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Beer Piper benefits from Greater Manchester’s innovation ecosystem

A meeting with a GM Business Growth Hub innovation specialist led to technical support, funding and a pipe dream turning into reality for a cutting edge SME in the pub industry.

In his previous life, Beer Piper’s Commercial Director Jeff Singer spent 25 years touring the world as a drummer. So, it’s maybe no big surprise that his mind wanders far from the company’s Trafford base when he’s asked how an introduction to Local Innovation Connector Stephen Slater changed his business for the better.

“If I want to drive to California,” he says, “I'll be able to do it, but I’m probably best off using Google Maps to help me. And Ste is my Google Maps – he found the best way for Beer Piper to get to where we wanted to be.

“He's cut the time it’s taken to arrive, and he’s cut the cost of the journey. He’s created a route that we may have ended up finding by ourselves, but we could have been stumbling around in the dark for a long time trying to get there.”

Founded in 1988, Beer Piper was purchased in 2018 by Chemisphere Holdings Ltd – owned by Jeff’s father-in-law. The business has  grown into a market leader, engineering and manufacturing the most technologically advanced beer line cleaning systems in the UK, with a long list of clients that includes BrewDog and Seven Brothers. But the company was clear that it wanted to become more innovative and successful.


Ste’s like an addition to our team. He's had a great vision for a very difficult project.

Jeff Singer, Commercial Director, Beer Piper

Industry-university collaboration set to create industry-first product

The business had a firm idea about the next stage of development: adoption of state-of-the-art technology and development of a system addition even more environmentally friendly than their recently launched next generation product, BP5.

“Britain’s pubs throw out around 40 million pints of beer a year,” he explains. “We’re committed to tackling this unnecessary waste, and want to help drive the pub industry to becoming cleaner, greener and more efficient.”

But finding an innovative way to reduce the amount of chemicals, time and energy put into the beer line cleaning process would require technical expertise beyond Beer Piper’s own skillsets. This is where Stephen ‘Google Maps’ Slater came in – de-risking the project by breaking it down into bitesize steps, and leveraging his position at the cente of Greater Manchester’s innovation ecosystem to help Beer Piper access specialised support on prototyping, funding, robotics and automation, and validating and testing.

The North of England Robotics Innovation Centre (NERIC) is currently working on initial prototypes, with testing to follow and a new industry-first product likely to go to market in late-2024.

“I cannot thank GM Business Growth Hub enough,” says Jeff.  “Ste’s like an addition to our team. He's had a great vision for a very difficult project, and has been able to move it quickly forward with little fuss. If he wasn’t a Liverpool fan, we could be friends!

“We had our first contact with him in March [2023] and by the summer we had four professors working on the project. He’s helped us bring in the correct people, in the right timeframe to enable further funding, and has turned what was our pipe dream into a reality. It’s true Greater Manchester innovation at play.”

Working together at every step of your business journey

Beer Piper first came across GM Business Growth Hub at a University of Salford event, where they bumped into Local Innovation Connector, Stephen Slater. Working at the heart of Greater Manchester’s innovation ecosystem, Stephen was able to easily link Beer Piper in with:


The Hub’s Green Innovation team, and Commercialisation Specialist Russell Mansfield, who:

  • Carried out a detailed diagnostic of Beer Piper’s business to identify key areas for support
  • Helped to develop the innovation project brief
  • Advised on Corporate Social Responsibility within the hospitality/brewery sector


Innovate UK EDGE and its Senior Innovation and Growth Specialist Michael Hadfield, who:

  • Helped secure a £15,000 research and technology grant from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre
  • Connected Beer Piper with further support across the industry, including the Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute (AMPI), the Society of Independent Brewers, and Harrison Drury
  • Sourced a potential £36,000 in funding from AMPI
  • Provided Intellectual Property advice and helped secure a £2,500 IP audit grant
  • Mapped out the funding debt finance landscape for plans to scale up

Stephen’s own role spanned:

  • Facilitating introductions and meetings between Beer Piper and relevant University staff
  • Costing up the collaboration project
  • Building and managing an effective stage gate system for product development and validation; this enabled the engagement of internal and external funding partners, and helped de-risk the project from incurring unnecessary costs
  • Supporting the academic team in building a functional offering for Beer Piper that met the client’s needs, integrating with University and external partner funding.

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