Hopwood Hall welcomes new business innovation advisor

Date published: 04 July 2024

Hopwood Hall College and University Centre has appointed Billy Gilchrist as its new business innovation advisor.

Billy brings over 20 years of experience in the electrical industry, and more recently specialising in retrofit and green technologies.

His role involves business innovation engagement and advice, collaborating with employers across Greater Manchester to understand their goals, challenges, and aspirations, providing tailored advice to develop robust innovation strategies.

Born and raised in Rochdale, Billy has a longstanding connection to the community. His extensive career in the electrical industry includes working with numerous companies throughout Rochdale and the wider Greater Manchester region.

In 2018, he transitioned to education as an electrical work-based tutor at Hopwood Hall College and University Centre. By 2020, he was promoted to apprenticeship manager and, as of May this year, advanced to the role of business innovation advisor.

As a business innovation advisor. Billy's key responsibilities encompass a multifaceted approach to fostering business growth and innovation.

Billy stays abreast of market trends and industry best practices providing the ability to provide innovative recommendations, conduct comprehensive business diagnostic reviews, and leverage analytical tools to identify growth opportunities.

Billy organises workshops and events to stimulate creative thinking and problem-solving, evaluating and prioritising innovative ideas based on feasibility, potential impact, and alignment with local business needs.

In addition, offering guidance on leveraging emerging technologies and digital tools to enhance operational efficiency and drive business growth, identifying opportunities for automation and data analytics, championing culture of innovation and continuous improvement within businesses, encouraging openness to change and new ideas.

Business collaboration and business support is a critical element of what the college offers, for example they have recently collaborated with Schneider to design a bespoke one-week course to upskill 10 engineers in door access equipment.

The tailored training course will take place in the college’s new state-of-the-art Fire and Security workshop. The work undertaken at the college are aligned to the wider borough projects including the region's journey to net zero and initiatives focused on advanced manufacturing, machinery and materials with CEAMS and Atom Valley.

When asked about the skills that are key for future success, Billy said: “If the UK wants to regain and sustain its position as a key world contender in manufacturing, the development of world-class skills in the next five to 10 years is critical.

Businesses need to develop skills in digital literacy, innovation and creativity, sustainability and green technologies, adaptability and flexibility, leadership and people management, and technical skills in AI, machine learning, and automation to remain competitive globally.”

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