Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Angela Eagle visited The Heath Business and Technical Park in Runcorn as part of a fact-finding mission to the North West to gain a greater understanding of the main issues facing small companies.
The tour on Friday, January 8 was organised by the Federation of Small Business with The Heath selected as one of the ideal locations in the region to visit because of the vast and diverse range of small businesses that are based at the award-winning site. Ms Eagle wanted to discover what businesses think the government is doing to support them and what could be done differently to make it easier.
Charles Davies, Operations Director of SOG Ltd, the owner and operator of The Heath which is home to over 150 companies, escorted the Shadow Minister around the site and briefed her on SOG’s own success story which is now being replicated at its sister site Londoneast-uk Business and Technical Park in east London.
Ms Eagle met representatives of businesses flourishing at The Heath, which sees SMEs and international organisations representing 20 different business sectors working alongside each other, including ArviaTM Technology and Aqueous Digital
Specialist water and waste water treatment company Arvia moved its operation to The Heath last June after securing £4 million of further investment funding to enable it to embark on a series of demonstration installations in industrial treatment facilities.
Arvia’s Chief Executive Mike Lodge (pictured above) gave Ms Eagle a tour of his accommodation and briefed her on Arvia’s specialist technology.
Mr Lodge says a key motivator for Arvia switching operations to The Heath was due to the unique technical support SOG offers to science-related businesses, in addition to its competitive rates for office, laboratory and research & development space.
SOG’s own project team and specialist technicians created a bespoke rig hall, laboratory, workshop, offices, meeting rooms and storage space for Arvia. Under the terms of its agreement, the company whose revolutionary technology removes and destroys contaminants from water and waste water, has scope to expand and scale-up operations as the business evolves.
Stepping into Aqueous Digital – one of the UK’s fastest growing Digital Marketing agencies – Managing Director Jonathan Guy discussed how its recent year-end saw turnover and profits grow for the fourth year in a row. Since initially moving to a small office in August 2011 the company has expanded and now occupies a much larger space thanks to The Heath’s flexible lease terms.
Aqueous Digital provides a range of digital marketing services for companies throughout the UK including SEO services, pay per click (PPC) management and digital marketing strategy.
After the tour Angela Eagle said: “From my brief visit it has made me want to come back because there’s such a variety of different businesses here. What’s impressed me the most I think is that you provide a really good centre for people to meet each other as well as develop their own businesses. I think that cross fertilisation is important and I’ve been very impressed by some of the state-of-the-art innovation and new tech that is being developed here, so I think you are doing a grand job.”
She added: “I think that we are in an era now where we have got to rebuild our economy so that we can guarantee this country’s economic prosperity well into the 21st century in very challenging world conditions. We are at the edge of a huge new digital age where those that can innovate, and actually then upscale into proper manufacturing and business development, are going to be major players in the economy that’s to come – they cannot do that without sites like this. So it’s fantastic to see this here. I think people often underestimate the amount of development potential that you are facilitating in places like this.”
FSB representatives who joined Ms Eagle on her fact-finding tour of the North West included John Allen (National Chairman), Phil McCabe (Development Manager) and Chris Burgess (Regional Chairman).