Our New  Workshop Manager brings F1 Engineering Expertise to CRL - Central Research Laboratory Skip to main content

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The CRL community has access to two exceptional growth programmes for tech hardware start-ups and a co-working space in the original home of invention and innovation, formerly known as the EMI research laboratories.


At the beating heart of our space, we offer world class prototyping facilities, open 24 hours a day, attracting the UK’s top hardware inventors, entrepreneurs and established scaleups. Just part of the reason that inspired our new Workshop Manager, Simon Hayden to join us.


After studying motorsports engineering, while also working on classic cars, Simon was lucky enough to go straight into a job in Formula 1, as a race mechanic for the Mercedes F1 team.


He spent an intense 5 years working on the development team and was involved in everything from rapid prototyping to running race cars. After the rarefied atmosphere of F1, Simon took a 6 month travel break.  By the time he returned, he was ready for an exciting new career challenge.


                                      What attracted you to CRL?

SH: I like what CRL is doing – it’s a great environment for innovation and it’s new and fresh. The workshops have some impressive machining and fabrication equipment, including two CNC mills and a full suite of CAD software, which makes them better equipped than probably any other tech co-working space in London. For me this is a great opportunity to work with real tech innovators at the various points in their journeys.


Our members come a long way to use the facilities here and it’s my job to make sure that everything runs smoothly so that they can do what they need to do to make their products a reality. In terms of the work that’s going on, and the kind of products that people are developing, there’s a lot of variety – everyone’s doing something exciting and different, and they all need different things from the workshops.

The start-ups are supported by the CRL product development team, which includes project managers, experienced business mentors and interns, and with my background in prototyping I can help them find solutions. For me, I like the variety and the challenges that come with that.

                                     So, what are the challenges?

SH: Instead of being a technician, with a narrow focus, I’m managing a whole range of facilities. Of course, an important part of that is making sure that everyone is competent to work safely in a shared space. It’s about finding the best way to run the workshops, and manage the users, with the necessary health and safety considerations, without stifling creativity. One of the biggest challenges will be implementing solid structures and processes to keep them working for everybody.

I can be dealing with a mix of users on any given day. The control measures are in place and I have to make sure that everyone has the right level of training before they can work safely on the equipment.

                                      What’s new in the pipeline?

SH: In just over a year, we will have an exciting new, bigger and more co-working site and extensive facility workshops at The Powerhouse – being built now and just a minutes’ walk away. It’s not often you get to design your own workshops but I’ve been involved in planning them with the architects and interior designers. I’ve taken inspiration from bespoke kitchen designers for the most efficient layouts for workflow, and I’ve really enjoyed working out how it’s all going to function. The new workshops are going to be amazing!


On the day-to-day, Simon is more involved with the co-working space and making sure the workshops function at their ultimate best. He says he’s already seen some great products in the making and met some of the CRL community. In his words, some of the innovations coming through the workshops would give a motor racing team, with all the finances behind it, a run for their money and he’s looking forward to working with the tech entrepreneurs.


If you are looking for inspiring co-working space, maker space, world class prototype facilities or you’re on your tech start-up journey, why not pop in and take a look at what lies at the heart of the CRL community? Contact Katia Padilha katia@centralresearchlaboratory.com.