Silverstone’s growing tech engineering cluster confirmed

Robot arm at Brixworth-based Ilmor Engineering, part of the Silverstone Technology Cluster

A new government-backed report suggests a significant cluster of high-tech engineering firms has emerged around Silverstone Park in Northamptonshire.

The Silverstone Technology Cluster has been identified in a new research report commissioned by MEPC, the developer of Silverstone Park.

Although world-famous for its motorsport capabilities, the area around Silverstone has now evolved. The research identified more than 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, was authored by SQW, the social development research firm whose findings first brought the ‘Cambridge Phenomenon’ to public attention. Other experts involved in the report include PwC, Barclays and Hermes Investment Management.

MEPC’s Roz Bird, commercial director at Silverstone Park, 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.”

It is hoped the report is a first step in creating a new organisation which will match investors with untapped high-tech engineering firms.

Chris Taylor, head of private markets at Hermes Investment Management, commented: “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 has also received backing from government. Business secretary Sajid Javid, 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.”

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

Jon Corbett, head of Beds, Bucks and Northants, Corporate and Business Banking at Barclays, said: “Establishing that there is a cluster is just the beginning; it is now critical for us to concentrate on how we address the skills shortage, attract investment finance, support innovation and, finally, how we create a network to support business acumen and commercialisation.”

Ruby Parmar, partner and head of private business at PwC in Milton Keynes and the South Midlands added: “It is clear from these findings that the Silverstone Technology Cluster is already making an immense contribution to innovation and growth in the UK. The report also reveals that there is significant potential for further expansion.

“At PwC we have spoken to many companies within the Cluster area, and their desire to continue to innovate, deliver solutions and become leaders in the global marketplace is more than apparent. It’s important that this massive opportunity is brought to the attention of the wider business community, to attract investment and support these companies in their rapid growth. Our team at PwC also has a role to play in supporting these companies as they become investor-ready.”