Torbay’s Hi-tech companies in the fight against Covid-19
For many of us, the current pandemic is proving to be the most difficult time of our lives. Our families, friends, and businesses have been affected and it is difficult to predict when, if ever, we will get back to some sort of normality.
The Torbay Hi-Tech Cluster and its members have been adapting to these times and many of the Bay’s Hi-Tech companies have managed to continue operations, even if at a limited capacity. In fact, as several companies are developing and manufacturing enabling technology for internet communications, demand for their technology has increased as working from home becomes the norm. One of our members, “Bay Photonics” even managed to transfer their complete operations from Brixham into the EPIC centre in Paignton as the pandemic hit.
As Chair of the Hi-Tech Cluster, I have encouraged our activities to be maintained by replacing face-to-face cluster meetings with Zoom meetings, to ensure the local hi-tech business stay up to date with the available business support, maintain local sector intelligence, and lobby government on the challenges which are facing the local tech companies. We had our first Zoom meeting of the Hi-Tech Cluster on 6th May and the local companies were able to share their experience on a number of topics, from access to government loans to the implementation of measures by which to keep employees safe, along with how they are helping in the fight against Covid-19.
Lumentum, one of our largest optic component manufacturers in Torbay donated £5K to Torbay Food Alliance, a charity dedicated to ensuring nobody in the Bay goes hungry in these times of need. Gooch and Housego and Dart Valley Systems have both donated hundreds of units of PPE ranging from face masks and protective boiler suits to the NHS and local care homes to protect our key workers, along with Rydon Technology being able to supply large quantities of hand sanitiser.
South Devon College, a keen supporter of the Hi-tech Cluster have been collaborating with fellow members Gooch & Housego and Teignbridge Propellers to utilise their 3D printing capabilities to supply hundreds of protective face visors to both the local NHS and medical centres.
A number of local companies have been playing a key role in supplying vital component parts into equipment for the NHS and working with the governments Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to develop new ventilator technology, plastic injection molding company Hymid Multi-shot, which are located in Torquay have been producing components for 3M Personal Safety Division’s Powered Air Respirator to go into Intensive Care Units, and Nissha Medical in Paignton are supplying electrode products, which help monitor patient’s vital signs recovering from Covid-19, into the Nightingale hospitals, Other local companies have also offered their capabilities in analysing Covid-19 samples.
The breadth of knowledge and capabilities that exists within Torbay’s hi-tech companies does not surprise me, however their ability to adapt and innovate throughout this paramedic, the emerging cluster of local healthcare and life science companies, and the immense generosity of those in both the Hi-tech Cluster and others across Torbay has continued to overwhelm me. As Chair of the Hi-tech Cluster I feel very proud and humbled by the collective efforts of those within the cluster in actively participating in the fight to combat and control the Covid-19 virus.
Dr Andrew Robertson, Chair of the Torbay Hi-tech Cluster