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1 minute read

New research shows UK manufacturers must partner to prosper

Subcon, the defining event in the manufacturing supply chain calendar, has unveiled figures showing more than a third of UK manufacturing and engineering companies have put innovation programmes on hold in the past year amidst excessive costs and a lack of collaboration to spread the risk.

49% of manufacturers surveyed fund innovation wholly internally as part of an established R&D strategy / Picture: Getty/iStock


The research also revealed:

Incremental changes to design processes and production is the dominant form of innovation amongst UK manufacturers and engineering businesses
Nearly half (49 per cent) fund innovation wholly internally as part of an established R&D strategy
A further 35 per cent fund innovation wholly internally on an ad hoc basis
15% of UK manufacturers and engineering companies collaborate with companies in their own sector
Just 3 per cent of respondents collaborate with academia and a further 9 per cent collaborate with businesses outside their own sector

The research also shows that whilst excessive cost is by far the biggest reason to stop innovation programmes, change in management and a lack of skills available are also substantial threats.

Subcon’s event director, Gordon Kirk said: “These figures tell a story of UK manufacturing companies taking a cautious and pragmatic approach to innovation. This is entirely understandable and has delivered great results throughout the industrial sector. But there is an unmistakable air of missed opportunities.

“Cross-sector collaboration can inject truly disruptive thinking into long-running challenges, and programmes that pull in academia or businesses outside of your own area, can spread the risk of innovation. This is going to form a key part of the speaker programme at Subcon with speakers including Prof. Kenny Dalgarno, Deputy Director, MEDE, showing how academia and business can work together and Chris Aylett, CEO, Motorsport Industries Association showing how technology can transfer across sectors. We look forward to seeing new partnerships develop and drive innovation throughout UK plc.”

Subcon takes place 5th – 7th June at The NEC: Subcon 2018