Talking West Cheshire

Innovation network to hold free seminar event in Hawarden

14 June 2012

A growing network designed to promote business growth and innovation across the North West-North Wales border will have its next meeting at the Advanced Composite Training and Development Centre in Hawarden, on Friday, 22 June.

The event is targeted at companies working within the area and will include a seminar highlighting initiatives designed to help local manufacturing and engineering businesses ensure their workforces are suitably skilled to meet future challenges. 

Mersey Dee Alliance’s Innovation Network provides an opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses to assess their performance, gain access to entrepreneurs and experts, and make them aware of the latest regional and national initiatives and opportunities.

The network includes those who support the growth of businesses, including business advisors, investors, legal advisors, industry and university experts and government agencies. It also allows members to collaborate, share best practice and discuss ways to move businesses forward in the current economic climate.

MDA Chairperson and Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Executive Member for Prosperity, Councillor Herbert Manley, said: “The network not only brings together members of small to medium businesses, but provides them with an opportunity to meet and progress their business with those who support them.

“Ever-increasing demand for high-level skills, an ageing workforce, changing technologies and skills gaps are prominent issues facing businesses today. Advanced manufacturing and new technologies, such as renewable energy, low carbon, composites and printed electronics, call for new skills. To be competitive, industry needs to recruit new talent and re-skill its existing workforce.

“In these economically challenging times it is particularly important to help such businesses face and overcome commercial difficulties and begin to grow.”

The Advanced Composite Training and Development Centre in Hawarden is the result of a groundbreaking partnership between Glyndŵr University, Airbus, Deeside College and the Welsh Government, and supports the development of composite wing technology and advanced manufacturing skills.

It has a wider role in supporting advanced materials innovation and manufacture in all sectors and is home to Glyndwr University’s composite materials research group who are focussed on rapid manufacture and assembly of composites. It also has close links with other aspects of Engineering at Glyndwr University which is aligned to the needs of industry.

The event offers the opportunity to see some of the centre’s facilities and activities. An optional free seminar will also be available, led by SEMTA, the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies.

Semta has estimated:

  • in the next five years the sector needs to recruit around 170,000 people. Half of these need to be qualified engineers, technologists or scientists;
  • 274,000 people currently employed in the sector need to be upskilled to technician level, as the proportion of jobs at medium to low skill levels decreases
  • nearly 25% of engineering and manufacturing employers report skills gaps which are driving up operating costs and making it hard to maintain quality standards, adopt advanced technologies and introduce new working practices
  • over 80% of sector companies are micro-businesses employing 1-10 people. Companies of this size are vital to the supply chain but often lack the resources to plan, train and develop their workforce.

The seminar will highlight opportunities and initiatives aimed at helping businesses tackle skills challenges and improve their productivity.

The network is supported by Cheshire West and Chester, Denbighshire, Wrexham, Flintshire and Wirral Councils alongside Glyndwr University, University of Chester, University of Liverpool, the Daresbury Science and Technology Facilities Council, West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, EA Technology, the Welsh Government, and Merseytravel.

If you have a world-beating idea, product or service and would just like to meet others in pursuit of business growth, come and connect with the innovation network. To book your place at the free event please visit the Mersey Dee Alliance website or email mda@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.