Chatbots could lead to the creation of 10,000 new jobs in the North West by boosting productivity.

That’s the view of Chris Bain, boss of Chatbot Labs, located at The Base digital hub in Warrington, which is winning contacts to deliver what he described as “game-changing” boosts to company efficiency.

A chatbot is a programme that automates processes on command. We already widely use chatbots in our everyday lives via Siri on iPhones or Alexa on devices such as Amazon Echo.

Mr Bain says the use of chatbot technology in an office environment could be transformational. Chatbots can take verbal or written instructions and interrogate all of an organisation’s software systems and databases to find answers to queries or undertake menial tasks.

“By drawing a link between all the software resources an organisation has, a chatbot can find information or the answers to questions hidden amidst piles of data quickly and efficiently,” he explained.

“If you run a law firm and want to know the latest position on a client’s account you can ask the chatbot to find the information for you whilst you and colleagues get on with something more valuable. Factories have had robots for decades and now offices will soon have digital robots.”

Mr Bain dismisses fears that chatbots could be “job killers”, pointing out that, in manufacturing, automation and technology has ultimately been a job creator. Investment in tech is shown to increase productivity and frees up people to do higher value work.

He added: “The system is in its infancy and we’re one of just a handful of companies leading the way, but it’s moving quickly. Within five years every office will have chatbots, just like many homes now have an Alexa.”

Chatbot Labs is already developing a system for one branch of the NHS to help make the training of over a million employees more efficient by allowing trainers to access and package information on command.

Mr Bain said: “Each chatbot will be unique to the host organisation’s software and data sets.  It learns as it goes along, essentially becoming like a huge FAQ bank.  Every time a new question is asked and answered it’s stored for future replication and even speedier response.

“And because each ‘bot’ is built on a Microsoft platform even the smallest companies can have them developed to suit their needs. Software has a habit of democratising productivity gains and this will be no different.  And as Alexa and Siri have shown us, chatbots’ understanding of natural language is increasingly sophisticated and able to cope with regional accents.

“Looking at how the tech sector has grown in the North West I’d expect up to 10,000 new skilled jobs in the region over the next five years creating chatbots for every conceivable type of business. We intend to be at the forefront of it.”



Tenants at The Base, Warrington’s hi-technology hub on Dallam Lane, reported another strong year of trading – with expectations high for 2020.

The building’s annual tenant survey, completed at the end of each calendar year, paints a positive picture and ‘points to a bright future for the Warrington economy,’ says operator Langtree.

Highlights include:

  • A 10% uplift in jobs amongst existing tenants
  • 100% of surveyed tenants expect to grow in 2020, delivering 15% organic jobs growth by numbers employed
  • Half of all tenants developing new products
  • Half of all tenants exporting products and services, up from a third the year before

“The survey paints a very positive picture,” says Sylvie Morton of property company Langtree, which manages the 50,000 sq ft Grade A building on behalf of Warrington & Co.

“What’s particularly interesting is the scale of collaboration among tenants and the level of exporting.”

There were a total of 14 different collaborative engagements between companies, including working together to develop new technologies and joint-working to win new clients.

“Not everything is uniform, of course,” explains Mrs Morton. “New product development, whilst impressive, dropped slightly from the previous year, which probably reflects the fact that companies were bedding in the previous year’s innovations.

“What we can see is that The Base is fulfilling its promise of being a place where Warrington SMEs can innovate and grow.  Three quarters of our occupiers grew last year, up from 41 per cent the previous year.”

The hub now has 22 occupiers employing 245 staff, with a number of new tenant lettings under negotiation.

Commenting on the findings Stephen Fitzsimons, responsible for business growth and investment at Warrington’s private sector-led economic development arm, Warrington & Co, said:

“Warrington continues to be a in a strong position and is cementing its reputation as a home of thriving start-ups and SMEs.

“The Base was established to help us future-proof Warrington’s economy, support local businesses and create jobs. These growth figures, alongside the impressive export levels, tell us we’re heading firmly in the right direction.


Baker Mallett, a provider of professional services to the construction industry, has moved its head office to The Base on Dallam Lane, Warrington.

The company, which was founded in 1919 and is currently celebrating its centenary year, offers quantity surveying, project management, building surveying and health and safety services to the property and construction industry.  It has a number of supporting offices across England.

The firm has taken the penthouse suite and two extra supporting offices at the town’s high technology hub as it expands to meet client demand.  The move sees the number of firms operating out of The Base reach twenty-three and the number of staff now occupying the building to 246.

“We’re delighted to welcome such a long-standing and successful business to The Base,” said Jayne Furnival, group property director for Langtree, which manages the building on behalf of Warrington & Co.

“Baker Mallett is a very forward-thinking business with huge investment in IT to support the work it does across Europe and there is a ready-made eco-system in the building of technology-driven businesses with whom it can collaborate as it grows,” added Furnival.

Commenting on their move, Baker Mallett’s Chairman Neil Griffiths said: “The Base is the best Grade A space in Warrington and we wanted to make sure that we offer our employees the best working environment possible.  The connectivity to the rail and road network is ideal for us to service our clients across the UK.’’


Two new occupiers have taken leases at The Base on Dallam Lane in Warrington, the town’s fast-growing technology and engineering hub.

PixelTree Media and Moorgate Enterprises have taken more than a thousand square feet between them in the Grade A office building, joining a range of leading employers, including Ixis, Meritec and the National Skills Academy for Nuclear.

The grade-A offices on Dallam Lane now houses more than 215 skilled staff in a range of businesses and the new tenants say they are looking forward to becoming ‘part of the building’s eco-system’.

“One of the things that attracted us to The Base was the number of technology occupiers,” explained James Hamilton from PixelTree Media.  “It’s got its own eco-system that we can tap in to. Collaboration is key in our industry so to be surrounded by companies with whom we can share ideas and intelligence was a major pull.”

Sylvie Morton, business development manager for Langtree, which manages The Base on behalf of Warrington & Co said:

“Cluster development is critical to Warrington’s economic future and The Base plays a key role in providing the support and resources for fast-growth technology businesses to thrive.”

The Base provides 50,000 square feet of Grade A office space and is home to over 20 businesses in a range of industries.  The building was developed by Warrington & Co, the private-sector led regeneration arm of Warrington Council.  It is home to the successful BaseConnect online networking platform, which provides a networking hub for leading engineering and technology innovators involved in the Warrington area and has more than 260 members.  More information can be found here.


A survey amongst small businesses in Warrington suggests the town’s economy is in good hands and ‘ready for whatever is thrown at us,’ says Steve Park, managing director of Warrington & Co and director of growth at Warrington Borough Council.

Tenants of the high technology hub at The Base in Dallam Lane delivered strong sales growth, export development and job creation during 2018, the survey findings show.

“The results are quite remarkable,” says Mr Park.

“Average sales growth across our tenant base in 2018 was 46 per cent, whilst 41 per cent of companies have taken on new staff since moving to The Base,” said Mr Park.  “The most encouraging finding relates to the number that launched new products or services, which is a key indicator of future growth potential.  Remarkably, 66 per cent did so in the last year and 58 per cent have collaborated with other tenants in the building to help them.  Warrington’s economy is now amongst the most dynamic in the UK.”

The Base is home to a wide range of businesses involved in different aspects of technology, software and engineering development, many around the transition to ‘Industry 4.0’, the move towards systems integration and digital transformation to speed up manufacturing and business processes and customisation.  Currently, more than 220 staff work in the Grade A office building.

Sylvie Morton, business development manager for Langtree, which manages The Base on behalf of Warrington & Co, believes the ‘eco-system’ in the building encourages an outward looking and ambitious culture amongst tenants.

“We see tenants meeting in our collaboration area all the time and to find that borne out in the research findings is gratifying.

“Our tenants also recognise that their growth will depend on a skilled workforce and so a quarter have recruited apprentices and 41 per cent of all employees are graduates.  The place just fizzes with energy and we have put in place an infrastructure of partners that are committed to helping them grow,” said Mrs Morton.

And, she says, tenants are not afraid to ask for help, with 58 per cent having turned to public sector agencies for some form of support.

The findings follow on the heels of one of The Base’s most high profile tenants, open-source web developer Ixis, reporting record profits following its management buyout.  The company increased revenues by more than 50 per cent to £1.7m, with profit trebling from £227,000 to £638,000.

Steve Park believes the most encouraging statistic lies in the number of tenants exporting.  “A third of our tenants export, which is three times greater than the national average.  An export-oriented economy is a successful one and so this statistic bodes well for Warrington as a whole.”


Three leading advisory businesses have joined an existing network of experts to help tenants at The Base maximise their growth potential.

The grade-A offices on Dallam Lane now house more than 220 employees in a range of businesses and the new partners will help speed up their access to leading-edge advice.

The intellectual property team at law firm Brabners, corporate finance advisors at accountants Jackson Stephen and promotional experts at CST Marketing join Santander, Inventya and FDR Law to provide a full suite of advisory services to tenants, including areas such as tax, R&D, innovation, law and product commercialisation.

“The Base has established itself as Warrington’s leading hub for innovative, high-growth businesses and our new partners broaden the range of expertise they can access to help them grow even faster,” said Sylvie Morton, business development manager at Langtree, who manage the building on behalf of owners Warrington & Co.

A twelve month programme of clinics and joint events delivered by the partners begins this month and includes subjects such as innovation, product commercialisation and Industry 4.0 technologies.  Tenants are then free to contract with the partners on more detailed support, as required.

Commenting on their backing for the initiative, Sarah Smith at business and tax advisors Jackson Stephen, said: “The success of The Base speaks for itself.  There’s no other hub like it in Warrington where so many people are involved in innovation and are focused on growth.  We’re delighted to be able to support such enterprising businesses and to help them accelerate their development.  Warrington is well known for its high levels of company formation and we have particular expertise in supporting high growth companies.”

The Base provides 50,000 square feet of Grade A office space and is home to over 20 businesses in a range of industries.  The building was developed by Warrington & Co, the private-sector led regeneration arm of Warrington Council.