Friday, January 20, 2017

News: Xeros targets textile sector

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Xeros, the cleantech company based in Rotherham, has revealed that textiles is the first of its new target markets for its patented polymer beads.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), Xeros is a Leeds University spin-out that has so far been deploying its special polymers in the laundry and leather tanning industries where they can massively reduce the amounts of water needed.

In raising a further £40m in a share issue at the end of 2015, the The AIM-listed firm has boosted its R&D and engineering teams as it commercialises the technology. The group's strategy is to develop and commercialise Intellectual Property to deliver significant water and chemical savings to large scale global industries. Xeros' patented technology can be applied in partnerships with other companies across an increasing number of sectors.

The firm has now announced that the third area of focus for development of its technology will be the textile sector.

Rothbiz reported last year on the progress being made on the third generation of polymer beads. Three specific applications were selected for further R&D within the Xeros Technology Centre on the AMP and scale trials were pencilled in. The company is coy about the new applications but they are as big as laundry and leather and should have a shorter development lifecycle.

The group has also provided a trading update which highlighted the major commercial relationships in development and the award of Approved Supplier status for Hilton hotels in the Americas, which comprises an estate of over 4,300 hotels now with access to Xeros' cleaning technology.

The US has been the target market with partners approved to sell, install and commission Xeros machines. 316 have been installed and the company has increased its commissioning capacity to meet demand and introduced its new 16kg machines to the market.

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The Group also said that it continued its detailed discussions with several globally recognised OEMs to incorporate Xeros' technology in Commercial and Residential washing machines.

Targeting the $50 billion leather processing market for the deployment of its polymer beads, Xeros has signed a heads of terms with Wollsdorf Leder Tannery in Austria for a ten-year contract to convert its entire re-tanning processes to Xeros' technology in 2017. It follows from successful trials and four European tanneries committed to trials in December with two currently underway, including one with a globally recognised brand. The Group now has a dedicated commercialisation team in place.

On the new area of textiles, Xeros said it has started small-scale trials and that all early indications are that the technology can reduce the chemistry, water consumption and effluent in textile manufacturing. Work is now underway to cover application areas with Intellectual Property registration.

Mark Nichols, chief executive of Xeros, said: "We continued to make excellent progress in the execution of our platform strategy. The endorsement of such leading organisations as Hilton and Wollsdorf further validates the benefits of adopting our polymer technology.

"We have identified textiles as the third area of focus. It is a sector which is very water and chemical intensive and therefore holds significant potential for our technology.

"We are in advanced discussions with a number of globally recognised brands as we look to accelerate the adoption of our technology. We look forward to reporting on further progress in 2017. We are confident of increasing the penetration of our chosen markets."

Xeros website

Images: Xeros


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News: Future phases for Vector 31

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Hundreds of new jobs would be created if a successful Rotherham commercial development is extended into the Green Belt.

Network Space (formerly known as Langtree) has delivered over 160,000 sq ft of industrial space across two phases at its Vector 31 development at Waleswood. The first phase was fully occupied within 12 months of completion in 2008 and the total site was fully let a few years after. Occupiers include Hermes, Preformed Windings and CCPI-Europe.

Discussions are now ongoing with Rotherham Council through the authority's local plan examination on the potential for more phases at the site which is close to Junction 31 of the M1.

"Vector 31 West" could be created on a 8.8 Ha parcel of land to the north of Wales Bar on the west side of Mansfield Road (A618) that the developers want to see come forward for employment use. The site has been backfilled following open cast coal mining operations and development platforms have already been created.

An illustrative masterplan which demonstrates how the site could be developed shows that the site provides the opportunity to deliver approximately 215,000 sq ft gross of employment space.

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The Council has also proposed the release of nearby Green Belt land to the North of School Road / Off Waleswood Way behind the cricket pitch, and its allocation for use for business and industry.

Network Space is supporting this proposal and have outlined that further land could be released for employment use to create a 20.7 hectares site that is currently comprises agricultural land located between the M1, Waleswood industrial area, the railway line and woodland.

Property agents at Knight Frank, who are acting for Network Space, consider Vector 31 to be "one of the region's sought after industrial locations." Representations submitted as part of the local plan examination state: "Vector 31 is an ideal location for employment at Junction 31 of the M1 Motorway, accessed via the A57 dual carriageway, allowing the site to capture both local and regional requirements as well as national occupier requirements looking to enter into the area. They consider that the success of the location has been proved with the success of the initial phases at Vector 31."

Rotherham Council appears receptive to an extension to Vector 31. Plans are being progressed for £1.2m of transport improvements to support the proposed £37m leisure development adjacent to Rother Valley Country Park and new employment land. Council officers believe that job creation linked to Gulliver's Valley and Vector 31 is estimated at up to 850 new jobs.

Network Space is a commercial property investment, development and management group and following a restructure and rebranding in June 2015 the group has focused its operations on the industrial property market. Pre-tax profits for last year hit £19.2m, more than doubling the previous year's result.

Network Space website

Images: Network Space / Spawforths


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News: SCR's £8m call for low carbon projects

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Whilst the UK remains in the EU, the Sheffield city region (SCR) can still benefit from European funding - a new call has gone out for low carbon and sustainable development projects.

Some £8m is available for projects in the SCR that "enhance the resilience of its energy supply and systems, as well as ensuring greater resource efficiency."

Structural funding from the EU is likely to be integral to meeting the targets in the Local Enterprise Partnership's (LEP's) Growth Plan, which has set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the Sheffield city region (SCR) by 2023.

Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed last year that the Government will guarantee EU funding for structural and investment fund projects, signed after the Autumn Statement and which continue after the UK has left the EU (possibly in 2019).

The latest call for cash from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) states: "As well as pursuing reduced Green House Gas outcomes directly through business support for greater resource efficiency and low carbon development, Sheffield City Region is seeking to make a global impact via innovative Research & Development collaborations across sectors, to enhance its position and standing as a renowned centre of excellence in low carbon."

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Projects could include renewable energy schemes such as wind energy, solar and biomass; demonstration schemes; electric vehicles; and low impact urban buildings on brownfield land.

The call adds that £6m is expected to be made available within South Yorkshire as a Transition Region, and £2m within the remaining areas of SCR.

Bidders will need to bid for £500,000 for any single project. 60% of the total eligible project costs can be met by ERDF, subject to State Aid regulations, in the Transition Region and 50% in the More Developed Region. Consequently projects with a total value of less than £1m will not normally be supported under this call.

The closing date is February 17 2017.

Before the referendum, the LEP planned to spend some €28m on low carbon projects as part of its Structural Investment Fund Strategy that sets out how its initial allocation of €203m (£175m) of funding would be used.

SCR LEP website

Images: European Commission


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Thursday, January 19, 2017

News: Rotherham: a new perspective

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A major place marketing exercise has been carried out in Rotherham as part of a strategy that signals a new business led approach to drive investment, transformation and growth.

Consultants from Thinkingplace have been engaged by the Rotherham Together Partnership to create a consistent narrative for Rotherham - "the Rotherham story" - as a way of promoting the borough as a number of positive projects emerge, such as the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), developments in the town centre, Gulliver's Valley and the Yorkshire Man of Steel.

An event marking the start of the "transformational journey towards a more successful Rotherham" is taking place at Rotherham United's New York Stadium next month where the results of the exercise will be discussed and there will be the opportunity to hear from the place marketing specialists, as well as from businesses and individuals on how they intend to take this initiative forward.

Julie Kenny CBE DL, Chair of the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust will host the event on February 15 alongside business leaders.

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Kenny is also a commissioner at Rotherham Council, leading on growing the local economy and ensuring the Council is working with others to improve jobs and housing opportunities. She has also been overseeing the Council's relationships with partners, and the voluntary and community sector.

The founder of successful Rotherham manufacturer, Pyronix, explained the initiative at a recent council meeting. She said: "A significant piece of work has been commissioned this year by the Partnership to develop a place-shaping strategy for Rotherham. This has involved a comprehensive programme of stakeholder engagement to identify distinctive themes, ideas and imagery that help to tell the Rotherham story as a way of promoting the borough to potential investors, visitors and workers.

"The themes will be introduced in February and March 2017."

The new Rotherham Together Partnership was launched in September 2015. It brings together a wide range of organisations, including major public bodies. Its Business Growth Board is responsible for the delivery of the ten-year Rotherham Economic Growth Plan.

Private sector led, but including the Council and other partners, the Board is particularly focused on skills, employment and developing the town centre, as well as providing a link to the Sheffield City Region and the opportunities presented to Rotherham through devolution of economic powers and funding.

Rotherham Together Partnership website

Images: Getty / Skyfilming


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News: Wentworth to host music festival

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Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham is set to host a high profile music event as it enters a new era under the ownership of a preservation trust.

Local radio personalities, Steve White and Toby Foster have worked with other organisers to secure headline acts from across the decades for an event they have called "Dancing over Diamonds" - a reference to the history of the Grade I listed mansion house.

May 28 is set for a day of "music, comedy, entertainment, and good times" for what Steve describes as the "biggest thing I've ever organised."

As well as the main stage, the Wentworth Music Festival is also set to include the Last Laugh Comedy Tent with the best headliners from South Yorkshire's favourite comedy club whilst the First Laugh Kids Comedy Tent has full length kids shows. The Underground stage will feature the best of unsigned bands.

Acts announced this week include local legends, Tony Christie and Heaven 17, along with Britpop favourites, Dodgy, 80's favourites, T'Pau and UK R&B singer–songwriter, Lemar.

The big house has always been used for events, from entertaining royalty and performances from Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who danced for King George V, to the party to celebrate the 21st birthday of Peter Wentworth Fitzwilliam and other events where miners and villagers were invited onto the estate.

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The largest privately-owned house in Europe was added to the 2016 World Monuments Watch which calls international attention to cultural heritage under threat around the globe.

With the backing of a £7.6m Government grant, the sale of the property is set to go through to the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) who have raised funds and developed a long term strategy for the future of the site. The exchange of contracts and purchase is expected this year.

Under the ownership of the WWPT, the restoration and development will provide jobs, stimulate local employment and open "one of England's most important and grandest historic houses" to the public on a regular basis. The former service wing will host a huge range of events and the stables become home to dynamic small businesses. Within the 18th century house and outbuildings more than a dozen apartments and cottages will be restored as lets for holiday makers.

Tickets for the event go on sale this week, priced at £35 per adult / £10 per accompanied under-12.

Wentworth Music Festival website

Images: WWPT


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