Unlimited is an adjective with power. It’s been adopted in Bath over the years, in 2020 by Bath Unlimited, a project and brand set up to represent and promote a group of high-achieving, imaginative and innovative world-leading Bath-based companies. Here’s what it’s like to be unlimited…
unlimited /ʌnˈlɪmɪtɪd/ adj. as much or as many as is possible; not limited in any way
Unlimited is a word with a strong character, because (adding more ‘un’s), it is unrestrained, unfiltered and uncompromised. Most of all it offers the potential for exploration, discovery, and moving beyond what we see and know for certain.
In 1966, Bath based inventor and entrepreneur Jeremy Fry established Unlimited as an antidote to the exclusivity of the art world by producing unlimited editions of work by some of the leading international artists of the day. This initiative meant these artworks were accessible and affordable to the wider public – and for the first time in over 50 years, co-ordinated by the Holburne Museum, the works have been reunited and displayed as Art for Everyone in the 1960s in Bath’s Assembly Rooms (the exhibition runs until 4 June).
Over the past few years ‘unlimited’ has become embedded within the city of Bath and has been spreading positive vibes all around us. That’s because of Bath Unlimited, a group of outstanding Bath businesses launched in 2020, and its founder, Kevin Peake, Head of Brand at Standard Life. At the start of lockdown, he joined the Economic Recovery Board led by B&NES Council to come up with ideas to activate the renewal of the local economy, and to rebuild confidence in the area as a safe, sustainable and green place in which to visit, study and work.
Bath Unlimited: the brand Kevin suggested the idea because he felt that people weren’t aware of the great companies in Bath, and therefore when the city marketed itself to attract other companies, people didn’t always come. “People come driven by a herd mentality – they go where there are lots of businesses. So that was the genesis of the idea,” says Kevin.
“We needed to create a brand. The name ‘Bath Unlimited’ was the idea of Chris Stephens, director of the Holburne, because he had been thinking about an exhibition with that title to do with Bath’s outstanding talent. The name was the glue that brought some of these amazing firms together, those that think in a very imaginative, creative way.”
The Bath Unlimited project currently features 27 businesses that fit the Unlimited brand, shown on the opposite page. “The idea was not only to profile the individual companies but to get over that Bath is not just a leisure and retail economy; it’s a city with five major sectors. All these companies account for about £2.3 billion of revenue. And they provide around 5,000 jobs locally (and 50,000 worldwide), so employment from these stand-out companies accounts for a significant proportion of our region’s jobs. Knowing that we’re really strong in all these sectors, the people of Bath can feel confident about the economy.”
The reasons that these businesses are not necessarily well known in Bath is because their market isn’t local. “We have lots of successful small local businesses who appear everywhere locally. But with a company like Rotork, much of their business is in the US, so they only have a limited amount of time and money to develop a presence here. L&C Mortgages, too, need to win new customers from all around the country so their resources are not spent on local advertising.”
What makes Bath Unlimited companies different To fulfil the criteria for being ‘Unlimited’ companies have a minimum turnover of £2 million and at least 25 employees. They can have offices elsewhere in the world, but the main office has to be in Bath. They all also need to have something about them that supports the Unlimited story. “The project has to be curated so that these firms are global leaders or they are doing something different,” says Kevin. “We want to get more companies over time but we are not prepared to compromise.” Bath Unlimited shouts about the vision, industry and achievements of these big local companies that help to drive our economy. As a business group they embody the city’s versatility and its influence. They also reflect the assets it holds – offering present, active and demonstrable skills, innovative problem solving, mastery of a brand and specialist knowledge that is valued and sought after all over the world. These businesses support regional employment and attract new visitors to the city through employees and their friends and family.
New company recruits One of the latest recruits to Bath Unlimited is The Good Economy (TGE), the UK’s leading, independent social impact advisory firm, at the forefront of a rapidly evolving market. It has become the ‘go to’ provider for investors who are committed to making a positive social impact. especially in social housing. Founded in Bath by Bathonians, Sarah Forster and Mark Hepworth, TGE has deep roots in the Bath community and is working with local stakeholders to find solutions for affordable housing in Bath through its PBII Innovation Lab.
Others include StatsBomb, the world’s fastest-growing sports data company, using data analysis teams to ensure sports organisations have access to the best data sets ever created. Also Network N, the fast-growing media business focusing on gamers, gear and esports, reaching over 60 million unique users per month across their network. Another notable recruit is Shakeup, just one year old and the leading men’s cosmetic brand with vegan-friendly and cruelty-free products made in the UK. BB cream is one of its flagship products, and one of these is sold every eight minutes in the Chinese market.
Attracting young professionals Bath Unlimited has also set up an under 35s networking club called Unlimited Potential to help young professionals connect and share resources in Bath. The network combines educational networking with guest speakers and fun social activities. It is open to all under 35s, no matter where they are in their career. Unlimited Potential is celebrating its first birthday in July. For more details check out the Bath Unlimited social media on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram (@BathUnlimited).
Unlimited inspiration There’s yet more unlimited potential going on because the not-for-profit organisation TEDx Bath – an independent part of the global TED organisation – has adopted the Unlimited theme for their annual event on 14 October at the Forum, with inspiring live talks and performers from invited individuals, all thinkers, doers and idea-generators. Curator Geoff Rich says, “TEDxBath is for everyone and anyone who is interested and enthusiastic about ideas for the future of Bath and its community, both now and in future.” Among the speakers last year were 12-year old schoolboy Max Woosey, widely known as ‘The Boy In The Tent’; world-famous pioneer of zero carbon architecture Yasmeen Lari; and social entrepreneur, creative, public speaker and polymath George Obolo.
Talking about TEDx and its Unlimited theme, Professor Andy Salmon from Bath Spa college said: “Wallace Stevens states that ‘the imagination loses its vitality when it ceases to adhere to what is real’. Furthermore, he defines the ‘imagination as the sum of all our faculties’. For me this is the essence of a great TEDx talk, where what we imagine as tantalisingly possible is constantly brought into contact with tangible actuality of our lived experience. Unlimited Inspiration indeed.” It’s the same with Bath Unlimited and its 27 companies – they provide imaginative solutions for the real world – driven by collaborative individuals who care deeply about what they do and dare to dream of what can be achieved.