Submit your email address below to receive email updates from Business24.
The July meeting of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster (BECBC) was held in the new facilities at Lakes College and focused on The West Cumbria Economic Blueprint, with presentations from David Jones of Britain’s Energy Coast, Barry Watkinson of Morgan Sindall and Peter Woolaghan of REACT Engineering.
“The Cluster is idenitifed as one of the three key players in delivery of the Blueprint,” said Phil Jardine, Business Development Director for the Business Cluster, “and we are keen to spread the word among our members and start the process of thinking through the implications for existing businesses. It is all about action and implementation now, how we can support the implementation of the Blueprint and how best to focus the area’s business resources to make a difference.”
Phil continued: “Everyone is keen to see this document as a springboard for change and growth rather than just words and the Cluster and its members have been identified as crucial to making things happen throughout the broad energy supply chain to encourage innovation and to create prosperity.”
After a brief summary of the Blueprint, David Jones, Head of Projects, Energy & Business Support at Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC), challenged local businesses to get involved, not only working with local young people to show them the existing opportunities, but also developing new ideas and ways of working.
“The business community is essential to the delivery of the Blueprintcreating jobs and economic success,” he said. We have international companies who are members of BECBC as well as home- grown success stories but we need more and we need to learn from our entrepreneurs. Innovation, skills and people sparking off each other is going to be just as important as property developments and investments in infrastructure and the Cluster is a great forum for making this happen and maintaining
Examples were mentioned at the meeting from both the public and private sectors, including the impact of attracting the new Dalton Cumbrian Facility, part of the University of Manchester, to West Cumbria, working with the already established National Nuclear Laboratory and the continued investments and growth from several thriving Cluster member businesses.
“Our world-class research facilities and international reputation in the energy sector are two of our big competitive advantages so we need to build on these R&D developments and ensure that the business community reaps the benefits too,” added David.
Among the private sector growth stories that exemplify the combination of business commitment, BEC funding and specialist education working together are TIS Cumbria Limited’s new factory and offices (set to grow employee numbers from 50 to 85 in the next three years including a high proportion of new
apprenticeships) and the significant investments in equipment and machining technology at Hudson Swan Engineering.
Barry Watkinson’s BECBC presentation looked particularly at the opportunities for larger organisations to optimise benefits from the nuclear investments in the area. “Barry challenged BECBC members to think big and then find ways to get involved,” said Phil Jardine, “and we are already planning a Blueprint Forum early in August to harness the energy and ideas that are out there and to plan our contribution to the BEC Implementation Plan for the Blueprint.”
Pete Woolaghan of REACT Engineering also challenged local SMEs and organisations to take risks and encourage start ups as the most likely source of new jobs. “We’ve got some big challenges and technical problems to work on,” he said. “We’re good at this stuff and we have great young people
coming through with the ideas and skills that we need. What we need to create is a vibrant ecosystem that supports innovation, doesn’t let the failures drag down the momentum but celebrates the risk taking and the successes.”
A question and answer session after the presentations focused very much on the practicalities of the implementation plan, the role of businesses in encouraging start ups and the ideas that are already taking shape to involve the nuclear sector in the development of innovative technologies and knowledge transfer.
Further details of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster are available online at www.becbusinesscluster.co.uk. The West Cumbria Economic Blueprint is available to download at www.britainsenergycoast.co.uk. The next members’ meeting is at Energus, Lillyhall on Wednesday 1 August with the Blueprint Response Event on Friday 3 August – guests and new members can contact the BECBC Administrator via the website.