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The Commercial Operations team has worked with many businesses, below are some feedback and testimonials about how the services have benefitted their business.

Altimex

Altimex

Altimex Ltd specialises in electronics and optics. With research and development and manufacturing functions located at Thornton since May 2015, Altimex has successfully grown its business and is expanding into a larger building on site during 2016.

Director, Davinder Lotay, says of his experience: "Keeping ahead of technology is a challenge for all organisations designing and manufacturing state-of-the-art electronic controls, we work very closely with the University to ensure this is achieved. Our presence at Thornton Science Park enables us to exploit the skills and knowledge of both the Faculty of Science and Engineering and the Business School. We also benefit from the placement scheme, which allows us to work with dynamic and talented students. In turn, these students gain an invaluable insight into working in an innovative industrial environment."

MDecon

MDeconMDecon develops innovative solutions to waste management challenges and has been present at Thornton since the opening of the business incubation unit in July 2015.

Technology Manager Dr Steve Black says: There are many benefits to an SME of being based at Thornton Science Park, it provides a unique environment with a commercial science park in the heart of a science and engineering faculty. The range of facilities that are provided within the shared user laboratories and through close collaboration with the academic staff have opened up opportunities that would otherwise have required longer term investment. The ability to work alongside academia also provides us with opportunity to input to the training of the students and our experience with interns has been highly beneficial.

Just Thai Kitchen

Without the NoWFOOD Centre our business just wouldn't exist today. A year ago we were dreamers with an idea, today we are a micro-business selling a range of food products in multiple shops across Cheshire.Miles

Just Thai Kitchen is a Cheshire based business that specialises in creating authentic Thai ready meals. The company was founded by mother and son duo Nooch and Miles with the vision of producing handmade Thai dishes using authentic and quality ingredients to give consumers a true taste of Thailand. With the help of the NoWFOOD Centre and the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme, they have achieved exactly that.

Having developed a basic concept for a profitable business back in 2015, Nooch and Miles wanted to take their ideas to the next level by scaling up production. They approached the University of Chester's NoWFOOD Centre (North West Food Research Development Centre) and became the centre's first commercial client. From here they have developed into a growing and profitable micro-business.

The NoWFOOD Centre provides facilities and expertise to food and drink manufacturers to enable them to explore new markets and develop new product ideas. The University of Chester’s expert staff at the NoWFOOD Centre supported Nooch and Miles by helping them carry out product testing to meet food standard requirements. They also provide Just Thai Kitchen with access to a fit-for-purpose production kitchen from which they can operate their business. As a result of all the support Just Thai Kitchen have received, they now have seven products currently stocked across three farm shops in Cheshire and have seen double-digit monthly revenue growth within the first 12 months. As they celebrate their one year anniversary in the NoWFOOD Centre, Just Thai Kitchen continue to be optimistic about the future, and aim to move to bigger premises as the company expands. They have accessed further support from the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme to help them do exactly that.

We hope that by being a part of the programme we can expand current channels to market and explore new ones, with the eventual aim of generating sufficient cash flow to set up our own production facility.Miles

The University of Chester is a delivery partner of the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme, an ERDF programme set up to support SMEs in Cheshire and Warrington. The programme helps businesses understand the key skills they need to develop in order to facilitate growth. Nooch and Miles became aware of the programme through their involvement with the NoWFOOD Centre. They felt it would be a good opportunity to develop the skills they need to take their business to next level.

Within one year Just Thai Kitchen was able to evolve from concept to a fully functional business. Now, the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme is helping them expand their business further.

The Literacy Company

The Literacy Company works closely with schools to improve standards in English and to enhance the curriculum. They offer bespoke support and training for schools across the country. The team of dedicated consultants aim to encourage a love for literacy amongst teachers and students alike, by sharing inspirational and exciting texts.

European Regional Development Fund
Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme

Co-founders Linda Neill and Catherine Richardson started the company in September 2013, after pitching to acquire office space at the Riverside Innovation Centre (RIC) in Chester. Having both taught the subject of English at local schools, they identified a gap in the market for a specialist company to improve literacy standards. Their shared love of literacy lead to them setting up The Literacy Company. The office space at Riverside Innovation Centre was the base needed to develop their idea further and to officially establish the business.

Office space was not the only form of support the company received from the University of Chester’s Riverside Innovation Centre. The RIC has been designed to nurture and develop start-up companies by providing them with opportunities to network with on-site specialist staff and organisations. Since being based at the RIC, The Literacy Company has joined a network of like-minded companies and entrepreneurs. As a result, the business has received advice from other businesses on topics such as HR, graphic design and promotional products.

The Literacy Company have also actively engaged with the University and have benefitted from some of the commercial services offered to businesses. The University is a proud delivery partner of the ERDF funded Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme, which aims to deliver support to SMEs and entrepreneurs in Cheshire and Warrington. By signing up to the programme, The Literacy Company have been able to attend funded masterclasses on topics such as sales and intellectual property. These masterclasses have helped the team at The Literacy Company develop skills which will help the company expand. They have already developed a number of materials that are selling well, and are in the process of remodelling the website to advance the sales side of the business.

The RIC is a great base for meeting clients, networking with other companies and having an expert on hand who can direct us to appropriate business supportCo-founders Linda Neill and Catherine Richardson

Due to all the support The Literacy Company has received from the University and the RIC, the company has grown considerably. In September 2013, Linda and Catherine were the only members of staff at the business. Four and a half years later, the company now employs two members of staff, two sub-contractors and four associate consultants. The Literacy Company has also seen a 123% growth in turnover since moving to the RIC, and now works with schools across numerous local authorities including Birmingham, London, Bolton and Staffordshire. Catherine Richardson comments:

 

Blue Sky Bio

Blue Sky Bio is a research and development firm which specialises in the development of disruptive, high-output, bioprocessed, renewable energy producing technologies. Their main goal is to reverse the process of rising atmospheric CO2 in order to produce a zero-carbon energy future. The company have received official government support from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and have experienced significant business growth since being based at Thornton Science Park.

Blue Sky Bio relocated to Thornton in June 2016. The state-of-the-art facilities together with the construction of the multi-million pound Energy Centre were the main attractions for the company. Additionally, the opportunity to connect with other companies on-site and join a network of like-minded businesses was a further incentive to move to Thornton. After receiving a tour of the site from Paul Vernon, Senior Executive Director of Commercial Operations and CEO Thornton Research Properties, the company became excited at the prospect of becoming a Thornton tenant and began preparations to relocate.

After moving into their new offices and fully equipped laboratory, Blue Sky Bio were keen to explore other services available to them as a Thornton tenant. The company’s Technology Director, Nick Bartlett, met with members of the Commercial Operations team to explore the various business support options.  As a result, he made connections with other Thornton tenants and discussed opportunities for collaboration. Nick has now been tasked with numerous experiments for other Thornton based companies and is keen to find a successful solution to some of their challenges.

I couldn’t praise the support received highly enough. It is unprecedented.Nick Bartlett
Technology Director

Nick has also received one-to-one business support from the Business Development Managers in the Commercial Operations team at the University of Chester. The support Nick has received includes assistance with applying for bids, advice on technology development and introductions to various research opportunities at Thornton. Nick was able to access this support at no charge through the ERDF funded Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme. The University of Chester is a proud delivery partner of this innovative programme which aims to deliver 12 hours of fully funded support to entrepreneurs and SMEs in the Cheshire and Warrington areas.

As a result of all the support, Blue Sky Bio have received from Thornton and the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme, the company have experienced significant growth. When Nick moved his company to Thornton Science Park in June 2016, he was the only member of staff at Blue Sky Bio. Now he employs five other people and has exciting plans in place for continued growth in the future. Their success has recently been observed by noteworthy external organisations. The company were recently nominated for The People’s Choice Award organised by Pitch at Palace. The opportunity enabled them to form important business connections which have allowed them to work on two full-scale commercial projects.

To find out more about Blue Sky Bio, please visit their new website: https://www.blueskybio.co.uk/

Further Information

For further information on the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme, and to access 12 hours of fully funded support, please email businessgrowth@chester.ac.uk or call 01244 567 500.