The United Kingdom is among the world's top 10 manufacturing economies. Whether that country's leadership will continue is open to debate.
“The UK comes in at number seven in largest economies due to their healthy agriculture, electronics, and manufacturing industries,” according to one article. “England has long been considered a leading financial and political power in Europe.” Manufacturing businesses employ 2.5 million people in the UK, contributing 10 percent of the UK GVA (Gross Value Added), and accounts for 54 percent of exports.
The Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the UK's innovation agency, plays an important role helping UK manufacturers to remain competitive in the global market by shifting focus toward high-value, knowledge-rich products, processes, and services. The TSB brings together businesses, research, and the public sector. One of the main goals of the TSB is to support and accelerate the development of innovative products and services to meet international market needs.
The aerospace, pharmaceutical, and automotive industries in the UK have in common an innovative manufacturing sector. These industries have become strong in national and international markets thanks to their high R&D. Both aerospace and automotive industries depend on large and reliable electronics supply chains to keep their current positions in innovation, and they therefore receive TSB support.
In the next 15 to 20 years, it is likely that the UK will be generating wealth from manufacturing innovation. The TSB has established a crystal clear path for UK manufacturing, directing its investment toward innovation identified in 22 national competencies, which are expected to contribute at a great scale to economic growth in the UK.
Innovative business models and value supply chains
I am pretty sure we all agree that without encouragement it is difficult to keep up, whatever the job is. Business communities are no different from individuals. They need encouragement as well in order to develop innovative business models and supply chains.
The Technology Strategy Board is up to investing £10 million in projects that explore new design in additive manufacturing — for example, in 3D printing. Additive manufacturing intelligently combined with new developments in the digital area opens the possibility of manufacturing novel and complex components, which will be the base of the future of manufacturing.
What the future will bring
The world of design manufacturing is changing fast. To cope with the rapid evolution of technology the TSB, during the period 2013/14, is focusing on five high-value manufacturing areas. These areas have been chosen due to their strong potential for innovation to generate wealth:
- Resource efficiency
- Manufacturing systems
- Integration of new materials with manufacturing technologies
- Manufacturing processes
- Manufacturing business models
By having the support of a government agency, many UK-based manufacturers and startups focusing on additive manufacturing and new technologies have a bright future awaiting if they devote their efforts to writing a good business plan for innovation that could not only help their own growth, but could also contribute to the wealth of the UK. I believe, from what I have seen in the recent exhibition at the Design Museum in London — The Future Is Here, sponsored by the TSB — that there is no doubt we are living a new industrial revolution.