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    NAA Update: NAA Extension, more Funding opportunities, and Awards Dinner

    Read Carol’s news about the NAA Extension decision, more funding opportunities, the NAA Awards dinner, and the next meeting at Electron Technical Solutions.

    It seems months ago since the Annual Awards Dinner at Carden Park, everyone that I spoke to was very complimentary about the event and venue and we already have offers of sponsorship and table purchase for next year (some from people who didn’t purchase tables this year!). So we need to set ourselves a target. Having occupied one section of the Carden Suite last year, two sections this year, it has to be three sections next year… Seriously, well done to the five award winners and if you would like to know more about the event read the separate article within this newsletter.

    One of the reasons that it seems so far away is that our time has been dominated by urgent preparation and information requests from the ERDF team for our requested extension. The good news is that it hasn’t been rejected as there was overwhelming support from within the review committee for the project; however, with the government initiatives such as Growth Hubs and MAS, it means that the money has all been allocated and they have decided to defer a decision until 7 February when there should be a clearer understanding of the underspend on projects that are due for completion in December 2012. The ERDF team seem to be confident that there will be residual monies, so we just need to keep going on ensuring that they have all the information needed to approve the project on 7 Feb. As part of that activity we need to ensure that we have reported as many outputs as possible, so if you have Martin or I chasing you (which will happen during the remainder of November and December), then please help us complete some of the final paperwork so that we can demonstrate that we are delivering the project to the contract.

    It is beginning to feel as if it is a continuous merry-go-round of funding applications for us, with us waiting to hear the results of several at this time and more in the offing. You will see in this newsletter there are at least three other articles on funding. 

    • Firstly I must mention the SMMT Meet-the-Funder event on 21 November.  This is taking a similar format to the Meet-the-Buyer events. If you are either seriously considering, or even thinking about, some form of growth or expansion then please register for this event, come along and listen to the speakers, visit the exhibition and book 1-1 time with relevant people. The NAA will be at the event as obviously we provide funding via the Business Excellence project, so if you are a member, please book some time with us so that we can catch up with you on your involvement in the project and our output / kpi requirements. If based in the NW and not a member of Business Excellence, come along and have a chat to us about the programme and we can then put you on our reserve list for formal meetings, once we get our funding extensions approved.
    • For all of you who attended the Niche Vehicle Network event in June at mi-Technology, there is a second opportunity to enter an NVN competition this year, but the closing date is 21st November, so you need to move quickly on this one.
    • There is advance notification of three TSB calls, IDP 8 & 9 and a fuel cell manufacturing and supply chain competition, each of them holding networking and consortium building events during November. Unfortunately I am unable to attend these consortium building events due to other commitments, so if you are interested please attend, or speak to me and we can discuss how to move forward with your ideas.

    You will realise that our newsletter has a clear bias this month to one of our Business Excellence Companies, and winner of the Large Enterprise Business Excellence Project of the Year Award, Electron Technical Solutions. We have included an In-The-Driving-Seat article about Steven Schofield, and their Business Excellence case study, all with the intent of attracting as many of you as possible to the Business Excellence Networking Meeting on 12 December, which is being held at Electron Technical Solutions. Even if you have visited them before, come along and see the changes since your last visit as during 2012 they have expanded into additional facilities. Contact Zoe for more information (z.desoer@nwautoalliance.com). Our vital topic for the event is Pensions Auto Enrolment; for most of us SMEs it won’t hit us for 4-6 years, but better to start understanding the implications now, rather than later.

    I am also going to plug the IMechE Automobile Division event on 4 December. I listened to the presenter, Damian Harty, at the Niche Vehicle Network Seminar earlier this year and thought what a brilliant speaker; so was really pleased to find out that he was coming to speak locally. Our family will be attending en-masse, so look forward to seeing you there.

    I read the article from the Future Car Challenge with real interest, what an excellent result for the North West, shows we are thrifty with our money (or in this case fuel).  It is all the more relevant for me, as this week I have a Nissan LEAF for my personal use; having won it in the draw at the CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle show in September. You will have to wait to next month to hear about my “Life with a LEAF”.

    Carol Holden
    Chief Executive

    European Social Fund
    Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham