UCLan awarded cash for manufacturing skills drive

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been awarded a share of £6.1m to help address the skills shortage across the county.

The institution received a £199,763 injection from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). It will support the delivery of its Additive Manufacturing Education Programme (AMEP).

AM refers to technology which builds 3D objects. UCLan’s programme will aim to boost productivity in the sector by developing skilled workers.

Some funding will also go towards the university’s DigitME project, which is working with local businesses to assess potential opportunities for skills development and the implementation of AM technologies.

Dr John Lonsdale, director of innovation and enterprise at UCLan, said: “Additive Manufacturing is a key component of advanced manufacturing with the potential to accelerate innovation and productivity across many sectors in the UK.

“The rapid rise and disruptive nature of additive technologies has left a skills gap whereby specialists in additive manufacturing are limited and there is a requirement for a significant shift in engineering education in order to support the future of this method of manufacture.

“The HEFCE Catalyst Fund means we will be able to accelerate and expand the delivery of teaching and learning activities to address the skills gap and develop and sustain AMEP long term.”

Via Insider Media Limited.

Action urged to maintain Northern Powerhouse momentum

The UK chief executive of Bibby Financial Services has welcomed the progress made on the Northern Powerhouse initiative in recent months but called for action to maintain the momentum that is building up across the region.

Edward Winterton first joined the business in 1996 upon graduation from Sheffield University. He has since held a variety of senior roles in operations and sales, and was appointed as UK chief executive in March 2017.

He told Insider: “Momentum is starting to build again after a pause around Brexit. The Northern Powerhouse seems to be coming to the fore in the political lexicon.”

Last week (16 January 2018) Transport for the North unveiled a transport plan designed to boost the North’s economy by £100bn and create 850,000 jobs.

Drawn up to rebalance the UK’s economy through a sustained 30-year programme of infrastructure investment, the Strategic Transport Plan is the first of its kind and outlines how connections across the North of England need to be improved to drive growth.

Winterton said the proposals were “a good starting point” and called for more details on how the various projects will be brought forward.

Read on at Insider Media.


Marketing Lancashire boss leaves to join UCLan

Ruth Connor, the chief executive of Marketing Lancashire is leaving the organisation next month, to join the University of Central Lancashire.

Connor, who became the organisation’s first CEO in 2012, will take up the role of executive director of strategic marketing at the university.

“I have been very privileged to work with so many exceptional businesses and business leaders over the last 5 years and am pleased to be able to continue to work within the business community in Lancashire with my new role at UCLan,” she explained.

UCLan deputy vice-chancellor, Liz Bromley said that Connor would help support its “strategic priorities and continued global success.”

Read on at Prolific North.

Fat Media Founders Launch New Hosting Company

Two ex-Fat Media Directors, Dominic Williams and David Whiteford, and former Fat Media Head of Hosting for almost a decade, Tony Cheetham, have regrouped to create Northern Bloc; the powerhouse windows hosting company that’s proud to serve the booming northern digital economy. The hosting platform is set to benefit growing businesses who want a no-fuss, reliable hosting contract, delivered by a team of people who have first-hand experience in growing digital businesses themselves.

The trio have invested in over £100,000 worth of equipment and software, and have clients in Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester signed-up already. Northern Bloc is currently a team of six with an apprenticeship scheme for budding IT Technicians.

The Northern Bloc Directors comment:

Dominic Williams

“Northern Bloc really allows us to celebrate our roots in the northern digital economy and proudly support other companies who want to grow, just like we’ve done in the past.”

David Whiteford

“Between us we have the perfect skillsets and years of experience, and decided we could deliver a hosting platform the way we think it should be… In our experience, customers want to speak to the people doing the work, not a salesperson.”

Tony Cheetham

“We chose Manchester as our base of operations because it’s central to the northern powerhouse and has a thriving digital economy which fits perfectly with our ethos. Manchester also has excellent connectivity and a wide availability of technical skills.”

Northern Bloc hosting is available to individual businesses, or agencies who need to host websites for multiple clients. Hosting is split into simple, easy to understand packages: Bloc 1, Bloc 2, Bloc 3 and Bloc 4 or full dedicated servers. Northern Bloc servers are located in the “Knowledge Quarter” of Manchester next to the universities and its head office is located in Manchester City Centre near St Peter’s Square.

Five weeks to go until Prolific North Live 2018

There are just five weeks to go until Prolific North Live, set to be the biggest marketing expo outside London in 2018, so make sure you register now for free.

The two-day expo will again be hosted at Event City in Trafford Park, Manchester, on February 28th and March 1st.

More details on the event and how to register over on the Prolific North website.

East Lancashire company announces exceptional growth

Burnley-based Velocity Composites plc, the leading supplier of advanced composite material kits, providing engineering value-solutions for the global aerospace industry, has announced revenue growth up 46% to £21.4m, for the financial year ending 31 October, following its maiden year as a Plc.

The boost in revenue comes as a result of Velocity’s significant increase in contract wins and the success of the new Fareham facility. Global growth, with customer requests from the Americas and Asia, saw the first half of the financial year attain revenues of £9.3m, whilst in the second half of the financial year, Velocity revenues rose by 30% to £12.1m.

More via Business Lancashire.

Job vacancy: Software Engineer

Our Requirements: Qualifications

A first class degree in Maths or Computer Science (or similar) or an upper second class degree and relevant, high quality experience.

Our Requirements: Skills


  • an excellent, demonstrable grasp of Python, Django and PostgreSQL; or,
  • an excellent, demonstrable grasp of iOS development.

An good theoretical understanding of concepts such as code complexity, web application security and software architecture is essential. We need people who can do more than just implement functionality.

Knowledge of PHP, MongoDB and/or Magento is beneficial but not necessary.

Our Company

We are a small company with a flat hierarchy. We want to hire great Software Engineers who can help us continue to build great software. We are a team that values input and doesn’t micromanage.

Our tools of choice are Symfony and Django but the breadth of our work will allow you to work with much more. We’ve written impressive programs in C and Java, developed mobile apps and maintain a lot of infrastructure on AWS and elsewhere.

We are always improving our workflow and are working toward agile development.

Our Town

You might not know much about Lancaster but we think you’ll like it here. We have more than our fair share of incredible coffee shopsbars and restaurants.

If you like cycling or hiking, you’ll love our open spaces. We’re also just a few minutes by car or train to the Lake District where you’ll be spoilt for choice.

You’ll be surprised at the cost of living in Lancaster. £500/month can get a spacious two bedroom apartment overlooking the river. Local bars, restaurants and cafés are also reasonably priced.

Our Working Environment

Our office is on Dalton Square, a picturesque part of Lancaster, so close to our local that it’s almost in WiFi range. Our office is bright, relaxed and easily customised to fit your work habits.


If you have specific concerns about relocating, drop us an email. We can cover reasonable relocation costs.

Your Salary

Your salary is negotiable based on experience.

Your Hours

35 hours per week. 28+8 holiday days per year. Some flexibility.

Your Perks

  • Membership at Snap Fitness, a well-equipped 24-hour gym just 5 minutes walk from the office (from 6 months),
  • Private health insurance provided by AXA (from 6 months),
  • Monthly lunch and drinks at our local, The Borough,
  • A fully stocked fridge.

How To Apply

Email the Director, James Hadley. You can also download this vacancy as a PDF.

Lancashire Police uses Amazon Alexa for daily briefings

Lancashire Police is streaming daily briefings into people’s homes with a new voice activated app.

The project was thought up by PC Rob Flanagan, the force’s innovations manager, who’s been working with developers from Amazon to make it happen.

Alexa users sign up to receive hourly news updates, and they can also get pictures of wanted and missing people sent to their smart device.

“As a police force we are always looking at ways to engage with our communities,” explained Flanagan.

“Alexa works alongside traditional policing methods to inform the public about the important issues in their neighbourhoods. Voice activated searches now account for 10 per cent of online searches and are expected to rise to 50 per cent by 2020.

“We want to be at the forefront of this new technology to make it easier for the public to access the information they want to know.”

Lancashire Constabulary is the first police force in the UK to utilise smart speaker technology to engage with the community.

You can sign up to the service here.

Via Prolific North.


Entrepreneurs given opportunity to secure new investment

Entrepreneurs across the North are being given the opportunity to secure new investment.

Organised by the North East Innovation SuperNetwork and supported by UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) and British Business Bank, Entrepreneurs of the North is offering companies throughout the North East, North West and Yorkshire a chance to travel to London and meet investors who are proactively looking to expand their portfolios.

Last year’s event attracted 75 interested parties ranging from angel investors interested in early stage ideas through to large international funds.

The selected 30 entrepreneurs will each have one minute to pitch their business and funding requirements, which will be followed by a networking session to allow investors to speak to businesses in more detail.

More via Insider Media.

eCommerce experts confirmed to speak at eCommCon in Lancaster

A number of leading industry speakers will be appearing at eCommCon, an ecommerce conference hosted by Lancaster’s Nublue.

Aimed at serious ecommerce professionals looking for innovative ways to increase their online conversions, attendees will hear from industry experts delivering insightful talks, debates and real-life case studies focussing on how to increase online conversions.

The event will take place at The Storey in Lancaster on Tuesday January 30th.

The speaker line-up includes:

  • Skip Fidura, Dotmailer – email marketing
  • Rory Gilmore, Nosto – personalized shopping experiences
  • Fjolla Bakalli, Loyalty Lion – eCommerce loyalty platform
  • Robin Lewis, Feefo – genuine user reviews
  • Stuart Pick, Brightpearl – centralised operations
  • Robin Hill, Rapidspike – website performance monitoring
  • Richy Aldred, Barclaycard – payment innovations
  • Robyn Potter, Temando – eCommerce fulfilment
  • Neil McKay, Endless Gain – biometrics & psychology

Martyn Collins, Exhibition Director at eCommerce Show North, will also be present to reveal details of this year’s expo, to be held on October 10th and 11th 2018.