Essex spotlight: Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence (CEME)

CEME is a 19-acre campus in Rainham, within the boundaries of historic Essex but also plugged in to the entrepreneurial energy and enthusiasm of East London.

Set-up as a partnership between the London Development Agency and Ford Motor Company in 2003, CEME has been a catalyst for sustainable technologies, advanced manufacturing and knowledge-led business sectors in the Thames Gateway, a development area stretching 43 miles from London all the way along the south coast of Essex.

Uniquely, CEME offers fully equipped engineering spaces. These include access to sheet metal, milling/turning and bench workshops, along with a controls & electronics lab, welding bay, and a manned and fully stocked engineering store.

These units are based in a shared working environment, with the option to additionally rent secure and self-contained workshops.


The 19-acre Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence (CEME) campus is home to more than 100 industrial tenants, who have created over 3,500 new jobs and delivered in excess of 500 engineering apprenticeships.


Now home to more than 100 engineering, technology and training businesses, CEME provides state-of-the-art workshop and office facilities on a flexible ‘easy-in, easy-out’ basis.

“During the lock-down we were able to easily release offices to cut-costs,” reveals Joseph Nnodim, Founder of Incyyte, one of a cluster of digitally focused tech start-ups at CEME.

Start-ups are obviously attracted to this pay-as-you-go rental model, but the ability to scale-up or scale-back your space requirements has obviously proven extremely valuable in the current Covid-19 crisis for more established manufacturing businesses.

“The flexibility of the office and workshop space at CEME has been invaluable. We’re not tied into any long-term contract, so we can reduce our office space and therefore our operating costs very easily. This is especially important during times of business disruption,” says Inder Panesar, Managing Director with product development and manufacturing specialist Mesh-Net.

“The networking opportunities at CEME have also been really useful in growing our professional network as well as expanding our customer base and supply chain.”

This flexibility, along with its location, has created a significant impact over the last 17 years – helping industrial tenants to create more than 3,500 new jobs, and delivering over 500 engineering apprenticeships.

This article first appeared in the June issue of The Manufacturer magazine. Click here to subscribe 

A catalyst for innovation

If you bring enough talent together with the promise of easy access to great facilities, you create a self-reinforcing cycle of opportunity creation – and CEME is now as much a community hub and mentorship network, as it is an industrial and office property landlord.

HSSMI, the High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Research Institute, started its life as a department within CEME. Now standing on its own two feet it employs 60 engineering staff, focused on pioneering future developments in vehicle technology and advanced manufacturing, with offices in Glasgow and Birmingham in addition to its East London head office.

“Without CEME’s experience and support during our first three years I’m certain HSSMI would not exist today,” says Dr Leslie Lee, Executive Director, HSSMI. “In so many areas their influence and good practice has shaped our organisation, to allow us to become one of the leading independent manufacturing innovation institutes in the UK.”

CEME runs an active programme of monthly networking events and workshops helping industrial tenants to acquire new knowledge and develop fresh skills and contacts to support the growth of their business.

“It’s a good place for start-up companies there’s a lot of support and it’s a nice working environment,” adds Steve Rushbrook, CEO, VMR Draughting. “You’ve always got someone on hand to help you out. Everybody works together, if you need any help it’s there. For a small business it’s a fantastic opportunity.”