A high-profile drive to increase the competitiveness of advanced engineering and manufacturing SMEs across the East Midlands is under way, with the Silverstone Technology Cluster (STC) now actively serving as a Trailblazer Project for government-backed business advice network Be the Business (BtB).

The Project, supported by STC founding member Silverstone Park, will give businesses access to invaluable advice and practical guidance through mentoring programmes, peer-to-peer networking, SME advisory boards and leadership training.

“We believe this will have a massively beneficial impact on tech businesses across our cluster area in terms of their growth opportunities and strategic thinking – we would encourage all companies at Silverstone Park, STC and in the wider geography to consider joining,” enthused STC CEO Pim van Baarsen.

BtB was launched in 2017, with funding from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to help the UK government examine and improve the nation’s productivity, and, as a result of COVID-19, also recovery strategies.

Its Chair is Sir Charlie Mayfield (formerly Chair of John Lewis Partnership) and its network of business mentors extends to blue chip companies including, amongst others, Facebook, Cisco Systems, Siemens, Accenture, BAE Systems and KPMG.

Pim added: “These are free for businesses to join and not limited to just members of the STC. The programme of support is open to every business in the Cluster region operating in advanced engineering, manufacturing, electronics and software development.

“Our first business support programme is called ‘SME Advisory Boards’ and, in essence, provides handpicked experts to work as a Board to help the business with its strategy and growth ambitions.

Pim continued: “As previously highlighted by government, the collective potential of the Cluster’s tech businesses is really exciting for both the local and UK economies.

“Be the Business has chosen the STC to become one of its Trailblazer Projects because of the great potential of the businesses in the area which are experts in the ‘D’, of R&D; that is the ‘development’ of products and solutions. The companies have established a great set of specialist facilities, and these skills and expertise can be transferred to many different sectors of industry, and serve to improve productivity and the recovery of UK manufacturing, post-COVID-19.”

The STC region is designated as the ‘one-hour drive time radius’ from Silverstone. Research shows the region is home to an unrivalled cluster of some 3,500 small, medium and large businesses operating in high-tech engineering.