east midlands chamber

New series of peer-to-peer networks launched by East Midlands Chamber

Senior leaders in SMEs across UK Community Renewal Fund areas are being invited to join a peer-to-peer networking programme that launches this month.

Delivered by East Midlands Chamber, the Peer Networks programme gives directors and senior managers the opportunity to share common business challenges and objectives. Regular sessions take place over several months and are facilitated by experts in the field and supported by specialist guest speakers.

Sector-based networks such as manufacturing and the visitor economy – as well as specialist groups for high-growth, female-owned businesses and Generation Next – will begin over the coming weeks, with the first one, designed for the visitor economy, starting on 17 May.

East Midlands Chamber deputy chief executive Diane Beresford, who heads up the Peer Networks delivery, said: “Peer networks are quite different to a traditional classroom development programme. They are more informal in nature, and the agenda is set by the group members. Challenges are addressed through conversational peer support and, since group members bring along real-life scenarios, the advice received has immediate relevance.

“Particularly valuable is that members develop support channels in the peer-to-peer network that continue outside the group, and often for the long term. Bringing together businesses in this way to learn from and support one another, is an area the Chamber is particularly well placed to lead on.”

A number of the Peer Networks are being delivered under East Midlands Accelerator, a £5.27m project part-funded by the Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund (UKCRF), and which has received an additional £471,000 of match funding from the Chamber and its partners.

Qualifying businesses must meet a number of criteria. They must be based in either Bassetlaw, Derbyshire Dales, High Peak, Leicester city, Mansfield, Newark and Sherwood, or Nottingham city; have operated for at least one year; employ at least three people; and record a turnover exceeding £100,000. In addition, they must have an aspiration to improve and the potential to scale up or export – or be exporting already.
Up to 11 individuals are involved in each cohort and are required to give a time commitment of about 18 hours across the entire duration of the fully-subsidised programme.

Anyone interested in taking part in the Peer Networks may book their place at: www.emc-dnl.co.uk/peernetworks.

Peer Networks programmes:

The upcoming Peer Networks are:
• Visitor economy: 17 May, 6pm
• Generation Next: 19 May, 8am
• High growth: 19 May and 20 May, 9.30am
• North Nottinghamshire Manufacturing Network: 27 May, 8am
• Leicester City Manufacturing Network: 27 May, 8am
• Nottingham City Manufacturing Network: 1 June, 8am
• High growth: 7 June, 9am
• Derbyshire Dales & High Peak Manufacturing Network: 9 June, 8am
• Women in business: 20 June, 10am

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Research finds half of East Midlands businesses have an equality, diversity and inclusion strategy

Better workplaces, improved decision-making and increased innovation are among the benefits cited by East Midlands businesses that have an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategy, according to a new report.

Research by East Midlands Chamber, in partnership with housing association emh group, found that almost half (48%) of businesses in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire have a dedicated policy in place.

More than two-thirds (68%) consider EDI can contribute, at least to some degree, in the success of their business plans over the coming 12 months – while it was attributed as an important part of leadership strategy by 55% of firms.

When asked to give a score between one and 10 to how important consideration of EDI would be to the success of their organisation, the average score was 5.6 – suggesting that while it may not be integral to firms overall, it’s also not an insignificant consideration within business activity in the East Midlands.

The research will be presented at the Chamber’s Celebration of Culture and Communities event, which will be held tonight (24 March) at Leicester Tigers’ Mattioli Woods Welford Road stadium – showcasing the region’s diverse mix of cultural backgrounds via music, dance and food.

East Midlands Chamber director of resources at Lucy Robinson, who is the business representation organisation’s diversity and inclusion champion, said: “It’s clear from these findings that equality, diversion and inclusion is increasingly becoming less of a ‘nice-to-have’ for organisations and more business-critical.

“The majority of East Midlands businesses recognise an important role for EDI within their planning and activity, and there’s clearly a need for further support in helping those that identify its value but are yet to have policies in place.

“A core of roughly one in 10 feel it doesn’t play any role in their success. When examining this figure further, these businesses are more likely to be micro in size, with a very small bias towards the manufacturing industry.

“Given that those actively engaged in the EDI agenda have illustrated some very real commercial benefits – ranging from a better workplace culture, recruitment and retention, through to supporting innovation and a diversity of thought in decision-making – we should now be looking at how to better showcase good examples of business success in this agenda.

“We will also explore further work that may quantify how progressive approaches to EDI can result in productivity gains – which is high on the business priority list as they seek to grow once more following the pandemic.

Key findings in equality, diversity and inclusion research

The Chamber and emh group surveyed 341 East Midlands companies in November for the study – the first of its kind in the region – which found:

  • 48% of businesses have a specific EDI-related policy, but four in 10 (40%) haven’t and 12% were unsure whether they did
  • 68% felt having specific approaches to EDI would play a role in supporting the achievement of business plans for the next 12 months, with 26% believing this role would be significant and 11% saying it would play no part
  • 55% of respondents felt EDI formed an important part of their leadership discussions and strategy, with 14% saying this was to a great extent and 12% believing there was no EDI focus at all
  • When asked about the benefits of having an engaged approach to EDI, 61% said it can help create an inclusive working environment, 54% believed a “diversity of thought” could lead to better decision-making, 45% felt it supported innovation and creativity, 42% claimed it supported staff retention and recruitment, and 41% identified how it helped to better represent customers and clients – with just 17% seeing no real benefits

The research also highlighted some particular sectoral gaps across the East Midlands economy when it comes to embracing the EDI agenda.

While 48% of all businesses have a specific policy in place, the proportion fell to 43% for manufacturers – although those unsure increased to 20%, suggesting slightly less understanding or communication of EDI activity within these businesses.

Chan Kataria OBE, chief executive at emh group, said: “This research builds on our joint commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within communities and organisations across the region.

“The findings provide a solid platform for exploring opportunities to enhance performance on EDI.

“We see this as a starting point for showcasing engagement on EDI issues and exploring some of the barriers within specific sectors and small businesses. We look forward to further discussions with Chamber members to consider and share good practice.”

How businesses can increase engagement with the EDI agenda

A set of recommendations were made as part of a discussion paper published by the Chamber and emh group, titled Understanding attitudes and approaches to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the East Midlands:

  • Further support on developing EDI-specific polices can be offered to those businesses that view these as having a value but are yet to have policies in place
  • Businesses that are active in this space should be encouraged to demonstrate their approaches and showcase best practice
  • There is an opportunity for further work to quantify how progressive approaches to EDI can support a business’ success and productivity gains

To read the full report, click here.

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Generation Next Awards 2022 launched to celebrate young professionals and entrepreneurs

From apprentices taking their first steps on the career ladder to the future leaders of the region, the very best of young business talent across the East Midlands will be celebrated at the Generation Next Awards.

The second-ever awards are the showpiece programme of the Generation Next network for young professionals and entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35, which is run by East Midlands Chamber in conjunction with headline partner the University of Derby.

It features 10 categories, ranging from a Breakthrough Award and Customer Service Award through to marking Excellence in Innovation and Technology and the Generation Next Future Leader.

New prizes for this year recognise outstanding contributions in diversity and inclusion, arts and culture, corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Winners will be crowned at an awards ceremony with a twist – featuring street food, cocktails and live music – held at Bustler Market, in Derby, on 14 July.

Lucy Robinson, East Midlands Chamber’s director of resources and Generation Next lead, said: “The Generation Next Awards are a celebration of the amazing young talent within the East Midlands, and our diverse programme recognises the rising stars of business who make outstanding contributions to their communities.

“We want to encourage young professionals, apprentices and entrepreneurs from across the region to tell their story and celebrate their successes. There is an award to suit everyone at each stage of their career.”

Project D and ExpHand Prosthetics among Generation Next Awards alumni

Generation Next was launched in 2020 as a new group for 18 to 35-year-olds to meet likeminded people via networking events held at locations such as Leicester cocktail bar Manhattan34, Nottingham arcade game bar Penny Lane and Peak District walks, as well as attend educational workshops on themes such as marketing, personal finance and inclusion.

A mentoring scheme was launched this year to connect Generation Next members – who join on an individual basis – with senior businesspeople within the wider East Midlands Chamber network.

The inaugural Generation Next Awards took place virtually last year and recognised rising stars such as Kate Walker, who makes affordable and adjustable 3D-printed prosthetic arms as founder of Loughborough-based start-up ExpHand Prosthetics, and Derby’s rapidly-growing doughnut delivery company Project D.
Entries are now open for this year’s awards until Tuesday 3 May, and can be submitted either by individuals within the 18 to 35 age bracket or on their behalf by a colleague or line manager.

Applications can be downloaded at generationnextemc.co.uk/awards and must be emailed to the Generation Next team at gennext@emc-dnl.co.uk.
Early-bird tickets are available for the awards ceremony on 14 July at https://bit.ly/GenNextAwards.

Generation Next Awards 2022 categories

• Headline – Generation Next Future Leader Award, sponsored by the University of Derby
• Apprentice of the Year, sponsored by Loughborough College
• Breakthrough Award, sponsored by Nottingham University Business School
• Entrepreneur of the Year, sponsored by Fraser Stretton
• Excellence in Innovation and Technology Award, sponsored by Hardy Signs
• The Volunteer Award, sponsored by RSM
• Sustainability Award, sponsored by MHA MacIntyre Hudson
• Customer Service Award
• Diversity and Inclusion Award
• The Creative Award

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Dozens of Chesterfield businesses given online boost by Digital High Street project

Chesterfield businesses have been given a helping hand to boost their confidence and skills to trade online as part of an innovative project – with tailor-made advice designed to build resilience if their physical buildings are forced to close in a crisis.

Chesterfield Borough Council teamed up with East Midlands Chamber to launch the Chesterfield Digital High Street in June 2021 and the project has since helped 84 local businesses to make the most of their presence online. It offers support and guidance on using online tools but can also provide funding for e-commerce websites.

TwelfthCraft is a retail emporium based in The Shambles specialising in dolls houses, miniatures, accessories, curios and gifts. Since joining the project Caroline Gleadall, who owns and manages the store has created an online presence which has led to a 10% increase in sales and has developed a plan to further expand her business over the next three years.

Caroline said: “Thanks to the project, I feel like I’ve already achieved so much. I’ve developed the confidence to pay for Facebook advertising, and the time I’m committing to my social media presence has provided lots of new connections, allowed me to contact my customers, and given them the opportunity to leave reviews I’m about to launch my new e-commerce website which will help me reach new markets.”

The project is open to businesses across the borough. Brampton Brewery is a long-established micro-brewery based on Chatsworth Road but they have benefitted through the Digital High Street project.

Chris Radford, managing director and head brewer, explained: “We have received grant funding through the project for a new website with enhanced e-commerce functionality. Once launched, we hope to see significant growth in our online sales.

“To any business considering getting involved, I’d say this – just do it! There really is no reason not to. You’ll have access to a wide range of advice and services from industry specialists who just want to see you succeed.”

Councillor Dean Collins, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for economic growth, said: “It’s been a really difficult time for local businesses during the pandemic – many which were left with limited options to trade when Covid-19 forced their buildings to close.

“We’ve been committed to supporting local businesses weather this unprecedented time, and it’s fantastic that so many are already benefitting from this project and realising their full potential. Thank you to East Midlands Chamber for their support and work on this project. If you run a local business there is still time to sign up and find out how you could grow your business online.”

East Midlands Chamber head of enterprise Paul Stuart said: “Purchasing habits have changed as a result of Covid-19, with fewer in-store visitors and a move towards online transactions.

“We expect this to be a long-term shift, so it’s vital that businesses ensure they see this as an opportunity, rather than a threat.

“By engaging with the Chesterfield Digital High Street project, small businesses can benefit from expert support to equip themselves with the right mix of tools needed for the online world – something that will complement their existing services, attract new customers and, ultimately, future-proof their organisations.”

Purpose Media has been supporting the project and have advised over 30 businesses in Chesterfield as part of the Chesterfield Digital High Street Project.

Purpose Media business development manager Grace Golden said: “Through our work in the Chesterfield Digital High Street project, we have helped businesses learn new ways to engage with customers, attract business and increase profitability.

“By implementing new activity online such as posting videos or using Facebook advertising, they have renewed optimism for their future and have confidence in their ability to marketing their business.”

Discover how your business can benefit from this project by visiting: www.emc-dnl.co.uk/chesterfield-digital-high-street

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Three categories added to Enterprising Women Awards 2022 to mark International Women’s Day

Three new categories – including a Lifetime Achievement Award – have been added to the Enterprising Women Awards for 2022 as the East Midlands Chamber-run network celebrates its 25th anniversary.

A Diversity Champion and Rising Star award are also on the bill for the annual showpiece, which takes place on 30 September at a venue to be announced in the coming months.

The awards were launched today (Tuesday 8 March) at an International Women’s Day celebration event at Casa Hotel, in Chesterfield.

Natalie Bamford, the managing director of Derby-based Colleague Box who was crowned Business Woman of the Year at the 2021 awards, was the guest speaker.

Enterprising Women’s roots go back to 1997 and the awards have been held in their current guise across Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire since 2013. Jean Mountain and Eileen Richards MBE continue to lead the network as co-chairs.

Jean, who was named Businesswoman of the Year at the Nottinghamshire Live Women in Business Awards for her contributions to helping other professional women “break the glass ceiling”, said: “We’re so excited about ramping up the celebrations for our 25th year as a network and to top it off, we wanted to create an extra-special edition of our Enterprising Women Awards.

“Adding three new categories offers a great opportunity to recognise even more successful people who are fantastic ambassadors of enterprising women.”

Eileen, who was East Midlands Chamber’s president in 2021, added: “Last year’s awards were an incredible occasion as we were able to return to celebrations in person but the 2022 edition promises to be the biggest and best we’ve ever had.

“We’re looking forward to another extremely high calibre of applications to reflect the huge pool of female talent we have in this brilliant region.”

Entries are now open and the deadline is 29 April. To enter, visit www.emc-dnl.co.uk/ewawards.

Enterprising Women Awards 2022 categories

Business Woman of the Year (sponsored by Futures Housing Group)

Female Entrepreneur of the Year (sponsored by Midlands Engine Investment Fund)

Social Commitment Award (sponsored by She Inspires)

Small Business of the Year (sponsored by Unique Window Systems)

Female Employee of the Year (sponsored by Smallman & Son)

Team of the Year (sponsored by PPL PRS)

Business Woman in STEM (sponsored by Pick Everard)

Apprentice of the Year (sponsored by EMA Training)

Diversity Champion (sponsored by Breedon Consulting)

Rising Star (sponsored by The Turnaround CEO)

Lifetime Achievement (sponsored by Paradigm Wills)

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East Midlands unemployment rate hits another record low

The East Midlands’ unemployment rate continues to drop – once again hitting its lowest point on record, new figures show.

It was 3.4% for the period between October and December last year, compared to a 4.1% national average.

This is the lowest level since the Office for National Statistics (ONS) began publishing regional labour market figures in April 2015, and is higher than only four other regions – East of England, South West, Wales and Northern Ireland.

East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “After falling to 3.5% in the previous reporting period, it’s fantastic news for the region’s labour market that the unemployment rate has fallen to a new record low, which sends a clear signal that the East Midlands is open for business.

“It reflects our own research that indicates our region’s firms are creating jobs to meet strong demand following the effects of the pandemic. The Chamber’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for Q4 2021, covering the same period as the ONS figures, showed two-thirds of companies attempted to recruit, while a net 35% expected to increase their headcount in the first three months of 2022.

“We are represented by a very diverse economy in the East Midlands but there have been some standout sectors to celebrate in recent times, such as a logistics industry that has been a major driver of job creation during the pandemic, which has accelerated pre-existing online shopping trends.”

However, the East Midlands economic inactivity rate – which measures the proportion of 16 to 64-year-olds who have exited the labour market for reasons such as retirement, caring duties or studying – was above the 21.2% national average at 21.9%. It recorded the largest increase compared with the previous year at 1.7 percentage points.

Another key finding in the ONS data was that UK wage growth continues to lag behind the rising cost of living – representing a 0.8% fall when taking inflation into account.

The ONS said early estimates suggest employers are beginning to push up wages further and faster – with median monthly wages in January increasing by 6.3% compared with the same month last year, and 10.3% higher than before the pandemic in February 2020.

Scott added: “Despite the positive trajectory in unemployment, businesses are still encountering major recruitment challenges in a super competitive jobs market, as evidenced by yet another record of 1.3 million job vacancies nationally between November and January.

“The significant rise in the proportion of people exiting the labour market in the East Midlands means there are fewer people to choose from – a worrying trend at a time when companies are desperately trying to fill roles to cope with demand, which will enable them to continue growing and creating more opportunities for local people.

“Many companies in traditional industries such as manufacturing and construction often tell us about the difficulties in replacing an ageing workforce with younger talent, and the latest QES showed that eight in 10 of those that attempted recruitment struggled to find people with the right skills.

“All this highlights the importance of investing heavily in skills, something that was highlighted in the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper as one of its 12 ‘missions’ but must now be prioritised with rapid action to ensure our post-Covid and post-Brexit economic recovery doesn’t stall.”


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East Midlands unemployment rate hits lowest point in seven years – but Chamber warns of recruitment challenges

The East Midlands’ unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest point on record, new figures show.

It was 3.5% for the period between September and November last year, compared to a 4.1% national average.

This is the lowest level since the Office for National Statistics (ONS) began publishing regional labour market figures in April 2015, and represented the smallest proportion of the workforce being unemployed since the three months to December 2019, when the rate was 3.6%.

It also marked a significant drop on the previous reporting period for August to October 2021, when the region’s unemployment rate was on par with the UK average at 4.2%.

East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “This is fantastic news for the region’s labour market and sends a clear signal that the East Midlands is open for business.

“It reflects our own research that indicates our region’s firms are creating jobs to meet strong demand following the effects of the pandemic. The Chamber’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for Q4 2021 showed two-thirds of companies attempted to recruit, while a net 35% expect to increase their headcount in the first three months of 2022.

“We are represented by a very diverse economy in the East Midlands but there have been some standout sectors to celebrate in recent times, such as the logistics industry that has been a major driver of job creation during the pandemic, which has accelerated pre-existing online shopping trends.”

Tightening labour pool presents acute challenge for businesses

While the East Midlands has one of the lowest unemployment rates for over-16s in the UK, the economic inactivity rate for people aged 16 to 64 rose from 21.02% to 22% in the most recent reporting period.

UK job vacancies also soared to a record high of 1.24 million between October and December – 462,000 higher compared with the three months before the pandemic.

Scott added: “Despite the positive trajectory in unemployment, businesses are still encountering major recruitment challenges in a super competitive jobs market.

“The 0.8% increase in the economic inactivity rate represents a rise in the number of people who have opted out of employment, whether it’s for studying, caring or to take early retirement – with the latter being a noticeable trend during the pandemic.

“This means the labour pool is tightening at a time when companies are desperately trying to fill roles to cope with demand, which will enable them to continue growing and creating more jobs for local people.

“Many companies in traditional industries such as manufacturing and construction often tell us about the difficulties in replacing an ageing workforce with younger talent, and the latest QES showed that eight in 10 of those that attempted recruitment struggled to find people with the right skills.

“As we await publication of the Government’s delayed Levelling Up White Paper, the wider context behind the latest ONS data illustrates the need for policymakers to understand how we can pull the right levers in order to support the local economy’s requirements.”

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Housing association CEO Lindsey Williams inducted as new East Midlands Chamber president

Lindsey Williams, who has headed up one of the region’s largest housing associations for almost two decades, is the new president of East Midlands Chamber.

The chief executive of Futures Housing Group, which manages more than 10,000 homes across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire, was inducted into the role at the Chamber’s annual general meeting.

In her first speech as president, she spoke about her two priorities – to support the Chamber’s objective of strengthening links between businesses and communities to create a “Sustainable East Midlands”, and to support the wider region in attracting, developing and retaining great talent via the young professionals’ network Generation Next.

She said: “I’m extremely proud to become president of East Midlands Chamber after observing much of its great work across the region as a board member, and I’m excited about what we can achieve in the year ahead.

“I’m passionate about people having choice – something that is limited by poverty and a lack of opportunity – so I want to ensure our region has equity of investment compared to the rest of the country and, specifically, to promote how any company can have an impact on the local community.

“As a housing provider with an important role in our communities, I’m aware of the many benefits this can have for organisations – building reputation, raising employee loyalty and establishing networks – and there has probably never been a more important time for this connection as we continue to see the negative impact of the pandemic on communities.

“The Chamber’s aim is to help its members achieve their aspirations in supporting the communities in which they operate by getting 70% of our members active in local communities – so I hope I can support in increasing this number over the next year by sharing best practice and ideas, celebrating the work of members and providing encouragement to organisations to engage.”

Lindsey, who joined the housing sector via a management traineeship at Birmingham City Council before becoming one of the UK’s youngest housing association directors before the age of 30, has been chief executive of Futures Housing Group since 2003, when it was known as Amber Valley Housing.

She led it through the acquisition of Daventry and District Housing in 2007, as well as in buying a stake in Nottingham-based training provider Access Training – which helps more than 1,000 learners a year – and launching a grounds maintenance social enterprise Futures Greenscape, which last year merged into the wider group.

During her time at Futures, the organisation has doubled headcount to about 330 people, achieved Investors in People platinum accreditation and, earlier this year, moved from Ripley to a new 20,000 sq ft home called Futures House, based at Pegasus Business Park next to East Midlands Airport. Lindsey has also been a strategic leader on various boards and is an active member of the National Housing Federation in the region.

As well as inviting Chamber members to approach her to discuss how they can build links with their communities and encouraging them to put forward young leaders for Generation Next membership, she announced the three charities she will raise money for throughout 2022.

These are Treetops Hospice Care, an end-of-life care charity that operates in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire; Focus, which helps young people in Leicester to develop skills, confidence and aspirations; and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, which has helped protect the green spaces that have become so valuable during the pandemic.

Outgoing president Eileen Richards MBE, who owns Leicester-based ER Recruitment, presented her three charities – Chesterfield Samaritans, Help the Homeless Leicester and Nottinghamshire Hospice – with their equal share of the £12,000 she fundraised.

In her speech, she said: “I chose these three charities carefully to reflect the wide range of good work being done every day and I’m incredibly proud to have quadrupled the Chamber’s previous best amount thanks to the amazing generosity of our members and staff.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my year as president and feel very honoured for the experience. It has been immensely fulfilling to see my priority objectives take great strides forward.

“Members have come to us in huge volumes and almost two-thirds have accessed at least one service; Generation Next has developed significantly to establish its own shadow board and stage its first awards event; and our strategy to help shape the region’s economic recovery has been witnessed by the Kickstart Scheme, in which we have helped to fill more than 1,500 placements.

“It was also exciting to see our Business Awards return to face-to-face events and encapsulate the best of all that our people and members do. Each of our three ceremonies highlighted the outstanding talent we are blessed with in our region.”

During the Chamber’s AGM, which was hosted by chair of the board of directors Ian Morgan OBE, Stuart Dawkins was elected as the new vice-president. He brings a wide range experience, including heading strategic planning and corporate communications for a FTSE 100 company, and has been a bord member for organisations for a wide variety of sectors.

New directors elected to the board were University of Derby commercial director Dr Peter Dewhurst, Geldards LLP chairman David Williams, SMB Group chief executive and principal Dawn Whitemore and Dr Cham Kang, chief visionary officer at business growth consultancy Qinesis.

David Campbell, director of the Chamber’s Derbyshire Business of the Year, SureScreen Diagnostics, which has supplied Covid-19 lateral flow tests to the UK and overseas, gave a speech about his company and there was a presentation for longstanding members of the Chamber.

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Energy Summit finds huge opportunity for East Midlands to develop new supply chains in low-carbon economy

The Midlands should seek to become a hotbed for emerging supply chains in the low-carbon economy, while end users must be front and centre of our new energy systems.

These were two of the key findings at the Midlands Energy Summit, held by East Midlands Chamber in partnership with the University of Nottingham earlier this week.

Reflecting on the outcomes of COP26 and wider trends in the energy industry, including continuing price increases, it featured keynote speeches and discussions involving companies such as Siemens Energy, Cavendish Nuclear and Consultus International Group.

Chris Hobson, director of policy and external affairs at East Midlands Chamber, said: “What is becoming increasingly apparent is the huge scale of the challenge we face globally, and how a shift in mindset is required now to address this because we need to travel further, faster.

“Rather than this being a daunting prospect though, there are equally significant opportunities at a localised level, particularly in supply chains. The East Midlands, with our energy-intensive manufacturing heritage and world-leading universities, is already at the cutting edge of many future technologies that will guide the energy transition. We now want SMEs to understand that they have a key role to play in the emerging supply chains being built in our region.

“Beyond supply chains, new industries will grow in the space between existing ones. We need to be ready to take advantage of this, while also recognising that taking a user-centric approach is key to bringing people along with us on this journey – viewing our energy consumers as part of the solution, rather than a barrier to change.”

The Midlands Energy Summit, held online on Tuesday (30 November), featured a keynote speech from University of Nottingham vice-chancellor Professor Shearer West. She explained how its Energy Institute is addressing three key societal challenges – energy generation and management, transport and mobility, and communities and the built environment – via a series of sustainable energy research projects.

She said: “Energy is absolutely vital for our survival but our existing energy systems present an existential threat.

“In COP26, we saw a lot about the interconnections between energy and climate change. The transition to net zero relies on a deep thinking for our energy system – not just the technologies we use but our expectations and behaviours.”

There were also presentations about the Midlands Engine’s Ten Point Plan for Green Growth in the Midlands Engine and its work in developing hydrogen technologies, as well as a talk by Cavendish Nuclear’s Michael Dunnett on the growing importance of small modular reactors in making nuclear energy supplies more flexible for industry.

Steve Atkins, head of global trades at Leicester-based energy consultancy Consultus International Group, explained about how a cold winter could cause another spike in gas prices due to relatively low resources, while more investment in zero-carbon energy infrastructure was key to unlocking subsidy-free renewables in the future.

Stephen Scrimshaw, vice-president of Siemens Energy UK & Ireland, focused on how Britain should adopt a “twin track approach” to developing blue and green hydrogen – and, just as importantly, the infrastructure behind it – as part of its net zero strategy.

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Derbyshire Festival of Business launched

The University of Derby, in partnership with Vision Derbyshire, has launched the Derbyshire Festival of Business, a new initiative which aims to celebrate the resilience of our business community over the past two years and help businesses capitalise on opportunities as the county recovers from the pandemic.

The festival will help to connect and support local organisations, whilst showcasing Derbyshire’s extensive business capability to future clients, customers, and investors.

The University is working in collaboration with Destination Chesterfield to promote the wide range of free workshops, masterclasses and networking activities that are available to its members. There will also be an opportunity for businesses to host their own events as part of the festival, as well as participate in a business exposition which will be hosted within Chesterfield.

Professor Kamil Omoteso, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences said: “We are delighted to have launched the Derbyshire Festival of Business to businesses and community leaders alongside our partners, Vision Derbyshire and the East Midlands Chamber.

“This festival is an opportunity to showcase what our county has to offer, to identify current and future talent, and to create opportunities for collaboration between businesses, the University, policy makers and advisory organisations, which will help us build a strong, resilient and inclusive economy as we recover from the impact and challenges of the pandemic.”

Vision Derbyshire is a joint initiative involving the county council and district and borough councils in Derbyshire to improve outcomes for all its communities.

The festival’s programme of activities has been designed to give businesses the support and opportunities needed to revitalise the local economy following the pandemic and build-back-better by unleashing the talent that is available across the region and showcasing the best practice and innovation that has been fostered over the last two years.

Community focused open days and Expo events will promote Derbyshire’s businesses to its residents, and visits between the University, local schools, colleges, and employers are planned to provide careers related advice and showcase local businesses to the next generation of employees.

Online and face to face master classes from leading professionals and academics in Derbyshire are planned to raise the profile of the county as a thought leader within the UK business community, and as a place to do business.

Councillor Tricia Gilby, Economic lead for Vision Derbyshire and Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, commented: “The Derbyshire Festival of Business is a great way of bringing the business community together because we need to cooperate in order to recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The event is really broad and aims to support the entire business community from new graduates to established leaders. I hope lots of residents will take part in the many events on offer.”

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber, added: “We are proud to be part of a fantastic new event that will showcase the best of business across Derbyshire, a county that is home to some incredible examples of entrepreneurship and enterprise.

“The Chamber is a conduit for local companies to work closer together, share advice and seek new opportunities – something that has never been more important than right now as the economy recovers.

“Working alongside our strategic partner the University of Derby, we look forward to welcoming businesses to events over the autumn.”

If your organisation is interested in delivering a community day, an educational engagement activity or a masterclass please email DFoB@derby.ac.uk.

Find out more about the Derbyshire Festival of business here.

Posted in About Chesterfield, Business, Celebrate Chesterfield, Destination Chesterfield, Development, Home, UncategorisedTagged in , , , , , , ,

Chesterfield leaders react to government HS2 announcement

Leaders in Chesterfield have reacted to the government’s announcement earlier today, around HS2 and the Integrated Rail Plan.

To find out full details around what was announced, go to:


Councillor Tricia Gilby, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said “It is deeply disappointing that the government has failed to deliver on its promises to commit to the Eastern Leg of HS2 in full – Chesterfield borough presents a prime example of a place ripe for investment and development off the back of HS2. Instead, the ambitions of our children and young people are yet again set to be held back by the government’s under-investment in the infrastructure needed to enable them to build their careers and lives.

“We have long called on the government to keep their promises and deliver the Eastern leg in full, and without delay. Today’s announcement hits hard our plans for up to a billion pounds worth of investment in Staveley alone, including new skills and jobs for local people. By backtracking on their promises, the government has taken a once in a lifetime opportunity away from our communities and undermined the hard work and commitment that the council and its partners have put in over many years.

“Pushing it into the long grass creates prolonged uncertainty and destroys some of the hopes we had for a brighter future.

“Rather than look to Chesterfield and Staveley, we fear businesses will now prioritise their investment to areas where the government has committed to invest in HS2. With the HS2 maintenance depot in Staveley now in doubt, our well-developed plans to use this to re-ignite much needed growth and regeneration for Staveley will suffer. Whilst we will do all we can to ensure this continues, the same levels of investment and development will not be achieved by just connecting HS2 to the existing Midland Main Line.

“The announcement today claims to set up our rail network for success for the next hundred years, that is not the case in our part of the world as it will cram even more trains on to an already crowded Victorian network. HS2 promised 21st century connectivity and capacity, but the people of Chesterfield are not deemed important enough to experience those benefits.

“The gap in the new high speed network means funnelling even more trains along lines already very busy with freight and passenger services.

“The uncertainty and delays we have already experienced are also now set to continue, with land safeguarded for HS2 remaining unavailable for development until the government makes a firm decision. I therefore call on the government to conclude its deliberations as quickly as possible to minimise the blight for affected communities and take the brakes off our ambitious growth plans.

“We welcome the electrification of the Midland Main Line, but the government has already announced this project multiple times, failing each time to set a firm timetable for delivery in our area. If the government truly want to level up investment and improve connectivity here, they must firm up this commitment with funding and set deadlines to ensure the project will be delivered.

“We will continue to strongly make the case for “HS2 All the Way”. In only investing in “HS2 half the way”, it is my view that the government has missed out on a golden opportunity to level up the country through equity of investment in HS2 in the East Midlands and North”.

Cllr Tricia Gilby, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council

Commenting on the Government’s publication of the Integrated Rail Plan and its ramifications for the HS2 Eastern Leg, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Today’s announcement comes as a bitter blow to communities in the East Midlands that have spent such a long time planning for the arrival of HS2, only to now be faced with a reneging on clear commitments repeatedly made by our country’s leaders.

“From a practical perspective, we miss out on the majority of the transformational economic benefits that underpinned the HS2 case for the region. This would have included significantly enhanced connectivity both locally and with other major cities, increased capacity to help us deliver more frequent and reliable local services, as well as the significant wider investment opportunities that come with businesses basing themselves at such a well-connected location.

“It was also about creating economic prosperity in places such as Chesterfield and Staveley, where economic regeneration planning has hinged around the delivery of HS2.

“But it’s not just a case of what we could have had. Investment begets investment and the fact that the Western Leg has been given the green light places the East Midlands at a massive disadvantage. It risks further widening the

“Of course, the proposed improvements within the Integrated Rail Plan, along with the long-needed electrification of the Midland Main Line, are positive developments. But these were always a part of our wider vision for HS2 in the East Midlands and electrification was promised many years ago – and has itself been the subject of multiple Government flip-flops over the past decade.

“As the Prime Minister himself has said, it should not be an either/or situation. We need these developments alongside HS2 to achieve the full benefits for the region.

“Because make no mistake, this is a job half done. This has always been so much more than just a transport investment for the communities of the East Midlands and no matter how this is now spun, our joint vision that encompassed economic, environmental and societal benefits has been massively descoped.

“At a time when the Prime Minister is shouting from the rooftops about levelling up and saying no place will be left behind, this is a slap in the face to a region that already receives the lowest level of public expenditure on transport and economic affairs in the UK.

“It also demonstrates massive disingenuity towards the climate change agenda despite the rhetoric surrounding COP26 earlier this month – our railways are at breaking point, and only through the additional capacity of HS2 would we be able to encourage people and freight off the roads in quantities meaningful enough to make a difference.

“The decision not to build the Eastern Leg as originally planned undermines not only the benefits of the entire project but also trust in Government.

“It now rests on Westminster to explain in proper, technical detail exactly what it plans to deliver, as well as how and when, in order to prevent the East Midlands from being structurally disadvantaged for generations to come.

“For our own region, it’s never been more crucial for our political and business leaders to come together and prepare a collective response for how we move forward.”

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive of East Midlands Chamber


Posted in About Chesterfield, Business, Destination Chesterfield, Home, UncategorisedTagged in , , , , , ,

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