UK specialist engineering firm Shakespeare Engineering Ltd have gained the necessary expertise to access a new and significant manufacturing market in Superconducting Radio Frequency (SRF) technology, as a direct result of working with STFC’s Accelerator Science and Technology Centre (ASTeC). The work has led this SME (small to medium-sized enterprise), which currently employs around 115 people, to initiate its own industrial R&D programme and to expand the business, creating new high-value UK jobs.
- Access to new and significant global markets
- Nine new highly-skilled engineering jobs created, with a further 15-20 forecast
- The company has initiated its own industrial R&D programme
- More efficient processes bringing short-term gains
The knowledge exchange with STFC, supported by funding from STFC’s Industry Partnership Scheme (IPS), covered the full range of technical competencies that will enable the company to scale up to full production. The market is estimated to be worth over £2bn over ~12 years (2013-2025), spanning the medical, security, energy and research sectors.
Company CEO, Neil Shakespeare, said: “The work with STFC has pushed our boundaries – we’ve invested in new specialised equipment and employed another nine skilled mechanical engineers. It has given us the confidence to start up our own R&D programmes to equip the business for the future – this is something we wouldn’t have done on our own without the work we did with STFC.”
Globally, the capability in this technology sector has been successfully commercialised by only eight recognised vendors, operating in the USA (3), Japan (1), Canada (1), Germany (1), France (1) and Italy (1). Shakespeare Engineering has invested over £2.5m of their own funds over the last five years into areas of technology development which have never been explored before in the UK. This places the UK, for the very first time, in a position to access this emerging high-value specialist fabrication market. Global SRF accelerator opportunities in the future are significant, and there are further opportunities to translate the technology to applications in the global challenge areas. Neil Shakespeare sees niche, high-technology, high-value manufacturing as a real UK strength: ‘Knowledge transfer projects such as this are enabling us to position ourselves to compete on the global stage.’
The work with STFC also led Shakespeare Engineering to refine its processes, making them more streamlined and less arduous: “As a result of this collaboration we’re now working with new materials. To ensure that our production with these new materials will be commercially viable, we had to engineer our processes to reduce machining time. In the short term, this has added value to our business by enabling us to work more efficiently, and in the long term will enable us to scale up to full production of this new technology.”
Looking to the future, Shakespeare Engineering are already expanding to larger premises and anticipating further recruitment of 15-20 technicians and engineers to meet the expected up-scaling in production. The collaboration with STFC continues, providing opportunities for both STFC and Shakespeare Engineering to develop unique capabilities in accelerator technology and high-value manufacturing in the UK.