The Evolution of the High Performance Technology and Motorsport ClusterIris Kong
SQW – working with Dr Nick Henry and Dr Tim Angus – has completed a study of the high performance technology and motorsport cluster. The study was commissioned by MEPC, working with a wider group of private and public sector partners and sponsors.
Although boundaries are neither “hard” nor “fixed”, the cluster has a particular character in the area around Silverstone. Its origins reflect government spending on defence-related activity in the inter-war period, together with changes in early professional motorsport. Today, the cluster includes some companies that are household names (such as Cosworth, Prodrive and Formula One teams (e.g. Red Bull Racing, Sahara Force India and MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS)) as well as many smaller, but similarly innovative and internationally-facing, firms. It has institutions which are playing key roles in terms of workforce skills, technical testing, and research and development.
The cluster benefits from a distinctive local labour market. In part, this has been created by the cluster – and many firms have long invested in apprenticeship and/or graduate programmes. In addition, there is evidence of people moving between different firms, building a shared culture which was described by one business leader as “an obsessive madness about making things better in zero time”.
Firms within the cluster are applying their skills and know-how across an increasing range of sectors, and there are growth opportunities in this context. It is also noteworthy that the cluster is located in an area of central southern England which is growing quickly (in terms of population and jobs). This too is creating opportunities and challenges in relation to the cluster’s future evolution and prospects.