As he closed n-eboc15 (Nuclear Energy Business Opportunities Conference 2015), the Chairman of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster (BECBC) emphasised the need for collaboration and cooperation amongst every organisation and business in the nuclear supply chain. Sean Balmer, Chairman of BECBC, was speaking at the end of two days of presentations, discussions and networking at n-eboc15 that included sessions on Nuclear New Build, Nuclear Research and Development, the UK Submarine Programme and Decommissioning.
“Collaboration has come up as often as the word opportunities during this event,” Sean Balmer said, “and it’s what the Cluster is all about. We need to extend and grow that active cooperation and make sure that the big client organisations and those in government see it for themselves.”
“Lord Mawson gave the first day’s Keynote Speech and he talked about telling a new story about Cumbria. We need to demonstrate our willingness to grab the unique opportunities that are on our doorstep and inspire government with what we could achieve here. Lord Hutton then reinforced this on the second day with his call for businesses, local authorities and national government to work together and to build on the impressive facilities that are already here with great skills and strong infrastructure to make change happen.”
“We’ve heard some great success stories over the two days of n-eboc15,” Sean Balmer concluded, “but we’ve now got the job of making sure that every department in Westminster understands what is happening here and knows that investment in Cumbria can be the answer to a lot of the challenges that the country has to face.”
Jamie Reed MP also summed up local feelings with his call for decisions and action. “West Cumbria and the nuclear industry are now working in the context of an assumption of growth – the prospects of new build have dispelled any impression of a managed decline. Nuclear energy is clean, green and secure and we should be able to sell those benefits and get going,” he said. “If we get this right, today’s Cumbrian primary school children can look forward to plenty of opportunities and a great future.”
The BECBC organises its energy opportunities conference in alternate years and n-eboc15 was the fourth such event and easily the biggest ever. Over 80 exhibitors from across the UK took part as well as over 300 registered delegates and speakers from all five of the Tier 1 nuclear organisations in Cumbria – a first for an event held in the county.
Ivan Baldwin, BECBC Board member and Chair of the n-eboc15 Steering Group summed up the occasion: “The programme covered tomorrow’s world – the potential that’s on the horizon with new build and R&D - as well as the immediate opportunities in Barrow, at Sellafield and in the work being done at the Low Level Waste Repository at Drigg.”
“We managed to bring together presenters from the House of Lords and an MP, academics and local business owners as well as senior directors from NuGen, NNL, Sellafield and BAE Systems,. It has been a good mix and it really represents the cross section of advocates that Cumbria needs if it’s going to communicate its strengths and bring the potential investments and opportunities to fruition for the benefit of everyone working in the county.”
As well as the two Keynote speakers from the House of Lords, other highlights of the event included presentations by two private sector business owners, Phillip Ohl of Kurion talking about his company’s current R&D projects with the National Nuclear Laboratory and in Japan and Tony Keen of SNGroup explaining his company’s successful approach to winning work with BAE Systems and developing a successful supply chain partnership.
“It’s all about listening to the customer and then getting back to them with ideas for how you can solve their problems,” said Tony Keen. He also made another vital point for any business working in Cumbria and wanting to work with the bigger players: “My Dad learned that just being neighbours isn’t enough. Never assume that other companies know what you do – you have to keep in touch, let them know what you offer and show them what you can do for them.”
During n-eboc15, the team from NuGen made a number of announcements relating to their investments in local communities including the Green Grants scheme and their new charity partnership with the Cumbria Youth Alliance and, in the final session of the day, delegates heard from two speakers from the Low Level Waste Repository, MD Dennis Thompson and Martin Walkingshaw, about recent achievements and plans on that site.
There was also a chance to see a brief “Making of …” documentary about the Inside Sellafield BBC4 TV programme and, even closer to home, the edited output of n-ebocTV, a project sponsored by LLWR and involving 14 young people from the Energy Coast UTC in interviewing, writing, filming and editing their impressions of the nuclear opportunities in Cumbria.
In conclusion, Ivan Baldwin thanked everyone involved in the event – from event partners, sponsors and collaborators to speakers, exhibitors and delegates. “It’s been a very busy and successful two days with plenty of new connections made and fresh enthusiasm and focus for the opportunities ahead. None of it could have happened without the commitment and financial support of local businesses and organisations as well as all the time and effort – much of it voluntary - from members of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster. Thank you and hope to see you in 2017!”
PHOTO by James Walker of Walker Ellis Photography and Design (a BECBC member)
Keynote speaker on Day 1, Lord Andrew Mawson, with presenters from the NuGen team. LtoR: Jamie Reed MP, Lord Andrew Mawson, Tom Samson (NuGen Chief Executive), Professor John Fyfe, Peter Handley (NuGen) and Gary Shuttleworth (NuGen).