At this year’s Federation of Small Business awards ceremony, Torbay Council won the category for the best scheme to support innovative hi tech businesses.

Held at the Barnstaple Hotel, the award ceremony recognised local authority initiatives which positively support and develop small businesses.

The Hi Tech Forum was set up to provide an opportunity for local businesses to network and collaborate. The bimonthly meetings provide specialist advice to support and develop the growth of the hi tech sector across Torbay and South Devon.

Torbay’s Elected Mayor, Gordon Oliver, said: “This award recognises the success of the scheme and its resulting benefits for local businesses. Through hard work we have managed to achieve our objectives to grow the hi tech cluster, attract investment into Torbay, create jobs and increase the reach of local companies across Europe. The investment into the Electronics and Photonics Innovation Centre in Paignton is evidence of the impact the forum has made in shaping our growth strategy and also shows our ongoing support to see this sector grow further.”

Since its formation, the Hi Tech Forum has held four Manufacturing Technology Innovation (MTI) exhibitions, two business engagement sessions between schools and industry, which created apprenticeships, and attracted £4.7m of investment into the sector. It has led the generation of a cluster of innovative companies within the photonics sector and sourced funding for technology businesses, creating around 30 jobs.

Vickie Broadbent, Hymid Multi-Shot, said: “The Torbay Hi Tech Forum is an invaluable platform upon which to share best practice with like-minded, forward-thinking engineering companies in the Torbay and South Devon. There is a growing hi tech sector within the Bay, and we have found that being members of the forum enables us to promote the sector and not just keep skills in the region, but build on those skills.”

Martin Foulger, Chairman of Hi Tech Forum, said: “Torbay has an outstanding number of hi tech, cutting edge businesses with a focus on innovation that sets it apart. This forum gives these businesses an excellent opportunity to really showcase that expertise and promote a greater awareness of the activities of these leading, often world class, companies.”

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