Posted by Inspired Energy

Fri 18th, Oct

What Is SECR?

Introduced in April 2019, Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (or SECR) is a new framework, which requires businesses to report annually on their electricity, gas, and transport energy use, along with the associated carbon emissions.

The introduction of SECR coincides with the ending of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Scheme, which some companies will already be familiar with, although the qualification criteria is very different and will affect many more organisations. The idea is that the new guidelines will create a simple approach to carbon reporting, whilst also encouraging energy efficiency.

Business and industry accounts for 25% of UK greenhouse gases, so it’s crucial that businesses play a role in helping to reach our emissions reduction target.

Who Does SECR Affect?

The Government estimates that around 11,900 organisations fall within the scope of SECR. The new reporting framework is mandatory for the following organisations:

All UK quoted companies, meaning a company…

  • whose equity share capital is officially listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange; or,
  • is officially listed in a European Economic Area State; or is admitted to dealing on either the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ.

Any large UK incorporated company or LLP which meets 2 or more of these conditions…

  • has more than 250 employees
  • has an annual turnover of more than £36m
  • has an annual balance sheet total of more than £18m

What Do I Need to Report?

Under SECR guidelines, you’ll need to provide a detailed report on your company’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions (scope 1 and scope 2), alongside details of the energy efficiency actions you’ve put in place during the reporting period. If you haven’t made any efficiency measures, you’ll need to state this.

Quoted companies also need to report global energy consumption in addition to the mandatory carbon reporting they have already been completing.

All companies must also provide an intensity metric relevant to their business sector. For example, if you’re a manufacturer, you may choose to report tonnes of CO2 equivalent per million tonnes of production. For those in retail, you might report tonnes of CO2 equivalent per m2 of store area.

When and How Do I Submit My Report?

The timeframe for SECR reporting runs in sync with your company’s financial year, meaning that if your business is within scope, you’ll need to report from the start of your first accounting period starting on or after 1st April 2019.

In terms of submission, SECR forms part of your business’ annual reporting obligations, so your energy data must be included within your Directors’ Report and submitted to Companies House in the usual way. LLPs will need to prepare an Energy and Carbon Report for each financial year, to be signed off by LLP members.

Benefits of Carbon & Energy Reporting

Organisations can sign up to SECR voluntarily and there are several benefits to taking a proactive approach. Saving energy is an effective way to reduce business costs, save carbon and help to meet emission targets. SECR can also be used by businesses to promote their sustainability credentials, as part of their wider Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts.

Penalties

Companies House may reject your report if it doesn’t meet their reporting requirements. As with all company reporting, fines are in place for late or incomplete submissions, with fines of up to £1,500 for reports which are more than six months late. The penalty will be doubled for those who report late for two years in a row.

The bigger incentive, however, is expected to be the reputational damage that will come from late or missing reports.  This may well impact on future business opportunities, particularly given the significant focus now being given to carbon reporting and carbon neutrality targets.

Although many companies are familiar with a certain degree of energy reporting, we would urge members to seek expert advice to ensure they remain 100% compliant.

To find out more about how Inspired Energy can help you, get in touch…call 01772 689 250, email partnerships@inspiredenergy.co.uk or visit inspired-referral.co.uk

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Posted by The PC Support Group

Fri 18th, Oct

It’s a tough job running a business. It’s incredibly demanding, stressful and time consuming – but, of course when things are going well, it can be tremendously satisfying and rewarding too.

We hear these personal stories every day as we talk to customers, and we’re constantly learning lessons from these conversations too. One lesson came through loud and clear this week.

Prosperous businesses have some key things in common. And when it comes to their IT, data and telephony, this boils down to getting the basics right. They’re on top of those absolute fundamentals, minimising their risks and maximising their chances of success.

Conversely, those businesses that don’t have a grip on these basics are taking some very big risks, missing opportunities and gambling on their futures – and the futures of their employees too.

So, this week, it’s back to basics! Of course, there are many things that have to go right to be successful in business, but we strongly recommend that you complete our IT health check. If you’ve got a handle on these essentials, then you’ve got good IT system foundations in place and you can build from there. To get a clean bill of health you need to be able to answer all 8 questions!

  1. IT services. Do you know exactly what outsourced services are you currently receiving from your IT provider and at what cost? Do you know the details of the contracts with these suppliers such as when you are tied in until and what notice period you need to give?
  2. Data storage. Do you keep records of all the types of data your business uses, and how you store, protect and use it?  Have you assessed the impact of losing each type of data so you can manage and mitigate the risk?
  3. IT equipment. Do you have an up-to-date inventory of all your IT equipment, software, and devices?
  4. Security. What security measures do you have in place such as managed anti-virus, firewalls and multi-factor authentication (like online banking uses) Have you undertaken any of the Government-backed, industry-supported programmes such as Cyber Essentials, to ensure your business is doing all the security basics?
  5. Backup. Is your data being backed up? By who?  How many copies are being taken and can you access those easily? Do you check that backups are being successfully completed? What about cloud file storage like Dropbox or SharePoint – these are not backups in their own right
  6. Disaster recovery. Do you regularly assess the risks should any aspect of your systems fail or be inaccessible? Do you have a disaster recovery plan? Just because a server is backed up does not mean you will have instant access to that data in the event of a failure; it could be days or even weeks depending on what plans you have in place.
  7. Updates. Is your operating system and software automatically updated or are you using old, unsupported tech, possibly with security holes waiting to be found?
  8. Training. Do you have measures in place to control how your employees use your IT so that they use it efficiently and safely? Simply training them on how to spot a spam email could save your business from a cyber-crime.

So, how did you get on? Do you feel in control, or do you need some assistance?  If you’d like to find out how we may be able to help your organisation to get the basics right, email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com or leave us a message here and we’ll call you back or call our team on 03300 886116 or for an informal chat.

www.pcsupportgroup.com

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Posted by Inspired Energy

Mon 14th, Oct

Inspired Energy plc is the leading utilities Third Party Intermediary (TPI) in the UK, helping businesses to optimise the value of every pound spent on utilities. Utility bills form a large part of a company’s overall costs, and as energy prices continue to rise and new legislation is introduced, it’s important to look for ways to become more efficient. Inspired Energy share their top energy-saving tips, to help bolster your business’ green credentials and save you money.

1. Create a Utility Plan

Having a clear picture of your utility consumption is the first step to efficiency. A comprehensive utility plan, which includes information on consumption and contract renewal dates, can help you pinpoint your efficiency goals, and prevent you from falling foul of default rates, which are often poor value.

We understand that time is precious for business owners and many don’t have time to focus on their utility usage.  In fact, a 2018 report from Ofgem showed that 53% of businesses hadn’t engaged in the energy market during the past 12 months. Working with a credible intermediary gives you access to energy experts who understand the complexity of the utility market, so you don’t have to. We track electricity, gas and water prices on a daily basis and will search the marketplace to find the right contract to suit your business’s needs.

2. Switch on to Smart Lighting

Lighting makes up a large proportion of a building’s electricity use, so a few small changes can make a world of difference. Consider switching to energy-saving LED lights, which use up to 90% less energy than traditional lighting. Of course, in an ideal world, everyone would switch lights off when a room is not in use, but by installing motion sensors, you can make sure that unoccupied areas aren’t being lit unnecessarily. 

3. Get Smart Meter Savvy

Using a smart meter gives you control over your utilities by allowing you real-time access to your usage in pounds and pence.  A smart meter will take meter readings, so you don’t have to, and you’ll only be billed for the energy you use - no more estimated bills! We work with suppliers that offer free smart meters and can arrange installation for you.

4. Get Staff on Board

Getting the workforce engaged is crucial to an energy efficient workplace. It might sound simple but encouraging behavioural changes can make a big impact. Try creating promotional posters to get staff involved with energy saving measures like switching off equipment. For example, turning your printer from standby to off overnight for a year could reduce your CO2 by as much as would be produced by a driving from Cambridge to Paris and back again.

It’s also important to educate staff on the scale of the issue. Staff who are aware of the importance of sustainability and the role they can play are more likely to take a responsible approach to consumption.

5. Go Green with Renewables

Economic and legislative pressure has led to more and more businesses investing in renewable energy products, with 80% of businesses planning to generate a quarter of their electricity on site by 2025.

On-site generation brings many benefits but is not practical for all businesses. As independent industry experts, we can guide you through the process, checking what is feasible within your organisation and finding the best solution for your business.

 

To find out how Inspired Energy plc can help your business become more energy efficient, get in touch… call 01772 689 250, email partnerships@inspiredenergy.co.uk or visit inspired-referral.co.uk

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Posted by The PC Support Group

Thu 03rd, Oct

No one likes to be ignored. We’ve all felt that surging irritation when the waiter or sales assistant just refuses to catch our eye!

When we ask our clients about what’s important to them and what great customer service looks like for them, they always tell us how important speed of response is – and, sadly, how often they are let down by organisations whose responses are slow, inadequate and sometimes non-existent.

There are many reasons why slow response times become the norm in some service businesses. It may be that help desks are under-resourced, that systems are inadequate or that they’re hiding behind impressive-sounding SLAs that actually give them permission to respond slowly!

These excuses mask the real problem – and that’s to do with leadership. By leadership we mean a total and unwavering commitment, from the top, to great customer service – and then making good on this commitment by putting in place the people, skills and systems that ensure that the old “committed to customer service” chestnut is a reality.

In the IT support and service sector, responding quickly to a client that needs assistance is absolutely vital of course. Loss of data, systems and security measures, even for a very short period of time, can be very damaging and expensive – and in extreme cases – fatal. So, here are some golden rules that we at The PC Support Group keep at the heart of our own customer service ethos:

  • Make it as easy as possible for clients to speak to people who can really help – most clients calling us speak directly, on the first call, to an engineer with the skills to take immediate action
  • Train engineers to ask intelligent questions and listen – understanding the underlying issue and identifying the urgency of the fix is a real skill - the smallest piece of information about a problem can be significant and enable a fast solution
  • Respond quickly to requests – acknowledging their call straight away and confirming in writing that their query is being dealt with
  • Wherever possible act immediately – or for more complex cases, set accurate expectations about resolution. Be realistic, most of us can make alternative, short-term arrangements once we have a timetable to work around
  • Stay in touch – it is not enough to just fix things in the background. It’s important to keep clients informed on progress so that they are reassured and so we can work together to ensure the right solution is put in place in the right timescale
  • Maintain continuity – whoever responds first should own the issue and its resolution, no-one wants to be passed around from one person to another.  If there is a need to escalate internally, it’s explained and agreed with the client
  • Lead from the front – all our clients have the names and numbers of senior management and can escalate to the Managing Director if needed
  • Always check that the customer is happy with the solution and the outcome – and allow them to decide when the problem has been resolved to their satisfaction.

If you’re not happy with the speed of response from your current IT support company, email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com or call our team on 03300 886116  for an informal and confidential chat to see how we can help boost your productivity and keep your business safe.

www.pcsupportgroup.com

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Wed 02nd, Oct

Businesses are increasingly demanding specialist skills and outstanding talent to drive performance and success. The educational institutions in our city region have a vital role to prepare our next generation of talent for careers in the businesses of tomorrow. But they cannot do it alone and it is time for a social partnership between our businesses, schools, colleges and universities.

Through a collaborative engagement survey with businesses the Chamber, working with colleagues at Professional Liverpool and the Local Enterprise Partnership, have identified the existing and intended engagement of individual businesses with schools, the objectives and barriers to such engagement and the qualities our businesses expect within school leavers.

Our key outcomes were:

  • The three most important qualities a school leaver needs to possess in order to be successful in business were communication, flexibility and problem solving
  • Businesses intend to increase their engagement with secondary schools through career talks, mock interviews, lesson participation and mentoring support
  • Work experience is becoming less popular for businesses to deliver
  • Businesses engage to a far greater extent with Secondary Schools than Primary Schools
  • Most businesses undertake formal activity to fulfil a socially responsible function and develop their own talent base
  • Business capacity (size and time) and school accessibility are the key impediments to school engagement

Initiatives like the Careers Hub and the ‘Give an Hour’ initiative are beginning to overcome a decade of underinvestment in the facilitation of business-school engagement, but there remains more to be done if we are to fully equip our young people with the skills to succeed and that businesses are looking for in their workforce.

Schools who are able to plan for employer engagement in their curriculum activity would greatly enhance the ability to prepare businesses for appropriate and worthwhile encounters. By making those interactions of greater value, it enhances awareness, opens the minds of students to the future world of work, increases preparedness and positively impacts on their aspirations.

Whilst Chambers, LEPs and associations help build bridges between the worlds of education and business, it is imperative that local authorities, school governors and teachers adopt a joined up and structured approach to encourage and welcome the world of work into the classroom.

There is considerable goodwill and desire amongst the Liverpool business community to help support, shape and inspire the next generation of our business community. The opportunity to facilitate meaningful engagement can only be good for our students, our businesses and ultimately our society.

We will be sharing the full report next week and featuring some of the key findings on our social channels.

Be part of the conversation by following us on the below links:

Twitter

LinkedIn

Facebook

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Posted by Mitchell Charlesworth

Fri 20th, Sep

In his latest blog Mitchell Charlesworth partner, Mike Buxton, looks at how law firms can remain competitive.

Competition

Competition in the legal sector has never been greater, with a continuous stream of new entrants entering the overcrowded legal market exploiting changes in legislation and technology. There is constant pressure on law firms to ensure they stay on top of their game, and this is only going to become a greater issue over the foreseeable future.

We are seeing a lot of competitive activity in the sector. Some of the ways law firms are gaining and maintaining an edge over the competition include mergers, investing in technology and innovation to improve client service, attracting talent through flexible working, showcasing expertise, offering added value and developing their brand. There are frequent media reports of larger, more diverse firms acquiring mid-tier or boutique firms to complement their existing service offering, or a departmental head leaving an established practice to set up their own firm, and often taking several employees with them.

Frequent regulation changes, including the SRA’s 2013 “Red Tape Initiatives”, the long-awaited redrafted Solicitors Accounts Rules, as well as other changes in the sector from the SRA, are all looking to increase “access to justice” and efficiencies. Essentially, they are intended to bring more supply and demand to the legal sector as a number of firms are repeatedly finding themselves priced out of the market, especially as price transparency increases, with more firms readily publishing prices on their websites.

However, this has led some commentators to say that it could turn into a race to the bottom, leading to dissatisfaction in the legal sector and a reduction in consumer confidence. It is, therefore, a delicate balancing act to improve the current situation whilst not compromising on quality.

There has been a rise in alternative legal services which has also increased competition. In addition to major accountancy firms launching legal services over recent years, the sector has seen a large increase in “platform law firms”, of which there are now over 1,000 in the UK. These allow lawyers to leave the traditional firm structure and work in a more flexible environment. Lawyers at this style of firm are usually self-employed, decide their own hours of work and tend to keep a higher percentage of the fees they charge. With the added benefits of cost savings via working remotely and using shared services, such as accounting and IT provided by a central hub, this leads to less fixed overheads for the firm.

To succeed in such a hugely competitive market, law firms need to get the basics right by offering incentive packages which attract and retain the best lawyers and staff, and consistently provide added value and attentive client service, whilst bolstering their offering with specialist knowledge. Investment in technologies which improve efficiency and drive productivity, including the use of AI and automation, should be high on the agenda, with business analysts McKinsey predicting that up to 23% of lawyers’ time can be automated by 2025.

If you would like to discuss how your law firm can stay competitive, please contact Mike Buxton on 0151 255 2300 or email mike.buxton@mitchellcharlesworth.co.uk 

To read Mike’s blog on Brexit please click here.

To read Mike’s blog on technology please click here.

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Posted by The PC Support Group

Fri 20th, Sep

Windows 7 officially reaches end-of-life in January 2020. So, if you’re one of the thousands of UK businesses still using it, now’s the time to upgrade - or you could be issuing an open invitation to cybercriminals.

While your PCs won’t suddenly stop working, from January 14 Microsoft will stop updating or supporting your operating system, meaning that automatic security and bug fixes will end, making it increasingly costly to maintain and vulnerable to attack.

And you can guarantee that cybercriminals will be targeting Windows 7 users after January 14, because they know that their defences are down.

If you haven’t already, our advice is to start planning now to upgrade to Windows 10 and make the switch well before the January deadline. This way you’ll avoid any period where you’re not supported and the associated risks.

While Windows 10 isn’t right for everyone, there are many advantages of upgrading from 7 to 10:

  • It’s simple, with a minimum of disruption – in most cases you can keep your files and software on your existing PC
  • Many programs you use will already have been updated to work on Windows 10, so you can just carry on as normal
  • Although, the layout and interface is different with a little patience you’ll be able to transition and use it relatively easily
  • There are many great additional features and functionality on Windows 10 that will be a big help for your business, such as the Cortana virtual assistant and enhanced security
  • Support for Windows 10 is expected to run until at least 2025, so a small investment now will provide peace of mind for the next five years or more.

So, if you’ve decided to go-ahead and upgrade, here are just a few things to bear in mind:

  • You’ll need to calculate how many users you have and how many licences you need
  • While Windows 10 will run perfectly happily on most existing hardware, it may struggle on older machines, so now may be the time to upgrade some of your hardware too
  • Although as mentioned earlier, most software has been updated to enable it to run on Windows 10 you will need to check that this is the case with all the software you use before going ahead
  • Once you’ve established what you require, you’ll need to identify a budget and potentially look into financing options
  • Time, resource and investment will be required but upgrading will almost certainly bring productivity and business efficiency benefits, which will deliver a fast return on your investment.

If you’re still using Windows 7 and would like to discuss your options and find out how we can

help you to make an informed decision about your next step – email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com, leave a message here and we'll get back to you or call our team on 03300 886116 for an informal and confidential chat.

www.pcsupportgroup.com

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Liverpool John Lennon Airport – giving local business a competitive advantage

Posted by Liverpool John Lennon Aiport

Fri 20th, Sep

It’s great to see so many fellow Chamber members continuing to grow and develop their business despite the uncertain business environment that we all currently operate in and when it comes to international business. Liverpool John Lennon Airport is well placed to help companies large and small, with direct access to a growing range of destinations across Europe. We believe that the Airport is a great asset for the City Region, ideally placed to help companies take advantage of the connectivity afforded by the Airport, increasing levels of international business and helping the visitor economy by attracting more visitor numbers from overseas.

With flights to over 70 destinations, including a growing range of European cities, LJLA can help local companies do more overseas business. Over the past 12 months we have attracted new airlines and a range of new routes as well as continuing to work closely with existing carriers to develop additional and new services too.

However the Airport recognises that there are many more opportunities for the region’s businesses to explore, if the Airport’s connectivity was improved further. It is for this reason that we are continually looking to better understand what local businesses want from the Airport, particularly regarding what new routes companies would like to see available from Liverpool. This is why we are asking Chamber members to tell us about their travel habits and needs, by completing a short business travel survey ( www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/97WF9FQ ) the information from which will be used in talks with existing and prospective airline partners as we look to develop more routes.

Whilst this increased connectivity is important, the best customer experience is essential too. LJLA is the faster, easier, friendlier Airport of choice for passengers from across the region and is recognised for its relaxed, hassle free environment and best in class operational performance. Queue times at Airport security remain low, with 97% of all passengers taking 10 minutes or less to pass through security and over 80% taking less than 5 minutes and there’s a much higher chance of their flight being on time, with Liverpool having the UK’s only 5-star airport rating for flight punctuality.

Having an airport within the City Region gives Liverpool a competitive advantage over other regions across the UK which it can capitalise on. By working together the Airport can help local businesses to grow, increasing their reach and realise their ambitions too. 

Liverpool John Lennon Airport are sponsoring the Liverpool Chamber Exporter of the Year Award 2019. Find out more about the awards and how to apply here.

Would you like to sponsor a Liverpool Chamber Award? We still have a few sponsorship opportunities availbale. Contact Lee Stanley at lee.stanley@liverpoolchamber.org.uk or on 07383 090348.

To buy tickets for our Annual Dinner & Awards event on the Thursday 14th November, please click here.

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Wed 11th, Sep

September feels like a ‘back to school’ month both literally and figuratively and, despite an incredibly busy August, we’re excited at the prospect of a developing programme of events, campaigns and initiatives taking place this side of Christmas and into our 170th anniversary year in 2020.

We’re here to enable our businesses to connect, support and thrive, hence the creation of our new branding and the refreshing of our events programme and membership service portfolio in the coming months.

You can read all about our upcoming events in tomorrow’s newsletter but would encourage members to participate in our upcoming ‘Extraordinary Conversation’ with Richard Harpham (Escape Hunt CEO) and our Annual Dinner with Karen Blackett OBE (Chair of Mediacom). We’re aiming to bring the best and the brightest to Liverpool and provide influence, insight and inspiration to members.

We’ve got campaigns lined up around talent, transport and trade activity which will benefit all members over the coming months and we look forward to your participation and support in them.

 

Quarterly Economic Survey – Four minutes well spent

The Quarterly Economic Survey may sound interminably dull but it’s a crucial piece of evidence to support the Chambers’ ability to present an evidence base to government and the Bank of England regarding business sentiment, performance and outlook. It impacts upon the setting of interest rates and is a key source of data for regional and national strategic policy decisions (even in these times).

We want to have a good response from local companies to inform this picture – if you are in a position to complete the survey on behalf of your business (and have not already done so) please do so prior to Monday 16th September. It takes four minutes.

We’ll present the results on 25th October at our quarterly business breakfast and the British Chambers will present the aggregated anonymised data to government later this month. Your input genuinely helps and does have a material impact on the decisions made which impact upon business.

You can access the most recent report here along with our latest monthly economic outlook here.

Complete the survey here

 

Chamber’s Brexit Hub Refresh – Our resource to help you prepare for the future

Yes we’re all sick of it, but Brexit continues to loom large for all businesses. British Chambers of Commerce have updated the information on their ‘Brexit Hub’ resource page.

The Brexit hub contains access to a ‘Business Brexit Checklist’ which companies can use to perform a Brexit readiness assessment – an increasingly desirable course of action for organisations whether they trade overseas or not.

The resource also contains a Risk Register and ‘unanswered questions on No Deal’. They are all accessible through the hub.

British Chambers of Commerce are continuing to report case studies, testimonials and issues raised by businesses from across the UK. If you have specific insights you can share concerning your Brexit preparedness or impacts upon your workforce, investment plans or operations please share with us at policy@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

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The University of Liverpool Management School

Posted by Professor Julia Balogun

Dean University of Liverpool Management School

Tue 10th, Sep

The University of Liverpool was founded in 1881 and is the original ‘red brick’ University, named after our iconic Victoria Building, designed by Alfred Waterhouse, at the top of Brownlow Hill.  Today the University is a member of the Russell Group, a prestigious cohort of research-intensive institutions.

The University of Liverpool Management School was formed in 2002 and has since grown to support 3500 undergraduate students and over 1250 postgraduate and MBA students.  The School shares the University’s ambitions for teaching and research and our Vision is to be “a globally connected Management School whose transformative research and teaching places us at the forefront of influential leadership knowledge. This brings us together with students, business and society in learning to make a difference”.  

Our research is embedded into our teaching programmes to ensure that students are taught the latest thinking and techniques.  We encourage them to apply their learning into the real-world and support them in developing the skills they need to be successful in their future roles. 

Our internationally renowned faculty engage in research that is not only influential in their field, but that helps to shape policy and support businesses at a local level but also nationally and internationally.   At a regional level, for example, research carried out at the School has helped improve operational efficiencies in business agility and supply chains to support sustainable SME growth and develop new procurement approaches for social housing. At international level, the School’s research is supporting integrity in sport, helping to inform national strategies for rural development in South America, enhancing the lives of rural women in India, and creating a new patent index.

Whilst we strive to be globally connected, we are very committed to our civic duty as a Higher Education Institution to support and contribute to our local Liverpool community and we are delighted to be sponsoring the Chamber’s Local Hero Award at this year’s Awards Dinner. 

Would you like to sponsor a Liverpool Chamber Award? We still have a few sponsorship opportunities availbale. Contact Lee Stanley at lee.stanley@liverpoolchamber.org.uk or on 07383 090348.

If you would like more information on how to enter our awards, please click here.

To buy tickets for our Annual Dinner & Awards event on the Thursday 14th November, please click here.

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