DATE: 23 February 2016
LOCATION: Energus, Blackwood Road, Lillyhall, Workington, Cumbria
Sellafield’s power as a driver of the local economy – and a magnet for global investment – was demonstrated at a business event that attracted 300 firms from around the world. Opening the Doors to Opportunity gave smaller companies the chance to access an £80m portfolio of contracts linked to the four major projects at Sellafield.
Home-grown Cumbrian firms featured heavily in the list of attendees and some businesses left having won new contracts on the spot. Others got a chance to find out more about what it takes to work on Europe’s most complex nuclear site.
The event saw representatives from the major contractors on the site open up their books in a bid to get more SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) involved in the Sellafield mission. SMEs often provide the specialist capability, innovative thinking and agility needed to help clean up Sellafield. And increasing SME spend can also help drive local economic growth and attract global players to Cumbria, the UK’s Centre of Nuclear Excellence.
Helen Fisher, Sellafield Ltd’s head of socioeconomics, said: “As the Centre of Nuclear Excellence – very few places in the world can match Cumbria’s skills and capabilities when it comes to nuclear, but occasions like this prove that we also have a gravitational pull that attracts the best from around the globe. I have been overwhelmed by the response from small businesses, who have grasped this opportunity with both hands and gained new contacts, knowledge and even work.
“At Sellafield Ltd we know we are a lever for economic growth. We spend £1 billion a year in the supply chain and it’s great to have companies from around the world wanting a piece of that investment. By creating an environment to ‘match-make’ small and large companies, we are promoting closer relationships and supporting economic growth while also creating a vital mix of SMEs needed to help us in decommissioning Europe’s most complex nuclear site, so it’s a win-win for all involved.
“This event is focused on more than the work available on Sellafield site. Our suppliers offer countless opportunities in other areas so we are helping SMEs to diversify their client base, so they are not reliant on Sellafield Ltd for work.”
One company travelled 5,000 miles to be at the event, at Workington’s Energus centre. Bryan Swinson from New Mexico based company Pajarito Scientific Corporation said; “We are based in the States but some of our employees built up much of their specialist expertise at the Sellafield site. As a small business we have come to Cumbria to find out about the opportunities here in the hope that we can create a more permanent presence in the area to contribute to the Sellafield mission.”
“We’d love to be part of that bridge of unique nuclear expertise between the UK and USA and help put Cumbria on the map for global business. Opportunities like this are important to help large companies open the doors to the capability they have on their doorstep.”
Large suppliers already delivering the decommissioning programme on the site played a key role at the ‘opening the door to opportunity’ event, offering more than 180 packages of work associated with the Sellafield site and holding one-to-ones with SMEs so that they could pitch for the work.
John Carine from a new company called NIASS Consulting gained two new contracts in Cumbria associated with the Sellafield mission, he said; “Within a couple of hours at the event we gained two new Cumbrian clients, we are Cheshire based but keen to invest in the area and create a permanent base in Cumbria soon.” Our small company has only been established for 11 months so to be in a room like that with so many key contacts at our fingertips is an opportunity we couldn’t miss, so I’m grateful to Sellafield Ltd for making itself so accessible.”