Defence, security and cyber companies across the Marches are to get specialist support to help them develop new international markets and work more closely together.
A new cluster group – overseen by a specialist adviser – is being formed to bring together companies within the sector across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
Jim Vithanage will lead the cluster, which will cover the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership region and Worcestershire, working with Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber along with the Department for International Trade (DIT).
Jim said the sector was hugely important to the region and his role was to help develop new export markets and ultimately create jobs.
“The region includes Skylon Park, the only enterprise zone in the country with a defence and security focus, and boasts a growing and innovative group of companies working in this vital sector.
“My main priorities include increasing or helping start new exports and to liaise with the defence, security and cyber companies in my areas.
“I will be the go-to person for relevant companies in the Marches and Worcestershire LEP areas for DIT services, so that they have a single point of contact, making it quicker and easier to access support and information.”
Jim said he would be organising four events for the DIT that would raise the interest and awareness of companies exporting to the defence, security and cyber sectors abroad.
The first of these takes place on February 4 and takes the form of an hour-long webinar exploring the support companies can receive when exporting to the defence sector.
Two experts from the the UK Defence and Security Exports (DSE) Network will give an overview of how the network can support business, while the event will also highlight key export opportunities, discuss the best routes to market and look at common challenges exporters face in the sector.
“We will also have Malvern-based secure software experts Borwell Limited on hand to talk about their experiences when exporting and as well as a question and answer session, so this is a real must-attend event for any business in this sector,” said James.
The second event will focus on the opportunities available to UK companies in five European countries – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland and Slovakia.
To register for the February 4 event – which gets under way at 10am – go to https://eu.eventscloud.com/ehome/index.php?eventid=200217957&
Jim has a wealth of experience in the fire, security, communications and software sectors having originally trained as an air engineering ‘artificer’ in the Royal Navy (Fleet Air Arm) gaining Top Secret Clearance.
As an engineer, he has serviced government IT contracts including No 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, Barclaycard, NatWest and Lloyds banks.
In sales, he has account managed companies and institutions such as Sizewell B, Sellafield, Covent Garden, Alton Towers, Legoland, the Dorchester Hotel, Network Rail, G4S, police and the MoD.