In-Cumbria has selected ten up-and-coming businesses which we are tipping for great things in 2023 and beyond...

RAF Engineering

Aneta Gibka and Rafal Gibki took over RAF General Engineering, formerly known as Hudson Swan, in July 2017.

Despite facing some challenging times, the pair have managed to grow the Workington business and its turnover consistently since they have been in charge.

There are now 16 staff working at the business, compared to eight when they took over and the pair have also invested in a suite of new machinery, as well as investing in software to increase capacity and efficiency.

Aneta and Rafal are hoping to continue to grow the business by working with new customers across the UK, as well as new sectors such as aerospace.

Grain Connect

Grain Connect, based in Carlisle, originally started life as Solway Communications, building a broadband network across the county before beginning to install it in new-build housing developments.

With the help of significant investment in 2019 and 2021, it is now extending its network of full fibre broadband to areas in Carlisle, Barrow and Manchester, as well as locations including Liverpool, Leeds, Scarborough, Newcastle, North Shields, Grimsby, Hull, Watford, Birmingham, Leicester and London.

Its workforce surged to more than 140 last year and it has its sights firmly set on further growth.

Coniston Stonecraft

Brendan Donnelly and wife Cherry bought Coniston Stonecraft out of administration in 2020, just 19 days before the UK went into lockdown.

Over the last three years, they have revamped the range of products it offers, collaborating with interior and homeware companies to supply its wares and focusing on making sales online.

The business has also taken on a number of new staff, including apprentices from Furness College.

Ratio Engineering

Founded by Cambridge University engineering students with help and investment from their tutor, Ratio Technology, near Kendal, is already influencing the world of gravel biking by supplying equipment which allows riders to access a wider range of gears.

However, Tom Simpson, Felix Barker, Will Weatherill and Louis Simpson are working on something that has the potential to be much bigger - a new gear change system for bikes which could change the world of cycling.

The team hope to reveal their new product later this year.

Bassenthwaite Lake Station

Simon and Diana Parums have transformed the defunct railway station at Bassenthwaite Lake into one of the county’s most individual tourist attractions.

Since buying the station in 2019 they have carried out a painstaking renovation of the station, restoring it to its former glory to create a cafe and events space and making use of replica railway carriages for seating.

Alongside the cafe, the couple have been able to pursue their love of nature and conservation, planting over 3000 new trees on the site, cultivating hedges, restoring a silted-up pond and sowing a wildflower meadow on land at the rear of the station.


Founded by Barrow mums Anna Cargan and Nathalie Redfern, in Barrow, Buildabundle sells second hand children’s clothes online.

The pair knew convenience was a huge barrier to other parents buying preloved clothing for their children and set up an online shop stocking the items to try and make it more easy.

They are now selling over 100,000 items a year, which are sent out in reused postbags. The business also stocks wildflower seeds to encourage people to plant flowers, as well as reusable face wipes and biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes.


Clyne Albertelli, 25, from Whitehaven, launched his business Co-Lab Engineering in June last year.

Co-Lab works with businesses to run collaborative programmes focused on solving industry problems, while also training and developing workers at the same time.

The process begins by identifying a specific challenge from a sector such as nuclear, oil and gas or renewables and then bringing together SMEs, larger organisations and academic institutions to try and solve it. This serves to not only come up with a solution to a real world problem but also as an opportunity for professional development.

With endless engineering challenges on the horizon, Clyne and Co-Lab are set to have their work cut out in the coming years.

Mission CX

Mission CX uses experience its senior management team gained at Sellafield to commission projects in a variety of sectors.

The company, based at the Innovation Centre in Westlakes Science Park, uses its expertise to set equipment, teams and facilities to work, ensuring they are running smoothly and the personnel have the necessary knowledge and training.

Its work extends across the UK and into Europe.

To streamline its work, MissionCX developed the i-CON digital commissioning system, which uses tablets, digitalised forms, workflows and databases to carry out projects.

It has also developed the VR Works virtual reality training platform, which allows people to learn new skills via avatars exploring digitally created 3D environments.

Plain Purpose

Set up last year by former Sellafield Ltd chief of staff Emma-Jayne Gooch, Plain Purpose aims to work with companies to help them identify and follow their true purpose.

Emma-Jayne helps firms focus on not what they do, but why they do it, with the aim of engaging their customers, clients and staff in fulfilling their mission.

As someone who previously helped implement the Sellafield Manifesto, which worked with its 11,000 employees to understand and change the culture at the business, Emma-Jayne is well set to make the business fly.

Northern Pasta Company

One of the county’s most exciting food start-ups, Northern Pasta Co is already making waves in the culinary world.

The Kendal-based company’s creations use British grown grain in the form of spelt to create nutritious, tasty pasta.

Their profile has been given a boost via features in the Sunday Times and an appearance on chef James Martin’s Saturday Morning on ITV.