21 April 2020
Businesses from the Silverstone Technology Cluster (STC) are pulling together to source and manufacture crucial supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line healthcare workers across Northamptonshire.
In a co-ordinated effort by the STC, its Chair Roz Bird contacted 3,000 businesses across the Cluster region (the one-hour drive time radius from Silverstone) to ask if they could assist with PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 50 from the network have responded saying they have the capability to help – in particular, in being able to supply 14 items highlighted by NHS management in Northants.
Already (pictured) 500kgs of polypropylene – donated by South Yorks business Polypipe – has arrived at the Silverstone Park business estate for distribution amongst some of the businesses, this being co-ordinated by STC Board member KW Special Projects.
Polypropylene can be turned into headbands for face shields/visors.
However, the STC is urgently on the look-out for other raw materials to produce more items such as PET (for shields/visors) and PVA (body bags).
Businesses able to supply PET or PVA for distribution to STC companies for manufacturing of PPE are urged to contact Roz Bird firstname.lastname@example.org or STC CEO Pim van Baarsen email@example.com
In Northants, the STC’s co-ordinated effort could aid supplies to: two hospitals; 100 care homes; 300 residential care homes; 100 domiciliary care homes; 72 GP practices; two acute care homes; private care homes; two mental health care homes; all social workers; environmental health officers; the police; firefighters; medical staff from the armed forces.
The list of PPE required in Northants is:
• Body bags
• Fluid resistant masks
• FFP3 masks
• Long sleeved gowns
• Hand sanitiser
• Antibacterial wipes
• Alcohol wipes
• Face shields
• Side tables
• Infusion pumps
MEPC’s Roz, also Commercial Director of STC founding member Silverstone Park, explained: “This is a co-ordinated response from the STC to a national crisis which we have called the STC C-19 Response Team.
“As a result of talking to occupiers at Silverstone Park, it became clear that many companies were keen to help provide PPE but had not heard back from government.
“So I decided to try to find out what was happening nationally and work out how our local companies could help. MakeUK advised that the best route for companies would be to make contact with the local COVID-19 command centre for Northants. It was these local companies that provided us with the list of 14 items needed.
“Subsequently, we have held a number of discussions with the PPE ‘lead’ for Northants and, having then assessed the offers from businesses in response to our call to action, we know that collectively they have the capabilities to deliver.
“The numbers are huge: in some cases there can be a requirement for up to 50,000 of just one item alone on that list.
“Hand sanitiser, goggles, gowns, coveralls and masks we have been able to source through the STC network. Other items such as alcohol wipes, scrubs, visors and body bags we need to manufacture locally and we are setting this up.
“As a result, and through on-going and very positive discussions with the Northants PPE lead, we are now at a stage where a number of STC businesses have been able to make commercial offers to the NHS.”
Roz added: “The high-tech engineering and manufacturing capability amongst businesses in the STC region is world class and we really wanted to do our bit during this crisis.
“Also, this activity can support businesses with work and jobs by getting them to re-purpose their equipment and so become part of the medical sector’s supply chain in the longer term.
“I would like to convey a huge thanks to Polypipe for donating and delivering, free of charge, its supply of polypropylene, KWSP for managing the supply chain and quality, the STC’s CEO Pim van Baarsen and Marketing Assistant Joanne Clement, and STC Ambassador Cristiana Pace and member business TD Group’s Julie Stewart for helping to co-ordinate the logistics which are considerable.
“Once we have tried and tested processes in place for Northants, then we will look to roll this out to neighbouring counties.”