In December 2016, The Silverstone Technology Cluster (STC) was established to support the growth of high-tech innovative businesses as well as attract companies and investment to Northamptonshire. In the year since then they’ve certainly made their mark, with over 4000 companies in the cluster, many of which are recognised by the government as possessing ‘latent potential’.
Since launch STC has set up a number of special interest groups to encourage peer-to-peer discussion, collaboration and sharing of best-practice. Some of our own experts attended their Digital Reality event a few months ago which gave a fascinating insight into the recent developments and breakthroughs in this area.
Homing in on particularly relevant topics such as autonomous vehicles, computer aided engineering and digital manufacturing, these SIGs champion the growth and success of those businesses specialising in these areas.
A shared vision for an innovative economy
Given our shared dedication to supporting innovation in the UK, it felt natural for us to partner with STC and support members with advice as they invest in their products and services in search of new customers and markets. We are delighted to play a part in this non-profit organisation, and just last week MPA Director, John Lowndes, attended their very first Annual Conference.
Over 100 delegates attended this celebration of the purpose and value of the STC. Listening to the presenters and talking to delegates before, during and after highlighted the strength of innovation across the cluster. So many companies driving growth for their businesses with leading edge technology shaping their products and services. STC should feel justifiably proud of what they’ve achieved.After a frantic ten minutes of speed networking organised by Roz Bird, the second half highlighted the many funding, support and business opportunities available within the network. Describing MPA’s own services such as R&D Tax Credits and Patent Box provided a number of meetings in the diary for me too. A great event and I’m looking forward to the next one. John Lowndes, Director at MPA
The event was a real success, with over 100 local companies as well as big names like Heathrow Airport, DowDuPont and both the Transport Systems and Satellite Applications Catapults in attendance. STC members themselves delivered fascinating presentations on their latest developments.
What does the future hold for the high-tech industry?
Several key issues were discussed as a part of the member presentations. Ron Oren, Principal Strategy Analyst at Transport Systems Catapult, discussed the future of transport, citing consumer expectations and mega-trends like the ageing population, climate change and austerity as the reason for the shift from a product-led to service-led economy in the UK.
Oren then moved on to discuss automation and connected vehicles, highlighting key areas for innovation and opportunities for collaboration between now and March 2019.
MD of Claytex, Mike Dempsey, also presented his own findings on the virtual testing of autonomous vehicles; a hot topic in the media lately as speculation ensues as to how this new technology will disrupt life as we know it, with the latest Industrial Strategy stating the governments ambitions to see fully autonomous vehicles on UK roads by 2021.
Mike addressed how to prove the AI used here is safe through testing, which addresses questions raised by the media around the world. This testing moves from simulation, which can consider a huge number of scenarios, to proving grounds, to field tests. Dempsey also discussed the effect of variables such as weather and lighting, and the use of sensor feeds and algorithms, providing valuable insight for those attendees involved in this field.
A successful event
When asked for his views on the event, STC CEO Pim van Baarsen, said:
Just 12 months after the STC was launched our very first annual conference has proven that the cluster is really working in terms of being able to promote the capabilities of the companies in such a way that it attracts speakers of the calibre we have seen today.Pim van Baarsen, CEO at Silverstone Technology Cluster
STC Board member and Commercial Director for Silverstone Park, Roz Bird, added:
Companies in the STC have great potential. Many are mid-sized and have fantastic capabilities, so the STC wants to help these companies to bring forward their ambitious plans. This kind of success will only happen if we embrace the findings and the expertise of world class organisations such as the Scale-up Institute which is using detailed research and expertise to consider the formula for genuine business success.Roz Bird, Silverstone Technology Cluster Board Member & Commercial Director for Silverstone Park
The future is looking bright for this organisation, and we look forward to seeing their members grow through access to events and networking opportunities provided by STC.