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What is Watchtower

Watchtower is a 2 year £1,000,000 initiative from Lancashire County Council to support the Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing (AEM) sector targeted at tackling some of the economic impacts of Covid-19, the current climate and stimulating growth. There has been a temporary collapse in demand for AEM products as a result of lockdowns, which has impacted on the aerospace, automotive and power markets and supply chains. In turn, significant numbers of high value jobs had been furloughed and potentially lost, impacting on Lancashire’s skills base and wealth generating capacity.

The Aim of the Watchtower Program

The Watchtower support program launched in 2022 and has used local industry knowledge to develop a dashboard of the health of 50 strategically important aerospace suppliers as they stabilise, recover, and grow during the Covid-19 pandemic. The dashboard has assisted in identifying organisations that would most benefit from support.


How Watchtower Can Help You As A Lancashire Based Company and How If You Can Answer YES To Any Of The Following Questions You Could Be Involved In The Next Phase

If your business is based in Lancashire and in the following Advanced Engineering & Manufacturing Industries or supply chain to these industries:

    • Aerospace
    • Auto Motive
    • Nuclear
    • Advanced Materials
    • Computing & Electronics
    • Other: i.e Rail, Medical

And if you answer YES to any of the following questions…

YES my business would further benefit from tailored coordinated business advice and support to help diversify and find new contracts that fit our manufacturing capabilities nationally and internationally

YES my business would benefit from additional support to further understand market place opportunities to innovate and develop new products, processes and services and to connect with Lancashire Innovation Centres of excellence. For example, helping you developing new products or          new ways of working identifying and quickly addressing the new opportunities being created by a changing landscape such as digital transformation?

YES my business can innovate but would benefit from help to further reduce costs at this critical time?

YES my business needs help to understand all of the elements of Lancashire’s Innovation Ecosystems that are available to support business goals and strategy?

YES my business needs support with a talent retention service to support businesses making redundancies and offer a match making service to those businesses recruiting

YES my business has the Capability and Technology to venture that extra mile into new Emerging Markets but may need assistance in doing so

YES my business is evolving towards the country’s Net Zero target but needs help to further innovate and become more sustainable and would benefit from assistance in meeting the necessary requirements

YES my business needs help understanding all of the elements of Lancashire’s Innovation Ecosystems that are available to support my business?

YES my business is already or I’m thinking further about horizon scanning in additional sectors such as Nuclear, Rail and Medical and would need further help to engage with the right level of business support & at the right phase.

YES my business would value support to help me get that ‘first foot through the door’ in an adjacent market supply chain?

YES my business would benefit from assistance & signposting in the right direction to access growth opportunities & relevant funding

YES my business is being impacted by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the cost- of-living crisis but I’m unsure of which direction to go next?

YES my business does need to make some changes and I’m considering the possibility of having to let some people go?

YES my business is under resourced and I’m actively seeking new people and skills?

YES my business has an opportunity to connect individuals at risk of redundancy, with companies that are recruiting in Lancashire’s Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing Sectors?


YES I’m Ready To Find Out More About How Watchtower Can Help My Lancashire Based Company And I Want To Be Involved In The Next Phase


Some Have Already Taken The Next Step, But Don’t Take Our Word For It……


It was excellent!  It’s given us a new way to look at how we could make decisions within the business.

Our Meeting Yesterday!  Looking Forward to The Second Session.


Yesterday, we had a day out, but not just any old day out! 


The Watchtower Programme – Our Further Commitment To You. Here’s How Your Company Will Benefit From FREE Tailored Support:

  • We will provide a FREE innovation assessment to understand your specific business requirements, linked to your strategy
  • We will develop an action plan that helps you navigate the myriad of business support options available in Lancashire to identify the best help available for your organisation
  • We will connect you to the right people to take your action plan forwards through warm referrals to the most appropriate Lancashire Innovation Support
  • We will follow up to ensure that you are getting the right innovation support to develop new products and new ways of working
  • We will track and trace changes to our highly skilled workforce across Lancashire’s Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing Sector
  • We will collaborate with companies that are both recruiting and making redundancies
  • We will work with businesses to match suitable candidates to their needs with an effective recruitment system and ongoing support
  • We will support individuals with a series of provisions to enable them to find work utilising our internal teams, our mentor and coaching bank and external provisions such as our HR Employers Forums, comprising of 100s of HR Managers sharing best practise
  • We will continue to identify opportunities & access to new markets in line with your business’ key capabilities & strategic plans
  • We will continue to provide insights into emerging markets and opportunities from industry Watchtower Sector Champions
  • We will continue to develop opportunities to connect with companies to develop collaborative approaches to new markets and customers
  • We will actively promote your company’s Watchtower Success Story in official NWAA Publications and on the NWAA website

Ready to Commit To The Next Phase Book Your FREE Space Here And Make 2023 Your Most Successful Year Yet:


How Watchtower Initiative Was Launched:

Northwest Aerospace Alliance and Aerospace Consulting joined together in 2022 as AEM-Hi Consortium to deliver Programmes 1,2, 3 and 5 with Community & Business Partners delivering Programme 4.

Prof Andrew Schofield, Chairman of North West Aerospace Alliance


“This is a fantastic opportunity to contribute to making Lancashire the most attractive location in the UK. Businesses, academia and local government will have the opportunity to work together to provide the best location for AEM investment that generates high value employment and delivers sustainable growth contributing to net zero targets.

Lancashire is at the heart of the North West of England with the largest advanced engineering and manufacturing capability in the UK. This ambitious new Lancashire AEM Watchtower programme will look out for those companies in the region which need help and support with diversification, innovation and skills to recover and grow their businesses.”


Dr David Bailey, CEO of Aerospace Consulting

Jaydee Davis, Operations Director at Community & Business Partners

“We have a talented and highly skilled workforce in Lancashire and this investment focuses on both the people and businesses. This programme will allow us to support with retention, redundancies, and recruitment, ensuring we keep our talent within the sector and county, following the aftermath of Covid-19.”

Northwest Aerospace Alliance and Aerospace Consulting joined together as AEM-Hi Consortium delivering 1,2, 3 and 5. Community & Business Partners are delivering Lot 4.


In March 2022 Representatives from the county council, North West Aerospace Alliance, Aerospace Consulting and Community Business Partners visited the Addison Precision facility in Thornton-Cleveleys. Addison Precision has worked across numerous sectors, including the aerospace, defence and automotive industries for the last 40 years, and has continued to adapt and diversify during this time and during the pandemic.

Diversification is even more important now and something Addison Precision recognise it must continue to do moving forward, and the Lancashire AEM Watchtower project will support them to do that.

Mark Verdon, Managing Director of Addison Precision said: “The Lancashire AEM Watchtower project is an innovative initiative that we are very pleased to support and is looking to assist us to access growth opportunities and prosper in the months and years ahead.”

“The past two years have been extremely challenging to the Aerospace sector, and we have had to adapt and diversify our operations further to accommodate these challenges. This has led us in some interesting directions and processes as we look to the future and this is something we have to continue to explore.”

“I believe The Watchtower project looks like it will provide some much welcome support for us in this endeavour.”

County Councillor Aidy Riggott, cabinet member for economic development, and growth said: “We are pleased to support this vital industry in our county which employs around 13,000 people in Lancashire and has been hard hit by the economic impact of Covid-19.”

“There has been a temporary collapse in demand for AEM products as a result of lockdowns, which has impacted on the aerospace, automotive and power markets and supply chains. In turn, significant numbers of high value jobs have been furloughed and potentially lost, impacting on our skills base and wealth generating capacity.  The Lancashire AEM Watchtower project is amongst the first to be approved for funding from the Lancashire Economic Recovery and Growth Fund, which we have launched to take urgent action to help the sectors and occupations in our county most exposed.”

“We want to support AEM businesses to be competitive, innovative and financially sound to ensure they can successfully recover from the pandemic and thrive.”

“The county council’s financial contribution will support 40 aerospace supply chain SMEs, help safeguard and create 200 jobs, and bring in £30m worth of revenue into the county.”

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