STC CEO: “We are well ahead of the targets we set”

Silverstone Technology Cluster

18th October 2017

Ten months after Silverstone Technology Cluster was launched, we caught up with Chief Executive Officer Pim van Baarsen to capture his thoughts on progress so far and what’s coming up in 2018…

Pim commented: “The most important achievement has been to establish the Silverstone Technology Cluster as a high-tech cluster of 4000 companies, representing advanced engineering, electronics and software development capabilities, within a one hour drive time radius of Silverstone Park. 

“In terms of harnessing that expertise, the STC members’ organisation was set up to promote the opportunities, support the companies with their growth ambitions and help them to network at a senior level.”

Since setting up in January 2017, the STC has arranged a number of events to start turning the vision into a reality. For example:

  • December 2016: STC is launched and its Board announced as MEPC, Barclays, EMW, Grant Thornton, Aylesbury Vale District Council, South Northamptonshire Council and Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence
  • May 2017: Introductory meetings begin – first event focuses on funding, exporting and recruitment
  • June 2017: Website expands, providing members with further support
  • June 2017: First special interest group (SIG) is launched – Computer Aided Engineering
  • July: membership surpasses 30 companies
  • August 2017: two more SIGS – Digital/Advanced Manufacturing & Autonomous, Connected, Electrified, Shared vehicle technologies
  • September 2017: MPs Andrea Leadsom & Andrew Lewer briefed on STC’s progress/vision
  • September 2017: STC announces it will host Advanced Engineering Show’s VIP Lounge
  • October 2017: Ambassadors confirmed as Stephen Ball, Roger Atkins & Jon Hilton
  • October 2017: UK Business Angels re-affirms support for STC
  • October 2017: Stephen Ball, Roger Atkins, Kieron Salter, Rob Lewis confirmed as speakers on Advanced Engineering Show’s VIP Lounge

“It’s been really interesting and hugely exciting,” reflected Pim. “In fact I have been surprised at just how positively the STC has been received – nobody disputes that there is a huge amount of work to do, but we have not received any negativity. Everyone understands and appreciates what we are doing.”

He added: “We set targets at the start of the year and we are well ahead of all of those.

“Much of the achievement is down to the fact that so many good people want to get on board and help us make things happen. The industry feedback has been valuable in shaping what we’re doing and in ensuring we take a considered approach when we organise an activity such as an introductory meeting or special interest group. It means we are giving industry what it is after.

“It has been very gratifying to have people come up unprompted and say ‘this is exactly what we need’. It’s hugely encouraging to have the people at the heart of the companies within the Cluster re-affirming what we had identified as ‘needing doing’. It is obviously a good sign to have companies stop us and say ‘I want to join’ before we’ve even finished talking.

“The support is also coming from other very important areas – for example, both Andrea Leadsom MP and Andrew Lewer MP have taken time to understand the opportunity and want to support our efforts, and the investment community and the catapult network has also been very impressed.

“Then you look at the membership we have attracted so far – it’s over 40 organisations and, combined, they represent a great mix of companies and specialisms within high-tech and the professional services which support the engineering sectors. I think that tells its own story…”

While progress so far has been impressive, Pim and the STC Board are keen to keep the momentum going and are already looking ahead to 2018.

“We are working on an angel investor network and, leading up to that launch, a comprehensive series of workshops and seminars to address key topics on company scale-up and growth.

“We’re also planning an annual showcase conference, to be announced soon – this is going to be quite a significant event.

“And we’re steaming ahead with more special interest groups (SIGs) to encourage high-tech networking; the next two are likely to focus on metrology and composites.

“With the great response and support we’re getting from industry I can see only exciting times ahead.”

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