University’s innovation hub is hive of growth firms

Richard Fuller MP & Andy Cruise of Cabair
Richard Fuller MP & Andy Cruise of Cabair

INNOVATION is the tie that binds businesses at a special hub for growing firms at Cranfield University’s Technology Park.

Three of the firms at the modern Innovation Centre run by property company St Modwen were visited by Bedford & Kempston MP Richard Fuller, a champion of entrepreneurs.

Business Citizen took the opportunity to tag along and take a look at the kind of businesses that are appearing on the radar.

There is space for 45 firms at the innovation centre part of the site, which is about 80 per cent occupied.

The first firm on Mr Fuller’s tour was Pro-Lite, run for nine years by physicists Rob Yeo and Ian Stansfield. Pro-Lite are experts in photometry, the measurement of light– not just brightness but content. The law has created their market by insisting that light output, like on car dashboards, is consistent with standards. New energy efficient products are coming on to the market but Pro-Lite says they do not necessarily automatically conform.Pro-Lite provides testing for new products.

The MP, on his fourth visit to Cranfield, heard that Pro-Lite would most like to see consistent standards in the arena of new technology lighting.

Just around the corner from Pro-Lite is Screenetics, run by Kevin Hollick. They used to be based at the Open University in Milton Keynes and organise health checks for employees. They are usually engaged by companies as an employee benefit.

The principle behind the company is essentially a simple one – employees who are healthy are more productive than those who are not.

Kevin is passionate about his business and believes what sets Screenetics apart from other health check providers is the way their clients are treated.

He said: “One company had measured what we were doing and allocated seven minutes per employee – but we said no to that business.

“We don’t treat people like they are in a sausage factory, we give engage them in things they can do to look after their own health.”

Kevin believes that the NHS will eventually be privatised and that means that individuals and employers will have to be more proactive in looking after health.

Conservative MP Mr Fuller also paid a flying visit to Cabair, a company close to Cranfield Airport that trains airline pilots for £75,000 a piece. He tried out a high-tech flight simulator – but crashed at Amsterdam airport!

Cabair is hoping to benefit from a growth in the number of pilots needed by major airlines and has recently opened a sales office in Hong Kong to go with two based in the USA. Mr Fuller said he believes new firms are needed to grow Britian out of its financial hole.