Major milestone for Scitech growth as new Manchester Hub opens

We are delighted to announce the opening of our new Manchester office which will form a hub in the North to continue to provide consultancy, design, engineering, construction and validation services to pharmaceutical, life sciences and advanced technology companies.

This exciting development marks a significant growth in Scitech’s success and demonstrates our commitment to providing the highest quality of service and support to our clients in the North of England and Scotland.

The new office will allow us to expand to support the growing number of companies operating within pharmaceutical, life science, high value manufacturing, research, emerging technologies and highly regulated industries.

The opening of the Manchester office is a major milestone in the growth of the company and an indication of our commitment to providing the best possible service to our customers.

Dave Grant, Managing Director, said: “We are excited to be expanding our business base into the North of England and Scotland. We are confident that our new office in Manchester will allow us to extend the high level of service, reliability and expertise to which our clients are accustomed. It’s great to be investing in new talent, growing our local delivery team.”

See our services section to learn more about the services we offer.

Scitech donates computer equipment to Sri Lankan schools

Ray Charlton, a founding member of the Scitech team, recently visited Sri Lanka to volunteer for the charity Child Action Lanka, taking several laptops, headphones and mobile phones donated by Scitech.

Ray, who retired from Scitech in 2020, pledged to volunteer with the charity after hearing how many children across the country are deprived of education and suffer from poverty.

Ray explains: “The poverty experienced in Sri Lanka is a result of many factors; including the recent war and the financial crises which has been exasperated by lack of tourists (due to terrorist bombing in 2019 and Covid). Sri Lanka is a very class-based society and the lowest/ poorest suffer the most. There is no welfare safety net.”

Child Action Lanka (CAL) is focused on ensuring that vulnerable children everywhere have a chance of a better future. They try to ensure their basic nutritional and health needs are met, and that their primary and higher educational requirements are supported. CAL provides support to mothers and families who have suffered domestic violence and abuse, believes in the empowerment of girls and women, and funds the work of its staff supported by volunteers.

Children use the computer equipment donated by Scitech

“All children over 5 years of age attend state schools but teaching stops at 1pm,” explains Ray. “Wealthy families often pay for addition tuition, which poor families are unable to access. CAL supports these poor families by providing a lunch and additional lessons in mother tongue (Sinhalese or Tamil), English, Maths and basic computing.”

Ray, along with five other volunteers, travelled to the capital city Columbo to meet with charity staff and hand over the donated equipment. During his trip, Ray travelled to several of the charity’s education centres across the country to teach computer skills to children.

Ray with some of the children he supported while volunteering

Ray said: “When Scitech heard I was going to work with CAL in Sri Lanka they offered me several laptops, headphones and mobile phones, which have been put into immediate use. The laptops were needed to equip their pupils with IT skills and maximise their chances of employment when they leave at 18 years old.

“Together with a friend, we taught the children how to use MS PowerPoint to create a one-page CV and some children gave a presentation to the class, something they had never done before. We then took this format to the other centres we visited. The children we worked with were so keen and enthusiastic to learn; it was a delight. The experience of the trip has been wonderful; in seeing what can be done with the vision and energy to make a change and a positive difference to the lives of children”

Simon Howard, Business Infrastructure Director, said: “We were delighted to be able to support Ray and the fantastic work that Child Action Lanka is doing to improve the lives of disadvantaged children. We always look for opportunities to recycle any of our computer equipment when it needs to be upgraded and this was certainly a good opportunity to do so while also getting insight into the difference that such a small gesture on our part could make.”

To support Ray visit his Just Giving page – Ray Charlton is fundraising for The Epiphany Trust (

Read more about Ray’s trip.

Celebrating women at Scitech this International Women’s Day

Today (8 March) is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. We would like to mark the occasion by celebrating and recognising the achievements of our female colleagues and pledging to continue to support women within Scitech and the wider life sciences and engineering sectors.

We are committed to increasing equality and diversity at all levels across the organisation and have introduced family friendly practices to retain our female talent and support them so that they can fulfil their potential.

We are proud to have five women already in leadership positions. Our Design and Engineering Director is a woman and two of our engineering teams are led by female managers. We also have two female colleagues in other leadership positions. A total of 7 of our female managers are undertaking leadership and management development this year.

We provide further support through our successful Women at Scitech group – a support network specifically for our female colleagues designed to ensure their unique needs are met and their voices are heard.

Our focus is not just on our female colleagues, but also on making a positive impact on the wider sector by encouraging the next generation of women into STEM careers. We regularly attend career days at schools, colleges, and universities to talk to students about the many possible career possibilities there are and the opportunities we have at Scitech. Our female engineers regularly support this, providing a visible role model as female engineers.

We know there is more to do in order to achieve equity for women within the sector and we will continue striving to make a positive difference because it is only by working together that we will truly #EmbraceEquity.

Spotlight on Biva Mathias, Senior Mechanical Building Services Engineer

“When I was at school, engineering wasn’t really talked about and if it was, it was in relation to car mechanics. It wasn’t a career that any of my peers or teachers discussed and so it wasn’t really on my radar,” explains Biva. “I had a love of design and wanted to be an architect. However, at university I became interested in building services engineering and the environmental design and sustainability elements.”

During a summer placement before her last year at university, Biva gained greater insight into the various disciplines involved in the construction industry. “My placement was invaluable, not only as it led to an offer of employment following my final year, but in giving me experience of what the workplace was really like. There is a big leap from what you are taught at university to what the reality of the workplace.”

Biva’s early career saw her travel the world as a building services engineer, with many projects across the Middle East. However, after a decade providing design and engineering services for new education and hospital facilities, she found herself looking for new challenges.“

After several years, you find that this work can begin to become repetitive. The designs are often very similar and so, although each project would come with its own idiosyncrasies, I found I was no longer being challenged.”

It is at this point that Biva began looking at other sectors that could provide greater challenges, which led to her role at Scitech. “The pharmaceutical and life sciences industry provides much more opportunity to specialise and to problem solve on individual projects.

The clients that we work with are using such high-tech, cutting edge equipment and require such stringent control so our designs require greater technical consideration. I also love the fact that because Scitech is a design and build company, I get to see each project through to completion. I have been with Scitech for three years and in that time have enjoyed visits to our varied projects at client sites across the UK.”

Biva admits that she found the increased regulatory requirements daunting at first, but she threw herself in at the deep end and was reassured by the knowledge that she had a supportive team on hand to offer advice. “I think the best way to learn is just to put yourself in there and ask questions so that’s what I
did. I have never been the type of person to want to be spoon fed; I find I learn much faster if I am seeking out the answers for myself.

“I feel very lucky, as Scitech has such a supportive culture and everyone works really well together. There is a great rapport across the various teams.”

It wasn’t until Biva entered the world of work that she realised how few women held technical roles within the design and construction industry.

“There is a lot more emphasis now on encouraging women into STEM roles. I didn’t really give it much thought when making my career choices and have been lucky that I haven’t felt any disadvantage. I suppose, subconsciously, I may try to prove myself more when I’m in a predominantly male team. I am lucky that there are several females on the senior management team at Scitech, including the Building Services Engineering Team lead, so I feel I have a good support network. Scitech also has a ‘Women at Scitech’ group which unites all of the female staff to discuss how we can make improvements for women at the company and how we can influence the wider sector, which is fantastic. I really hope we can
help to encourage more women into the sector.”

  • Visit our careers pages to find out more about working at Scitech.

Employee-owned: what does it mean?

As an employee-owned (EO) business, all our colleagues have a stake in our future. We don’t have external shareholders; instead our colleagues are stakeholders who each benefit from a distribution of our company profits.

Why did Scitech choose to become employee-owned?

In 2012, we became a 100% employee-owned company. This ensures that we will always retain the values that are so important to us and, as we grow, it is our customers and employees that continue to benefit.

What benefits does this bring to Scitech employees?

As well as benefiting financially from the distribution of profits they receive, research shows that members of employee-owned businesses are more engaged, more fulfilled, and less stressed.

As an EO we are self-governing which means we can be flexible and make business decisions quickly that can benefit customers and colleagues. , This enabled us to bring forward a part payment of the 2022 profit distribution to our colleagues to assist with the cost of living crisis. This is in addition to several health and wellbeing initiatives we continue to develop for our mutual benefit.

How does Scitech’s employee-owned status benefit its clients?

At Scitech, our reputation is built on talented people who deliver on our promises to our clients. We take great care and pride in every aspect of our work with everyone contributing as part of a team. As employee owners, colleagues feel more motivated, and driven to succeed to deliver for our customers.

These benefits are also reflected in research which shows that employee-owned companies have demonstrated they can achieve higher productivity, greater levels of innovation and are more resilient to economic turbulence.

Annual charity donation to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices takes Scitech’s total to £74,000

In January, we visited Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospices to make our annual charity donation, this year with a cheque for £3,600. This year’s donation, together with our Christmas raffle cheque takes our cumulative total raised to an impressive £74,000!

We first chose to raise money for the local children’s hospice when a colleague saw the invaluable support it provided to a friend’s child. Each year since, we have been donating a percentage of our profits and taking part in charity events. This year’s fundraising efforts included taking part in the hospice’s annual Sunrise Walk in Guildford, annual Christmas raffle, holding a Christmas Jumper Day, hosting a charity donation tower, and saw staff sell handmade items including freshly pressed apple juice and handmade shopping bags.

For 2023, we already have a team of “Scitech Snowdonia Sunnies” to take on the Snowdonia Sunrise Walk challenge in March, plus a few of us will be booking onto the North Downs Ultra Challenge 50km walk in July. Our efforts are getting more adventurous!

Lewis White, Mechanical Engineering Team Leader and company charity Trustee, said: “We are very proud to be able to continue to support the work of Shooting Star Children’s Hospice. The care and support they provide to families in their greatest time of need is invaluable, and we are delighted to be able to help them in any way we can. We look forward to continuing our support partnership with to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices.”

Shooting Star Children’s Hospice is a leading children’s hospice charity that provides care and support to babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families. It has been providing vital respite, palliative and end-of-life care for families across west London and Surrey since 1994-5.

Find out more about Shooting Star Children’s Hospice, or to make a donation.

Commitment to staff wellbeing: spinal health

We know the importance of positively supporting the health, safety and wellbeing of all Scitech staff and contractors. Our wellbeing strategy is key to fostering a supportive environment across our teams.

As part of our wellbeing activities, we recently partnered with Halsa Chiropractic & Physiotherapy practice to offer a talk on spinal health at Scitech House, our head office in Godalming. Colleagues were invited to book a posture assessment – analysing back health, top to toe posture and alignments at key points of the body using a spinal analysis machine.

The talk focussed on stress and the nervous system, the spine and posture – with tips and guidance for spinal health and wellbeing. Dr David Mutombo explained how the spine connects with every function and organ in the human body and, as a result, plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy nervous system.

Emma Dawas, HR Manager at Scitech, said: “Dr Mutombo gave a fascinating talk, which was very interactive and was very well received by everyone who attended. I think we can all benefit from his advice and tips for a healthy spine and nervous system.

Scitech’s wellbeing strategy builds upon all the required regulatory health & safety and environmental requirements to provide a holistic approach to staff wellbeing. It is designed to support a range of life’s challenges both inside and outside the workplace and part of this approach include events, webinars and training that are of benefit to all colleagues.

Women in the workplace: why we launched our Women at Scitech group

Back in 2020, as the first COVID lockdown was announced, one of our Directors and his mentee were having a catch-up. At that time, she was the only female in our Cardiff office and we were aware the COVID pandemic had the potential to heighten the feeling of remoteness. During the mentoring session, it was recognised that this female engineer, who was a working mother, didn’t have the means to easily connect with others so the idea for a virtual women’s group emerged.

The idea was initially as a means to put our virtual arms around our colleague and bring her into the wider Scitech family but, when launched, the virtual group had evolved to become a support group that could unite all of Scitech’s female workforce and empower them to share experiences and ideas while provide support for each other.

Nurturing our female talent

Two years later, the group is an established feature in the Scitech events calendar with meetings held every quarter. Its purpose is to nurture our female talent, ensure that they are supported to pursue leadership roles, if that is the path they wish their career to take, and make sure that their unique health and well-being needs are met. It also offers an opportunity to get together to build friendships – meetings are now face-to-face with those who can’t be there in person also able to join virtually.

The group has tackled subjects such as how we ensure our female staff have access to women’s toilets on our construction sites and making sure there is appropriate clothing for women. Topics are varied and include women’s health, menopause, attracting women to engineering and construction careers, improving working life for women, unconscious bias in the workplace and gender bias in recruitment. This has resulted in positive changes to some of our family orientated polices and greater appreciation of what women might be looking for when applying for roles at Scitech.

Inspirational guest speakers

The latest meeting, held in December, featured a guest speaker. Natasha Westbury, a senior leader at HP, who was invited to share her experiences of working in the IT and telecommunications sectors – both of which are male orientated. She shared how she has benefitted from being part of a women’s network, and how it helped her to achieve success and provided support during the past 8 years working in senior roles.

Natasha shared how it was important to her that she selected an employer that had stated its ambition to gender parity; HP became the first Fortune 100 Tech company to commit to Gender Parity in Leadership in May 2021. Currently more than 30% of HP’s leaders are women (which is nearly double the industry’s benchmark). Natasha adds that her career hasn’t always been easy being female and juggling the demands of working in these environments.

Speaking at the Women at Scitech meeting, Natasha said: “I am proud to say that, in 2022, I work for a company that openly understands that business performance improves when we attract, retain, and develop women. We still have a way to go to facilitate gender inclusion to ensure equal opportunity in the workplace, which is why I am passionate about contributing to discussion of these issues”.

Natasha believes that encouraging and supporting women to pursue their career goals and leadership aspirations in a community enables change, and is a responsibility that everyone should uphold.

Emma Dawas, HR Manager at Scitech, said: “We would like to thank Natasha for generously giving her time to share her experiences and provide such an inspirational talk to our staff. We are proud to have several women on our leadership board at Scitech and hope to further increase this as we support our female staff to progress and reach senior roles.

“Through our Women at Scitech group, and our wider diversity and inclusion work, we will continue to support and nurture our female staff. We look forward to inviting other female role models to share their experience and further build the network for our staff.”

Spotlight on Jack O’Toole, Mechanical Equipment Engineer

When Jack O’Toole began his BSc Industrial Product Design course at Aston University, in Birmingham, he didn’t envisage a career with a specialist design and construction company operating in the pharmaceutical or life science sectors. But seven years on, he wouldn’t want to work in any other sector.

“I always saw myself being part of a design and engineering group but I didn’t plan on niching into this area,” he explains. “It just didn’t occur to me at that point but I’m pleased it’s the path I have followed.”

The value of student placements

Jack’s first insight into pharmaceutical manufacturing came when he secured a three-month placement with Scitech during a summer breaks from university. This saw him work under the mentorship of Lewis White, Scitech’s Mechanical Engineering Team Leader.

“I was given the opportunity to support the team with some site-based work, which was a fantastic experience. One stand-out project for me was supporting Guys’ and St Thomas’ Hospital with the development of a radiopharmacy and installation of ‘hot cell’ lines for handling diagnostic radio-isotopes. I was able to oversee the specialist equipment contractor to solve equipment issues. I must have done a good job as I was offered a permanent role to start at the end of my degree.”

Masters degree sponsorship

Jack returned to Scitech as a Graduate Mechanical Engineer and received sponsorship to complete his MSc Mechanical Engineering. “I knew I wanted to complete a Masters degree and was really fortunate that Scitech provided funding and supported me by ensuring that I had adequate study time.

“Scitech is fantastic at supporting its staff with training, whether it is through official courses, CPD opportunities or mentorship. I am now working towards achieving Chartership with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, which Lewis is supporting me to achieve.”

Career development opportunities

Jack adds: “Scitech is very good at ensuring that you can gain experience in other areas too. For example, I have mentoring once a week with the head of mechatronics. I have gained more skills through this and have been able to help with a project on site. That is further experience that I have gained. All I needed to do was ask and it was arranged.”

Looking at his career to date, Jack reflects on the opportunities that Scitech has provided and the projects that have taken him across Europe and to the United States of America.

“One of the attractive aspects of this role is that there is always a challenge. I have worked on a lot of radiopharmaceutical and cell & gene therapy projects, as these are areas where Scitech has significant expertise. With radiopharma you must understand and consider many different aspects – it’s not just process and physics. It covers every aspect from the safety of the operator, to the efficiency of the line, to the ergonomics affecting the workforce. Different companies and organisations have different requirements and challenges and so it always keeps it interesting.”

Promotion and career progression

Jack is now enjoying working as a project lead on a cell and gene therapy project, taking on more responsibility, and looking forward to leading on bigger and more complex projects as his career progresses.

“I feel lucky that I secured my initial internship with Scitech. It has set me off on a really interesting career path and I have been offered lots of opportunities that have allowed me to progress. The team is very supportive and so I know they are there if I need help or advice. It provides a safety net but at the same time provides the opportunity to show what you can do and progress. I would definitely urge anyone who is specialising in mechanical engineering to consider a career in this sector; it is really exciting and provides a lot of opportunities.”

● Discover what Mechanical Equipment Engineering career opportunities and job vacancies are available at Scitech.

Staff training: our commitment to upskilling our staff

So this month our staff were invited to attend a series of business skills and leadership and management training delivered by Bespoke Training Services (Wiltshire) Ltd, a company which specialises in tailored training courses designed to meet the specific needs of its clients.

Emma Dawas, HR Manager at Scitech, said: “We recognise the importance of maintaining high levels of competency in all skill sets and not just through technical abilities. In offering regular training, we can ensure that our staff feel confident, equipped and supported to deliver high quality work and safeguard against unnecessary stresses.

“We have been working with Bespoke Training for five years now and are always impressed by how Anne and the team personalise each session according to the needs of the individual team members attending to ensure everyone gets what they need from the session.”

The leadership and management training is just one of the many professional development workshops provided alongside lunch & learns, CPD sessions and access to training via our online training platform. We also encourage attendance at relevant conferences and seminars to ensure staff learning and insight within the sector is up-to-date.

Anne Messer, Managing Director at Bespoke Training Services, said: “It is so important for companies to recognise that training isn’t a checkbox exercise and that investing in people and people management is crucial to any business success. Scitech is very good at recognising this. I have enjoyed working with Scitech and its employees for many years, ensuring that they have the skills they need.”

To find out more about working for Scitech, explore our Careers section on our website.