Vince Cable at HWIC

The Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, praised the work of one of Cornwall’s “impressive” award-winning Innovation Centres during a visit to the facility in September.

Dr Cable met with some of the growing companies based at the Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre (HWIC) in Truro when he visited the acclaimed business acceleration centre, and chatted to owners about the needs of small businesses in Cornwall.

The HWIC facility is one of three Cornwall Innovation centres operated by Plymouth University on behalf of Cornwall Council which help companies to grow their businesses more quickly using innovative principles.

The centre’s first annual survey in January 2014 showed that HWIC has supported the creation of 33 new jobs, and helped companies to achieve annual growth rates of up to 46 per cent – more than four times the national average – boosting their turnover by almost half a million pounds.

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: 

“This is a really impressive facility. Centres like this are certainly part of the solution to address the issue of people moving away from Cornwall for work, and we need to see more centres like this. There is some really good work going on here supporting these growing companies, and I enjoyed the chance to hear more about it.”

After opening in January 2013, the HWIC has become home to 25 fast-growing companies working in the health, lifestyle, well-being and medical fields, providing laboratory manufacturing space as well as office facilities, and a wealth of practical support.

Dr Cable visited the laboratory of Dental Prosthetics Solutions, which moved into HWIC last July, and chatted to owner Dom Kavanagh about his work designing and manufacturing dentures. Dom said: 

“The support the HWIC team has given me to get off the ground has been incredible. They’ve been a great sounding board and given me so much advice and help.”

The Business Secretary then visited the manufacturing labs of Spiezia Organics, an organic skincare company which has grown dramatically since moving into HWIC at the start of 2013, recording an increase in profits of close to £34,000 just one year after moving in. Amanda Barlow, managing director of Spiezia Organics, said: 

“Moving to HWIC has made the most amazing positive changes to how quickly we've been able to grow our business, and the help we've had from the Cornwall Innovation staff has been phenomenal. It was great to meet Dr Cable and chat to him about the work we’re doing, and the kind of support a small business like ours needs to be able to grow and develop.”

Dr Cable went on to meet staff from Active Plus, a pioneering project retraining injured military veterans to support vulnerable members of the community, before chatting to representatives from HWIC businesses including Insite Digital, PACTT Ltd, Care Right Now, and Inspire Cornwall CIC over a lunch meeting hosted by the manager of HWIC, Karen Murray.

HWIC, along with its sister centres – Pool Innovation Centre and Tremough Innovation Centre in Penryn – are operated by Plymouth University with the support of GAIN, the Growth, Acceleration and Investment Network, which aims to boost business growth and job creation in the South West.

Professor Julian Beer, Pro Vice Chancellor for Regional Enterprise at Plymouth University, said: 

“Our enterprise agenda is firmly focused on supporting companies in the region with growth aspirations to succeed, and the Cornwall Innovation Centres provide a very tangible example of the far-reaching impact our work is bringing about in the South West.
“We were delighted to welcome the Secretary of State for Business to see first-hand the state-of-the-art accommodation available at the Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre in Truro, and to enable Dr Cable to meet with some of the dynamic businesses based there. Cornwall Innovation continues to support these businesses to grow and develop at a much faster rate, creating increasing numbers of high quality, sustainable jobs for the region in the process.”

The three Cornwall Innovation centres have been ranked as amongst the best in the world by UK Business Incubation (UKBI) achieving INSPIRE accreditation, and are currently home to 139 businesses overall, employing around 480 people.

Since the first centre opened in Pool in 2012, the Cornwall Innovation programme has enabled its clients to create 216 new jobs, safeguard a further 76, and grow revenues by more than £9.3million in total.

This week it was announced the Cornwall Innovation programme is in the running for a major national award, having been shortlisted in the Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community category of the 2014 Times Higher Education Awards.

Cornwall Innovation is supported by the Cornwall Development Company (CDC), an arm’s length company of Cornwall Council, with £29 million of investment provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).