Collaborating for Success – Joint Aerospace Cluster Summit Lays Foundations for the Future

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On 16th-17th January, Business Isle of Man (an executive agency of the Department for Enterprise) and the Isle of Man Aerospace Cluster (IOMAC) welcomed guests from England, Ireland and Wales for the first Joint Aerospace Cluster Summit at the recently refurbished Comis Hotel.

The event attracted over 80 delegates from aerospace clusters around the Irish Sea including the IOMAC, IOM Aircraft Registry, Emerald Aero Group, Shannon International Aviation Services Centre (IASC), Causeway Aero Group, Wales Aerospace Forum, and the North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA).

The event was opened by the Minister for Enterprise, Laurence Skelly MHK, with the Chief Minister, Howard Quayle MHK, Tim Crookall MLC, and Minister Graham Cregeen MHK also in attendance as well as representatives from Business Isle of Man, including Chair Stephen Bradley MBE.

Adrian Moore, Chair of the IOMAC and Head of Business Isle of Man commented:

‘The event was a great success and I am proud of the work that Business Isle of Man and the IOMAC have done to highlight our capabilities as both event organisers and serious players in the Aerospace industry. The speakers, venue, networking, cluster workshops, tours and all the little touches made our visitors’ experience a truly impressive demonstration of how professional the Isle of Man really is.

‘The feedback received from visitors has been hugely complimentary, helping to demonstrate that the Isle of Man has strength, depth and diversity within our Engineering & Manufacturing sector. There was much discussion and praise regarding the quality of our training facilities and the way the sector works with Government to deliver exemplary vocational training, as demonstrated by the multi million pound investment in the Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre. This event may have laid the foundation for an Irish Sea ‘Super’ Cluster!’

The theme of the Summit was ‘Collaboration’, and was structured to allow maximum collaboration between individuals, companies and clusters through networking and workshops, designed to highlight how companies and clusters across the sector can better work together.

Guests were also given an opportunity to join site tours around the AMTC, and IOMAC members’ facilities including Swagelok, Manx Precision Optics, and West Atlantic.

Particular praise was given to Swagelok for their manufacturing and businesses processes as well as the condition of the factory. Dr David Bailey, Chairman of the NWAA, commented:

‘In my role within one of the largest regional trade associations I have been very fortunate to have visited manufacturing sites all over the world. I can genuinely say that Swagelok’s is one of the most impressive that I’ve seen. The workplace organisation, preventative maintenance, team boards, improvement plans, communications, and employee engagement were all excellent. ’

Members of the IOMAC are continually evaluating ways to improve and respond to change. Outside of the formal sessions there was much discussion between the Clusters with regard to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) skills and development. Ideas were shared on how to better-promote STEM in schools, and at other large public events on the Island. This has sparked collaboration between the Clusters going forward, which was the main objective for the summit.