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Embargoed until 20.30hrs 24 March 2010: Businesses cluster to celebrate UK success stories

Embargoed until 20.30hrs 24 March 2010: Businesses cluster to celebrate UK success stories

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 24 March 2010

Minister for Business, Ian Lucas, tonight presented the UK’s first-ever "Cluster Marks"- a new award recognising the best of Britain’s manufacturing clusters and their valuable contribution to the country’s economic growth.

Clusters are regional concentrations of related companies and organisations that compete, but also collaborate to share knowledge, increase innovation and drive growth within the sector.

The Cluster Mark was established to raise the profile of UK manufacturers involved in cluster activity and to help promote their local strengths internationally. The awards also aim to boost the reputation of the manufacturing sector as a whole and highlight its importance to the British economy.

The winners were chosen by an Independent Judging Panel, chaired by Ian Lucas and made up of representatives from industry and academia.

Speaking at the Gala Ceremony in London’s Lancaster House, Ian Lucas said:

"Historically, manufacturing has helped to shape the identity of communities up and down the country and it is still vital to our economy today, accounting for 12.4 per cent of GDP. But in order to succeed globally in a low carbon future, the sector must keep evolving and innovating. This is where collaboration can make a huge difference.

"That is why the Government set up the Cluster Mark Awards - to encourage the growth of British clusters and to celebrate the benefits they bring.

"All over the UK, clusters are taking root across a diverse range of industries, as the list of nominees demonstrates. The whole panel were struck by the high standard of the entries and I would like to say a huge congratulations to each of the winners."

Cluster Marks were awarded to the best four clusters out of 15 nominees from across Britain. The winners were chosen for the outstanding level of co-operation they demonstrated and the benefits achieved as a result.

Humber Seafood Processing Cluster was named Best Overall Cluster for its exceptional entrepreneurial dynamism, innovation, skills base and level of internationalisation.

Cluster Marks were also awarded to the North West Aerospace Cluster, North West Biomedical Cluster and the East of England Health & Life Sciences Cluster.

In addition to the main winners, the South East’s Cryogenics and West Midlands Niche Vehicle Clusters received commendations from the judging panel for their work to date and future growth potential, while the Wales Opto-electronics and Scotland Food & Drink clusters were acknowledged as excellent examples of best practice.



This well-established cluster grew out of the area’s declining fishing industry and now holds 70% of UK market in its sector. It also has a strong geographical focus and makes a significant contribution to the regional economy.

The cluster’s strategic direction is steered by the board of Humber Seafood Ltd, which brings together key stakeholders from businesses, trade associations and education. As such it has developed a bespoke infrastructure to support the cluster’s activity; covering research facilities skills training and physical infrastructure. All of which ensure it can continue to expand and compete globally.

The cluster dominates the UK market and is actively looking to expand internationally. It was selected as the overall winner for its proven ability to exploit international markets when opportunities arise. The cluster also demonstrated a clear vision for the future, directed by both the needs of the cluster members and those of their customers.

Representing the judging panel, Minister for Business, Ian Lucas said:

"It was not our intention to have an overall winner of this competition but the strength of support from the panel for the Humber Seafood Processing Cluster was so strong that we wanted to reflect this. So I’m very pleased to name it ‘Best in Show’ at these inaugural Cluster Mark Awards."

Minister for Yorkshire & the Humber, Rosie Winterton said:

"I’m delighted that the Humber Seafood Processing Cluster has been recognised for work it is doing and the benefits it delivers - not just for the region but to the British economy as a whole. I hope this award inspires other manufacturers to collaborate and spread best practice, and to promote our local strengths on a global stage."


This maturing cluster is one of the UK’s top three biomedical clusters and is the leading exporter of pharmaceuticals. Since 2002 the cluster has seen a 35% increase in employment in its core business and an 18% increase in its productivity. It has also attracted over £312m of investor finance.

The region features the UK’s main concentration of bioprocessing companies and is home to the National Biomanufacturing Centre. It also offers world class facilities and expertise in fields such as genomics, regenerative medicine and bioinformatics.

Bionow is the organisation responsible for coordination across the cluster. Its activities include:

working with a wide range of partners within the region to ensure a coordinated approach;holding regular face-to-face networking events to develop mutually beneficial relationships; andproviding a clear vision for the cluster’s future and a strategy to attain it.

Representing the judging panel, Professor Ray Oakey, Manchester Business School said:

"The North West Biomedical Cluster has a strong international profile including a world class academic base and an impressive research infrastructure, which supports an innovative and growing cluster. The work of Bionow, in coordinating activity of across the cluster, is also impressive. Overall, it is a worthy recipient of the Cluster Mark."


This mature cluster is one of Europe’s leading centres of excellence in its sector and is home to a strong academic base, research infrastructure and networking facilities.

The cluster is the primary region for medical biotech companies in the UK and one of the leading regions for drug discovery and development in Europe. It is also home to more Nobel Prize winners from the sector than any other.

One of the organisations coordinating activity across the Cluster is ERBI whose activities include:

· promoting co-operation with similar clusters in the UK and globally;

· ensuring the cluster remains attractive to companies by offering an open approach to innovation; and

· understanding changing global technology trends and directing research and skills activity accordingly.

Representing the judging panel, Neville Reyner, President of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

"The East of England Health and Life Science Cluster application clearly demonstrated innovative strength, a strong educational base and access to a skilled workforce. Most importantly, it is clearly an internationally renowned cluster and as such should be recognised with a Cluster Mark."


This internationally renowned cluster is responsible for 32% of the UK’s turnover in the aerospace sector.

The cluster organisation, North West Aerospace Alliance, plays a pivotal role in ensuring the integration of all the infrastructure elements, including technology, education and service provision.

The active participation of the three largest companies in the cluster has been instrumental in ensuring the organisation’s effectiveness. However, as with all successful organisations it is not complacent and continues to look to improve its performance.

Representing the judging panel, Mr Andrew Churchill, Managing Director, JJ Churchill Ltd said:

"As Managing Director of a company working in the aerospace industry I am fully aware of the challenges this presents. The North West Aerospace Cluster application clearly set out how it secured its place in the global supply chain through an effective cluster strategy, which they will continue to build on in the future. They are worthy recipients of a Cluster Mark and I am pleased the rest of the panel shared this view."

Notes to editors:

1. For more information on Cluster Mark visit:

2. Photos from the Gala Ceremony will be freely available to download and reproduce following the event from:

3. The Independent Judging Panel was chaired by Ian Lucas and made up of:

- Sir Howard Newby - Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool

- Dr Neville Reyner - President of the British Chambers of Commerce

- Dr Jim J Hagan - Chief Executive Officer Global Medical Excellence Cluster

- Prof Ray Oakey - Professor of Business Development, Manchester Business School

- Simon Coward - Director, Hethel Engineering Centre

- Andrew Churchill - Managing Director, JJ Churchill Ltd

4. Winners were chose based on the following criteria:

- Competitive Advantage, which could be demonstrated through entrepreneurial dynamism and expansion; well-functioning networks and partnerships; access to a skilled workforce and strong educational base; and internationalisation

- Co-ordinating Cooperation

- Adapting to Change, both through long-term planning and reacting to short term shocks

Key Facts

-- The UK is the world’s 6th largest manufacturer
-- Inward investment projects in the UK’s Advanced Manufacturing sector increased 16% in 2009
-- In the fourth quarter of 2009, manufacturing output increased by 0.8%

-- Manufacturing:
* Accounts for 12.4% of GDP – around £160bn a year
* Makes up half of the UK’s exports
* Makes up 2.8m workforce jobs
* Accounts for 74% of all business expenditure on UK R&D

-- Since 1997:
* Business expenditure on manufacturing R&D is up 18.6% in real terms
* Productivity has increased by close to 50%


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