An unprecedented call to arms has been made for manufacturing companies in Lancashire and South Cumbria to respond to the overwhelming demand for goods and services from the NHS and other frontline agencies fighting coronavirus.
The COVID-19 Manufacturing Cluster for Lancashire and South Cumbria was created to provide a point of contact for any businesses which may be able to offer essential equipment and skills.
The Health Innovation Campus team is working with senior NHS managers - and the Lancashire Resillience Forum - to identify their specific requirements and has agreed to act as a conduit for private sector businesses who may be able to assist with desperately needed equipment and skills.
Working with industry partners, the team has created the cluster and launched a new website - www.covid19cluster.co.uk - to act as a portal for companies wishing to offer their help.
Sherry Kothari, director of the Health Innovation Campus at Lancaster University, said: “At a time of national crisis, it is gratifying to see the offers of help flooding in from every corner.
“It is vital to capture and coordinate these so that we can optimise help for our local NHS teams, as well those working on the front line across other agencies.
“The more we can do with local SMEs, the more agile and responsive we can be in providing sustainable support for the region.”
Annette Weekes, of PDS CNC Engineering in Nelson formed the group with partners including Lancaster University, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and CUBE Thinking. Cube is also currently delivering Boost Lancashire’s #AskForHelp business support process, as part of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s proactive response to the crisis.
Annette added: “We have established a group of local manufacturers with the skills and capacity to support the urgent requirements of our healthcare industry at this crucial time.
“In Lancashire we have some truly awesome capability, there really is nothing we can't produce so let's pull together now and support our local NHS services. It is gratifying to see the offers of help that are flooding in from every corner.
“I ask any local manufacturers who want to help to come forward now and work with us so we can be as responsive as possible to NHS demand.”
While the cluster is focussing on regional need at the outset, efforts are also underway to ensure its work is feeding into the national conversation and offering assistance where required.
Any local manufacturers who believe they have the capability to support the call, or can reconfigure to produce vital equipment, please register interest at www.covid19cluster.co.uk