Thursday 24th August 2017
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 01/06/2017

Region’s house prices forecast to outperform

House prices in the East of England are set to rise faster than the national average over the next five years as the region's strong business environment and easy connections to London attract new residents, says a report from Barclays. The bank's UK property predictor forecasts house prices in the region will rise by an average of 9.38 per cent over the next five years, whilst nationally prices will rise by 6.1 per cent to £300,000. South Cambs is forecast to be one of the hotspots driven by widespread affluence with prices expected to rise 22.2 per cent by 2021. Others include St Albans (where house prices are set to rise by 38.8 per cent) Three Rivers (34.6 per cent) and Uttlesford, which includes Stansted Airport (30 per cent). A key indicator of higher prices is the number of highly-qualified residents, who are likely to earn more.  Simon Smith, regional director, Eastern, Barclays Wealth and Investments, said: “The East of England has a strong and vibrant local economy, with residents enjoying higher than average earnings, which is fuelling price increases in the local property market. Our proximity to London also has a significant impact on prices in the area. With large companies locating to the region and people looking to escape the city, the East of England has become a popular destination which is creating competition for available housing....Read more

See Profile Barclays Wealth and Investments

Cambridge start-up raises £5m from new investors

Law firm Birketts has completed a £5m funding round for Cambridge-based start-up UltraSoc Technologies from a list of new investors. UltraSoC provides SoC (systems on chip) infrastructure for the rapid development of embedded systems based on advanced SoC devices and the funding will allow it to drive deployment of its technology and realize its vision of embedding intelligent analytics capabilities into every chip. New investors include Atlante Tech, Enso Ventures, Oxford Capital and Guillaume d'Eyssautier who join existing investors Octopus Ventures and South East Seed Fund (FSE Group). Birketts advised the company on all legal matters with Quentin Golder, partner in Birketts' technology team leading on the deal, assisted by Georgina Perrott. UltraSoC CEO Rupert Baines said: “By securing substantial additional capital we can take UltraSoC to the next level of success. Quentin and the team at Birketts were a great help through the entire process and ensured that we had complete peace of mind.”

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MBO at Cambridge content marketing agency

Cambridge content agency CPL has recently completed a management buy out advised by PEM Corporate Finance. Founded in 1996 by journalists Mark Rosselli and Jonathan Wilson - who had previously in senior editorial roles at The Observer and The Independent - CPL provides content marketing services, such as copywriting, video and graphic design, across digital and print channels. Clients include global groups such as AB InBev, AstraZeneca and EY, as well as the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Newmarket-based Godolphin racing and breeding operation The MBO ensures CPL has a robust leadership succession strategy and puts in place an ownership and management structure to support continued growth. Led by managing director Mike Sewell, the MBO has widened ownership to include key members of the existing team. Mark Rosselli and Jonathan Wilson remain as shareholders and continue to advise a number of clients. Lake Falconer and Tony Stairs at PEM Corporate Finance helped the vendors complete the deal. Lake Falconer, corporate finance partner, said: “The deal puts CPL in a good position to go for growth and continue to benefit from the expertise and knowledge of its founders.”

Photo (l to r): Mark Rosselli, Mike Sewell, Lake Falconer (PEMCF), and Jonathan Wilson.

See Profile PEM Corporate Finance

Brexit still ranks as key concern

Brexit remains the biggest cause for concern amongst businesses across the region, according to a poll by Prettys during a recent update on employment law. One third (36 per cent) cited Brexit as the biggest issue they faced this year, followed by worker status issues (24 per cent), national living wage (16 per cent) and gender pay gap reporting (12 per cent). On the ‘gig economy’, only 9 per cent of firms had reviewed the status of their own workers. Prettys partner Matthew Cole (photo, right) said; “Many businesses are still waiting for clarity on what the legal implications will be once the UK leaves the EU. In addition, changes to the rights of self-employed workers and the national living wage are already impacting on many businesses in the East of England.” Prettys next event , part of its Business Academy series, will look at the new General Data Protection Regulations that will be in force from May 2018.

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Separately, the majority of Norfolk companies say a ‘softer’ Brexit would provide a positive outcome for their business, according to a Grant Thornton survey, ahead of the launch of its 2017Norfolk Limited study on 27 June. The poll showed that 50 per cent of local companies favour a ‘soft’ Brexit while only 13 per cent say leaving the EU single market and the customs union entirely (in favour of a relationship based at least initially on WTO rules) would be desirable. More than a third (37 per cent) of firms questioned remain unsure. To register to attend the event at Norwich City FC or for a copy of the report, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

See Profile Grant Thornton

Briefly….

Ipswich candidates in the spotlight

The parliamentary candidates for Ipswich will be in the spotlight at a General Election business question time on 6 June at the Jerwood Dancehouse at DanceEast on the town’s Waterfront on June 6. Ben Gummer (Conservative), Sandy Martin (Labour), Tony Gould (UKIP), Adrian Trett (Liberal Democrats) and Charlotte Armstrong (Green Party) will be on the platform. Business people will hear about each candidate’s policies and ideas for Ipswich and can send individual questions ahead of the event. Booking is required at  Event Brite with wine and nibbles from 5.30 pm for a 6 pm start.  The IoD Suffolk branch, Ipswich Central, Ipswich Suffolk Business Club and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce are joint organisers.

Investor interest in Babraham

The annual Babraham Investor Conference recently attracted over 120 investors focused on early-stage and scale-up life science and med-tech companies. Babraham Bioscience Technologies chief executive Derek Jones, who chaired the event, said: “Over the last few years companies on the campus have raised over £500m in equity investment.  This event gives us the opportunity to further support that growth by getting the right people together to initiate the next stage of development for many of these organisations.” PhoreMost, a new-model drug discovery company based at the Babraham Research Campus, was amongst the companies presenting.

New Norfolk homes set to start

Broadland Housing is to start building phase 2 of its Hall Close development at Bodham in Norfolk, a scheme of 16 units including a mix of affordable rent and shared ownership homes, supported by some open market homes. “Construction of phase 2 has been delayed until now because we’ve had to find a new way to fund affordable housing to replace government grant funding. However, we’re now able to proceed with this stunning new scheme,” said Ed Mumford-Smith, head of development. John Youngs, a Norwich-based subsidiary of RG Carter Group, is the main contractor.

Employee engagement concerns

East Anglian HR Managers and staff are more concerned about the issue of employee engagement than about other potentially topical staff matters, according to a straw poll taken at an employment conference hosted by Ashtons Legal and recruiters Hays.  Seventy eight per cent of attendees indicated that this issue concerned them more than Brexit, gender pay gap reporting and the gig economy. However, Brexit and issues surrounding staffing and immigration was the second highest cause for concern.

Landowners keen to keep free trade

It is in the interests of the whole European food and farming industry that a successful free trade agreement is secured, a delegation from the CLA countryside group argued when it met with MEPs and EU officials in the European Parliament this week. CLA deputy president and Cambs landowner Tim Breitmeyer said: “There is bright future for EU agriculture and the wider food sector, but we have to work together to ensure that the politicians deliver the right deal for our industry with its hundreds of thousands of businesses and millions of consumers.

Law firm reaccredited with gold award

Essex law firm Birkett Long has been reaccredited with the Investors in People gold award; keeping it amongst the top 13 per cent of IIP-accredited organisations in the UK. The firm originally attained IIP recognition in 2008, and in 2014 it achieved gold status by meeting 177 of the measurable standards in the framework. Over the past three years the firm's improvements included the introduction of a new strategic board, an in-house ‘training surgery’ and the launch of a formal mentoring scheme. Managing partner Adrian Livesley said: “We are a firm that pulls together and works together to strive for continuous improvement and this outcome is a real reflection of how impressed the assessor was with the whole team.”

Photo: The Birkett Long HR team from left, Leonie Dolling, Liz O’Mahony, Joann Kebbell and Lorraine Younger

Creative appointment at Norwich agency

Norwich-based agency Creative Sponge has recently promoted Michelle Williams (right) to creative director. She manages a six-strong  studio that has helped to win a dozen new clients since the end of last year, most recently US-based Pumpkin Tree Snacks, Premier Education Group, M+A Partners, Jarrold Training and Lakeside Food Group. She holds a first class degree in graphic design and has been with Creative Sponge for ten years. She said: “I really enjoy nurturing and mentoring my team and am very proud of the fantastic creative coming out of the studio.” The agency's client services team has also expanded with the appointment of Abi Murr as an account executive. Creative Sponge has been operating from its offices in Norwich city centre since 2004 and set up a London base six months ago.

Award for enterprise advisers

Enterprise advisers from the Suffolk branch of recruitment agency Adecco – part of the New Anglia Enterprise Adviser Network - have won a national award for their work connecting Suffolk schools and colleges with business. They won the large employer category at the Careers and Enterprise Company’s ‘Joining the Dots’ awards ceremony in Sheffield.

Cambridge college offers filming & editing for events

Murray Edwards College, Cambridge is launching a range of event filming & editing packages in response to client demand. It has unveiled gold, silver and essential packages to film and edit meetings, conferences and events in its Buckingham House Lecture Theatre. Clients have asked to film their events to reach a wider audience via the internet and for training and marketing purposes or to put on their website. The three levels of package range from a single hour’s filming and two hours’ editing through to a full day’s filming and one and a half day’s editing.  The service is provided by the college’s highly experienced AV technician Benjamin Rampillion. Chris Pope, general manager conferences, catering and residences, said: “Over the last year, we have invested significantly in state-of-the-art AV in our Buckingham House Lecture Theatre to meet the growing requirement for sophisticated technical facilities. This latest development complements this commitment and already it is proving a popular addition to our meetings offering.”

Photo: Benjamin Rampillion, AV technician at Murray Edwards College.

New AV appointment adds to expertise at college

Jesus College, Cambridge is enhancing its technical expertise with the appointment of Mark Cresswell as AV technician. Based mainly at its recently-launched West Court conference and meetings facility, he is responsible for managing the college’s state-of-the-art technical equipment, which has recently seen significant investment. He is also providing on-site technical support for all users – both internally and externally. Mark Cresswell (photo, right) has a strong background in electronic engineering and AV and for the last ten years has provided consultancy in sound, radio broadcasting and technical support for a wide range of organisations. He said: “This is a very exciting opportunity for me, particularly with the new Lecture Hall at West Court and the technical investment in recent months. Everyone who has visited has been impressed by our large video wall, dual screen display facility and our integrated house and stage lighting. Increasingly people are asking for video conferencing, streaming and filming of events which we are now in a first class position to provide."