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Speakers at the NWAA Forum (from left) Steve Vandersteen, BAE Systems; Scott Bairstow; Neil McKay; Martin Wright; Robert Huddleston, of John Huddleston Engineering and Dr David Bailey, of the NWAA.

Supercluster crucial to future success in North West

THE move towards establishing a "supercluster" in North West England should form the next crucial step in securing the future of the aerospace sector in the region, a forum at Farnborough International Airshow heard.

The North West Aerospace Alliance revealed plans to take its Aerospace Supply Chain Excellence (ASCE) programme to its next level – the formation of a close-coupled "supercluster" built on a knowledge-based economy.

NWAA Chief Executive Officer Martin Wright told over 100 delegates at the conference: "It is vital that we plan for the next stage to ensure that we continue to drive the cluster and the industry forward. The industry in the North West is such a high value added sector that we cannot afford to let it diminish or decline, we have to keep driving it forward."

So far, the ASCE programme has attracted more than £8 million in funding and is helping 45 companies to achieve world-competitive status by 2010. It has provided the equivalent of 1,000 man-days of training and by the end of the financial year will have provided training for more than 700 people involved in the North West aerospace industry, which generates an estimated £6 billion plus annually for the region.

Mr Wright said the second phase of the programme would embrace further and higher education institutions, research and scientific bodies in the region, and will also include the provision of shared services, such as logistics, aggregated procurement and financial services.

Scott Bairstow, of the Northwest Regional Development Agency said that aerospace jobs were vital to the region in terms of GVA, with each job in the sector generating around £74,000 in added value for the region, while the average for all industries was just £15,000.

NWAA Chairman Neil McKay said that the Alliance would be developing its working plan this autumn and looking towards implementing it from autumn 2009. He commented: "We are establishing a new kind of collective culture. We are destroying the myth that you cannot move companies forward together as a collective."

The Alliance hopes to attract further funding regionally and from the European Regional Development Fund.

Press release issued by North West Aerospace Alliance on July 16, 2008


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