ARA was established as a UK aerospace research and development champion in 1952 by the most famous British aircraft companies of the day. In simple terms it saves time, money and lives by helping international aerospace companies to design – and check their designs – for new flight vehicles. It gives its clients well-founded confidence that when they put a human being in a flight test vehicle that person will come back alive and their platform will land safely. ARA has begun to diversify its business to make its world-class capabilities available to small and medium-sized engineering companies, and they are prioritising the UK.

What challenge did ARA face?

ARA has an ambition to create a new £10m+ a year business alongside its current operations and reached out to the Growth Hub to help evaluate the approach it is taking to begin its journey towards growth.

ARA has world-class and world-leading facilities and expertise which have been developed to meet the requirements of international companies with which it has longstanding relationships, including the likes of Airbus, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Boeing. It now wants to take all the capabilities it has honed over decades and use them to support small to medium-sized companies in the UK with their engineering ambitions – be that offering advice or comprehensive services for advanced prototype development, testing and analysis.

Building relationships with a wide range of small to medium-sized businesses is a significant change in approach for the team at ARA whose usual clients are industry giants. They recognise that they have a lot to learn in order to adapt how they think and operate while also building trust. By focusing on listening, understanding and learning from every new opportunity, they aim for ambitious but sustainable and profitable growth.

How did the Growth Hub provide support?

ARA took part in a one-to-one diagnostic session with a SEMLEP Growth Hub business adviser and attended a growth masterclass organised by the local enterprise partnership which was led by Professor David Harding of the University of Bedfordshire.

ARA Head of Market Expansion Christopher Burke said: “Working with the Growth Hub provided us with a sanity check that confirmed that the things we are trying to achieve are plausible.

“We have a lot of capability and a lot of potential but we need support to make connections and find where we can add value.

“Growth Hub has helped us to clarify that challenge and during the masterclass, it was lovely to talk through the approaches we are taking with David Harding and the other attendees and get their perspectives on what we’re doing.

“We have a growth and diversification agenda, we’re looking for new clients and we’re looking to expand our capabilities so that what we’re offering will be genuinely helpful and offer new, creative options they didn’t have before. The Growth Hub is very much a part of that. They have a growth agenda and help businesses in the region to achieve their ambitions so our relationship with them is an important one.

“Working with them has helped us to have more confidence in the approach we are taking and opened up other new ways of thinking for us.

“Our relationship with the Growth Hub has also provided me with a great introduction to local organisations – in particular the University of Bedfordshire where the growth masterclass was held – which is very helpful in my role.

“I certainly think the time we’re engaging with the Growth Hub is going to be profitable.”

ARA has also applied to the Growth Hub for funding through its Growing Innovation Fund.

Would you recommend the Growth Hub to others?

Christopher said: “Anyone trying to build a business in the region should engage with the Growth Hub to see how they might be able to help.

“Their whole purpose is to thelp you achieve your ambitions. With the Growth Hub you get a wide range of support including one-to-one advice as well as guidance on how to apply for grant funding opportunities – and the experiences on offer can open your eyes to new perspectives.”

To find out more about the help offered by the Growth Hub, click here.