Campus collaboration helps drive sales and savings at Cheshire site
The continued impact of the collaborative culture at Sci-Tech Daresbury resulted in overall sales growth of 27% for the companies based at the science and technology campus during 2019.
The figure – a five per cent rise on 2018 – has been revealed through the latest campus company survey to be conducted by Sci-Tech Daresbury.
Findings show that the commitment to collaboration fostered at the campus is playing a key role in supporting the growth of the site’s innovative high-tech businesses.
The survey of 117 companies at the Liverpool City Region campus found that more than 70% of firms on site are collaborating with at least one of their on-site neighbours, generating approximately £10m in sales creation and cost savings during 2019.
Export sales for campus companies currently sits at 29%, with Europe remaining the key market and accounting for 50% of all international sales.
The survey also revealed that more than 240 new products and services were developed in 2019 – nearly double that of the previous year and the highest ever figure for the campus.
This rise was supported by more than 30% of campus companies engaging with funding agency Innovate UK and 43% working with the on-site Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) regarding their work.
As a result of such activity, the average business value in terms of new sales or cost savings for campus firms sits at £10m, another new record.
The importance of collaboration to driving growth and innovation was also evidenced by more than 50% of campus companies engaging with universities on a variety of research activities as well as developing customer/supplier relationships.
While the University of Liverpool and University of Manchester remained the two most common for collaboration, companies worked with more than 50 institutions from across the UK and overseas, demonstrating that the campus’s work with academic institutions is expanding beyond the North West.
Close relationships with universities have also been underpinned by a rise in the recruitment of graduate and post graduate students, as well as internships and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.
Such initiatives are of increasing importance to ensuring the long term sustainability of high-tech industries within the North, with the approach already showing results.
The survey also showed Sci-Tech Daresbury companies created a net increase of 162 full-time jobs in 2019, more than 40% higher than in 2018.
There are now in excess of 1,000 full-time employees on site, representing an 18% increase on the previous year – 69% of the jobs are at bachelor degree level or above.
Additionally, the survey revealed companies at Sci-Tech Daresbury experienced the same difficulties as businesses across the UK in attracting talent, with challenges in areas such as software development, engineering and commercial roles.
Sci-Tech Daresbury launched its talent and skills strategy, RADAR, last year supporting companies in attracting, developing and retaining the key skills necessary for business growth.
This has resulted in a range of partnerships and programmes with organisations such as the University of Liverpool, the Armed Forces and Code Nation.
John Downes, group chief executive of Langtree and chair of the Sci-Tech Daresbury joint venture company, said: “2019 was another robust period of development and growth for Sci-Tech Daresbury.
“The feedback from this survey demonstrates that collaboration remains a key driver for innovation amongst the companies on site, resulting in both dynamic new products, growth in numbers of employees and excellent sales results.
“It’s particularly pleasing to see the creation of high-value jobs and the development of opportunities for graduates.
“Such roles will be crucial as we look to ensure the Liverpool City Region remains an attractive proposition for businesses and employees alike.”
He added: “While we’re pleased with the progress being made, we’re going to continue to develop programmes that will allow our tenants to access the talent and skill they need to prosper.
“Likewise, in response to the economic shock of COVID-19 there will be a variety of initiatives developed that will offer guidance to our companies through this unprecedented period.
“Many of our tenants have responded to the pandemic by developing products and services that have assisted the global fightback, and I’m confident that our HealthTec cluster – in collaboration with the business and research community – will continue to advance solutions to many of the challenges we’re currently facing.
“This is a very exciting period for Sci-Tech Daresbury, with work on our latest development, Project Violet, set to start later this year.
“Already in 2019 we’ve seen several longstanding tenants move into bigger premises on site, perfectly reflecting the ‘home for life’ ethos that means we support businesses every step of the way on their journey and provide different facilities and services for each stage of their expansion.
“We use the findings from this survey to further support our businesses as they continue their impressive journeys of innovation, collaboration and growth.”
Jon Morris, managing director of Ambersail, a specialist in cyber security assessment services, said: “Our location at Sci-Tech Daresbury has supported our pursuit to find the right team members.
“The opportunity to receive the supported services and connections to the wider world has been invaluable as we try to grow and develop our team. Geographically, it’s in a fantastic place to access some of the best academic institutions in the UK. It’s near to all of the major road connections that makes us easily accessible for staff and clients.
“The employees that we want to attract are tech-minded people and they feel very comfortable in this environment because there are lots of other technology companies around. The campus almost has a university feel to it – and they feel comfortable with that. The high-tech, academic atmosphere on the campus is perfect for our team to thrive in.”
Liz Ashall-Payne, co-founder and chief executive of ORCHA, a world-leader in health and care app assessments, said: “Thanks to Sci-Tech Daresbury, collaboration extends beyond our team, as we partner with others on the campus.
“For example, we’re working with The Hartree Centre on a ground-breaking usability study, which will shed new light on how patients view and use health apps, which will be central to the success of the digital health programmes, ensuring impact on health outcomes.
“The campus’s links with bodies such as the Department for International Trade has also led to international collaborations, and we now partner with experts worldwide in countries across Europe and beyond.”