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Monday, 20 October 2014

Approach offers us opportunities

THE government is formulating its vision for the future of British industry across various sectors as part of its policy to demonstrate it is committed to a long term, strategic partnership between the government and industry.

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It envisages a series of collaborative, challenging sector strategies will be developed for business – to have an impact on business strategy and investment decisions with industry taking a core role in shaping development and delivery.

These will set out where the UK is now, where it wants to get to and how to get there.

This new approach provides opportunities for Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, ourselves and, most importantly, industry leaders to have their say on what is both realistic and practical.

Preparation of one of the first sector strategies announced last week focus on offshore wind – a sector where the BIS press release says: “Government intends to establish a strategic partnership with industry to have real impact on economic growth.”

Business views are being sought by February 4.

Furness Enterprise will be offering its views and is keen to gauge industry’s inputs.

Submissions by individual firms can be made to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills at carolyn.campbell@bis.gsi.gov.uk. The consultation asks for input on 10 topics:

• Building a competitive UK-based offshore wind supply chain
• areas the UK-based offshore wind supply chain excels
• areas the UK-based offshore wind supply chain falls short
• the key drivers (or contributing factors) to building a competitive UK-based supply chain
• significant barriers to entry for new potential suppliers to the market
• key factors influencing firms location decisions for new facilities
• focusing UK support for the offshore wind supply chain correctly to meet the needs of the sector
• sufficiency of onshore and offshore test sites to test and demonstrate products and components for the offshore wind market
• is there a current or future shortage of skilled workers in the sector?
• do procurement practices in the industry create any barriers to UK-based supply chain companies winning contracts – is 50 per cent a realistic long term goal for UK content in offshore wind farm projects?

The dominance of continental suppliers and developers being keen to de-risk their operations and drive down costs by working with firms they are familiar with creates a problem for new firms to enter the sector.

Opportunities come from the establishment of groups of supply bases in a single location – this provides potential for local and incoming firms to build long term relationships with operators of wind farms and perhaps evolve innovative ways of reducing servicing costs and methods.

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