Wolverhampton | Sandwell | Dudley | Walsall
4 - 15 October 2021
The Black Country Business Festival covers a total of 8 sectors, each one carefully selected to showcase the region's broad but strong economy. Leading each sector is an industry-specific professional who is well-known within their sectorial field.
A Sector Lead is responsible for ensuring BCBF is as successful as possible. Using their extensive networks and industry links, Sector Leads encourage participants, businesses and investors to discover what the Black Country has to offer.
The 8 key sectors are:
Chief Operating Officer
Following a successful career in automation and control engineering and after reading an MA in Business Management Andrew co-founded Simworx in 2005. Andrew’s attention initially focused on growing the commercially based project business throughout the entertainment industry, establishing Simworx as a recognised World leader in the ride attractions sector. As Chief Operating Officer Andrew is responsible for operations at Simworx including Product Development, Project Delivery, Engineering, Quality Management, Procurement and Software Development and Business Strategy. Andrew has overseen the manufacture and installation of over 120 media-based motion attractions worldwide working with prestigious clients such as Disney, DreamWorks, National Geographic and Ferrari.
I consider that I work in one of the most exciting industries at the most exciting of times in terms of advances in technology. The use of continually developing AV and communications technologies allows Simworx to create the most realistic and Immersive environments for our ride customers enabling us to deliver the most memorable Themepark experiences.
Creative Enterprise Scale Up Programme Lead
WMCA/ Creative Start Up Programme
In line with the Industrial Strategy Creative Industries Sector Deal, DCMS (the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) has established an investment package for Creative Industry (CI) businesses including a ‘Creative Scale Up Programme’ to provide intensive business readiness support to develop pools of investable businesses and viable networks of investors to increase the sector’s scalability, productivity and profitability. The Programme is here to support Creative Industry Businesses as they are looking to grow and ‘scale up’ their operations enabling them to move into new markets and take on more staff leading to widespread benefits for the region and beyond.
The West Midlands (including the Black Country) is an ideal location for this initial two-year action research programme to deliver meaningful results in a relatively short time. In particular, the region has:
● A large, growing cluster of around 10,000 creative enterprises providing a viable pool for the programme, with some of the largest growth in creative businesses in the country to be found in this region.
● Around 10% of the UK games industry; a substantial advertising, marketing and design sector; the largest jewellery, crafts and designer maker cluster outside London; and the UK’s first large scale 5G test bed providing unique opportunities.
● Design and creative industries are at the heart of the West Midlands wider global strengths in advanced manufacturing, automotive and transport innovation. Virtual Reality and visual design and communication skills developed in the gaming sector, for example, are increasingly used by large scale OEMs in the design and testing of cars, autonomous pods and aerospace systems.
The Black Country Business Festival has kindly asked me to sit on the Steering Group for the Festival with the Festival having a focus on Creative and Digital for the first time ever this year. This will enable me to become involved much more deeply with the creative sector in the region and identify new businesses who are able to benefit from this DCMS funded Programme who might not have previously known about it or recognised how it could be of benefit to them or their business.
For further information about the Programme please look at our website where an initial Expression of Interest Form can be completed: www.wmca.org.uk/creativescaleup
Fiona Latter Programme Manager Creative Scale Up Programme
Education & skills
Deputy Director - Business Engagement
Wolverhampton Business School
In the Black Country there are six Further Education colleges and one University (Wolverhampton), whose recent £250 million investment in its new Springfield Camps has seen a new home for the School of Architecture and the Built Environment plus the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills, providing training facilities for the manufacturing sector. In August 2020 the University of Wolverhampton also secured £14.9 million of funding from the Government’s Get Building Fund for the West Midlands in order to develop the National Brownfield Institute. The institute will research and develop new construction methods and ways of regenerating contaminated land.
The University of Wolverhampton can assist in raising the levels of high quality, industry-focused skills and support workforce development, provide research opportunities and deliver knowledge exchange partnerships.
Richard Nicklin provides strategic leadership to the University's newly formed business engagement unit, which offers support to business, public sector and community organisations, with the aim of boosting the economic prosperity of City of Wolverhampton and the wider West Midlands region. He possesses over 14 years’ experience of generating high-profile business partnerships and commercial income on behalf of several public and private sector organisations operating within the West Midlands.
Director & Head of Commercial Property & Corporate Services
The Federation of Small Businesses’ mission is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions. We offer our members a wide range of vital business services including legal advice, financial expertise, a wide range of business support services and a powerful voice heard in Government.
Business Support & Communications
Corin Godsmark is an Account Director for Balfour Beatty based within the Midlands, Responsibility in developing key relationships with customers and stakeholders, Through these relationships will support the growth and sustainable business, Local projects include Midland Metropolitan University Hospital, Black Country Living Museum, Schools across the West Midlands.
Interests include family time and supporting an East Midlands football team and watching motorsport, Proud to help the SWBH trust in securing PPE during the peak of Covid – and super impressed with how the Black Country business family provided support.
Retail, Tourism & Hospitality
Head of Visitor Attraction
West Midlands Growth Company
Becky Frall is the Head of Visitor Attraction at West Midlands Growth Company. She has 20 years’ experience in the visitor economy sector, starting out in economic development consultancy. She is passionate about curating the visitor experience and linking the many agents involved with this across the region. Her current focus is to drive up overnight stays in the business and leisure tourism sectors, to increase dwell-time and value to the West Midlands.
With the team and regional stakeholders, we aim to leverage the opportunities from the region’s upcoming major events: Coventry City of Culture and Birmingham Commonwealth Games, and the Black Country’s newly awarded UNESCO Geopark status.
These will bring the region to the national and international stage, to increase awareness, change perceptions, and attract more visitors. To support this, we will also build capacity in our tourism and hospitality businesses to ensure a maximum sustainable return to each, for the benefit of the whole region.
Becky is the West Midlands regional representative for The Tourism Management Institute, the organisation for tourism destination professionals.