022

Read Issue 19 here

Issue 18 - July 6, 2022

Read Issue 18 here

Contact us

Anyone wishing to discuss any aspect of business support should share brief details of the business and the enquiry to the following email: business.development@wolverhampton.gov.uk

15392