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Robotics cluster launches in Cumbria, bolstering regional innovation and collaboration

ROBOTICS is fast becoming a go-to for nuclear decommissioning advances and today marks the launch of the Cumbria Robotics Cluster, an ambitious initiative powered by the Industrial Solutions Hub (iSH) to harness and expand the region’s renowned capabilities in cutting-edge engineering and problem-solving.

Launched at the Harnessing Robotics and AI for Challenging Environments (HRAICE) event at Energus in Workington, this cluster will bring organisations with a shared vision together to elevate Cumbria as a globally recognised centre of excellence in the field of robotics engineering.

Founded in March 2024, the Cumbria Robotics Cluster aims to deliver substantial social and economic benefits to Cumbria by fostering growth in the robotics sector through collaborative innovation and knowledge-sharing. Members and collaborators include Sellafield Ltd, Robotics and AI Collaboration (RAICo), the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and both large and small supply chain companies.

The cluster is set to play a crucial role in developing advanced robotics technologies and skills that address industrial challenges, particularly in the nuclear industry and other harsh environments.

Gary McKeating, Managing Director of iSH, said: “The formation of the Cumbria Robotics Cluster is a strategic step towards consolidating Cumbria’s position as a leader in high-tech engineering solutions. By linking together the expertise of our region’s top firms, we are not only aiming to tackle some of the most pressing industrial challenges through robotics but also to spark inclusive economic growth and attract further investment into our community.”

The HRAICE event was an opportunity for iSH to start gathering data for the cluster to build on. All delegates were asked to fill out a survey which provided a baseline of the current robotics capability in the area. This baseline was used as part of an iSH facilitated workshop at the event to start to map out where Cumbria capability sits within the broader national and international robotics scene.

Kirsty Hewitson, Director of RAICo, added: “This cluster represents a significant opportunity for synergy and innovation amongst Cumbria’s robotics experts and industries. Through this collaborative effort, we are set to map out and expand the capabilities of robotics in the region, driving forward our joint goals of technological advancement and capacity building.”

The cluster is not a commercial bidding entity but a cooperative network that encourages its members to collaborate and engage commercially as they see fit. It will also operate sub-groups focusing on specific areas of interest, providing a platform for in-depth exploration and solution development. Regular events for knowledge sharing and networking will support these efforts, fostering a collaborative environment that is conducive to innovation.

Members of the Cumbria Robotics Cluster will benefit from access to shared knowledge and opportunities to work together on projects, both nationally and internationally and to collaborate with existing robotics clusters. The cluster will continue to welcome new members who are based or work in Cumbria and who are eager to contribute to and benefit from its collective initiatives.

As it moves forward, the Cumbria Robotics Cluster will also focus on identifying growth targets, and showcasing regional strengths both in the UK and internationally.

iSH

iSH (Industrial Solutions Hub) delivers programmes that build on West Cumbria’s nuclear heritage, expanding its technical capability, developing a regional industrial cluster and showcasing it to the world.

The iSH Enterprise Campus (iEC) at Cleator Moor, Cumbria will include a solutions hub where businesses in the region will be able to collaborate and work with other specialist companies from around the UK and the rest of the world.

iSH is supported in its activity by funding from Cleator Moor Town Deal Board which, working with Copeland Borough Council, secured a provisional offer of £22.5 million from the Government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund initiative in 2022.

Significant match funding sums have also been pledged by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Sellafield Ltd, and the Copeland Community Fund. Further contributions have been made by Cumberland Council, the former Copeland Borough Council and Cleator Moor Town Council.

For more information about iSH visit ishco.co.uk

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