Manufacturing and Engineering Group celebrates 5th anniversary

By Suffolk Chamber • 11th March 2024 • News
Manufacturing and Engineering Group celebrates 5th anniversary

The West Suffolk Manufacturing Group (WSMG) celebrated its fifth anniversary as the group met at SEALEY HQ in Bury St Edmunds.

The group, established in 2019, comprises of representatives from both the private and public sectors to champion and support the thriving Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering sector within the district.

Manufacturing leaders from across West Suffolk met at SEALEY for a presentation and a tour of the site, led by Logistics Director, Rob Sealey, followed by presentations from: the Department of Work and Pensions on engaging with employers; Icanbea on the local labour market, information, and work opportunities for young people; and from The Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge on Shoestring, low-cost digitisation for manufacturers.  

Over the last five years the group has been hosted by a number of key West Suffolk Manufacturing businesses such as Treatt, Unisurge, Claydon Drills, Videndum, TAIT, Camden Boss, as well by West Suffolk College, at the ground breaking XR Lab.

Topics covered have varied from energy efficiency to AI (artificial intelligence) to mental health and wellbeing. Funding and collaboration opportunities have also been extensive.

Anthony Pateman, Operations and Health and Safety Director, R D Castings said: “Having been involved in the West Suffolk Manufacturing Group since its inaugural meeting, we have been able to access networking, support, and funding opportunities that would have otherwise been unattainable. We have been able to take advantage of funding and grants to upskill our workforce and invest in technology and equipment to meet customer demands and future proof the business. In the past five years R D Castings has also been able to become more energy efficient, with funding for solar panels, energy audits and carbon footprint mapping due to advice gained through the group. Without a doubt, joining the WSMG has been a worthwhile investment and has greatly benefited the company in many ways.”

The West Suffolk group is one of seven that are part of the New Anglia Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (NAAME) sector group established by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership. The group continues to be supported by West Suffolk Council, The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Hethel Innovation and West Suffolk College.

Cllr Indy Wijenayaka, cabinet member for Growth at West Suffolk Council said "I was delighted to attend and celebrate the West Suffolk Manufacturing Groups fifth anniversary. In championing initiatives such as the WSMG, the council stands firm in its commitment to support local businesses. By facilitating collaboration, networking, and sustainable growth opportunities, the group has empowered the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector in West Suffolk. The council and partners will continue to support the WSMG to further propel the sector, benefiting the local economy and community, but also cementing West Suffolk as the location for the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector.”

Richard Bridgman OBE, who has chaired the meeting since its inception and provided the fifth anniversary celebration cake, said “I have had the pleasure to chair the group meetings over the past five years and it has been brilliant to see the amount of support the group has had, with many different types of businesses from across West Suffolk attending and contributing to the meetings. It has not always been easy, Covid certainly tested us all, but by going virtual we could still deliver much needed support and reassurance. We are now back to face to face meetings, and I want to extend my thanks to the fantastic businesses that have hosted us over the years.”

The group are keen to welcome like-minded, ambitious manufacturing and engineering companies who are interested in sharing best practice and develop the sector across West Suffolk contact james.talbot@westsuffolk.gov.uk for more information.

Mildenhall based balloon manufacturer, Oaktree, supplied balloons for the occasion.

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