High tech companies are leading the way

Tec 66 Vacuum Technology conference in Hastings. Pictured: conference chair Lord Bassam, Tim Pearce MD of Kurt J Lesker Ltd; Labour parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen; scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock; Caroline Knight of VG Scienta; council leader Jeremy Birch
Tec 66 Vacuum Technology conference in Hastings. Pictured: conference chair Lord Bassam, Tim Pearce MD of Kurt J Lesker Ltd; Labour parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen; scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock; Caroline Knight of VG Scienta; council leader Jeremy Birch
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THE high technology industry is the future of Hastings, said councillor John Hodges who was the driving force behind a major conference held this week.

A cluster of around 20 companies working with vacuum technology, based locally, is the largest in the south east of England, and the area has been established as a centre of excellence.

Vacuum technology has a huge number of applications, from the everyday, such as mobile phones and washing machines, through to the large hadron collider.

The local vacuum business cluster is mainly focused on technology for use in research equipment.

The first event of its kind, Tec 66, a major vacuum technology conference and exhibition, organised by a group of local technology firms, was held at the Sussex Exchange on Monday (September 16).

Cllr Hodges said: “Hastings is a town that abounds in talent.

“It is important to develop an identity for this part of East Sussex that goes beyond 1066.

“High tech and high value industries are the future of this town.”

Delegates came from all over the country to the event, which aimed to raise awareness of this unsung yet well-established sector.

Companies were brought together from the local area and further afield, and there were a number of high profile speakers including television presenter Maggie Philbin (Bang Goes the Theory, Inside Out and Tomorrow’s World) and leading space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, who is currently working on the replacement for the Hubble telescope, and spent several of her teenage years in Hastings.

The event also included sessions for students at Sussex Coast College to help inspire young people to consider careers in science and technology.

Speaking of the event, Cllr Jeremy Birch, council leader, said: “I had not appreciated just what an incredible wealth of talent we have literally on our doorstep in this thriving part of the economy. Equipment manufactured here is used in the large hadron collider at CERN, and on Mars.”