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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 129

Date:- 13 December 2003

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Big Chip Awards 2003 Appeals for Liverpool or entries to all companies with internet or other digital activity

LIVERPOOL'S digital and interactive communications companies are being invited to submit their entries for this year's Big Chip Awards.

The call for entries is going out not only to digital sector companies, but also to businesses, creative agencies and organisations in other sectors which have undertaken digital initiatives in 2003 - everything from a company website to wireless technology.

This year is the sixth annual Big Chip Awards recognising digital excellence in the North West. Over previous years, Liverpool has been under-represented and the Big Chip organisers, the trade association Manchester Digital, are appealing for Liverpool and the Greater Merseyside area to have a stronger presence this year.

Chair of Manchester Digital, Shaun Fensom, said:- "Liverpool's digital industries boasts a wealth of talent and expertise. We know there is great work being done in Merseyside but in the past entries from Liverpool have been outnumbered by those from other areas.

The Big Chip Awards are a major annual opportunity for companies and organisations in Merseyside to shout about the excellence in the area's digital sector. The best entries will get the recognition they deserve.

We have listened to feedback since last year's awards and have revised the award categories to reflect the areas of expertise throughout the North West. Each year, the profile and the significance of the Awards evolves and as more favourable economic conditions gradually return, this year is set to be the most exciting yet."

The Big Chip Awards will be judged this year by a panel of figures from the sector including Michael Nutley, editor of weekly industry 'bible,' New Media Age.   Entries are submitted free online at:-


LITTLE CHEFS in the North West are offering one local charity a very special Christmas present this year. Throughout 2003, Little Chef restaurants in the region have collected over 4,000 toys, suitable for children over 3 years. They are now asking for nominations from local organisations as to why it's their Christmas stocking that should be filled! 

Operations Manager Alison Marsland explains:- "At this time of year we realise there are many people in the region that may not be getting a present from Santa, and so we decided to help out. We'd like members of the public to tell us about any charities or causes that could put these toys to good use. From a hospice to a children's charity, in-fact anyone that could make sure the toys go to a good home."

With gifts like mini Robot Wars cars, Sumo Battle Tops, Spiderman wall climbers and CD's from Kylie and Westlife, Little Chef hopes to make Christmas a little brighter for thousands of kids in the north west. 

If you are a worthy cause that would like to receive these toys, please email:-, by the 16th December, with your details (including your registered charity number).


'at standstill or in decline'

NEARLY two out of three North West companies 'at standstill or in decline' Local firms urged to exploit design in order to achieve growth

Turnover at 55% of companies in North West remained static last year, while for a further 6% of companies saw their turnover decline. These are some of the key findings to emerge today (Tuesday 9th December) from a major independent national business survey.

The research, commissioned by the Design Council, covers companies of all sizes across a range of business sectors. It shows that just 37% of firms in the North west notched up moderate growth in the past twelve months, with only one in a hundred growing rapidly. These are among the lowest growth figures anywhere in the UK and fall significantly short of the goals which local companies have. Forty-five per cent told researchers that their objective was to grow their businesses.

Harry Rich, Director of Business at the Design Council, says the aspirations of many of these companies may not be realistic because they're failing to exploit design and innovation. He explains:- "Nationally, our research has established a clear link between business growth and design. Put more simply, the more a company exploits design the more likely it is to grow. Where design is integral to its activities, businesses are more innovative and increase their chances of joining the small minority of firms which are rapidly growing.

It's clear there is a worrying performance gap appearing between design-aware businesses, which are innovative and powering ahead, and companies which are failing to exploit design properly. As a consequence, they're treading water and far less likely to be growing. This national finding is mirrored in the North West, where too many companies appear to be unaware of the link between design, innovation and growth. As a consequence, many are likely to fall short of their growth targets."

The new research shows design is important for only a minority of North West companies, with 15% saying it plays a significant role and another 12% reporting that it is integral to their operations. These firms are easily outnumbered by the 46% of businesses for which design has no role to play. For another 27%, design role id described as 'limited'.

The national results of the Design Council's survey are published today in Design in Britain 2003-04. The research has been endorsed by the Director General of the CBI, Digby Jones, who says:- "Design in Britain isn't just about design, it's about the importance of using design and innovation to help in the global battle for competitiveness. The report clearly shows that design, when used strategically, can be a valuable tool in the businesses armoury and can help firms of all sizes secure a competitive edge."

Key national findings featured in Design in Britain:-

· Seventy-four per cent of growing companies say design has become more important to them over the last ten years in maintaining their competitive edge, whereas only 44% of all companies said this was the case.

· Sixty-four per cent of rapidly growing companies say use of design has made them more competitive over the last three years, compared with 14% of all UK companies.

· Manufacturers are most likely to use designers, but even so only 47% of them involve designers in the process of new product development as a whole and only 18% use them in the idea generation, research and development stage.

· Research and development intensity - defined as investment as a percentage of sales - rose from 1.8% in 1998 to 2.2 per cent in 2001, but the UK is still lagging behind the rest of the world's 4.1%. 

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