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‘An even greater hunger to innovate’: Cluster chiefs hail success of conference

TECHNOLOGY giants BAE Systems and Amazon Web Services have outlined how they are looking at ways to work with the innovative businesses based within the Silverstone Technology Cluster.

Both organisations were among the main speakers at the STC’s annual conference, which attracted senior figures from advanced engineering and manufacturing, electronics and software development and commerce.

The cluster’s chief executive Pim van Baarsen and chair Roz Bird said the conference, held at Horwood House near Milton Keynes, highlighted “an even greater appetite to innovate”, from its members and industry’s desire to explore opportunities with those businesses.

The conference also included a lively session on the Oxford to Cambridge arc ‘Super Cluster’, linking SYC with other clusters along the growth corridor earmarked for priority investment by the government.

Mr van Baarsen said: “It was obviously a big thing to be back with an in-person event again. The feedback has also shown just how much people enjoyed the networking and the presentations from AWS, BAE Systems and the Super Cluster have really got people excited.

“The STC has continued to experience growth even during the pandemic, with the number of organisations coming to engage with us increasing all the time.”

Pim van Baarsen, CEO of Silverstone Technology Cluster

Life science membership organisation OneNucleus joined Cambridge Network, Oxford innovation, Oxfordshire Greentech and MKAI among the presenters.

They and the STC are among a ‘Super Cluster’ of high-tech networks working together to provide business with a credible voice in the future development of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc, said Ms Bird.

She outlined the successful initiatives and programmes the STC have delivered in the last 12 months, from securing Kickstart funding for businesses to recruit apprentices, the knowledge being passed on through the cluster’s special interest groups and free consultancy advice provided through the Be the Business trailblazer project, sponsored by Silverstone Park.

“The reason the Silverstone Technology Cluster exists is to provide opportunities for our members to grow their business and I believe we really delivered on that promise at the conference,” she said. “People have talked to me about the great atmosphere on the day and how the conference helped to celebrate the innovation and can-do attitude that the region has to offer the UK and beyond.”

The conference was held in association with founding STC member MEPC Silverstone Park. Partners included STC board members EMW Law and Hexagon and member Beckhoff. Fellow cluster members Additive-X, Altair and Tecadec also supported the event.

Guests included business and scale-up experts Shai Vyakarnam and Tony Hart, and Andrew Lewer, MP for Northampton South.

Mr van Baarsen said: “We listen to our membership all the time and can sense after the conference there is an even greater hunger to innovate. They really can see more potentially very rewarding opportunities opening for them.”

The STC is to again host the VIP lounge and an Innovation Zone at the Advanced Engineering Show in Birmingham in November at which ten STC member businesses will showcase their technologies.

“This will be the fourth time in a row we have hosted the VIP Lounge and we very much look forward to meeting and hearing from businesses across the advanced engineering and manufacturing, digital and electronics and software development spectrum,” Mr van Baarsen said.

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