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12 June, 2016 - 22:30 By Kate Sweeney

Silverstone Technology Cluster ‘opens for business’

A cluster of hi-tech engineering businesses, the Silverstone Technology Cluster in Northamptonshire, has been identified in the area surrounding Silverstone Park by a new research report. The cluster, which is being backed by the Government, highlights a market of untapped potential.

With science and innovation at the heart of the Government’s long term economic plans, growth of the Cluster will strengthen the UK’s position as a world-leading knowledge economy. High-tech engineering within the Cluster gives the UK the potential to be the leading export economy in new and emerging fields - a direct answer to the country’s decreasing reliance on traditional manufacturing.

Although world-famous for its motorsport capabilities, the area around Silverstone has evolved significantly. MEPC has identified over 4,000 small and mid-sized businesses within two hours of Silverstone specialising in aeronautics, automotive, medical industries, green energy, marine, defence, electronics and sensors, as well as motorsports.

The report, which focuses primarily on the evolution and characteristics of the cluster, has been commissioned by MEPC, asset manager and developer of Silverstone Park on behalf of Hermes Investment Management, with partners PwC and Barclays.

It has been authored by SQW, the highly respected economic and social development research firm whose findings first brought the Cambridge Phenomenon to public attention.

Roz Bird, commercial director at Silverstone Park for MEPC, said: “The potential of the Silverstone Technology Cluster is limitless. Having taken over management of Silverstone Park in 2013, we noticed this untapped market almost immediately and have been working with our partners to develop it.

“As an evolving engine room for UK innovation, the cluster is able to adapt and provide a continuing flow of entrepreneurial new firms. However, in order for the cluster to achieve its full potential further investment is needed.”

The report is a first step in creating a cluster organisation, which will match investors with untapped hi-tech engineering firms.

Chris Taylor, head of private markets at Hermes Investment Management, said: “Global capital increasingly gravitates to best talent and we believe the Silverstone Technology Cluster plays to this theme, along with longer term trends associated with technology and globalisation.

“As a long-term, responsible investor the opportunity exists to create a globally leading high performance technology centre at the heart of a rapidly expanding cluster.”

The Cluster is being backed by government. Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: “Britain has a proud history as a hotbed of innovation and technological changes have the real potential to revolutionise our lives. For example, data analytics used in motorsport is now driving innovation in hospitals and health care.

“The Silverstone Technology Cluster is at the forefront of global technological innovation, skilled at solving engineering problems and delivering solutions. It is an exemplary haven and one where young engineers can get the training they need to become the best in the world.”

The cluster is also recognised as a global draw for engineering talent. However, meeting demand for skills will be a challenge with a severe national shortage of engineers.

Cranfield University and Oxford Brookes play a crucial role in addressing this need within the Silverstone Technology Cluster by educating thousands of engineering students annually – many of which are from outside the UK. These educational facilities, along with others in the cluster, are significant to the industry’s ongoing learning capabilities.

PHOTOGRAPH: Engineer at TotalSim (Brackley), part of the Silverstone Technology Cluster, using white light scanning to reverse engineer a helmet

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