If you check out the dictionary definition of the word cluster, one of the results is: (noun) – a number of things of the same kind, growing or held together. Apply this to business and you can probably guess some of the advantages. For example, having like-minded businesses or ones that complement each other in close proximity makes perfect sense. Collaboration becomes easier, which in turn means developing new products or services is quicker too, but what other things can you take away from being in a business cluster?
It’s a tried and trusted tradition
The cluster concept is nothing new in business, of course. Obvious examples include Silicon Valley and Hollywood, while in the UK we’ve got East London Tech City and our own Base Tech Hub in Warrington, home to leading digital tech and advanced engineering companies, as well many other instances both past and present.
Another advantage to being part of a cluster is having a proper network around you. This can provide you with industry insight, sort out your supply chain and form partnerships with people you know. It can sometimes take years to establish a network, so having everyone you need on your doorstep is definitely a big benefit.
Remember the definition of the word cluster mentioned earlier? It talks about growing, which is something you can do faster if you’re in a cluster. How? By things like winning business from, and with, your cluster buddies, and working with them on projects and products, particularly if the other business is bigger and more established than you.
Recruitment can be a whole lot easier if you can take your pick of the local talent. If you’re part of a cluster where people know there are lots of attractive, innovative businesses to work for, they’re going to want to be a part of it. Often, businesses clustered together will mean a great infrastructure for employees too, such as improved transport links, a pleasant location to work in, and shops and restaurants nearby.
This fits in with the previous point. People will move to where the jobs they’re interested in are, which means companies can compete for their attention. This is what happened in Silicon Valley as programmers and engineers flocked to California to get the best roles with the best salaries and benefits in the start-ups and big players located there.
Improved visibility and reputation
Being part of a cluster with a great reputation can really help your business, as it can be associated with quality. Most film production companies in America, for example, want to be set up in Hollywood, as films made there are seen as the best in the world, and its influence on the industry is still enormously powerful. Just having a presence in your industry’s ‘Hollywood’ can instantly boost your company’s visibility and reputation.
What about the influence of the online world?
While it’s true the internet has meant it’s possible to instantly talk to anyone anywhere in the world, so location shouldn’t matter, it’s clear business clusters and being near to organisations like your own is still a real advantage.
Want to know more about The Base?
The Base is a grade A office and co-working space in the centre of Warrington and home to many market leading digital tech and advanced engineering companies. If you would like to join us and be a part of our business cluster, contact us today.
The Base remains open and operational.
Our primary focus is always the health, safety and well-being of our employees and tenants. We are working hard to offer support and assistance to both tenants and business partners during this challenging time.
We have introduced a new set of protocols for tenants who wish to return to the workplace following the prime minister’s announcement on May 10th and his subsequent publication of guidance called ‘Working safely during coronavirus’.
A detailed set of site operating procedures have been finalised following a review of this latest government guidance, which we have shared with our tenants. These procedures will be under constant review and will change, if needed, as further guidance is issued by the government.
We have invested in a wide range of site-appropriate initiatives, from floor markings to help with social distancing measures in communal spaces, to wall-mounted hand sanitiser units and strict one-way policies on staircases.
We’re encouraging tenants to follow best practice and continue to exploit technology to minimise unnecessary contact. If meetings can continue to be conducted via technology, for example, that will minimise risk for our building staff as well as our tenants. As the rules evolve, so will our approach.
To limit the impact of COVID-19 on our business and to ensure the day-to-day running remains effective, our colleagues, where possible, are working from home with full access to our database and communications network.
Our building manager is on site each morning and is in continual conversations with our tenants and business partners, sharing updates and information relating to COVID-19, whilst our concierge remains present on site throughout the day.
As expected, we have had to reduce services in some places and focus on the basics of keeping our buildings, employees and tenants safe and secure.
All community events have been suspended until further notice. We are reviewing the situation regularly but are taking direction from the government and Public Health England and following all the necessary steps to keep us and our community safe. We will continue to follow guidance and will reinstate events when it is OK to do so.
While businesses continue to be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, we will share company news as well as any financial support available from the government and other sources. Please find the latest updates and position on UK government support below:
We live in an age of rapidly changing technology. Ten years ago the idea of driverless cars would have been science fiction and far-fetched SF at that. Now prototypes are on the roads, and you can ride in them if you like. The pace of technology adoption has been measured: it took around 20 years for refrigerators to be in over 80% of US homes, but only ten for microwave ovens to reach that point in the 1980s, and about five for smartphones get that market sector dominance recently.
So it won’t take long for Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) devices to be a mass phenomenon, rather than confined to a few geeky “early adopters”.
What is the Difference?
Virtual Reality is a constructed artificial world, for example, the surface of another planet, or the bottom of the sea.
Augmented Reality is where computer constructed 3D images are overlaid over the real world, such as the game where you “see” Pokemon characters as you walk around the street.
Mixed Reality is a stage further than that, where you can interact with both the real world and the artificially created one. Microsoft’s Mixed Reality app allows you to place virtual “post-it” type notes to remind you of things in your reality.
What is to Come in 2019?
Many areas of work are in difficult or dangerous conditions. Obviously, pilots have been trained in simulators for years, but now, with AR people can work in mining, oil prospecting, undersea, and in other hazardous environments, including the military, without having to risk their lives, by training in a virtual simulation.
It has always been difficult to train medical personnel in critical procedures in surgery. It is unethical to experiment on a real person, and yet books and classroom training are insufficient. A collaboration between Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and surgical streaming media platform GIBLIB has created a virtual operating theatre where surgeons can learn and refine their skills in advanced techniques like robot-assisted surgery and keyhole operations.
UPS is using VR headsets to simulate driving a truck around and making deliveries. Because this sector is prone to a high turnover of employees, and they need to be safely trained before being sent out to customers, the VR ensures that each trainee is given a consistent standard of training and instruction in how to deal with hazards like parked cars and pedestrians.
AR Home Furniture Assistance
We have all bought a product which looked fine in the showroom but didn’t fit in when we brought it home. IKEA has launched an app which sets a piece of furniture into your room: the IKEA Place app. Using your iPhone camera you can put a correctly-scaled chair, for example, into your office. It uses Apple’s ARKit augmented reality platform to place photorealistic furniture items in the frame at the touch of the screen, correctly-sized down to the millimetre. Users can walk right up and peer at fabrics and colours.
VR, AR and MR technologies are going to improve product quality, for example, a worker might be machining a part. Using MR goggles he or she could have an overlay of what the finished product should look like, and by being connected with lathe control software could give a visual or audible warning if mistakes were being made thereby improving efficiency.
According to a report published last year by Zion Market Research, global augmented reality market was valued at around £2.5 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach approximately £102 billion in 2021, growing at a rate of about 85% per year between 2016 and 2021.
The introduction of AR products in a wide variety of different situations, from retail like the IKEA app to industrial production and highly specialised training such as surgeons and deep-sea exploration, will embed virtuality into many different strata of our society. Perhaps in future, you won’t go to the theatre, but put on some goggles at home, and be able to walk around an immersive performance by the great actors of the Royal Shakespeare Company?