Buoyed by his attendance at the recent Business Excellence Awards Essex (BEAE) 2019, Councillor Tony Ball has seen for himself some of the county’s business successes during a series of visits last week.

The Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development met four thriving small businesses in total, three of whom were recognised at September’s Business Excellence Awards Essex, held at Five Lakes Resort.

Essex – home to a vast array of innovation

With 99% of the county’s businesses small to medium enterprises (SMEs), Essex is home to a vast array of innovation – as demonstrated to Councillor Ball during his site visits. Invest ESSEX, the inward investment agency and specialist business support provider, has been working closely with these four among more than 200 businesses in the county, to assist with their growth and development.

Councillor Ball took in COCO Lighting’s premises in Braintree and Davina Steel’s bakery in Halstead on Friday November 1, having met with Richard Haward’s Oysters and the Colchester Oyster Fishery in Mersea earlier that week. The visits were undertaken in conjunction with David Rooke and Dave Watson, Invest ESSEX Location Services Director and SME Business Manager respectively.

Assisting SMEs throughout the county

COCO Lighting specialises in all forms of lighting conversions, leading to their winning of the ‘Excellence in Innovation & Technology’ award at BEAE 2019. COCO are the first company within the UK to be awarded the new BSI Kitemark for commercial lighting, a market which includes lighting applications for residential, commercial, industrial, architectural and outdoor purposes. They recently introduced the world’s first antimicrobial lighting containing BioCote technology – a unique feature making it an ideal solution for hospitals, care homes and high-dependency units where hygiene is of paramount importance.

Invest ESSEX has been able to assist COCO in their rise by introducing support to help them develop strategies and business into the healthcare sector, both in the UK and overseas.

Meanwhile, Davina Steel, producer of award-winning gluten-free baking kits and mixes, have also taken huge strides in 2019, starting by moving into a dedicated gluten-free and nut-free commercial bakery in Halstead, supplying Ocado and culminating with the accolade of ‘New Business of the Year’ at BEAE 2019.

Invest ESSEX, spearheaded by SME Business Manager Dave Watson, has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Davina Steel, assisting with business growth through the sourcing of grants and funding, social media development, PR support and provision of relevant business introductions.

Davina Steel foccacia kits

Enabling Essex’s thriving Oyster industry

Earlier in the week, Councillor Ball had joined Invest ESSEX representative Dave Watson at Richard Haward’s Oysters and Colchester Oyster Fishery. Richard Haward has been successfully cultivating Mersea oysters in the River Blackwater for eight generations, leading to a richly-deserved nomination in ‘Family Business of the Year’ at BEAE 2019.

Invest ESSEX has leant a helping hand in a number of facets of the business, including currently working on redevelopment plans for Richard Haward’s Coast Road processing facilities to keep up with demand for the 10,000 oysters the company currently sell in their Borough Market outlet per week.

Invest ESSEX is like a key to the door of expansion. Their plethora of experience and knowledge gives us the confidence to try and not only grow our business but also benefit the local community.

Tom Haward
Richard Haward Oysters

Fellow Mersea dwellers Colchester Oyster Fishery endured a setback earlier this year with a fire at their premises. Invest ESSEX have been only too pleased to help with getting them up and running again, including reviewing and providing input to business plans; sourcing grant funding and making supplier chain and new client introductions.

Our discussions are based around using the catastrophe as an opportunity in that we can put something back that is better than the original, which allows expansion and long-term sustainability of the business.

Dave Watson
SME Business Manager
Invest ESSEX

Invest ESSEX helps companies to relocate or expand in Essex. Our work is delivered by the Let’s Do Business Group and is jointly funded by Essex County Council (ECC) and the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

For more information about how Invest ESSEX can assist SMEs, email business.support@investessex.co.uk, or click here to find out about the business support we offer.