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Silverstone Cluster report can be a catalyst for investment

Formal identification of the Silverstone Technology Cluster, in the area surrounding Silverstone Park, has taken place in a report six months in the compiling.

It highlights a market of untapped potential.

The report, commissioned by Silverstone Park’s asset manager and developer MEPC on behalf of Hermes Investment Management, with partners PwC and Barclays, has been authored by economic and social development research firm SQW.

It 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.

Ruby Parmar, partner and head of private business at PwC in Milton Keynes and the South Midlands, said the report confirms that Silverstone Technology Cluster is already making an “immense” contribution to innovation and growth in the UK and that there is “significant potential” for further expansion.

She added: “It is 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.”

The Cluster is being backed by government. Sajid Javid, 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 report is a first step in creating a Cluster Organisation, which will match investors with untapped high-tech engineering firms.

Jon Corbett, head of Beds, Bucks and Northants, corporate and business banking at Barclays: “The report enables us to have dialogue with investors and government by demonstrating the opportunities for investment in high-tech firms and the potential for growth of the local economy.

“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.”

Chris Taylor, head of private markets at Hermes Investment Management, added: “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 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, the report says.

Silvertone Park commercial director Roz Bird said: “The potential of the Silverstone Technology Cluster is limitless. s 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 Silverstone Technology Cluster report was also sponsored by sponsored by the Motorsport Industry Association; Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire County Councils; Aylesbury Vale, South Northants  and Cherwell District Councils; the South East Midlands and Buckinghamshire & Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnerships; Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership. 

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