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    Business Excellence Networking Event Review: NGF EUROPE, 3 December 2014

    NAA and Business Excellence members enjoyed another unique ‘behind the scenes’ tour in December, this time of the world’s leading High Tensile Strength (HTS) Fibre Forming facility at NGF EUROPE in St Helens. The tour was followed by a number of presentations about funding, including how NGF EUROPE accessed AMSCI support to build its facility

    The event started with a presentation by Alistair Poole, NGF EUROPE Managing Director, and a site tour of NGF’s facility. Alistair explained that NGF EUROPE is at the forefront in the manufacture and marketing of specialised Glass Cord products. These are used mainly in the automotive industry for the reinforcement of synchronous drive belts – such as in the 1-litre Ford EcoBoost engine – although other car manufacturers such as the Volkswagen Audi Group, Peugeot-Citroen, Honda and GM are also either using the technology or will be doing so in the future.

    NGF EUROPE has annual sales of around £50m and the company processes enough cord each year to reach the moon 60 times!

    In 2014 NGF unveiled its £4 million High Tensile Strength (HTS) Fibre Forming facility at the site in St Helens, making NGF EUROPE the only fully integrated glass cord production factory outside of Japan.

    NGF was also awarded ‘The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation’ in recognition of the achievements of NGF’s R&D team and the NSG Group’s commitment to technical development and manufacturing excellence – particularly the development of ‘Reactive Impregnation Cord’ which allows belts to run in oil, resulting in less friction, noise and vibration than a chain – but with the same durability. This enables increased engine efficiency both initially and during its lifetime.

    Lee Farnworth, Operations Manager, presented about the £4M construction project to create the ability to manufacture HTS glass fibre in the UK, which was supported by AMSCI grant funding £0.5m which enabled the project to create 24 new jobs and safeguard many more.

    Natural disasters in Japan, specifically an earthquake and a tsunami over recent years, were key issues driving the business case to build the new NGF facility in the UK, to ensure more business resilience in the supply chain.

    Help was provided with bidding for AMSCI funding by consultancy Mickledore as part of an NAA Business Excellence project.

    After the NGF tour and talks, vital topic presentations focused on industry specific funding schemes, which offer industry aligned and easily accessible funding solutions to the automotive community throughout the North West and the rest of the UK. The presentations were from the Liverpool LEP, Finance Birmingham, BIS, RBS and Santander.

    Simon Reid from the Liverpool City Region LEP explained about the range of funding available in the region, which is designed to be more relevant to local businesses due to being targeted at a micro-economic level. Simon explained that the LEP had four priority areas: the Superport, low carbon, the visitor economy, and the knowledge economy. There is also the ‘Making it Automotive’ initiative, supporting the automotive supply chain in the region.

    Steve Hetherington from Finance Birmingham presented about the £24m RGF-supported Tooling Funding Programme. The fund is designed to support suppliers that need expensive tooling to manufacture new products for OEMs.

    Aiden Farrell from BIS presented about the Employer Ownership Fund which provides direct funding to employers and which was set up in response to supply chain opportunities. Speke-based Getrag is one of the first six companies to benefit from funding to date.

    This latest Business Excellence networking meeting was another example of an experience that could only be gained by being a member of the NAA or of the Business Excellence programme.

    European Regional Development Fund Northern Powerhouse
    Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham