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Silverstone Technology Cluster set to become part of 'UK's innovation capital' says government

23 May 2019

The Silverstone Technology Cluster (STC) is set to become a key part of “the innovation capital of this country” it has heard from the UK government at its Annual Conference this week.

Robert Jenrick MP, Exchequer Secretary to HM Treasury, addressed more than 100 businesses at the STC Annual Conference and emphasised the government’s endorsement of the STC’s high-tech activity and growth ambitions.

He told the audience: “This is more than just part of a country that’s a collection of businesses; it’s the idea you could be the innovation capital of this country and a national if not global asset and one we in government want to ensure thrives and succeeds and fulfils its full potential.

“We don’t yet know the scale of that and I don’t think we should be limited in the scale of our ambitions.

“Whether it is the universities you have, the fantastic businesses large and small, the innovative people, the very international population that we have in this area – everything leads us to back to the belief that this could be one of the great engines of economic growth for our country and beyond.”

The STC – the region within an hour’s drive time of Silverstone on the Bucks-Northants border – is home to 3,500 high-tech businesses from start-ups and SMEs to larger organisations.

Many have been borne out of a history in motorsport but this has led to a large percentage now transferring their skills and technologies to serve other sectors such as aerospace, automotive, defence, marine, medical devices, electronics and software development.

The STC is exploring working with neighbouring cluster organisations, to help map out future growth of the government’s Cambridge-Oxford Arc or ‘super cluster’.

STC Chair Roz Bird said: “Robert Jenrick’s presentation was really heartening for the region’s business community – to label it a capital of innovation for the country is a fantastic endorsement from government.

“We have been talking with Robert for the past 24 months about what we are doing as a cluster organisation and he really understands the potential that is here which is what we are all about – helping our companies to spot growth opportunities and maximise their potential.”

She continued: “Robert also talked about the super cluster and recognised the work of companies and universities across whole of that super cluster.

“It was important when we set up the STC that we got organised and promoted what we had in this area; we’ve done that and now government are taking us seriously.

"There are now many more business opportunities for our community and, as Chair, I look forward to working with the other cluster organisations, science parks and research institutes across the super cluster to enable our companies to trade with each other and look for opportunities to grow.”

STC CEO Pim van Baarsen added: “The Conference has exceeded expectations and has really showcased the region as being an exemplar of high-tech innovation and productivity on a global scale.

“The breadth of presentations has been extraordinary in terms of the types of technologies that businesses here are now involved in – from innovations in autonomous and electric vehicles to AI machine learning and water repellent nano coatings!

“The Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick’s comments have further boosted promotion of the cluster and the fact that we had to change venue to accommodate so many people speaks volumes about how industry is viewing the STC which is proving to be of great benefit for members. We already can’t wait for 2020’s Conference.”

The Annual Conference was sponsored by the South East Midlands (SEMLEP) and Buckinghamshire Thames Valley (BTVLEP) local enterprise partnerships, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence and Axillium.

SEMLEP Chair Peter Horrocks CBE enthused: “I’ve been fascinated and inspired by the conference’s huge range of ideas and spirit of innovation.

“Furthermore the STC has been given a real stamp of approval by the Treasury Minister who was clearly inspired by how the cluster is leading the way – bringing people together with innovation, ideas and inspiration.

“It has motivated me to think that what the STC is doing can be taken to an even wider area and we can create even more benefits – it’s been a brilliant day.”

Meanwhile, the STC has dates coming up for its special interest groups (SIGs) which bring together the high-tech community to discuss areas in which they specialise, to exchange ideas.

Currently these focus on: Digital and Advanced Manufacturing (DAM); Autonomous, Connected, Electrified and Shared (ACES); Metrology.

CLICK HERE for the dates and to arrange places in the audience.

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