Tec 66 Conference & Exhibition Comes to Hastings

The stunning new conference facility, the Sussex Exchange Conference Centre, Queensway, Hastings will be host to this Ultra High Vacuum/Vacuum & Photonics Technology event on Monday 16th September 2013.

Hastings and East Sussex have established themselves as a global centre for high technology companies, and Tec 66will promote the many companies now based in the area, raise awareness of this thriving sector and feature a number of valuable industry expert workshops.

Science television presenters Maggie Philbin and Maggie Aderin-Pocock will both lead sessions for delegates at the Sussex Exchange Conference Centre and for Hastings, Rother and Wealden students at Sussex Coast College to excite young people about careers in Science and Engineering locally.

The Tec 66 Conference follows on from Hastings famous Seafood & Wine Festival weekend on 14th and 15th September 2013. A pre-conference reception will be held for delegates at the Jerwood Gallery at 5.00pm on Sunday 15th September which has been named as one of the ten best examples of architecture in 2012, cementing its position as an emblem of Hastings’ famously world class culture.

The Vacuum business cluster was created as a result of  Hastings local manufacturing company, VG Scienta, based in Castleham Industrial Estate in St Leon­ard’s. They have just celebrated their 50 year anniversary in the de­sign and manufacture of Ultra High Vacuum (UHV) compo­nents and custom systems. A strong local employer of 140 with global supply to research laboratories and industrial part­ners, VG Scienta has remained at the forefront of science sup­plying cutting edge technology for vacuum applications.

The Tec 66 conference celebrates the success of this high technology cluster and will be officially opened by Graham Peters High Sheriff of East Sussex DL who also chaired the SME Commission. Tec 66 will be chaired by Brighton based technology champion Lord Bassam alongside Maggie Philbin (acclaimed presenter of Bang Goes the Theory, Inside Out and Tomorrow’s World for BBC One) and leading space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, MBE who is currently working on the James Webb Space Telescope (the replacement for Hubble)!

Ever since Hastings & Bexhill  based John Logie Baird produced the world’s first television image the town has been synonymous with high technology, innovation and invention and there will be a number of technology workshops run throughout the exhibition.

Businesses may book a stand at the Innovation Centre website and if you are a visitor wanting more information, please go to the Innovation Centre website’s Tec 66 page.

Notes to Editors:

Here we get an insight from an inter­view conducted with the one of the global Vacuum Industry’s pioneering founders Dr. Bernard Eastwell (OBE) and co-director Dr. Doug Latham of how the ‘whirlwind’ success began…

It all started in 1962, Bernard East­well was working as a scientist for Mullard Laboratories (now Phillips) based in Surrey. At that time, money funding research projects was tight and the team were told to stop work whilst the bosses pursued cash flow. “We were told to read” states Bernard, “We quickly realised that we would be bored out of our minds so decided to take the op­portunity to pursue our own projects – mine being to design a UHV valve”.

This all metal valve is where it all began and VG still sells the renowned UHV valves in large quantities today. Developed in the extension of Bernard’s house in Crawley, which was to house a boat he was building, Bernard saw a niche in the market and went about selling this product on his own directly to the scientific community in which he had already close associations, being a PhD. Physics graduate at the University of Surrey in Guildford.

Soon the production line was formed, with 18 staff located in a ‘less than ideal’ premises just off Crawley High street. Sales into universities saw the need for rapid expansion.

The year 1965 saw ex-Mullard col­league and Edwards technical director Doug Latham join the busi­ness to extend the product offering from valves and flanges into complex UHV systems – a huge leap up in the technical supply chain. This derived from the ‘fierce entrepreneurial spirit’ that the partnership took to market.

The right place at the right time?

In the mid-60’s, Harold Wilson was Prime Minister and he invested heav­ily in technology funding a string of technical colleges and universi­ties. Bernard and Doug saw this as an opportune time to create the business plan, as Doug explains; “This funding started a red hot techni­cal revolution and university research­ers all had money for technical apparatus, everybody wanted a LEED (Low Energy Electron Diffraction) System so we went about researching and taking the orders”. The VG business model was to get as many ideas from research universities and reward with a percentage com­mission on sales of these products – of course an attractive proposition to the scientists, which meant that VG was never short of ‘good ideas’. In time, this meant that many prod­uct lines were created so Bernard and Doug decided to spin-out companies with key employees heading these up to form the VG Group.

VG Special Systems, VG Electronics, VG Quadropoles, VG Semicon, VG Gas Analytical, VG MassLab to name but a few!

Due to this rapid expansion, suitable premises needed to be found and the move from Crawley to East Grinstead and later into Hastings was made based on the board of trade approval for manufacturing growth initiatives into the South of England. Hastings Council offered an extremely attrac­tive package for premises where VG operations took up the majority of business park space.

History of the event

The Tec 66 Conference Exhibition 2013 is the first to be held in Hastings to celebrate the success of the Vacuum & Photonics companies that have successfully grown in the town over the last 50 years.

The event is being run in partnership with Local Technology Businesses, East Sussex County Council, Hastings & Rother Councils, Sea Change Sussex and Sussex Coast College.

Contact for more information:

Jim Christy

Hastings Business Operations Ltd

Email: jimchristy@hbol.co.uk

Tel: 01424 858102