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Business & Innovation Magazine

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 13 Oct, 2017

Gloucestershire beauty company SLG, have confirmed today that they are seeking an acquirer for their Gloucester based manufacturing division, which makes beauty applicators and cosmetic wipes.

Miles Dunkley, CEO of SLG stated: “The manufacturing division represents around £2 million of SLG’s £40 million group turnover. The proposals we have announced today will allow SLG to focus entirely on the continued growth and development of the main area of our business – that of our portfolio of high growth beauty brands where there is huge potential for us to realise in the coming years. It is therefore the right time to orientate fully in that direction.”

 SLG are the company behind many high street fashion beauty brands including Zoella Beauty, Superdry Beauty and Men’s Grooming, Johnny’s Chop Shop and the recently launched Millie Mackintosh Beauty selling their brands in 15,000 stores across 27 countries.

In parallel, the company are also seeking a sub-contractor for the manufacture of its globally patented Self Tan Mitt product and an outsource partner for its warehouse/fulfillment facilities.

 Richard Buckland, SLG’s Chief Operating Officer commented:

 “There is an imperative in this process which is that the manufacturing division is purchased by a world class UK based acquirer and that any sub-contract partners are able to not only maintain but improve on the exceptional product quality and customer service which SLG is so well known for.

“Assuming that suitable acquirers and sub-contractors are secured, a number of employees currently engaged in these activities will be protected by TUPE regulations with the potential also for some redundancies. We hope this to be at a minimum level, however.”

 SLG's staff have been advised of the proposals and a formal consultation process has commenced for those potentially affected by the development.  

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 04 Oct, 2017

A ground breaking ceremony at Gloucester Business Park has marked the start of construction of a new 100,000 sq ft, state-of-art manufacturing facility for TBS Engineering, a world leader in automation for the battery industry.

The ceremony was attended by the project teams from Arlington, owners of Gloucester Business Park and TBS, together with Winvic the contractors on the development, to officially mark the commencement of construction.

The facility, includes 80,000 sq ft of manufacturing space together with 20,000 sq ft of office accommodation and is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2018. When completed it will serve as TBS’s new global headquarters, and provide employment for 170 people.

Dan Williams, Development Director of Arlington said:   “We are thrilled to be partnering with TBS on the development of this exciting new HQ and look forward to working with them for years to come. This development comes hot on the heels of us completing the new HQ office for Horizon Nuclear Power and is testament to the skills of our delivery team and the opportunity at Gloucester Business Park to deliver new business space for all sorts of companies. It is also the first major announcement for Arlington following its corporate acquisition by TPG, and demonstrates the new owner’s commitment to the strategy of developing out the significant landbank held by the business.”

David Longney, TBS Engineering Group Managing Director, added: “Our investment in the new facility, is testament to the expertise, talent and engineering capabilities available to us in Gloucestershire. It is this local resource that has enabled us to stay at the forefront of our industry. Over the last fifty years TBS has led the world in the manufacture of lead acid battery equipment. At the heart of this growth, is our commitment to innovation and engineering and this new facility will support our continued expansion, research and development and position as a global leader.

Gloucester Business Park is home to a large business community of over 70 companies, includes extensive onsite amenities and is located at Junction 11a of the M5 and A417 dual carriageway.

TBS Engineering were represented by Cushman & Wakefield and Arlington by Alder King and Strutt & Parker.



by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 20 Sep, 2017
SGS Berkeley GREEN aims to regenerate skills development for the future, with exciting and ambitious plans, supporting the UK drive to excel in science and engineering.
 
As a new academic year begins, a college campus in Berkeley, The Gloucestershire Renewable Energy, Engineering and Nuclear (GREEN) Campus, has welcomed its first cohort of students.
 
Following extensive renovations and installation of new, state of the art facilities the site is now home to SGS College’s first group of learners, studying cyber security and engineering at the brand-new Berkeley GREEN University Technical College (UTC).
 
To discover how the site’s legacy can inspire a new generation, you have to go back to 1957 when the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) was set up to run power stations in England and Wales.
 
The Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories (BNL) was opened in 1961 to service and support the Board’s nuclear power stations. A wide range of science and engineering research topics were tackled at the Labs, often at a fundamental level, in support of the nuclear power stations across England and Wales.
 
Much of the work attained worldwide recognition and formed the basis for future research into electricity generation using nuclear power. About 750 staff worked at BNL with about 200 professional scientists and engineers supported by highly qualified technicians, skilled designers and craftspeople, together with the necessary administration staff. Berkeley Nuclear Power Station was completed in 1962, producing 276 Mega Watts of electricity with two Magnox reactors.
 
After years of success, enthusiasm for nuclear power started to wane and research activities were tailed off. The centre emptied and decommissioning began, followed by demolitions and clean-up of the land. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) took on ownership when it was established in 2005, and began to oversee lifting of all the nuclear-related regulations that prevented the site from being re-used. Initial options were mainly focused on wholesale demolition, with an estimated cost of around £8 million, and marketing the cleared land for business use. Many discussions and assessments later, in 2015, the land and its remaining buildings were instead leased to SGS on a long-term basis.
 
The NDA’s Head of Property Services David Atkinson said: “This is, essentially, a site restored and mission accomplished. We are delighted that the vision of stakeholders, as expressed during consultations about site end states some years ago, will be realised. “The potential for using these redundant facilities for educational purposes was not always obvious, however, and we did once draw up plans to demolish the buildings.
 
“The college’s plans are exciting and ambitious, supporting the UK drive to excel in science and engineering, while also building on Berkeley’s nuclear history. We look forward to seeing the first students welcomed onto the campus and enjoying their studies.”
 
From September 2017, the redeveloped site will offer some of the best training facilities in the country for Built Environment, Welding, Engineering and Digital Technologies, with full and part- time training on offer to learners from the age of 14 upwards including apprenticeships, adult re-training programmes and degree level learning. The new College campus and UTC, is seen as a major step forward to encourage a new breed of young engineers.
 
The redevelopment also brings new business opportunities to the area, offering 300,000ft2 of commercial floor space consisting of office premises, workshops, laboratories, conference rooms and more.
 
The Berkeley GREEN Campus is a joint venture between GFirst LEP and SGS College. Speaking of the partnership, David Owen from GFIRST said: “Gloucestershire needs a ready supply of the next generation of talent to support and continue to grow our great engineering and renewable energy businesses. Berkeley GREEN will provide the training and skills base to support these sectors. It will also facilitate the creation of a UK-leading energy cluster, bringing together global businesses and start-ups to drive innovation and skills in Gloucestershire and across the country.”
 
Kevin Hamblin, Chief Executive of the SGS Group, explains the philosophy behind the new training centre: “When I took up post of CEO of SGS, with a remit of ensuring the College was employer-facing, it was clear from everyone I spoke with that Gloucestershire had a problem with the lack of skilled employees in some priority areas, which were not being met by the current post-16 providers. Engineering and Cyber Security were two sectors that were either essential to the local economy and/or set to grow considerably over the medium term.
 
“Colleges are funded to deliver a wide number of courses and I felt we could do more to support these priority sectors and begin to bridge this gap by increasing the profile of Engineering and Cyber Security in Gloucestershire, but the truth was there was little demand coming from schools and, therefore, SGS in Stroud was not heavily into either area – a picture mirrored across the County.
 
“Why are these well-paid, relatively secure and essential sectors such as Engineering and Cyber not in demand by school leavers? Why are young people – and their parents – not recognising the potential career pathways? The sad truth is that there was really nothing to inspire them in a school setting. The national curriculum is designed to provide a broad academic route. Technical education at 14-16 is slowly being eroded as school funding reduces the options to deliver just the core subjects – as important as they are. But young people do not always have the opportunity to make things, to explore interests or even to consider a specific career beyond A Levels and a university place.
 
“The challenge was to find funding to provide a new institution with an inspirational setting, which could support this interest in Engineering and Cyber from the age of 14: an institution which would work with employers in both the content of the students’ educational journeys, and also in setting real-world projects, meaningful work placements and, ultimately, to employ these young people.
 
“This is now becoming a reality, with the £14m SGS Berkeley GREEN campus and University Technical College (UTC) initiative. Our original aim was for 40 14-year-olds to accept places in September. Astonishingly, that number has risen over 100, with 20% being female.
 
“SGS wanted to make a difference. Berkeley GREEN will meet the demands of employers if employers step up and join us. We hope they will see the benefits of the new campus and support it as best they can in these very interesting times.”
 
Open events for the new campus are scheduled throughout 2017/18, with the first taking place Saturday 30 September, 10:00-13:00, where visitors can discover the vast array of learning opportunities, speak with course specialists, take part in a range of hands on activities, and take a tour of the impressive facilities including.
 
Another event to note is the business breakfast on Friday 29 September being run by Business West and SGS. For further information and to register, please use the link below:
 
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/chamber-networking-breakfast-gloucestershire-september-2017-registrat...
 
There will also be a series of community fairs and workshops scheduled at a later date, where tech-savvy teenagers can try their hand at a variety of engineering and cyber activities.
 
For more information on what SGS Berkeley GREEN has to offer visit: sgscol.ac.uk/berkeleygreen or berkeleygreenutc.org.uk

SGS Berkeley GREEN is part financed by the Gloucestershire Growth Deal 2015 to 2021. GFirst LEP is delivering the Strategic Economic Plan for Gloucestershire through the Gloucestershire Growth Deal; an investment of £77.5 million for the county and part of a £12 billion long-term Government programme to revitalise local economies. For more information visit www.gfirstlep.com
 
FACTS

  •  Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories opened in 1961.
  •  Around 750 staff worked at Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories, with about 200 being professional scientists and engineers.
  •  Much of the work attained worldwide recognition and formed the basis for future research into electricity generation using nuclear power.
  •  During its heyday Berkeley Nuclear Power Station produced enough electricity to supply a city the size of Bristol.
  •  Electricity generation started in 1962 and ran for 27 years to 1989.
  •  In 2015, the land and its remaining buildings were leased to SGS College for 999 years. 
  •  It’s estimated that Berkeley GREEN will contribute almost £80m of economic growth over six years, create over 18,000 new jobs, 1,200 apprenticeships, provide over 1,100 qualifications in the energy sector, support 120 new business start-ups and secure over 2,000 existing jobs.
  •  The site will provide 300,000ft² of commercial floor space.
  •  The campus will host 600 pupils and up to 75 staff.
  •  The John Huggett Engineering Hall will feature courses in engineering, construction, plumbing, electronics, energy efficiency, low carbon energy and many more.
  •  Berkeley GREEN UTC specialises in advanced manufacturing (including engineering), digital technologies, and cyber security.
  •  Berkley GREEN UTC is backed by employers and University of Gloucestershire, who work with staff to develop a curriculum that gives students first-hand experience of what life is like after school. 

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 01 Sep, 2017
Following the announcement of a unique collaboration last year between Oxfordshire headquartered Williams Advanced Engineering with private equity investment company Foresight, the fund has announced its first investment.

Foresight Williams Technology Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) Fund will invest £500,000 in Utonomy, a pioneering intelligent gas grid solutions provider. The Fund aims to support disruptive technologies through high-performance engineering and proven investment management

Established in 2015, Utonomy has developed an innovative technology for reducing leakage in gas distribution networks.
 
The leakage of methane from gas distribution networks is a massive global problem with over 300 billion MWh of this potent greenhouse gas lost from networks around the world each year. This is estimated to cost consumers more than £5 billion per annum. More importantly, leakage of methane has a serious impact on the environment, releasing the equivalent of 1.7 billion tonnes per annum of CO2 into the atmosphere – more than four times the total emissions of the UK.
 
Building on their proven expertise in precision engineering, systems integration and optimisation, Grove-based Williams Advanced Engineering will support the design and development of the actuator technology, a critical component of the Utonomy gas network management solution.
 
Craig Wilson, Managing Director, Williams Advanced Engineering, said: “Williams Advanced Engineering and Foresight launched this Fund to support emerging technologies and innovative solutions to global problems. Thanks to four decades of successful operation at the pinnacle of motor racing, and vast experience in technology development and complex engineering delivery, Williams Advanced Engineering is very well placed to support Utonomy and its pioneering technology.”

Matthew Burke, Head of Technology Ventures, Williams Advanced Engineering, added: “Utonomy’s technology is a great fit for Williams Advanced Engineering. We are confident that we can help accelerate their product design and development.”

Adam Kingdon, CEO, Utonomy, added: “This investment through the Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund will enable us to complete the product development, certification and customer trials. We are very pleased to get the chance to work with Williams Advanced Engineering to develop our technology further and to have the support of Foresight to grow Utonomy into a world leading company.”

The fund enables investors to qualify for relief under the UK Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme (“EIS”) for investment into early stage UK SMEs with strong intellectual property in their own specialist fields. The Fund plans to make investments of up to £2 million into at least ten qualifying UK SMEs, supporting the next generation of engineering technology success stories in the UK.
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 01 Sep, 2017
Aston Martin Lagonda, the producer of luxury hand-crafted sports cars, will drive trade and investment between the United Kingdom and Japan worth up to £500 million over the next five years of its Second Century business plan. The investment program was announced by Dr Andy Palmer, Aston Martin President and Chief Executive Officer, during his visit to Japan as part of the UK delegation accompanying British Prime Minister Theresa May. 
​

The trade and investment created by the company signals the importance of the Japanese luxury car market to the global success of Aston Martin. Included in the announcement:

  • Aston Martin exports from the UK (Gaydon and St Athan plants) worth over £400 million, boosted by new sports cars and the introduction of the company’s first Sports Utility Vehicle.
  • Aston Martin buying more than £70 million in components from Japanese suppliers including Bridgestone, Denso, Mitsubishi and Yazaki.
  • The creation of an Aston Martin Meta Technology and Luxury Accelerator office in Japan, to open in 2018.
  • Investments in a flagship global brand centre in Tokyo, new Aston Martin Japan HQ and further growth of the Aston Martin dealer network across Japan.  
The Prime Minister said: “As we prepare to leave the European Union, it is vital that we build on our existing ties with friends and allies.

“Aston Martin is a prime example of the innovative and world leading firms the UK is proud of and I’m delighted they are joining me on this important trade mission.

“Aston Martin’s £500m deal will directly benefit the Gaydon plant in West Midlands and the St Athan plant in Wales helping safeguard existing jobs and opening new possibilities for future deals with Japan.”  

Dr. Palmer said: “Last week we unveiled our half yearly results, which saw Aston Martin register its third successive quarter of pre-tax profit. Our improving performance reflects rising demand for our new and special products.

“As the world’s second largest luxury car market, Japan is key to our future plans as we completely revitalise and expand our product portfolio under our Second Century plan. We have long enjoyed a loyal following from Japanese customers and the public alike, with our new dealership in Tokyo set to become our largest worldwide by volume.

“To ensure we are focused on the needs of Japanese and Asian customers, we are creating a Meta Technology and Luxury Accelerator office in Tokyo, reporting directly to HQ, to develop insights into luxury customer behaviour in Asia. This advanced product planning office is being created specifically to tap into research and technologies in the electric and connected car areas as well as the innovations Japan is making in the luxury market.” continued Palmer.

Between now and the conclusion of the Second Century plan in 2022, Aston Martin sales will more than double, making Japan one of the companies top five global markets by volume. Aston Martin currently exports a range of four sports cars to Japan including the new DB11 model. In late 2019, the company will introduce a sports utility vehicle built at the company’s second manufacturing facility at St Athan in Wales. More than 80% of Aston Martin production is exported, a figure set to increase as it grows sales overseas, particularly in the United States and Asia.
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 24 Aug, 2017
Artel Rubber, which makes a range of hoses for a variety of industries including rail, automotive and energy, has completed a move to a new manufacturing unit in Alcester.
 
Previously based in three separate units in Bidford-on-Avon, the company has now moved to the new purpose-built property on the Springfield Industrial Estate. The move, which has already seen productivity rise by almost 50 per cent and has led to new domestic and overseas orders, was supported by the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP Growth Hub.
 
Simon Lavin, executive director of Artel Rubber, told Phil Peak, an account manager at the Growth Hub, about his plans when they met around a year ago.  And with Phil’s help they managed to secure a £100,000 grant through the Regional Growth Fund 3, managed by Coventry City Council on behalf of Coventry and Warwickshire LEP, which meant the project could happen. Although this particular fund has now expired, there are several other grant funds currently available.
 
Simon said: “We’ve reinvested money from the business and we’ve been supported by the bank but we needed more to make the whole project work. Thankfully, Phil and the Growth Hub could see the potential and the ambitions we have and without that money, we couldn’t have made the move. “The floorspace has nearly doubled here but the big benefit is we are on one site which has improved productivity and efficiency. As well as that, it’s given us a bigger area where we can recycle waste material, which benefits the environment and has also reduced costs.”
 
The company hand-makes thousands of products each year and exports to Australia, Europe, the USA and China. “We wanted to move to the next level and we simply couldn’t have done that without moving to a new home,” added Simon. “We have just picked up a new contract in the rail industry overseas and I don’t think we could have gone for it without the move. “We are now looking at opening further overseas facilities to help us win more work, particularly in the Far East.”
 
Phil said the CWLEP Growth Hub would continue to support Artel Rubber particularly around skills. He added: “When you look at the outcomes that the support has achieved, it really has been very positive for the company and for the local economy. “They’ve taken on more staff, moved into new premises, they’ve become more productive and are now competing for and winning work on a scale that they couldn’t have done before. “We are delighted to be able to support the company in this way and look forward to working with them in the future.”
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 24 Aug, 2017
World-leading aeronautics manufacturer Airbus sells helicopters for military and civil use. Now it’s seeing a growing demand for private urban air transport

Interview by Nicky Godding

Earlier this year Airbus Helicopters, based at Oxford Airport, was awarded a £500 million contract by Ascent Flight Training which will run until 2033. As part of their proposed and selected solution, Airbus Helicopters will provide 32 new helicopters to meet the RAF’s training capability requirement and number of contracted flying hours.

The contract includes full support and maintenance services for the rotary wing aircraft as part of the UK’s Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS). The rotary wing element of the world class training system will be based at RAF Valley and RAF Shawbury, where both Princes William and Harry learned to fly helicopters.

Airbus was up against tough competition, according to the company’s Managing Director, Colin James but the company was the only original equipment manufacturer which didn’t have to partner with a third party to deliver against the MOD tender. “We will be supplying helicopters and delivering full service and maintenance support,” he said.

It’s the latest major contract win for the Oxford-based company, which expects to double employee numbers from the current 270, by 2020.

More widely known for manufacturing passenger jetliners and private jets, Airbus also designs the world’s leading brand of helicopter, but it doesn’t manufacture in the UK. The company operates a world-wide industrial model, with helicopter manufacture taking place mainly in Germany and France.

Airbus Helicopters’ unique UK capability is adding value to helicopters destined for the military, civil and private markets into which it sells.

“Here in the UK, we are very close to our marketplace,” explains Colin. “The aircraft we receive from Airbus Helicopters’ manufacturing sites are the basic commodity on which we build.”

It’s seldom a customer wants just to buy a helicopter. They will invariably need special equipment, additional capabilities, training and a full maintenance package to keep it flying for longer. Steve Pickston is Head of UK Support and Services at Airbus Helicopters. His team is directly responsible for the maintenance schedules of dozens of Airbus helicopters in civil, private and military service, and provide spares and support to hundreds of others.

Growing worldwide demand for helicopters

Demand for helicopters is set to grow, particularly in emerging countries. In the developed world, the requirement is largely for replacements, or for helicopters adapted to 21st-century needs, such as transporting valuable cargo (highly-trained specialists in the armed forces, or power network professionals maintaining powerlines), or to reach offshore wind and energy installations. If you need to cross treacherous terrain, whether flying across the Bering Strait or crossing the M1 at peak hour, a helicopter is probably the most efficient form of point to point transport.

Airbus Helicopters is even trialling a public service in São Paulo, Brazil (a city renowned for its overloaded infrastructure), which runs on the Uber app principal, where a helicopter can be booked in slots of eight minutes. The project is helping the company understand how to operate future passenger drones in a commercial environment.

Helicopter flight will never be a cheap form of transport, but sometimes it’s the only way difficult locations can be reached with urgency, hence their importance for police and air ambulances. And because they are not mass market, there is also an exclusivity about owning one among those who can afford to buy and operate them privately.

Transporting the globally connected

Sales of bespoke Airbus helicopters are rising within the private sector. The European head of Airbus Helicopters’ private and business aviation brand, ACH (Airbus Corporate Helicopters), Renaud Lambert, reports that more people see helicopters as a flexible form of transport.

That they can be branded and the interior fitted to personal taste is also attractive to private users. Last year an Airbus H175 7.5-ton helicopter was customised in order that it could land on the back of a customer’s superyacht. The increasing demand for unique fittings also means that innovation at Airbus is second nature.

Richard Atack is head of Airbus Helicopters’ UK Design & Engineering in Oxford. His team is working on enhancements to helicopters, including light armour protection systems using composite materials, to blade enhancements, and even cyber protection as helicopters become increasingly digital and automated.

Airbus Helicopters’ apprenticeship programme at Oxford has run continuously for more than 35 years. It’s not difficult attracting apprentices: helicopters are exciting and make a valuable contribution to society. From being used to monitor train tracks, and supporting the UK’s network of lighthouses (critical to maritime trade and security), to powerline maintenance, they play a major role in our world.

A high-flying career

After completing a degree in computer science in 1992, Colin James accepted a job with MBB Helicopters in Germany (which became Eurocopter, the precursor brand to Airbus Helicopters).

His degree studies had focused on real time systems, a prescient choice as helicopter flight was moving from analogue to digital. However, one of his first jobs was more hands-on than he’d anticipated: He had to roll up his sleeves and solder cables to integrate newly developed software into the helicopter computer hardware. This was needed to build a power supply with a cooler system, allowing the helicopter software developers to install their system.

Within six months he was running a team of five to six people. Eurocopter, as it was by then, had spotted a rising star.

Management training followed, although to begin with Colin wasn’t keen. “My dad had worked in a UK factory and his reports of management practices in the 70s and 80s wasn’t very complimentary. So the first leadership course I went on was a pleasant surprise.

“We were taught to always be honest and take both the technical challenge and the human element into account when making decisions. It was all about living your values and being your own person.”

This was management training German-style. “German management training brings people together,” explains Colin. “Whatever objective you set, it’s always about the execution, and that only happens if everyone feels a part of it. Only then do we obtain high productivity and high efficiency.”

Colin spent 23 years working for Airbus Helicopters in Germany and 18 months in France, leading large teams working on multi-million pound projects.

But despite all the years away, and bringing up a family in Germany, he was surprised how instantly he felt at home when he returned to the UK.

“It was the right time for us to come back. My children had spent their whole lives in German education, but it didn’t take long for them to flourish in the English system.”

When Colin joined the team at Oxford, it was a lean and efficient business, well-known within the Airbus group for its niche capabilities. Colin is elevating its abilities, thinking globally rather than nationally. “Our success doesn’t have to be confined to these shores.”

FOUR FACTS ON COLIN JAMES
  1. Doesn’t fly helicopters, but does have a fixed-wing aircraft license
  2. Compares flying in a helicopter to a ride in Willy Wonka’s glass lift.“That incredible feeling you get of being suspended in the air”
  3. Speaks fluent German (well, of course, he worked in Germany for two decades)
  4. Loves bringing ideas to life

QUICK FACTS
  • Airbus Helicopters UK Ltd is part of Airbus, the global leader in aeronautics, space and related services
  • It employs 270 people at Oxford Airport, and plans to double employment by 2020
  • The company is responsible for nearly 450 military, civil and private helicopters currently deployed across the UK

Airbus Helicopters will be exhibiting at Helitech, Europe’s largest helicopter exhibition, taking place at London’s ExCel from the 3 October. Entry is free.
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 07 Aug, 2017
A cutting-edge Coventry company has created a new, world-first form of plastic that could revolutionise the way limb conditions and injuries are treated.

Torc2 Ltd, based at the Bilton Industrial Estate, has protected the Intellectual Property (IP) on the material as well as a new process method using their flexible, durable compound that can be re-shaped at temperatures safe for patients.

Gary Blundell and Ron Taylor, who are part of the team that runs the firm, have a background in engineering and plastics and originally developed the new material as a potential replacement for Plaster of Paris casts.

But after seeking opinion from the medical profession including surgeons at University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire, the pair turned their attention to devices such as splints and supports for the treatment of Cerebral Palsy, Talipes (club foot), Hip Dysplasia, Idiopathic Toe Walking and liners that can be reshaped for lower limb prosthetics.

The company has also sought help from the CWLEP Growth Hub to assist in raising finance for its product development as well as the manufacturing process behind it.

That has led to a grant from Coventry City Council under the Coventry & Warwickshire Innovation Programme – part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund – which is supporting SMEs in the region to develop innovative products or services involving emerging technology.

Torc2 is the first SME to be awarded a grant through the programme.

Gary said: “The key property of our torc material is the fact it can be softened at low temperatures. It can be reshaped directly on the patient at around 55 degrees and, therefore, the types of products we are looking at can be altered to exactly fit the patient very quickly, easily and without waste.

“When we talked to orthopaedic experts in the field, they liked the concept around Plaster of Paris but said it wasn’t an area of particular concern. Instead they recommended that we look into other applications that could provide both cost-savings for the NHS and a far better patient experience.

“There is a whole range of supports and splints required for a number of conditions, many of which have to be changed and altered regularly – the properties within torc material allows that to happen very quickly and easily.

“In some cases, Spica casts being a typical example, it can cut out the need for extra trips to the operating theatre – which is a huge cost saving to the NHS and much better for the patient.”

He added: “We are incredibly grateful for the support from the Growth Hub and from Coventry City Council – it’s great that organisations in the city want to get behind innovative, local companies.

“We’ve also been supported by Warwick Manufacturing Group with trial production and have had significant help from our friends at RDM Group.

“The next phase is to upscale the current lab micro 3D printing process to enable production of full size devices for clinical trials. We are seeking additional funding to help us to do that and the feedback we are getting is that this is a very exciting new material that has the potential to revolutionise the way in which this area of treatment is delivered.”

Jeremy Moore, of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said: “From my first conversations with Gary and Ron, I could see the passion they have for this exciting new material.

“They are doing exactly the right thing too by listening to the advice of experts from the medical profession.

“I am pleased that we’ve been able to help them reach this stage and it would be great to see this innovation used the world over, knowing it started right here in our area.”

Coventry City Councillor Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, said: “Coventry has always innovated and this is yet another example of a local business being at the cutting edge of new developments.

“I’m pleased that we could secure grant cash to support the development of this new concept and I hope it leads to the on-going growth of the company and opportunities for local people.”
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