ROBOTICS is fast becoming a go-to for nuclear decommissioning advances and today marks the launch of the Cumbria Robotics Cluster, an ambitious initiative powered by the Industrial Solutions Hub (iSH) to harness and expand the region’s renowned capabilities in cutting-edge engineering and problem-solving. 


Launched at the Harnessing Robotics and AI for Challenging Environments (HRAICE) event at Energus in Workington, this cluster will bring organisations with a shared vision together to elevate Cumbria as a globally recognised centre of excellence in the field of robotics engineering.


Founded in March 2024, the Cumbria Robotics Cluster aims to deliver substantial social and economic benefits to Cumbria by fostering growth in the robotics sector through collaborative innovation and knowledge-sharing. Members and collaborators include Sellafield Ltd, Robotics and AI Collaboration (RAICo), the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and both large and small supply chain companies.


The cluster is set to play a crucial role in developing advanced robotics technologies and skills that address industrial challenges, particularly in the nuclear industry and other harsh environments.


Gary McKeating, Managing Director of iSH, said: “The formation of the Cumbria Robotics Cluster is a strategic step towards consolidating Cumbria’s position as a leader in high-tech engineering solutions. By linking together the expertise of our region’s top firms, we are not only aiming to tackle some of the most pressing industrial challenges through robotics but also to spark inclusive economic growth and attract further investment into our community.”


The HRAICE event was an opportunity for iSH to start gathering data for the cluster to build on. All delegates were asked to fill out a survey which provided a baseline of the current robotics capability in the area. This baseline was used as part of an iSH facilitated workshop at the event to start to map out where Cumbria capability sits within the broader national and international robotics scene.


Kirsty Hewitson, Director of RAICo, added: “This cluster represents a significant opportunity for synergy and innovation amongst Cumbria’s robotics experts and industries. Through this collaborative effort, we are set to map out and expand the capabilities of robotics in the region, driving forward our joint goals of technological advancement and capacity building.”


The cluster is not a commercial bidding entity but a cooperative network that encourages its members to collaborate and engage commercially as they see fit. It will also operate sub-groups focusing on specific areas of interest, providing a platform for in-depth exploration and solution development. Regular events for knowledge sharing and networking will support these efforts, fostering a collaborative environment that is conducive to innovation.


Members of the Cumbria Robotics Cluster will benefit from access to shared knowledge and opportunities to work together on projects, both nationally and internationally and to collaborate with existing robotics clusters. The cluster will continue to welcome new members who are based or work in Cumbria and who are eager to contribute to and benefit from its collective initiatives.


As it moves forward, the Cumbria Robotics Cluster will also focus on identifying growth targets, and showcasing regional strengths both in the UK and internationally.

Mark Laird and Richard Christensen from UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) demonstrating their prototype robot ahead of the school and college challenge
Mark Laird and Richard Christensen from UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) demonstrating their prototype robot ahead of the school and college challenge

STUDENTS in West Cumbria have been tasked by the Robotics and AI Collaboration (RAICo) and the Industrial Solutions Hub (iSH) to design and build robots which will be showcased at a major robotics and artificial intelligence (RAI) industry event.


Students aged 16 to 18 from West Lakes Academy and the Energy Coast University Technical College (UTC) are taking part in the challenge, with the aim of each school developing a small robot capable of transporting a mock nuclear waste barrel.


The four-week sprint challenge is designed to encourage creativity, innovation and an enthusiasm for science and technology, focusing on RAI.


Participants will demonstrate their new skills through showcasing their robots at the “Harnessing Robotics and AI for Challenging Environments” event to be held at Energus, Lillyhall, Cumbria on 21st May 2024.


The RAICo-supported event, designed to showcase the region’s RAI capability, is a chance for the students to network with industry professionals, listen to keynote speeches and find out about opportunities in the sector before they embark on their careers.


The decommissioning waste challenge will incorporate coding, engineering and creativity skills, creating a stand-out point for university or apprenticeship applications. The task replicates real-world challenges within the nuclear fission and fusion decommissioning industry.


RAICo is a collaboration between the UK Atomic Energy Authority, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Sellafield Ltd and the University of Manchester. The collaboration is accelerating the deployment of robotics and AI in nuclear decommissioning and fusion engineering.


iSH, based in West Cumbria, works on delivering programmes that bring together industry, SMEs, academia, national bodies, research facilities, and community to deliver growth and regeneration opportunities.


Representatives from iSH and RAICo are visiting the students at West Lakes Academy and the Energy Coast University Technical College (UTC) once a week for four weeks, offering guidance and a chance to build relationships with industry professionals.


It comes as part of a commitment to make a positive difference to Cumbria’s social and economic climate.

Richard Christensen from RAICo overseeing a robot demonstration with Energy Coast University Technical College (UTC) students
Richard Christensen from RAICo overseeing a robot demonstration with Energy Coast University Technical College (UTC) students


Sophie Finlinson, Project Manager at RAICo who has led the development of the challenge, said: “This educational outreach initiative offers practical exposure to students interested in STEM subjects. It could represent a pivotal step in someone’s journey towards a successful career in our industry. We’re excited to see the robots take shape.”


Hannah Pears, Education Liaison Officer at iSH, is visiting the schools, along with engineers from RAICo, to support the students and prepare them for their presentations. She said: “Who knows what exciting outcomes this could lead to? These students are engaging in a unique opportunity where they can demonstrate their skills, ask questions to industry experts, and gain experience that will look amazing on their CV.


“The challenge encompasses the emerging technologies that will revolutionise industries in West Cumbria and beyond, and will show young people that there are opportunities to be part of something innovative right on their doorstep.”

This is RAICo’s first collaboration with schools in West Cumbria. The collaboration will use effective community engagement to develop its socio-economic impact strategy with the aim to engage many more schools and colleges to inspire future industry professionals.

Students from Energy Coast University Technical College (UTC) with their robot
Students from Energy Coast University Technical College (UTC) with their robot

Robotics and AI, Advanced Engineering, Manufacturing and a revitalised Leconfield Enterprise Campus are new MD’s top priorities for West Cumbria.

Gary McKeating has a new mission. But it’s built on solid foundations and rooted in a West Cumbria region the new MD of iSH (Industrial Solutions Hub) has long since been a strong and passionate advocate for.

When it comes to the iSH team having a new Managing Director to focus in on key priorities for delivering inclusive economic growth and opportunities for West Cumbria, Gary’s previous roles have given him the experience and connections to deliver.


On a two-year secondment from his post as Head of Community and Development at Sellafield, Gary has previously held positions with AREVA UK, Nuclear Management Partners, Invest in Cumbria, Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster, and Your Housing Group, 


He knows this landscape. He sees the opportunity. He’s full of praise for the team at iSH – and partners across West Cumbria – is confident all the ingredients for success are already in place, and is a firm believer that the primary opportunity already exists right here on the doorstep. 


Just a few days into his new job, Gary has a clear vision about iSH’s role and where the team  need to focus their attention:


“We’re making sure that the outcomes that iSH is delivering for all of our partners, including those in the nuclear industry, and funders in government, are what we’ve said we will deliver. We’re forging a future for West Cumbria of a broader, wider economy.


“We’ve got an anchor institution here (Sellafield Ltd), which is very important for us, in an industry with lots of problems to solve.


“What iSH can achieve is it can galvanise a lot of the brilliant work that already goes on in West Cumbria. We’ve got a lot of fixers here solving problems every day, not only at Sellafield, but in the supply chain as well. 


“iSH can help bring together all of those elements, we can bring in academia to work with them as well, and work with a generation of fixers and doers not only to solve problems at Sellafield, but across West Cumbria.”


There are already foundations, and progress, to build on.


“We’ve got the engineering from Sellafield coming out now beyond the fence. We’ve got the Sellafield Engineering Centre of Excellence at Leconfield so we’ve already got stuff to build on. 


“The Centre of Excellence itself is an absolutely fantastic initiative. We need to build on the work going on there because it is a unique way of approaching problems. 


“What Craig Branney and the team are achieving there is amazing. They’ve taken elements of engineering from behind the fence at Sellafield, made problems more visible and then brought people together to develop solutions. So in effect, they are an absolutely key part of what iSH is all about.


“The six-week Sprint projects that are happening at the Centre of Excellence and the problem solving that’s already going on there are world class. iSH’s role is to amplify all that and to make sure that we’re doing the best that we can as a company to bring a lot of different entities together, ultimately to solve problems.”

Gary, who is from Workington, is determined iSH will deliver for organisations, businesses and the people of West Cumbria, and that means focusing on specific priorities – and doing that work well.


“We are working with Cumberland Council on the development of the Enterprise Campus at Leconfield because what we need to see is things coming out of the ground,” said Gary. “There’s a time imperative on that because you have to demonstrate to the community, to businesses here and to funders that things are happening. I’m a big believer in being able to point at things. 


“The other thing we are focusing on is what we want our centre of expertise and excellence to be. That’s around robotics and AI with our colleagues over at RAICo, and it’s around advanced engineering and manufacturing.


“We are not creating something that we’re going to impose on people. In terms of robotics, we want it to be led by the robotics organisations like RAICo, Sellafield Engineering Centre of Excellence, and the supply chain companies that work in robotics. It’s about bringing them all together and saying, “do we all agree that having a formalised robotics cluster in this region, that is greater than the sum of its parts, is something we all want?


“We want to build on what we have, map and recognise what we have, build it up and make it more visible.  What do we need to grow that cluster? What are we missing? What are the gaps? How can we fill them? And that’s not about iSH filling them, it’s about finding the right partners and the right delivery partners to fill in the gaps to start to build a robotics cluster in West Cumbria that is nationally and internationally recognised.


“It’s about iSH being the facilitator that can bring those organisations together to encourage that collaboration, to encourage that innovation, and help build on that.


“The good thing for us is we are fully supported by funders and stakeholders, so when you look at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd and Cumberland Council here, and then national government as well, it really is a heady mix of funders and stakeholders. We’re all aligned in terms of what the outcomes need to be, which is a really healthy cluster of activity around these focus areas first and foremost and then who knows in the future where we go with potential for diversification. But I think we’ve got to make sure that we do a really good job here first on those focus areas.


“When we look at robotics, when we look at advanced engineering, and when we look at manufacturing we’ve got some real talent here.


“Then the even more exciting bit once we start to get that momentum, is how we build the skills for the future. How do we make sure that our local kids have opportunities inside and outside of the nuclear industry with some really, really exciting industries?”


Bringing inward investment into West Cumbria, helping open up opportunities for SMEs, and fostering collaborative working, are also key aims for iSH.


Gary said: “What I am really looking forward to now is getting out and about and working with all of our fantastic local companies trying to draw in inward investment and companies to come and work here with the companies that we already have. 


“SMEs are higher and higher on the agenda. That’s not only the government agenda. It’s actually higher up on major procurers’ agendas too. 


“A lot of the work that we see locally here in West Cumbria is around helping SMEs to be able to talk to other companies and join up and collaborate,


“When you look across the country and when you look across the world, there are companies that we want in West Cumbria, to match up with our local companies.


“There are local companies and companies from afar who can’t do it on their own. What we’re increasingly seeing is real collaboration between companies, such as the Cumbrian  Manufacturing Alliance, where smaller companies that may not have the ability to bid for work on their own join together with other companies. 


“That collaboration could then work in a number of ways, everything from how the company executes the contract, how they can become part of a joint venture, how they can access funding or academic support. So iSH’s role is that glue in the middle of it all.


“We are very mindful of avoiding duplication. We’re already on a reset with other local organisations we work in collaboration with, such as BEC (Building Extraordinary Communities). We’ve got some really great academic institutions including the National College for Nuclear and the Construction Skills Centre, and we’ve got some really brilliant infrastructure in place already here with West Lakes Science Park, the Bus Station, Sellafield Engineering Centre of Excellence, RAICo and when you look at what people are achieving and what is going on in those places, such as the Eagle Labs at the Bus Station, it’s brilliant.”


Gary also wants people to see real change on the ground.


“iSH itself is grounded in Cleator Moor. So what we want is for the people of Cleator Moor to see a change for the better. 


“Leconfield is looking tired. That goes without saying. But the vision of those people who set up iSH still stands – to create a hub in Cleator Moor that benefits the whole community and West Cumbria as a region.”


He’s also keen to explain iSH’s focus on delivery to others so that there are more advocates shouting with one voice for West Cumbria.


“We need to talk up West Cumbria. We need to be positive and really proactive. Because the opportunities that we have here in West Cumbria are actually second to none in terms of longevity of opportunity and in terms of the money spent through that large economic anchor down the road.


“We want people to work with us. So we’ll take them through what we’re doing. We’ll take them through what we want to see as outcomes and where they can play their part.


“In terms of our local area, in terms of business, in terms of Sellafield, we want advocates. We want the supply chain to get their shoulder behind iSH because of the opportunities it represents for businesses, communities and the region as a whole.


“The trick will be to sweat the assets of what we have here first and then, after that, look at how we can diversify into other sectors or into other regions, whether that might be nationally or internationally. 


“What we must do first, however, is to make sure that we’re solving problems here. Let’s do that really well and then build on that.”


A WELL-KNOWN and highly-experienced leader in economic development and social impact has been appointed as the new Managing Director of iSH.

Gary McKeating, Head of Development and Community at Sellafield Ltd and leading the organisation’s social impact programme, has been appointed on a two-year secondment to lead iSH after previous Managing Director John Maddison’s two-year tenure, which involved successfully launching the organisation in March 2022, ended in December.

Gary, brought up in West Cumbria, has more than 30 years of industry experience and will take over the iSH MD role full-time at the end of next month.

He said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as Managing Director of iSH to build on what has been achieved so far and to ensure the organisation achieves maximum economic and social impact through its activities across West Cumbria and beyond.”

Gary arrives in the role with a strong background and reputation in inward investment, strategy development, stakeholder relations at a senior level, and leadership of multi-million-pound programmes of work with significant social impact outcomes.

Eirini Etoimou, Sellafield Ltd’s Head of Corporate Sustainability & Supply Chain Development and Sourcing, said of Gary’s appointment: “At Sellafield we are committed to supporting our local communities and being an inextricable part of them. 

“The Industrial Solutions Hub (iSH) is a high-profile programme which aims to support the regeneration of the local community at Leconfield and beyond. 

“Gary is a dedicated and very well experienced professional in the social impact and economic development field, with a great reputation within the region for his commitment and for caring for the local community.  We are proud of him and we wish him great success in his new role.”

Leader of Cumberland Council, Cllr Mark Fryer, added: “We welcome Gary and look forward to developing the iSH programme with partners. We are building for the future and alongside other schemes in Cumberland, iSH will support our area’s growth and economic future.” 

iSH aims to support the creation of jobs and opportunities through collaboration between industry, business, academia and community across the West Cumbria region and beyond.

An iSH Enterprise Campus (iEC) at Leconfield, Cleator Moor, is set to anchor the evolving business ecosystem in West Cumbria. The iEC is being developed in two phases and involves significant funding support from the Government’s Towns Fund (£22.5m) and Levelling Up Fund (£20m), alongside support from Sellafield, the NDA and Cumberland Council.



World Nuclear Exhibition logo
World Nuclear Exhibition

WEST Cumbria’s nuclear capabilities are poised to make a significant impact as a delegation of key industry leaders from the region prepare to showcase their cutting-edge technologies at the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris. 

The three-day event, starting on November 28, brings together prominent stakeholders, innovators, and experts from across the globe to discuss and explore the latest advancements in the nuclear sector.

Led by the Department for Business and Trade, the Northern Powerhouse delegation includes: Industrial Solutions Hub (iSH),  PAR Systems (UK) Ltd, McMenon, James Walker, FIS360, Nuclear Transport Solutions, Barrnon and Oakwood Engineering Solutions.

The contingent represent the region’s commitment to excellence, innovation, and collaborative progress within the nuclear technology sphere.

John Maddison, Managing Director of the Industrial Solutions Hub based in Cleator Moor, says the role of iSH is to represent and highlight the capability of the West Cumbrian supply chain, acting as a voice for the businesses and academic institutions unable to attend themselves.

John said: “West Cumbria has long been a hub for nuclear excellence, and our participation in the World Nuclear Exhibition underscores our commitment to advancing the industry globally. This is a chance to showcase West Cumbrian capability to a global market. 

“West Cumbria has a diverse and well established skills base geared towards decommissioning. That learning and innovation can be used and harnessed elsewhere with our knowledge and learning shared across the world. The goal is to bring back collaboration opportunities for the SMEs who so ably support our nuclear services.”

PAR Systems (UK) Ltd is an advanced engineering company specialising in remote and material handling solutions for the nuclear industry.

Managing Direction John McGibbon said: “We are delighted to be participating at this year’s event as part of the UK Pavilion. We look forward to showcasing our specialist expertise in remote/material handling systems; manipulator systems for in-cell operations; maintenance, site support and upgrade of nuclear cranes and decommissioning applications for the nuclear industry.”

McMenon, known globally for its expertise in flow and measurement instrumentation, will also be at the forefront of the exhibition. Anand Puthran, McMenon CEO, speaking ahead of the event, said: “As we navigate the currents of growth and diversification, attending the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris marks a pivotal step in our journey.

“We are not just showcasing our prowess in providing flow and temperature measurement instrumentation for nuclear projects, but also highlighting the crucial role we can play in this dynamic industry.

“It’s about more than presence it is a commitment to fostering collaborations, exploring new horizons, and solidifying McMenon Engineering’s position as a key player in the civil nuclear landscape.”

James Walker, a leading provider of sealing solutions, will demonstrate the crucial role of reliable engineering in nuclear applications. Mark Brook, James Walker Manufacturing Director who will be attending WNE as part of the delegation, said: “Although James Walker has been supplying sealing solutions to the nuclear industry for many years, applications are constantly developing. We want to make sure that our materials and expertise are considered in these cases, so I will be using the visit to WNE to carry out research into key application opportunities and to try to identify companies we may be able to partner with in developing solutions to new challenges.” 

FIS360, specialising in technology commercialisation and delivery of innovation programmes, aims to contribute its expertise to the global nuclear community. Frank Allison, CEO of FIS360 said: “FIS360’s participation at the World Nuclear Exhibition is an opportunity to highlight the importance of innovation and how it shapes the future of nuclear advancement. Our aim is to foster active connections, share insights and explore collaborative partnerships, ultimately contributing to the collective growth of and innovation within the nuclear sector.”

The World Nuclear Exhibition provides an invaluable platform for these West Cumbrian entities to forge international partnerships, share knowledge, and contribute to the global conversation on the future of nuclear energy.

The delegation’s presence at the exhibition is a testament to West Cumbria’s status as a hub for nuclear innovation and expertise. The delegation will be based at the UK & EIC (Energy Industries Council) Pavilion at the 5th WNE – World Nuclear Exhibition in Villepinte, Paris from 28-30 November.

Editor’s notes

iSH’s mission is to enable businesses, industry, academia and communities to come together in collaboration to create jobs, enhance skills, and create clear pathways into employment for the next generation. 

It aims to sell West Cumbria capability across the rest of the UK and the world, bringing a range of economic and social benefits to communities in West Cumbria through projects which will have a positive impact on people, the economy, and the environment.

An iSH Enterprise Campus (iEC) at Leconfield, Cleator Moor, will anchor the evolving business cluster in West Cumbria. This campus is currently being developed in two phases and involves significant funding support from the Government’s Towns Fund (£22.5m) and Levelling Up Fund (£20m), alongside support from Sellafield, the NDA and Cumberland Council.

BUSINESSES, industry, academia and communities in West Cumbria are well-placed to work together to maximise a wealth of opportunities. 

That’s the message from Industrial Solutions Hub (iSH) Managing Director John Maddison as he prepares to hand over the baton to a new leader of the organisation.

John has been the Managing Director of iSH since it was formed in March last year.  He has built a talented team to help create jobs and diversification opportunities while also promoting West Cumbria’s capabilities to the rest of the UK and the world.

John said: “This job has always been about the place, it’s about what’s happening in the amazing businesses, industries and communities in West Cumbria, and bringing them together in the spirit of collaboration with schools, colleges and universities to create even more opportunities for the region to enhance the area’s capability.

“We are also focused on selling West Cumbria capability across the rest of the UK and the world, bringing a range of economic and social benefits to communities in West Cumbria through projects which will have a positive impact on people, the economy, and the environment.

“We have been able to identify diversification opportunities across nuclear, defence, cyber and space industries, and by collaborating with schools and colleges we are creating clear pathways into careers for young people who might otherwise have been overlooked.

iSH Managing Director John Maddison at the iSH Enterprise Campus (iEC) at Leconfield, Cleator Moor, Cumbria.

“We have recruited a highly capable and talented team at iSH who are ideally placed to maximise these opportunities. I will miss them when my time at iSH comes to an end next month.

“I am delighted, however, that whoever takes on the job does so with iSH ideally placed to support the region, with the backing of its stakeholders including Sellafield Ltd, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Cumberland Council.”

An iSH Enterprise Campus (iEC) at Leconfield, Cleator Moor, will anchor the evolving business cluster in West Cumbria. This campus is being developed in two phases and involves significant funding support from the Government’s Towns Fund (£22.5m) and Levelling Up Fund (£20m), alongside support from Sellafield, the NDA and Cumberland Council.

The council is now advertising the iSH Managing Director role as it searches for a successor to John to lead the organisation into 2024 and beyond. 

The new Managing Director should be available to commence early in 2024. This is a permanent, full-time role for which the new role-holder must be within easy reach of West Cumbria.

Interested candidates are required to provide a relevant and up to date CV and a personal statement outlining their experience and suitability for this role.

These two documents should be emailed to before the application deadline – 12noon on Friday, December 1.

More details about the Managing Director role can be found here

SOLAR power is the answer to spiraling energy costs at a football club in Cleator Moor with the issue being tackled head on by young players at the club. 

Cleator Moor Celtic is facing bills of more than £10,000 a year so players, with a little help from West Cumbrian businesses, looked for a solution to slash the costs in half and make the club more sustainable. 

The club approached the Industrial Solutions Hub (iSH) to help them come up with a solution. A collaboration was born between Cleator Moor Celtic, iSH and Co-Lab Engineering and 15 footballers, aged 12-14, were invited to take part in a three day event to come up with an engineering solution. 

The ‘Greener than Green’ project was made possible by a diverse range of businesses, from one-person start-ups to major multinationals, working with the community to help give the young people skills which will help them find future employment and secure the future of their club. 

The inaugural Co-Lab Engineering Junior Academy, has already seen a range of organisations collaborate including iSH, Jacobs, Westinghouse, React, Technology Consortia Ltd, Radiance Renewable Energy Solutions and Cleator Moor Celtic Football Club.

Options including wind turbines, better irrigation systems and solar power were looked at by the group.

At the end of the event it was decided that solar panels could be the answer to the clubs prayers and now iSH and the club are identifying what funding is available to make the £40,000 scheme happen. 

“The energy crisis is really affecting small clubs like ours. We have been around for more than 100 years and we’d love to be here for another 100 – at least,” says Peter Hodgson of Cleator Moor Celtic. 

He added: “But with prices rocketing we need to become sustainable, self-sufficient and reduce our carbon footprint. We also want to be seen as actively protecting the environment.” 

iSH has already put in a funding application for half of the amount and is hoping to get match funding from other relevant funds or businesses within the West Cumbrian community. 

Peter continued: “The continuation of the club is vital to the town. Not everyone will play football but there’s a social hub they can meet in. It’ll give them all a sense of pride and a sense of achievement that I hope spreads into the town. 

“Without iSH this event wouldn’t have happened. They are very welcome and needed in our community and they could see the benefit of this project. Yes, we hope to see the project delivered with funding for the solar panels, and our thanks must go to the iSH team for pursuing as many avenues as possible to secure it for us, but the benefits are already being felt. For me, this is already a phenomenal success story.

“The work that they are doing is so popular and their interaction with community clubs is fantastic, there are a lot of people going to feel a lot of benefit. They have supported us and pushed us. They have given the kids an opportunity not afforded to them otherwise. 

“They are a breath of fresh air and they can only be beneficial to the area. Without their vision and drive the opportunities won’t be there for the kids of Cleator Moor. 

“Running the sessions was exactly what we hoped it would be. The students involved gave up their holiday time to come along and take part in engineering and now we want them to see their ideas come to fruition. 

“Making the club sustainable is very important but more importantly was showing the girls and boys involved what it is like working in engineering. It was originally predominantly aimed at girls and we did pretty much have an even split. Of the girls who attended some are now actively pursuing how they get into a career in engineering which is just fantastic. That’s a real win too. 

“But for all of them, they get to have the involvement in Greener than Green on their CVs. They took away massive personal benefits and they got to interact with experts too. The things we take for granted, like how we create energy, they got an insight into.” 

Hannah Pears, iSH Education Liaison Officer, said: “It was such a pleasure to work with these young footballers and to see their determination to support their club, it really makes what we do so worthwhile. 

“Here at iSH we are all about collaboration. Here we worked with businesses of all sizes who have a presence in West Cumbria, the club and the young people to come up with a project that will future proof this much loved football club. 

“We are now working to secure the funding that’s needed and have already put in a bid and hope to hear good news soon.” 

All the team at iSH are devastated to hear the news of Pat Graham’s death.

Pat was a true visionary, a guiding light for so many of us.

She devoted so much of her life to making a positive difference to people’s lives.

Brought up in Cleator Moor, she was passionate about making Copeland, and West Cumbria, an even better place.

In her role as Chief Executive of Copeland Council she did so much to make that a reality. 

In recent years Pat was a driving force behind the formation of iSH, and the organisation’s mission to improve the economy of West Cumbria.

As Chair of our Board, Pat was generous with her time and commitment, bringing her expertise, energy and enthusiasm to help shape our organisation and determine what we can achieve for our wider communities through collaboration.

Pat’s boundless passion combined with common-sense pragmatism and sheer will to make things happen, means her legacy will live on not only for this generation but for generations to come.

Our Managing Director John Maddison said: “Without Pat’s drive, tenacity, leadership and support iSH simply wouldn’t be where it is today.  

“Copeland was exceptionally lucky to have Pat as its leader, iSH was very lucky to have Pat driving it forward, and I was personally very lucky to get the opportunity to work closely with her and learn from a truly inspirational leader.

“We all feel immensely proud and lucky to have known Pat, and privileged and committed as ever to continue Pat’s inspiring work and play our part in her legacy.”


SPACE sector opportunities and funding are now within reach for West Cumbrian businesses following the success of the Industrial Solutions Hub’s first Space Week.

The business events on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday highlighted the similarities between the nuclear industry and the space sector and showcased some of the exciting projects companies here could potentially get involved in. The schools and community events caught the interest of the next generation, showing them the possible future careers available on their doorstep.

Miranda Kirschel, iSH Regional Representative, said: “Overall it has just been wonderful, something really different. Our next steps are to collate all of the information and feedback from the sessions with a view to running a research and development project. 

“There have been offers of funding which is always nice from those who came to speak so hopefully we can get a feasibility study going. We are looking at starting small, building on the buzz and hopefully we’ve created enough excitement to do it bigger and better next year.

“We were able to show how the space sector is already a part of what we do here. National Nuclear Laboratories are harnessing a byproduct of nuclear waste in the form of Americium 241 on the Sellafield site to power space batteries. Alan Cross, North West Space Cluster Development Manager, described this as finding gold at Sellafield. Imagine the possibilities there alone. 

“We are also leaders in  robotics and digital technologies. Now, we will look at how we grow this capability and see what parts of the space sector may compliment what we already do.

“There’s funding available for those who want to diversify and pivot into the space sector. It was great to hear too about the really exciting projects like the micro reactor that Rolls Royce are designing and the solar farm that Frazer-Nash are designing.

“And it is always so inspiring when we’ve got schoolchildren who are interested and enthusiastic. The kids all wanted to ask questions and get involved. The planetarium was the winning feature of the day on both Wednesday and Thursday.”

Adrian Bull, Chair in Nuclear Energy and Society at The University of Manchester, opened up the second day’s session at Lakes College, Workington, on “How expertise in the Nuclear Sector can translate into the Space Sector”.

Adrian invited attendees to look through four lenses during the event: Nuclear; Space; West Cumbria; and UN Sustainable Development Goals, including working in partnership to deliver action.

Adrian said afterwards: “West Cumbria is about high tech innovation and we looked at how all those activities can serve the space sector the way they have served the nuclear sector for 70 years.

“It’s a huge opportunity, building on the heritage of West Cumbria, making the connections, building on what we have started today and creating the economic landscape of the 22nd Century, which is not as far away as we might think. We are already almost a quarter of the way through the 21st Century.

“It was brilliant to see how engaged everyone is. In many years of attending events it’s the only one I have ever been to where when the coffee break was announced not one person stood up! It’s fantastic to see how engrossed all the workshop attendees were in the discussion and planning the real action which can come out of this. It’s very exciting to be involved.”

More than 300 school children attended Space Week on Wednesday and Thursday. Claire Murray, a teacher from Thornhill School in Egremont, said: “It has been such a brilliant experience for the children. It shows them what is possible on their doorstep and gives them insight into what they could do in the future.

“They were particularly enthralled by the planetarium, it was great to see them listening and learning. And they’d like a Spot the dog robot for school!”


Editor’s notes


iSH (Industrial Solutions Hub) is an initiative of regional, national and international significance which will create jobs, opportunities for businesses and organisations to collaborate, enhance skills, provide business support, and bring a range of economic and social benefits to the community through projects which will have a positive impact on people, the economy, and the environment.

Facilitating a diverse commercial cluster that harnesses the unique skills of the region, iSH creates sustainable opportunities for the direct benefit of the people of Cumbria and the UK economy.

Supported by Cumberland Council, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, iSH provides an investment climate that drives networking, fuels collaboration and promotes innovation which acts as a catalyst for sustained business growth. It also expands the breadth of the regional economy, anchoring diversification towards new markets, sectors and industries.

iSH Space Week was supported by Cumberland Council, Sellafield Ltd, Jacobs, National Nuclear Laboratory, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, Whitehaven Town Council, and the Beacon Museum.


British Business Bank is inviting business people across the region to find out about funding opportunities at one of its special virtual events to mark the impact of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

This event, in partnership with Innovate UK EDGE and Cumbria LEP, will brief business advisers and the local business community on the funding opportunities available and on how businesses can access the £500m Fund.

The event takes place on 13th July 2023 where attendees will be able to hear about:

  • The British Business Bank and how it supports Cumbria businesses
  • The impacts of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund in Cumbria
  • What funding is available from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund
  • Guidance from the NPIF Fund Managers on how to put together a quality application for funding
  • How Innovate UK EDGE are supporting Cumbria based firms

Presentations will take around one hour followed by the opportunity to ask our speakers questions.

Location: Online
Date:  Thursday 13th July 2023
Time:  10:30 – 12.00

Click here to register

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project (NPIF) is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.