SMALL manufacturers in Worcestershire are set to benefit from specialist support to access the UK’s rapidly developing £60bn civil nuclear new build programme and significant opportunities in decommissioning.

The Manufacturing Advisory Service has joined forces with the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre to roll-out Fit for Nuclear, which lets companies measure their capabilities against industry standards and helps them bridge gaps to meet requirements. Backed by top tier partners including Areva and EDF Energy, the initiative offers a business improvement journey that will identify strategy, implement new processes, secure necessary accreditations and provide supplier matching opportunities. It also offers small businesses the chance to apply for match funding for business improvement or research and development projects.

Lorraine Holmes, area director of MAS, explained: "There is great potential for advanced manufacturing SMEs to build business in the civil nuclear sector. Following approval for Hinkley Point in the South West, we can expect these opportunities to increase in new build, as well as in decommissioning and existing station maintenance. We recognise companies need help to understand the nature of the opportunities that are opening up and to prepare for them.”

To date, around 150 companies have completed the online Fit for Nuclear assessment, with the majority receiving ongoing support and development from the Nuclear AMRC team.

Funding from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund Sharing in Growth programme and bringing in MAS has opened the initiative to another 300 SMEs across England, with the focus on engaging the wider manufacturing supply chain, including control and instrumentation, electrical and other sub-contractors. F4N participants can also take advantage of the Nuclear AMRC’s Nuclear Connections initiative, which helps link manufacturers to specific supply opportunities from the industry's top tiers.