Hybrid Air Vehicles and British Chambers of Commerce: A Strategic Relationship for UK Economic Development
Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd, a Bedford, UK-based aerospace company, has established itself as a leading player in the aviation industry by developing innovative and sustainable hybrid aircraft technology. The company's partnership with the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental in its success, providing HAV with a platform to connect with other businesses and local policymakers and help shape the economic development of the region. Justin Richardson, the Chief Executive of the Bedfordshire Chamber, believes that the UK government's support is also crucial in creating the conditions for sustainable technologies' development and retaining them within the UK market.
Speaking to us, Richardson said, "When it comes to the development of new sustainable technologies, I think these types of projects need a solid private-public sector partnership to leverage the opportunities that can arise. Within that, government support is absolutely key to retaining the benefits within the UK. This type of company is essential for revitalizing the economy and competing in global markets. If you take the US Inflation Reduction Act as an example, that’s direct government support that seeks to improve US economic competitiveness and innovation. There will be UK companies in the clean energy and transportation space tempted to relocate due to the incentives. The UK government’s support needs to be there to create the conditions to build it within the UK."
HAV's partnership with the Chamber has assisted it to establish a strong presence in the aviation industry, and establish itself as a credible player in the market. As the company looks to expand and scale its operations, it continues to need successful partnerships with government and policymakers. Richardson believes that "the government's levelling up agenda" offers an opportunity for projects like HAV's Airlander to be developed in the UK. The wider network provided by the Chamber is a key benefit of membership, according to Justin. For example, as HAV looked for the right region for expanding production of Airlander “the network allowed us to introduce Dan Fell, the Chief Executive at the Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, who then made introductions with key stakeholders within his region.”
Richardson expands: "I think it’s very important to say that this isn’t about the Bedfordshire and Doncaster Chambers of Commerce competing to try and maximize the benefits for each region. Its about working together to try and maximize the benefits for UK plc. Similarly, our relationship with HAV has never been a one-way street, HAV’s always been really open to working with members and local businesses to understand the opportunities that exist in the future for Bedfordshire. If you’re looking for a company that has shaping places at its heart, as we at the Bedfordshire Chamber do at the centre of our philosophy, then HAV is definitely one of them."
According to Tom Grundy, CEO of Hybrid Air Vehicles, the company's partnership with the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce has been a key factor in its success. The Chamber has provided a valuable platform for connecting with other businesses and for helping policymakers understand the challenges and opportunities for innovative start-up and scale-up companies. Richardson agrees, highlighting his ability to raise the example of HAV with the Chief Economist of the Bank of England during the Covid pandemic: “It was an opportunity to help policymakers understand what was happening to pre-revenue companies, not just HAV, but pre-revenue companies all over the country. It allowed key decision makers at the heart of government to hear what an organisation like HAV needed at the time”.
Most recently, Richardson introduced the Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, Shevaun Haviland, to the HAV team during a visit to their Airlander Technology Centre. “For me personally the visit reinforced what I already knew - that Airlander is a world-leading product, being developed by a world-class team. I know Shevaun was blown away by what she saw and the opportunities that exist for HAV. We’re talking about hundreds of highly skilled jobs, contributing to the Net-Zero agenda, and massive export opportunities. Government support is absolutely key to retaining the benefits within the UK.”
HAV has been a member of the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce for over 10 years. In 2023, HAV became a Patron of the Doncaster Chamber of Commerce.