BUSINESS leaders from across the county met to officially launch Malvern's Tech Cluster.

The group included Beverley Nielsen, associate professor from the institute for design, economic acceleration and sustainability (IDEAS) Birmingham University, and brought together a lineup of delegates to discuss the changing needs of businesses throughout their life cycle.

Also taking part were Cllr Daniel Walton, portfolio holder for economic development and tourism at Malvern Hills District Council, who also founded his own company, Olpro.

They were joined by Paul Faulkner, chief of staff and operations at RCL Partners, promoting the recently launched £100m Richardson Enterprise Fund, Paul Walker MBE formerly CEO of Malvern Instruments (now trading as Malvern Panalytical) and Matt Thomas, investment manager at BetaDen, Worcestershire's business start-up support network.

The online meeting was also attended by high tech entrepreneurs and local angel investors including Advantage Business Angels, accountancy and mentoring advisors including Jerroms Accountants, tech incubators and accelerators including Bloom.Space, Overbury Enterprises, Wyche Innovation and BetaDen, as well the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Early stage entrepreneurs in attendance included Drone Prep, Hanley Payments, Fuelled and BlockMark with more established entrepreneurs including Utelize, Payara, Invizio Product Design, InnovaSec, Payara, with two Queens Award winners amongst them – Payara and Olpro.

Beverley Nielsen said: “I was thrilled to work with partners to pull together such a lively and productive meeting.

"I’m really grateful to our presenters who covered such a wide range of issues in terms of specialised business support and mentoring available to our high tech high growth firms and the entrepreneurs themselves highlighting how they are looking for differing kinds of support depending on their stage of development.

“We have a special cluster of high tech companies in Malvern and it was clear from our discussion that companies would find it really helpful to know more about other high tech companies out there and what stages of development they are at.

"It was also clear that at a certain stage in the entrepreneurial journey as companies become more mature, funding is not such a challenge, but at the early stages and certainly pre-revenue it’s a huge challenge.

"BetaDen is doing great work with some amazing results highlighted in the meeting - helping to raise over £1.5m in grant funding, helping to create over 85 jobs and supporting 30 early stage high tech companies.

"Trying to ensure these early stage entrepreneurs are linked into research, Innovate UK and other sources of available grant funding is really important.

"Peer-to-peer mentoring from companies that are further on with their entrepreneurial journey was seen as invaluable. Everyone present stressed the need to network more."

Cllr Walton added: “We have this very special high tech cluster in Malvern and across the surrounding area.

"Malvern Hills Science Park provides a special environment for companies to grow and we want to help accelerate this process.

"As we treble the size of our science and tech park offer in Malvern we’re focussing more on promoting and strengthening our already highly respected reputation, as well creating a vibrant cluster that is supporting our companies as a top priority.

“It was great to be involved in this meet up of local Tech businesses - many at different stages in their development.

"It shows that there we have a strong Tech sector in Malvern.

"As a district council the take away I got from the meeting was that we're keen to know more about these businesses and how we can support bringing them together."