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BAE Systems and Lancaster join to boost manufacturing and engineering sector

Ian Gordon

28 August 2015

Jobs and growth in high-tech industries in the North West are to be bolstered thanks to a new programme being launched by BAE Systems and Lancaster University.

The Innovation in Manufacturing and Engineering (IME) programme will focus targeted support for the region’s small and medium-sized companies in the advanced engineering and manufacturing sectors.

The IME programme has received £150,000 co-investment from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills through the UK Futures Programme.  IME focuses on enhancing innovation and non-technical leadership and management skills and will provide access to institutions including BAE Systems and Siemens to enable supply chain, and other businesses, to grow.

IME is one of six programmes to be launched across the country this week through the UK Futures Programme.

Dave Holmes, Manufacturing Operations Director for BAE Systems Military Air and Information, said: "As a business we recognise we do not have a monopoly on good ideas and if there are collaborative ways we can work with our supply chain to develop new ways of working, we want to take them.

"We hope this programme will enable us to support our supply chain further to ensure we are all playing a part in being as efficient and effective as possible."

Participants of the IME programme will boost their management and leadership skills, as well as their strategic thinking, through inspirational masterclasses, workshops, innovation challenges, and action learning groups – building on the legacy of Lancaster University Management School's renowned former leadership and management programme, LEAD. The programme will also utilise the established track-record of the university’s Engineering Department in supporting advanced manufacturing SMEs across the North West and beyond, through collaborative research, development and innovation programmes.

There will also be opportunities to engage with the wider High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC – a strategic national framework created by Innovate UK to boost manufacturing innovation) at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield. Both are part of the HVMC network and are leading centres of excellence in industrial innovation. 

Ian Gordon, the Innovation in Manufacturing and Engineering programme director, said: “This programme will draw upon expertise within Lancaster University and BAE to develop and enhance the innovation capacity of SME owner-managers within the vitally important advanced engineering and manufacturing sectors.

“The programme concentrates directly on participants’ businesses and the personal development of the owner-manager, providing a framework for increased profitability, innovation and business growth, and further supporting the region’s economy and jobs.”

The IME programme will commence in early November this year with an initial 24 business owners and managers. Recruitment for the programme is now open. The cost per delegate is £1,500.

A preview day for the programme will take place at BAE Systems Samlesbury on Friday, 25th September. For security purposes, businesses must register to attend this date. Contact Lancaster University on 01524 510703 for further details.

The North West remains a manufacturing powerhouse, and is critical to the region’s economic growth.

Manufacturing employs some 315,000 people in the region and is worth around £16bn - almost 13 per cent of the UK’s overall manufacturing output, and 11 per cent of the North West regional economy, according to 2012 figures.

In Lancashire alone, almost 90,000 people are employed in the manufacturing sector – representing 13.2 per cent of jobs and accounting for more than a quarter of the county’s economy.

In a recent economic impact report, BAE Systems revealed that, within Lancashire, it supports 1,600 jobs in the supply chain to its Military Air and Information business. Nationally, the company contributes £7.9 billion to the GDP of the UK economy, supporting nearly 123,000 jobs.