100 Events | 11 Sectors 1000s of Attendees Across the region

CWBF2017 Sector Leads

The Coventry & Warwickshire Business Festival covers a total of 10 sectors, each one carefully selected to showcase the region's broad but strong economy. Leading each sector is an industry-specific professional who is well-known within their sectorial field.

A Sector Lead is responsible for ensuring CWBF is as successful as possible. Using their extensive networks and industry links, Sector Leads encourage participants, businesses and investors to discover what Coventry & Warwickshire has to offer.

The key sectors are:

  • Automotive and Advanced Manufacturing

  • Business and Communications

  • Construction and Property

  • Creative and Digital

  • Education

  • Games Development and Serious Gaming

  • Health and Wellbeing 

  • Logistics

  • Professional and Financial Services

  • Tourism and Culture


Read below to discover who will be leading these sectors in the first ever Coventry & Warwickshire Business Festival.

Automotive and Advanced Manufacturing

Prof. Kerry Kirwan

Professor at WMG, University of Warwick

"Automotive and Advanced Manufacturing are the backbone of the region’s social and economic successes, bringing us internationally recognition and investment."

Kerry Kirwan is a Professor at WMG, University of Warwick. He is the University’s Academic Director of Research, member of the Monash-Warwick Alliance Steering Committee and sits on the Vice Chancellors European Advisory Board.

Within WMG, he is the Chair of Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing, Director of the £11m EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing (EngD) and the £10m Industrial Doctorate Centre.   Prof Kirwan also leads the University of Warwick's Global Research Priority in Innovative Manufacturing, is a member of the EPSRC's Manufacturing the Future Strategic Advisory Team, a member of the Network Plus Executive Committee, Editor in Chief of the Journal of Polymers and the Environment and recently served on the Midlands Engine Science and Innovation Audit Committee.  Prof Kirwan also regularly chairs funding panels and meetings for UK, EU and International funding agencies.

Prof Kirwan is a specialist in sustainable materials, polymer processing and automotive applications, having graduated from Warwick's Engineering Doctorate (EngD) programme in 2003, specialising in innovative materials for automotive glazing. He has considerable experience in both injection moulding and novel utilisation of polymers and has published extensively in these areas and secured a number of patents.  He has also held CEng status since 2004.

He was also Principle Investigator on the WorldF3rst Formula 3 racing concept, which demonstrated that 'green is sexy' by delivering a fully functional F3 racing car built almost entirely from waste and recycled materials and fuelled by biodiesel derived from waste food products such as chocolate, beef fat and residues from the cheese industry. This car was named in Time Magazine's Top 50 Global Inventions of 2009 and was showcased at various industry and academic events such as Goodwood Festival of Speed, the British and European Grand Prix's and MIT's Global Energy Conference. He has appeared on many UK television programmes, countless international TV channels, radio and printed publications. Prof Kirwan was awarded the Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award by the British Science Association in 2009 and the IOM3 Thornton Gold Medal in 2011 as a result of this work.


Peter Deeley

Managing Director, Deeley Group

"The construction & development sector binds us all together our industry provides growth for business operations and delivers on the region’s much needed housing requirement. This festival comes at an excellent time and the height of construction activity in the region. "

Peter joined the family owned construction company (established in Coventry in 1936) from school in 1958. He initially worked on site (a good carpenter’s mate), with the Surveyors Department in the office and then in 1961 acted as Site Manager for a new housing development in Balsall Common. Peter took over Deeley Group upon the death of his father in 1986. The Deeley Group has become a highly successful construction and property development company working on a wide range of projects across the region and beyond.

Creative, Digital, Culture and Tourism

David Burbidge OBE

Chairman of Burbidge & Son Ltd & Chairman of Coventry City of Culture Trust 

"Culture and the creative industries provide a huge growth opportunity for our region"

David Burbidge is Chairman of the Coventry City of Culture 2021 bid, until recently he served on the main Board of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and he is the former Chair of the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. He is also Chairman of Burbidge and Son Ltd a high quality furniture manufacturing company based in Coventry, and he was a Director of the Coventry Building Society from 1981 to 2005.


David was High Sheriff of the West Midlands (from 1990 to 1991), is a Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands County and has been Master of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers, as well as being a Freeman of the City of London. He was also the founding chairman of the Coventry Cathedral Development Trust, for which he was awarded with an OBE. In 2016 he was made a CBE for his services to cultural philanthropy.


Adam and Karen Shuter

Owners, Exact Logistics Limited 

"Rugby really is at the heart of the logistics industry, with fantastic connections by road and rail to the UK, Europe and beyond. Logistics has become an important industry with some very big players choosing to locate their warehouses here. However, we should not forget that much smaller logistics companies as well as manufacturers and distributers gain competitive advantage from this central location and the Business Festival gives us a chance to highlight this"

Adam has worked in logistics for over 30 years. After international experience in the parcels sector he set up a specialist automotive logistics carrier with contracts throughout Europe. He then became European Development Director for a major pallet network where he was responsible for setting up the Benelux, Iberian and pan-European networks. Deciding that he had had enough of airports and hotels, he spotted a niche for a flexible and responsive palletised freight carrier in Warwickshire and invited Karen to join him in setting up Exact Logistics in 2009. Adam is spearheading the growth of Exact Logistics’ European services, particularly to /from Germany.

"The most enjoyable part of my job is meeting the diverse businesses in Coventry & Warwickshire who work tirelessly to meet their customers’ needs. Many of these are small companies and they provide an important infrastructure for anyone who wants to do business in our area.  The Business Festival is a chance to celebrate their contribution to our local economy.  "

Karen’s whole working life has been spent in sales & marketing, starting as a graduate trainee and ending up as the co-owner of Exact Logistics. She worked for blue chip organisations before setting up a successful local publishing business in 2005 which continues to thrive. This experience of business start-up was invaluable in 2009 when she and Adam set up Exact Logistics. Karen is primarily responsible for UK customers as well as for marketing of the whole business. She is also Chair of the Rugby branch of the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. 

Professional and Financial Services

Nick Abel

Chairman, Wright Hassall LLP

"In a vibrant growing local economy, businesses need their professional and financial services support to understand their needs, to be first class, on-hand and on message"

A real estate lawyer since he qualified as a solicitor in 1982, Nick has spent all of his career with 2017 Regional Law Firm of the Year Wright Hassall LLP, save for a brief 4 year interlude in London with Nabarros in the early ‘80s. Senior partner at Wright Hassall until 2015, Nick is now the firm’s chairman, spending more time out in the local business community. He is a director and Vice Chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and a trustee of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Health and Wellbeing

Dr. Anne Coufopoulos

Associate Dean (Enterprise & Commercial), Coventry University

"Health at work is fundamentally important for people, our economy and workplace and it is really positive to see this sector represented at the Business Festival"

Dr Anne Coufopoulos is currently Associate Dean (Enterprise & Commercial) at Coventry University, Faculty of Health & Life Sciences. Prior to this Anne has been employed in a number of academic roles across the course of her career in Nutrition and Public Health. Anne is also a Registered Dietitian and an accredited workplace Dietitian with the British Dietetic Association.

Over recent years Anne has also been focussing upon workplace health and has been working closely with the rail industry in the North-West of England to improve the nutrition related health of employees. This work has been recognised as an example of good practice in managing railway workers health by the independent regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). Anne is also Associate Editor of the International Journal of Workplace Health Management with particular emphasis on Nutrition in the workplace.

Games Development and Serious Gaming

Oliver Clarke

Director, Modern Dream

Director, Arch Creatives

"With the advent of Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies the skills the games industry has in abundance will become invaluable across a range of industries."

Ollie Clarke is a Producer that thrives on creating great 3D experiences. A co-founder of the Leamington Spa based game development studio Modern Dream. They have released several critically acclaimed games including Typing of the Dead: Overkill and The Cat that Got the Milk. Ollie was selected as BAFTA Breakthrough Brit in 2013 and is a co-founder of the innovative games co-working space Arch Creatives. A place for digital creative development teams to make great experiences. A proud ambassador for Special Effect, the gamers charity helping people with disabilities to enjoy video games. 


Marion Plant OBE FCGI

Principal and Chief Executive, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College

"The provision of relevant, high quality skills training through local universities, further education colleges and training providers is an absolute ‘game changer’ in respect of driving up productivity and prosperity within Coventry and Warwickshire."

Marion Plant is Principal and Chief Executive of a large FE College; North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College in Leicestershire and Warwickshire.  She is also Chief Executive of the Midland Academies Trust which sponsors four secondary schools.

She serves on several national/ regional bodies including:

  • Non-executive board member of the DfE

  • Board member for Leicester and Leicestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LLEP)  and for the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP)

  • Trustee of the National Society Council

  • Board member of Coventry University and co-chair of the Academic Affairs committee

  • Governor of Stephenson College

  • Trustee of WorldSkills UK

19th November - 30th November 2018

Applications are now open!






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