Thursday, August 15, 2019

News: Details of Metalysis administration revealed

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The results of the administration of Metalysis Ltd, the innovative Rotherham-based company, included 47 redundancies and around £8m owed to creditors, on top of the millions secured over the years from investors who are unlikely to now see a return.

The game-changing technology and multi-million pound Rotherham facilities are now owned by a Maltese-headquartered mining group.

The Manvers company held the worldwide exploitation rights to the FCC Cambridge process which sees specialist powder metals created in a simple, cost effective process with significant environmental benefits. With a Materials Discovery Centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), also in Rotherham, the firm raised millions for research and to build towards commercial production.

Administrators were brought in after the firm, which employed 60 staff, experienced financial difficulties predominantly due to an extended recent investment round. Metalysis was acquired last month by Power Resources Group, a metallic materials science company which operates in Rwanda and Macedonia.

Metalysis was pre-revenue and had recently successfully got up to industrial scale with its fourth generation plant (Gen4), creating tonnes of high value metals.

Documents filed by joint administrators Eddie Williams and Chris Petts of Grant Thornton UK LLP show that the terms of a loan from US venture capital firm, Hercules, and pressure from HMRC regarding tax arrears, led to bosses of the Cambridge University spinout seeking buyers and eventually placing the business into administration.

The documents state: "In order to reach the stage were the technology could be fully commercialised, the directors actively sought to raise further equity, of c£15m. The business plan was to utilise these proceeds to continue research and development, or possible production of further Gen4 machines, which in turn would generate revenue. The plan was for the business to be breakeven within three years.

"This fundraising continued for 12 months prior to the company's administration, but was not successful for a number of reasons."

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Existing investors, which included Woodford Investment Management and Australian minerals firm, Iluka Resources Limited, were no longer in a position to invest and problems were incurred over the complex share structure, the complex technology and that much of the funding was for working capital.

A 2018 fundraising of £12m included a $7.5m loan from Hercules Capital which included a covenant that stated that the business must maintain liquidity of at least $2.5m at all times. With cash running out and fund raising unlikely, employees agreed to work a four day week but by April the covenant was breached and discussions over a possible sale and administration began.

Two indicative offers were received in May, but due to short timescales, they did not progress. The documents also show that the Government was approached over providing breaching funds, but they were unable to do so.

With administrators appointed in June, the business continued to trade whilst a buyer was found. Indeed, turning off the Gen4 machine may have led to significant costs in restarting it.

No interested parties offered any working capital and so 37 redundancies were made on June 14. 49 redundancies were made in total.

Of the two indicative offers, the higher did not progress and four further offers for the business and assets were received. Working quickly, the bid from Power Resources Group was accepted and the $2.5m deal included the transfer of ten employees.

the successful bid was assessed to offer the best result for the creditors, notably Hercules Capital who stand to get $2m of their $3.7m debt as a secured creditor. Money owed to unsecured creditors stands at £5.8m.

Metalysis website

Images: Metalysis

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News: £2m investment into the future

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An ambitious proposal to bring more events to Rotherham has been successful in securing funding from Arts Council England.

£2m in funding has been awarded through the National Lottery Creative People and Places programme which focuses on parts of the country where involvement in arts and culture is significantly below the national average. A total of 12 projects are receiving funding, nine of which are based in locations brand new to the Creative People and Places network which includes Rotherham.

Flux Capacitor aims to get more people creative, more often and support as many people in Rotherham to engage in cultural activities including music, art and theatre. The action-research programme is designed to engage Rotherham's communities in arts and culture. The programme will transform local people's involvement in leading and shaping relevant cultural provision.

The name is taken from the popular 80's film "Back to the Future" where the DeLorean uses a Flux Capacitor to power the engine, the name also supports the Young People's Manifesto for re-imagining Rotherham from 2017 which included the idea that "everyone should have access to a flying car which runs on clouds."

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Voluntary Action Rotherham (VAR) is working in partnership with Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance, Rotherham Ethnic Minority Alliance, Grimm and Co, Wentworth Woodhouse and Rotherham Council to deliver the exciting four year programme.

Julie Adamson of VAR, said: "Flux Capacitor aims to make culture and the arts part of everyday life instead of a luxury for the people of Rotherham. Our partnership brings together organisations with expertise and a passion to make a difference so that everyone in Rotherham can benefit.

"We will be working with our communities to ensure everything we do is developed with them, we know our communities often feel left out but this is our chance to change that. We will be working with international artists of all kinds as well as supporting artists local to Rotherham, it will be a wonderful opportunity to show just what Rotherham can do."

VAR website

Images: VAR

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News: Students leave lasting legacy on new school building

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Students from a Rotherham school got out their pens to leave their mark on a new multi-million-pound building which will see their names live on for many years to come.

Pupils at St Pius X Catholic School took part in a steel signing ceremony to mark the development of a £1.8m new 7,000 sq ft teaching block which is replacing an existing building on the site.

The top ten students from Year 7 and 9 were asked to write a message on an exposed section of the building's steel structure and by doing so have cemented their names in time, leaving a lasting memory of those involved. They were also given a brief overview of the project including a presentation of plans and drawings of the future building.

The new build is being carried out by energy and regeneration specialist ENGIE, who were appointed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) as part of the Priority School Building Programme 2 to rebuild or refurbish school buildings most in need across the country.

The previous owners of Keepmoat, the Doncaster-based affordable housing and community regeneration specialist, sold its regeneration arm to ENGIE, a French headquartered multinational firm, for an estimated £330m in 2017. The regeneration team, now known as Places & Communities, is based at offices in Manvers, Rotherham and was previously Bramall Construction.

The new build consists of five new teaching rooms, a staff room and toilets. The existing building will be knocked down with the remaining space being turned into an additional play area with sporting equipment.

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The steel signing event is the first in a series of planned engagement activities which will give students an opportunity to see first-hand how their new school extension is developing.

Sean Corcoran, regional director at ENGIE, said: "Over 30 students have taken part in this historical school event and their names will live on over the generations - this will be something they will remember forever.

"At ENGIE, a development is not just made from bricks and mortar, it's about community involvement and giving those involved a chance to benefit in other ways. The work we are doing provides an exciting future for the school, its students and the local community and this ceremony is a fantastic way to celebrate and to make sure it never gets forgotten."

Sue Smith, headteacher at St Pius X Catholic High School, added: "The old building was no longer suitable and we wanted a quality teaching space for our students. The students care about the school and over the years have really looked after the rooms and equipment, so they deserve the best.

"The new building will offer an exciting learning experience with state-of-the-art equipment including a new art room and a pottery centre complete with kiln. Everyone is really excited to see the finished product."

The new building, located on Wath Wood Road, has been designed by Race Cottam Associates and is due to be completed in July 2020.

ENGIE website

Images: ENGIE

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

News: Rotherham to host Convention of the North

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... and possibly the new Prime Minister.

The Sheffield City Region (SCR) is set to host the biggest ever Convention of the North with NP11 in Rotherham next month.

The venue for the Convention of the North and the NP11 Summit will be Magna Science Adventure Centre and will bring together the North's political, business, community and academic leaders, along with young people’s groups around a common agenda for the future of the North.

The largest ever event of its kind, it will be a working convention to debate policy through bringing together political, business, community and academic leaders from across the North of England, co-hosted by the NP11 group of all 11 Northern Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) chairs, representing 16 million people, supported by Government and along with representatives of young people's groups.

Speakers and a detailed agenda will be released over the coming weeks.

Together they will make a powerful, unified case to the new Prime Minister and Government for tangible investment in the Northern Powerhouse, putting it at the top of the economic agenda, so that it can fulfil its potentially transformational role in the future of the UK.

When the new Prime Minister was announced last month, Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the NP11 and of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: "The North needs clear commitments from the new Prime Minister to give certainty on Brexit, to invest in key infrastructure including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail and to further devolve powers and funding away from Whitehall.

"I hope the Prime Minister will strongly consider attending the Northern Powerhouse conference NP11 is jointly hosting with Convention of the North in September so together we can renew momentum behind this essential agenda."

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Dan Jarvis, mayor of the Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority, said: "I'm delighted that the Sheffield City Region is hosting this significant event, and I look forward to welcoming delegates to South Yorkshire on 13 September.

"Our country stands at a time of great change, which presents both challenges and opportunities. By working together across the North, maximising collaboration between the public and private sectors and bridging the political divide, we can make the North's case on a national and international level, power our economy and narrow the inequality gap that persists within the UK."

Marsh added: "This Summit is very timely in bringing together private and public sector partners from across all of the North, alongside Government decision makers, to further our ambitions for extraordinary inclusive growth that will benefit all in society.

"Building a thriving and well-connected Northern Powerhouse is key to ensuring that we create a productive and successful post-Brexit Britain. Ambitions to turbo-charge the North will only be achieved through effective collaboration and strong consensus across all of our great Northern towns, cities and rural communities."

Northern Powerhouse Minister, Rt Hon Jake Berry MP, issued the following statement in support: "The world-class Magna venue in the heart of Yorkshire is a fitting place to host this landmark event.

"This summit in Rotherham will bring together the most diverse range of Northern Powerhouse thinkers, leaders and community champions ever seen to set the agenda for a thriving and prosperous Northern Powerhouse."

James Plant, a Member of Greater Manchester's Youth Combined Authority (GMYCA), said: "It's great that young people will be represented at this year's Convention of the North. Young people are the future of our region – we will be living and working in the North and shaping its present and its future. It's therefore only right that we have a seat at the table when that future is being discussed. I'm looking forward to working with other young people from across our region to build a North of England that we can all be proud of."

SCR website

Images: Magna

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Monday, August 12, 2019

News: The changing face of Rotherham's High Street

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Expanding businesses and new traders with a focus on niche and leisure offers have boosted the vitality of Rotherham's High Street but one current occupant is contemplating the future of retail and possibly taking the business online only.

This month has seen Entertainment Station, The Holy Ghost Tattoo Collective and The Three Cranes Inn take space in the regenerated heritage area. This follows on from Guests Tea Rooms opening up and Cutthroats Barbershop expanding onto the High Street. Another new bar, Sports Box, is due to open at the top of the street next week.

Rothbiz reported in February that Hamby's shoe shop and antique centre would close with well known retailer and regeneration spearhead, Chris Hamby taking a step back.

Inside the former Mason's Jewellers, Emily Dawson has expanded her quirky tattoo studio offering fully custom designs drawn by each artist on the team in their own individual style.

A key part of the town centre masterplan focuses on leisure (along with housing) rather than retail to breathe new life into the centre.

And at 25 and 27 on the High Street, which includes a timber framed building dating back to the 15th Century, the property has been converted back into a pub.

It is thought to have closed as a pub in 1907 and half of the building was demolished in 1953 leaving a twin-gabled fa├žade for retail units on the ground floor. Saved from being lost forever, the new venue serves cask and craft beers, ciders and ales.

The owners said on Facebook: "Thank you to all our customers for a fantastic opening day/weekend, we couldn't get over how busy we were, we are very grateful and hope to see you again soon."

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Moving across town from Riverside precinct, Entertainment Station has taken 8 High Street and reported a busy first day in its new location where it has created a hub for fans to buy, sell and swap retro and modern video games, as well as meet with friends and fellow gamers. The ethos is not unlike national retailer, Warhammer, which opened a few doors up last year.

One current High Street store led the way for new, independent retailers when it opened ten years ago as the first retailer to move into a unit in the refurbished Grade II-listed Imperial Buildings. Yella Brick Road, and its "brother" store, Things That Boys Like, have since expanded and merged to take key retail space on the High Street.

Owners Chris and Dannii Paston said last week that they were setting a date of the start of 2020 to make a decision whether to continue to trade in Rotherham town centre, or take the businesses online alone.

Their post on Facebook reads: "It may... just may be time for a change. It's not been the easiest time to trade in the last couple of years, and high street retail has changed dramatically since we opened all those many years ago. We're still here of course, but it's a bit of a slog! We're lucky to have an incredible landlord, wonderful staff and a large number of fantastic regulars.

"We want to have a physical shop with a high street address. We don't want to simply be gigabytes and a URL. So we'll not go down without a fight. We'll try many many things before we shut our doors for the last time. And if we do go elsewhere, we'll still love the high street and have faith in our fellow Rotherham town centre retailers, but for Yella Brick Road and Things That Boys Like, it may be time for a change, whether it be temporary or permanent."

Entertainment Station
Holy Ghost Tattoo Collective
Three Cranes Inn
Guests Tea Rooms
Cutthroats Barbershop
Sports Box
Things That Boys Like

Images: Google Maps / Three Cranes Inn / Yella Brick Road

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