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Monday, 22 December 2014

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American firm is a big player in skills market

WITH the £2bn masterplan well under way Britain’s Energy Coast has been transformed into a hub for skills, expertise and research development.

Not only has the area produced outstanding home-grown talent – it has attracted world-class input and expertise.

International science and technology firm Battelle is proving to be a significant player within Britain’s Energy Coast.

The US-based company explores emerging areas of science, develops and commercialises technology, and manages laboratories for customers.

Locally, Battelle is a key player in the consortium running commercial operations at the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) in West Cumbria.

The consortium, led by Serco and including Battelle and The University of Manchester, emerged as the preferred bidder following a nine-month competition to find a commercial operator for the government-owned facility, based at the Sellafield site near Whitehaven.

The partnership is responsible for developing the NNL into a globally significant facility which will develop the skills, expertise and research needed to support the United Kingdom’s decommissioning and nuclear new build programmes.

In West Cumbria it will help support the area’s transformation into a low carbon energy production hub to assist the UK’s response to the challenges of climate change and energy security.

Battelle boasts an impressive 75 years of research management.

The success of local firm, Westlakes Engineering Ltd however, is making a significant impact on the industry both locally and nationally.

The civil and structural engineering company, provides design services to both public and private sector clients from its offices in Whitehaven.

Westlakes Engineering recently celebrated its fifth anniversary at an event in Whitehaven and were given two awards to mark the occasion. The event saw guest speakers Dog Holden, chief executive of the West Cumbria Development Agency (WCDA) and Sue Peters, director of the LEAD programme (Leading Enterprise and Development) at Lancaster University, present Andy Hooper – the company’s managing director – with a recognition of achievement award and a business growth award.

WCDA, which sponsored the anniversary event, was instrumental in supporting Andy when he started the company five years ago. Andy joined the LinkStart programme and took advantage of the training and business support available.

August also saw Westlakes Engineering expand across the North West with the business taking over Robert West Consulting (RWC), a Manchester-based civil and structural design firm.

The business has been re-branded as Westlakes Consulting.

Westlakes Engineering is now one of the fastest growing civil and structural engineering companies in the UK. Quite significantly, it is home grown in Cumbria with head offices at Westlakes Science Park, Whitehaven, and branch offices in Preston and Manchester.

Dog Holden said: “Not all have grown as much or been as successful as Westlakes Engineering, though it is not the only one. WEL is a West Cumbrian success story and hugely welcome for that; there have been few local ‘spin outs’ from our major companies and we desperately need more of them.”

Last year Andy Hooper was accepted on to the LEAD programme at Lancaster University.

The innovative scheme for developing leadership in businesses has been designed in conjunction with small businesses with fewer than 20 staff.

Sue Peters, director of the LEAD programme, said: “Andy has been a remarkable LEAD delegate, the programme has certainly raised the glass ceiling on the development of his business.

“His colleagues on the programme also recognised this and nominated him for the Business Growth Award which I presented to him on the firm’s fifth anniversary celebration.”

Andy is now a key ambassador for the LEAD programme and is looking forward to giving a little back to West Cumbria by supporting and encouraging other West Cumbrian businesses to grow and prosper.

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