A NEW network of companies has come together to solve some of the biggest problems facing the electech sector – while ensuring they are well placed to take advantage of the huge opportunities on the horizon.
The Electrech Morecambe Bay and South Lakes Innovation Cluster recently held its first engagement event at Lancaster University and unveiled great plans to support member organisations.
Electrech is the name given to the industry that produces the electronics, electrical hardware and embedded software essential to the existence of technology, from the smallest cell phone chip to huge power stations. According to the government’s recent Electrech report, “over £100bn a year” is pumped into the UK economy through the sector.
During the meeting, Chris Mayne, cluster board member and managing director of Forsberg Services Ltd in Heysham, outlined the current focus areas the cluster would highlight, while asking more people to get involved.
After the event, he added: “We are really delighted with the success of our first meeting. There was a real buzz and energy in the room.
“The event highlighted the benefits of the cluster and the wide range of opportunities that will be available to our members.
“Most importantly, our goals for skills and training, facilities, representation and innovation have come a long way. We truly believe this is just the beginning of the exciting things to come for the region.
Some of the priorities discussed by members at the event included:
- Access to R&D funding
- Labor retention
- Upcoming opportunities around cybersecurity
Kate Houlden, Managing Director of Like Technologies Ltd in Lancaster, said: “One of the many benefits we will bring to our members is to improve the provision of skills in our region.
“Many of our members, including Like Technologies, face a skills gap, which means recruitment and retention is often a challenge.
“The cluster aims to build strong relationships between small businesses in the electech industries and local education providers so that we can help influence the training available to the local community, be it beginners, students academics or people looking for a new career in Electrech. We want to make sure we retain talent in the Bay Area.
Dion Williams, Associate Dean for Enterprise and Engagement and Director of Research, Enterprise and Innovation at Lancaster University, said he was delighted that the institution was able to support the development of the cluster and host the networking event at the university’s flagship health innovation campus.
He added: “The cluster came about when a number of organizations involved in this sector realized that they shared similar challenges and understood the value of coming together to try to solve them.
“They have already achieved so much by bringing together organizations of different sizes across the sector, as well as skills partners and local government business support functions, to share key learnings and advice on a range of issues. .
“The number of organizations participating in this initial engagement event showed how important some of these concerns are to the future success of this vital industry in our region.
“From conversations with decision-makers in government, I know how powerful these types of groups can be in providing a strong combined regional voice when lobbying for support and upgrading opportunities, such as the recently announced that the new National Cyber Force will be located in Samlesbury to help create a cyber corridor from north-west Manchester to Lancaster and beyond.
The cluster is now looking for other organizations to get involved and report any issues they may be facing.