A Government Minister visited Cambridge to meet some of the 100 firms currently benefiting from a programme to create and safeguard jobs across the East of England.
Baroness Stowell, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, was at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) to hear about the PrISMS programme.
It is managed by IfM Education and Consultancy Services (IfM ECS) and helps startups and small manufacturing firms develop their business strategy, become more sustainable and identify the best markets and products for their business.
Ely-based dB Broadcast Ltd designs, manufactures and installs complete systems for the broadcasting industry. David Bird, managing director of the 50-strong firm, said: “An important benefit of engaging with the PrISMS programme was using well-proven business tools but cut down to suit dB. This provided a time-efficient programme to formalise our strategy and business processes while still doing the day job of keeping our clients on-air.”
The Minister also met Bill Timpson, MD of the Harlow Group, an Essex-based precision sheet metalwork manufacturer with more than 100 employees.
He said: “PrISMS has supported the Harlow Group in completing a successful rebranding exercise and a targeted marketing strategy. We are now working on significantly improving our delivery performance which will not only sustain our current business but will provide the platform to grow for the future.”
Vanners silk weavers in Sudbury employs 140 people and has worked with Ecopare, a company that provides energy management solutions, to help improving its energy profile.
Richard Stevenson, MD of Vanners, said: “As an SME, we often struggle with a lack of specialist non-core skills in house. With the support of Ecopare we have been able to identify and, more importantly, quantify energy saving interventions and put these into action.”
Baroness Stowell, who later visited the Future Business Centre in Cambridge, said: “Our aim is to create jobs and support local businesses and these projects deliver on both of these fronts. The businessmen and women I have met today are inspiring examples to us all and I am proud that we can provide support to them through projects such as PrISMS and the Future Business Centre. Local economies can and will prosper on the back of endeavours such as these.”
Dr Derek Ford, who with his IfM ECS colleagues delivers the programme, said: “It can be seen that the success of PrISMS is that the programme takes a holistic view of a firm, directing managers’ scarce time to those areas of business that require development or improvement.
“It also demonstrates that University-led funded programmes of this type can significantly improve the UK’s manufacturing capability.”
PrISMS, started in July 2012 as a three-year programme, aims to provide up to 70 SMEs and 50 start-ups with fully-funded support to achieve sustainable growth.
IfM ECS bases its methods on research at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) and PrISMS has helped almost 100 firms to date, becoming a flagship programme of the European Regional Development Fund.
It is part-funded by the ERDF, the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Industrial Sustainability, ideaSpace, IfM ECS and local councils.