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    NAA Update: Meeting Prince Charles at the Palace, recognition for the North West at the Niche Vehicle Network Conference, and much, much more

    It has been a very busy month for me, but without doubt the most memorable experience was on Friday 4 April when I had the privilege to go to Buckingham Palace for my investiture and receive my OBE from the Prince of Wales

    It was a very special day, shared with family and close friends from around the UK. It is thanks to them and all of you that all my hard work and achievements throughout my career have been recognised in such an incredible way.

    Another proud day was at the Niche Vehicle Network Third Annual Symposium where North West companies who had been successful in obtaining funding during this last year through the NVN network were out in force. I would say that North West companies dominated the event, but then I’m biased! Please take a look at the report on the event later in the newsletter. This is also the time to say congratulations to Paul Andrews from Oaktec for winning the regional heat of the Shell Springboard Competition with his PULSAR engine, which was one of the NVN projects. Again, more information can be read later in the newsletter.

    As many of you are aware, Martin Andrews will be leaving us at the end of April; we will miss his ERDF experience and the balance that he brings to an office full of women! Martin joined us from an environmental background and is returning to that industry. I would like to publicly thank him for all his efforts over the last three years for his work with the Business Excellence project; the project has been key to our survival, since the demise of the Northwest Development Agency. We wish him all the best in his new company.

    As you all know from your own experiences, the transition process of leavers and new starters places additional workload on the existing staff, so please bear with us during this period of change. Our priority will continue to be to provide you with the best support possible; it is just that during this period our efforts will be focussed on ensuring that the Business Excellence Project continues seamlessly for both the Business Excellence members and funders. I am pleased to announce that Martina Rodrigues, who has been working with us on a temporary basis, is prepared to take on the role of Interim Project Manager. While it will be business as usual for this month, next month the Business Excellence article will provide more information on any specific changes regarding who you should contact related to specific aspects of the Business Excellence project.

    23 June is National Women In Engineering Day. The day is dedicated to raising the profile and celebrating the achievements of women in engineering. Why not get involved and help create as many events and opportunities as possible to spread the work that engineering offers as many opportunities for women as men. If you would like to find out more then take a look on this website page Again, this is an event that is close to my heart, and I would encourage all of you to participate in this initiative.

    As we are always looking to continually improve our products and processes, we have been keeping an eye on how long our newsletter is becoming – for the last nine months we set a limit of 20 articles and have had to cut articles to ensure that we don’t over-run. However, our analysis shows that articles later in the newsletter have poor readership – the discussion as to whether this is because of lack of interest in those particular items or because the newsletter is too long can be held over a cup of coffee or wine sometime! What it does mean is that we need to make some changes, so from this month we are combining future events that are not core NAA events into one article, and the same with general news items. Please let us have feedback through LinkedIn, Twitter, email or good old speaking to each other as to what you think of the revisions and any other revisions that you would like to see.

    The Spring SMMT Open Forum was also held during this last month and it was amazing to see how this event continues to grow in size, and to hear about the good news stories that abound within the Automotive Industry at this time. The latest figures show that the UK now has the most productive automotive sector in Europe, having overtaken Germany; the next contender is France, which is a long way behind both ourselves and Germany. In terms of vehicle output, the UK is currently fourth, and closing in on third position. In terms of the total value of the sector, we are third behind Germany and France, and closing in on second position. This comes from the fact that UK vehicle output continues to rise, with the full year industry turnover reaching an all-time record of £60.5 billion; however even with the growth of UK vehicle sales, the trade deficit is still close to £10 billion annually. This is where the on-shoring opportunity is important and the work of the Automotive Investment Organisation is so important. I have recently seen their latest brochure for companies outside of the UK and I am pleased to say that a North West company is included as one of the three case studies. This, and events such as the Niche Vehicle Network Symposium, seem to show that there is increasing recognition of the successful automotive industry in the North West.

    Carol Holden
    Chief Executive


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