Manufacturing is now fully recognised as being key to a truly balanced economy in the UK. With an increase in factory output of 2.7% in 2014, UK manufacturing companies look to be in a better position than most to weather the ongoing turmoil in the global economy and the Eurozone in particular.
Maintaining such strong performance in times of more challenging trade conditions however, requires a long-term approach and ongoing commitment from the manufacturing industry, as well as UK government and our research base.
The recent government Science and Innovation Strategy sets out an encouraging vision to support a balanced economy through the commercialisation of our world leading research. The HVM Catapult is seen a key player in the process of bridging the gap between invention and exploitation.
I’m convinced that we have our offer right and this is evidenced by the very strong take-up of our services by industry. We therefore need to continue to focus on offering our technical capability – equipment, expertise, infrastructure – to manufacturing companies of all sizes in the UK. Going forward we plan to increase our focus on innovation hungry SME’s where we see real opportunity to help to embed new value in the UK. We also plan to reach out to broader parts of the manufacturing sector, as textiles and food and drink – which have not yet fully exploited the competitive benefits they could derive from working with us.
Another area of increased focus will be training and skills. Developing the skilled workforce of tomorrow, equipped with knowledge and understanding of emerging technologies, is essential to enabling UK industry to compete in global markets. The National College for Advanced Manufacturing – announced in December 2014 – is collaboration between the HVM Catapult and the EEF. It will identify the needs of industry and develop training provision to develop world-class practical skills to meet those needs.
We have seen real success in advanced manufacturing in the UK over recent years and I strongly believe ongoing commitment from UK government, combined with collaborative work from industry and organisations such as EEF and the HVM Catapult will see manufacturing continuing to perform well in years to come.