One of the world’s largest nuclear engineering firms – which has a base in West Cumbria – has become the latest to join the Northern Powerhouse Partner Programme.

Assystem – which has an office at Westlakes Science and Technology Park in Moor Row, near Whitehaven – said it was joining the collaboration to help drive economic growth across the North and support the push to encourage more young people to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths), subjects.

The company, which has its UK headquarters in Blackburn and employs 5,700 across the UK, is at the forefront on a number of major developments in the nuclear industry.

Assystem is a partner in a Rolls-Royce-led consortium which is designing a first-of-a-kind Small Modular Reactor (SMR), which, as the name suggests, are smaller than conventional large-scale nuclear power stations, can be constructed off site before installation, and are cheaper to manufacture.

The consortium – which also prominent players in Cumbria’s nuclear sector, the National Nuclear Laboratory, Wood and Nuvia – recently received £18 million worth of funding from the Government to progress its plans, adding the £500m it will invest through its own funds and third-party organisations.

As reported by in-Cumbria last month, representatives from Shepley Engineers Ltd, TSP Engineering and Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster, which has more than 300 members, were among the businesses to showcase how they could support the manufacture of the new reactors.

The first working model is set to be up-and-running in the early 2030s, creating 40,000 jobs at its peak, and generate enough energy to power 750,000 homes.

Assystem is also involved in the development of the new large-scale nuclear power station development at Hinkley Point C and is supporting the creation of the world's largest fusion prototype, ITER in France.

Tom Jones, vice president for international business development at Assystem, said; “Much of our workforce is based in the North of England as well as our UK headquarters, so we have a major interest in helping the economy of the north to grow.

“As the UK now looks to nuclear power to help it meet its net zero carbon emissions targets by 2050, the industry needs young people to embark on STEM subjects and careers in nuclear engineering to fill the skills gap.

“Partnering with Northern Powerhouse will give us the opportunity to raise awareness of the opportunities that the nuclear industry offers, in reducing carbon emissions and providing jobs to the North of England.”

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, the Rt Hon Jake Berry MP added: “Assystem is firmly established at the forefront of innovation in the global nuclear industry and it’s wonderful to see them join our ever-expanding network of over 300 partners.

“This pioneering nuclear engineering firm is well placed to support our commitment to level up our regions and ensure the Northern Powerhouse can take advantage of the global opportunities that come with our departure from the EU on 31 October; I welcome their addition to the partner programme.”