Tech cluster network rallies to PPE SOS

Apr 27, 2020

BUSINESSES from the Silverstone Technology Cluster are pulling together to source and manufacture crucial supplies of personal protective equipment for front-line healthcare workers.

The cluster’s chair Roz Bird contacted 3,000 businesses across the region – a one-hour drive time radius from Silverstone – requesting assistance with PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 50 from the network have responded saying they have the capability to help, in particular, in being able to supply 14 items highlighted by NHS management.

Already 500 kgs of polypropylene, donated by South Yorkshire business Polypipe, has arrived at Silverstone Park for distribution among some of the businesses, being co-ordinated by STC board member KW Special Projects.

In Northamptonshire the STC’s co-ordinated effort could aid supplies to two hospitals, more than 500 care homes, 72 GP practices, social workers, environmental health officers and the emergency services. 

Ms Bird, who is also commercial director at Silverstone Park, said: “This is a co-ordinated response from the STC to a national crisis. We have held a number of discussions with the PPE ‘lead’ for Northants and, having then assessed the offers from businesses in response to our call to action, we know that collectively they have the capabilities to deliver.”

Roz Bird

The list of PPE required in Northants is:
• Body bags
• Fluid resistant masks
• FFP3 masks
• Gloves
• Long sleeved gowns
• Coveralls
• Goggles
• Hand sanitiser
• Antibacterial wipes
• Alcohol wipes
• Face shields
• Scrubs
• Side tables
• Infusion pumps

“The numbers are huge: in some cases there can be a requirement for up to 50,000 of just one item alone on that list,” said Ms Bird. “Hand sanitiser, goggles, gowns, coveralls and masks we have been able to source through the STC network. Other items such as alcohol wipes, scrubs, visors and body bags we need to manufacture locally and we are setting this up.

“As a result, and through on-going and very positive discussions with the Northants PPE lead, we are now at a stage where a number of STC businesses have been able to make commercial offers to the NHS.”

STC board member KWSP is managing the supply chain and quality. The cluster’s chief executive Pim van Baarsen and marketing assistant Joanne Clement are co-ordinating the logistics, aided by STC Ambassador Cristiana Pace and member business TD Group’s Julie Stewart.

Ms Bird said: “The high-tech engineering and manufacturing capability among businesses in the STC region is world class and we really wanted to do our bit during this crisis. Also, this activity can support businesses with work and jobs by getting them to repurpose their equipment and so become part of the medical sector’s supply chain in the longer term.

“Once we have tried and tested processes in place for Northants, we will look to roll this out to neighbouring counties.”

by ANDREW GIBBS e: news@businessmk.co.uk

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