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Tag: High Value Manufacturing

Golden Opportunities in Space Supply Chain

Space is a great business, as well as fun for the kids.  Last week, I was invited to Astrium in Portsmouth to give a talk about the opportunities for non-space companies to sell into the space sector. Readers of Qi3 Accelerator Insight will know that I’m passionate about promoting the space sector to wider communities. Of course, I like to think that I’m a reasonably interesting person, but it was clear that on that day my talk wasn’t the most interesting as far as useful facts were concerned.

Chris Ward, Head of UK R&D at Astrium, provided a noteworthy presentation with insightful statistics. I’ll focus here on some key figures:

  • Astrium has €1B sales annually of which 53% accounted for manufacturing and 47% accounted for services (an increase from almost nothing over the past decade).
  • In manufacturing, 70% (approx. €385m) of business was subcontracted of which €100m was spent with 400 UK companies.
  • In services, 35% (approx. €176m) of business was subcontracted of which €100m was spent with other UK companies.

In such a gloomy business environment, this undoubtedly represents €200m of golden opportunities for companies who wish to sell into the space supply chain.

My talk emphasised what’s available for companies in this sector, with specific focus on technological and service opportunities for suppliers.  Mail me to request a copy.

Let’s start manufacturing – new TSB strategy announced

At last the Technology Strategy Board has published its new strategy for High Value Manufacturing.

Their definition of HVM is very much allied with ours:

High value manufacturing is the application of leading edge technical knowledge and expertise to the creation of products, production processes, and associated services which have strong potential to bring sustainable growth and high economic value to the UK. Activities may stretch from R&D at one end to recycling at the other. Such potential is characterised by a combination of high R&D intensity and high growth.

And they focus on 22 competences, grouped into 5 strategic themes:

  • resource efficiency
  • manufacturing processes
  • materials integration
  • manufacturing systems
  • business models

Reading through this document and the accompanying Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing study, there is a lot of sense here, but I’d argue also a number of important omissions and (dare I say it) fashionable hobbyhorses.  For example, I feel that the UK has world class competences in metrology, measurement systems and analytical instrumentation.  These competences can enable leaner, more resource efficient and less costly manufacture.  This doesn’t undermine the overall thrust of the IfM’s argument, but I hope that the TSB will be open to a healthy debate and ongoing refresh of these 22 competences.

At Qi3 Accelerator, we use the phrase High Value Manufacturing to encompass the ‘real world’ of engineered products and associated services, including those destined for sectors such as aerospace, security, defence, space, medical and environmental.

Let’s see how this new strategy for HVM is backed up by actions that will make a material difference to the rebalancing of the UK economy towards making things.

 

Bootcamp heats up debate on British manufacturing

The Qi3 Accelerator HVM Bootcamp is heating up.  Quite a few people are asking us what constitutes ‘manufacturing’ in our context.

I’m not going to give a pat definition here, but suffice it to say that we’re looking for companies outside of the ‘wet biotech’ and ‘pure internet’ spaces, where engineering disciplines bring together core physics, engineering, biology or chemistry into an engineered product based up0n electronics, software, sensing, instrumentation and services.  Pure software is fine if it relates to engineering.

And what’s the ‘High Value’ in High Value Manufacturing?  I see it as:

  • High value added, through a high knowledge content and the deployment of skilled labour
  • Broad in lifecycle, through the recognition that ‘cradle to cradle’ lifecycle creates opportunities in the value chain not just the manufacturing process
  • Comprehensive in scope; considering societal and environmental benefits, not just the tangible product

Try us – to get 3 days of intensive support for your business acceleration, apply by 30th May.

Here’s to the future of low energy lighting systems

I’m delighted to confirm today the latest investment led by the team of angels at Qi3 Accelerator; this time we’ve led a £1.1m syndicate investment in a company called iSotera.

iSotera has developed a novel control power distribution and control network for the next generation of LED lighting systems.

My colleague Paul Anson discovered iSotera over a year ago, and we have been working with the founder Marc Ottolini ever since in order to help him bring his business to an investment-ready state , providing input to all aspects of the business plan.  Peter Cowley of Martlet and our friends at 42 Technology have been instrumental in the technical evaluation. We introduced iSotera to a number of other Business Angels, and particularly significant was a presentation to London Business Angels in September 2011.  This brought together a syndicate of over 20 parties, including our colleagues at Synergy Energy and enabled co-investment by the Low Carbon Innovation Fund. We’re also delighted that Moonray Fidelity has joined us in this important investment.  Note that Qi3 Accelerator is not a fund, it’s a group of independent angels led by Tim, Paul and me, so an investment like this requires all of us to feel persuaded to commit our cash to worthwhile businesses.

So why iSotera? We all know that LED lighting is going to take a significant market share over the next decade, replacing incandescent lighting and compact fluorescents.  iSotera has spotted the opportunity in the more prosaic area engineering of power distribution and control for LED lighting.  iSotera’s technology enables more efficient energy usage, lower cost of ownership and easier installation, revolutionising the cost and energy impact of lighting installations.  So rather than investing in LED technology, we’re backing a system that makes it greener, cheaper and easier to install.

Marc Ottolini is a superb enthusiastic serial entrepreneur and has shown tenacity and determination to drive the company to become a significant market player.  Several leading lighting distributors are queuing up for the launch later this year of the first production systems.  Backing a great technology and a great team with our financial resources and commercial support feels to me like a winning mix.

The Qi3 Accelerator team will be playing an active role in the development of iSotera, with Paul, Nat Billington (Synergy Energy) and me all taking board positions.  We look forward with pleasure to the development of another UK High Value Manufacturing company.

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