Strategic Planning
  • The New Pathways Project is designed to drive growth in high value markets, specifically for West Midlands companies in the Interiors and Lifestyles Cluster. It will also help companies like yours to build up networks and profitable partnerships with over 400 like-minded companies.
  • Delivery of New Pathways is by experienced consultants from business supporting enterprises at the Ceramic Industry Forum (CIF) and Birmingham City University (Design Knowledge Network and the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre - BCU). They combine expertise in lean manufacturing, marketing and product strategy and new product development.
  • Advantage West Midlands is providing three years of RDA and ERDF funding to support companies such as yours who wish to maximise their markets or to develop new products using different materials, processes or technologies.
  • Companies will benefit from a series of workshops exploring creative business tools and new technologies. There will also be networking opportunities with other Interiors and Lifestyle cluster companies, and special presentations by industry experts.
  • Companies in the interiors category work in: furniture, furnishings, textiles, carpets, floor and wall coverings, kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, home office, ceramics, lighting, window products, interior architecture, fixtures and fittings.
  • Lifestyle companies focus on jewellery and silverware, fashion, clothing and accessories, travel goods, leather goods, sports and leisure goods, home wares (ceramics and glass), giftware and artworks.
  • The categories above are by no means exhaustive and Interiors and Lifestyle cluster activities and projects are available to companies of all sizes.
  • The first step is to become a member of the cluster by completing a registration form. You will then be kept informed of all events and activities. You'll also be eligible to apply (with a simple application form) to take advantage of a thorough business analysis called the "Discovery Process".
  • The Discovery Process includes a strategic assessment of your business and its potential for growth and profitability. (Conducted on an individual/confidential company basis over one day and in two further half day workshops with other companies). This strategic assessment defines and prioritises market and new product development opportunities, which will then form an action plan for your company. The Discovery Process will also help your company participate in collaborative action groups.
  • Identification of opportunities and an innovative toolbox to help you evaluate internal and external factors.
  • An action plan with a clear course of action to focus on.
  • Guidance towards a particular action group.
  • Referral to the other business programmes and other forms of business support offered by regional agencies.
  • An action group is a collaborative network of six to ten companies from the Cluster, sharing their experiences of a specific market or using new technologies.
  • There will be at least 15 action groups operating through the New Pathways project over the next three years focusing on new markets and new product development.
  • You and your company will receive a considerable amount of information and guidance about a relevant market or the application of a specific technology as well as methods for creative idea generation and network building tools.
  • Relevant expert opinion in your chosen market or area of technology.
  • Contact with specific market buyers and organisations who can guide your efforts to enter a specific market.
  • Participation and collaboration with other companies who are also interested in either the application of technology or a specific market.
  • Your time (and if relevant other members of your staff) on the two day discovery process and subsequent action group meetings. There is no cost contribution.
  • Collaborative networking with senior managers of other companies in the action group.
  • The recording and reporting of your individual company discovery process.
  • The sharing of information and implementation of ideas with fellow employees.
  • The discovery process, will take place at your site and collaborative sessions will be at a local venue.
  • Most Action Groups will generally take place at a local venue along with external visits.
  • Networking events will be held throughout the region.


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