Women and innovation create growth

It’s World Intellectual Property Day next week (26 April), and its theme this year is women’s innovation and creativity – both fundamental to business growth in the Sheffield City Region.

One City Region family firm, led by three sisters-in-law and design engineer Ian Webster, is making huge strides in innovations in the world of construction thanks to the Region’s Growth Hub.

Webster Technologies designed the original and revolutionary ‘Rockwheel’ cutting attachment used in the construction and utilities industries. It also produces a wide range of bespoke and innovative cutting equipment, which thanks to working with the Growth Hub Enhancement Project, can now be showcased internationally.

The Rockwheel has been used to create new footings in the Maldives and for the Forth Bridge, and for tunnelling for Crossrail and the Channel Tunnel. More recently the business has designed innovative equipment for deployment on optical fibre installation.

Angela Naylor is the Managing Director and a family member. She leads the financial and commercial operations, and has worked closely with the business specialists in the Sheffield City Region to ensure all their systems and processes are leading edge. Recently the company was awarded the ‘Enhancement Project grant. This meant receiving 50% match funding for a sales and marketing strategy, which amongst other areas, paved the way for the company and its website to be rebranded.

Angela said: “We’ve been really delighted with the help and advice we’ve had from the Growth Hub Business Growth and Access to Finance specialists.  We were signposted to many areas of support such as the grant aid that has not only helped us regionally, but in our exports too.

“Not only that, the dedicated Masterclasses were fantastic, and we have been advised of other support for innovation and skills development.”

Sister-in-law Belinda Naylor leads on business development, and has been instrumental in achieving a second grant from the prestigious UK Innovate UK to develop their latest invention, a hydraulic ‘impactor’ with three to four times the power and productivity of conventional industrial hammers. This is set to be exploited in a multi-million-pound market.

Cath Webster, HR Director, works alongside her family. She said: “We all contribute to the growth and success of the business, the dynamics are incredible and we collectively produce results.”

Alexa Greaves, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub Board, said: “It’s fantastic that the Growth Hub  has been helping this dynamic company so much. I’m very proud that it has three women all in strategic roles who have taken advantage of many different types of support offered by the Region.”

Meanwhile, at the heart of Webster Technologies inventions is Ian Webster, Chairman and Technical Director, who said: “The ladies are my ‘firewall’ and I know the business is in safe hands while I focus my time on designing new products.”

Picture shows, left to right: Angela Naylor, Sam Webster, Belinda Naylor, and Cath Webster

World Intellectual Property Day: http://www.wipo.int/ip-outreach/en/ipday/ 

  • The Growth Hub is a partner in the ‘Sheffield City Region Growth Hub Enhancement Project’ that is part-funded by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The support, for high-growth businesses in the Sheffield City Region, aims to increase their competitiveness and so help them grow and prosper’
  • The Sheffield City Region Growth Hub Enhancement Project is receiving up to £2.7m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.