A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Forsberg's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Forsberg is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
A fully stabilised and inertially
guided helicopter-mounted
camera turret for OPTOnav
GNSS designed for precision
timing and position with or
without inertial navigation
Charles Forsberg served for ten years in the Royal Navy
mostly as a navigator and hydrographic surveyor. After
working as a consultant for the oil, defence, motorsport
and video games industries through the 1980s and 1990s,
he decided to expand into importing and distributing leading
high-precision navigation systems. While that still comprises
a significant part of what Forsberg do today, they now focus
primarily on integration, system development and product
manufacture for both defence companies and civil operators.
Heelaborates here and tells
The Parliamentary Review
their work with precision navigation equipment.
Our main markets are the defence and precision navigation and positioning
industries. Mentioning the latter often surprises people – the more informed tend
to think of self-driving cars, but the sector’s work is far more expansive than that,
covering automated cranes, trains and ships. We estimate about 20 per cent of
the UK “lift on-lift off” cargo traffic between the UK and the rest of the world is
precisely tracked by equipment we supply at some point in its journey.
While we do buy, sell and integrate Canadian GNSS and navigation products, we
are now heavily involved in development of new technology.
Counter-jamming systems for crime, finance and defence
A leading area of our commercial focus is the protection of GNSS signals and
alternative navigation. This umbrella covers everything from vehicle trackers to
»Director: Charles Forsberg
»Established in 1987
»Based in Lancaster, Lancashire
»Services: Supply and
development of precision
navigation equipment
»No. of employees: 32
»Business areas include
aerospace, automotive,
defence, freight, telecoms and
complex navigation systems in aircraft.
There are individuals and organisations
who actively jam and interfere with
these signals, which are integral to
security and safe navigation. This is
achieved by effectively “overpowering”
the satellite’s transmissions or
substituting a false signal.
While most people assume this to be
the domain of enemy combatants
and wartime countermeasures, it’s
actually far more commonplace than
expected in civil applications. Criminal
interference with a cargo shipment
can be incredibly costly. Jammers
purchased on the internet can be used
in the theft – and subsequent resale –
of high-value goods.
An emerging demand for
hardware and integration
After leaving the Royal Navy, I moved to
Aberdeen and became a consultant to
the oil and defence industries – it was
a completely different area, but I was
familiar with the technology they used.
From 1987 to 2000, we worked in a
predominantly supervisory capacity but,
at the turn of the century, we moved
towards supplying more than “words”.
We split away from the consultancy to
begin delivering hardware and systems
on our first defence contract in 2002.
We also worked with the automotive
industry throughout the early days
of vehicle navigation – that’s since
become a major market for us primarily
as a component supplier rather than a
systems integrator.
The importance of a young,
skilled workforce
At the time of writing, our team is
comprised of 32 people. Some are
apprentices, and we’re incredibly
passionate about increasing that
number and ensuring we provide high-
quality apprenticeship programmes. A
significant reason for our success has
historically been our ability to enrol
young people on our programme – we
believe that, while expertise may take a
similar form across different businesses
in the same sector, teaching someone
how you work is a priority.
Our apprentices, as a result, are satisfied
with their courses, and we have a high
retention rate. They’re local people, too,
in a “high-tech” international business
– our catchment area spans from
Manchester to Cumbria and Winchester.
We’re thankfully able to attract qualified
people into the area by way of our
strong training programme. Despite
some employees having degrees,
masters and doctorates on joining
us, we continually invest in our staff
beyond existing qualifications. Some
of our apprentices even undertake
diploma courses at universities.
Connectivity and
infrastructure difficulties
Our most significant challenge is
location, and this has been the case
since our move to Lancaster. Our
customer base is multinational –
around 45 per cent of our business is
overseas, with the remainder in the
UK. We are well served for airports
with Manchester and Liverpool, and for
European road transportthroughHull.
Precise positioning
applies to maritime
applications as well as
autonomous vehicles
While expertise
may take a
similar form
across different
businesses in the
same sector,
someone how
you work is a
Highlighting best practice
Our customers, however, often
struggle at the other end of the chain.
Considering that we design and
build electronics to a high standard,
developing an appropriate local supply
chain is a constant challenge. Finding
the right suppliers and the appropriate
support facilities in our region is not
straightforward – and while this is
standard for other local companies, few
are quite as specialist and precision-
focused as we are in ourwork.
We manage to circumvent both
of these issues by making use of
constantly improving communication
infrastructure – Skype and conference
calls, for example – and while this is
not perfect, it still helps a lot. To move
forward in the modern business world,
we need world-leading connectivity
and improved data security.
Remaining insulated against
European difficulties
We did have some fairly large
European contracts – amassing
millions of euros a year – and we
do have European employees. Our
employees remain loyal and key
to the business, but about 50 per
cent of our European business did
tail off in the period following the
Change, however, is not always a bad
thing; we have bought an established
US business, retrained our employees
and continued to develop and grow.
It looks like this effort could improve
our sales and provide 20 per cent more
STEM jobs and foreign income, allowing
us to contribute to the British economy
more than we previouslywere.
Thanks to our diversity in terms of
market sectors and overseas work, we
think we’re reasonably secure against
the immediate effects of Brexit, but, at
the time of writing, further guidance
and clarity would certainly bewelcome.
Building on positive, long-term
relationships for future success
Over the next five years, we want
to extend our positive relationships.
We pride ourselves on not losing a
customer when we start working with
them – we have 60 years of combined
business with our top five clients.
Consequently, we have reason to
believe that our current projects – no
small number of which are reasonably
new – will be long partnerships.
We greatly appreciate the financial
support and tax relief the government
has provided for our investment into
research and development; it has
boosted our company’s capability
over the past few years, enriched our
workforce and given us the ability to
look beyond today’s challenges to the
long-term future.
We anticipate that doubling in size
over the next five years. This will not
come without challenges, however
– we will need new premises, we’ll
put more effort into recruitment and
transport links may become a greater
difficulty than before. Nonetheless, we
are confident that we’ll keep moving
in the right direction by building on
existing partnerships to secure a future
that is prosperous and bright.
To move
forward in the
business world,
we need
and improved
data security
A robust multi-
constellation, multi-
frequency compact
GNSS receiver

This article was sponsored by Forsberg. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy