Flexibility, innovative thinking and collaboration

Foreword: Innovate UK

Key to grasping the many
opportunities the UK faces

David Elson, Head of Manufacturing and Materials at Innovate UK

Successful UK manufacturing and materials sectors are fundamental for UK economic growth and competitiveness, key to improving the resilience and security of supply, and vital to achieving environmental and sustainability targets. However, the full importance is at times underestimated.  

The influence goes beyond the impressive economic figures outlined throughout this publication. Manufacturing and materials companies enable their own employees, and those of the wider supply chain, to enjoy fulfilling, challenging and well-paid jobs. Oxford Economics has estimated that “for each job in the manufacturing sector itself, a further 1.8 are supported in other areas of the UK economy”. 

The resilience of the UK to disruptive events is underpinned by the manufacturing and materials sectors. Supply chains are highly sophisticated global networks that can be exposed to both supply-side and demand-side risks. Manufacturers have a proven ability to adapt and reconfigure when under stress to support demand for essential products and services as exemplified during the recent pandemic. This ability is fundamental for the UK’s future resilience. 

Environmentally, the sectors have a key role to play. It is of course essential to address direct emissions from company operations and the indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling. It is also critical to improve decision making by accounting for the energy, and thus emissions, associated with goods that are designed or specified in the UK but imported either as raw materials, components or fully assembled products. 

We see a number of challenges but also a great many opportunities. The scarcity of resources, pace of technological change, global competition, skills availability and the urgent need to decarbonise and embrace sustainability are all stressors that require leadership and demand constant transformation.

With flexibility, innovative thinking and collaboration – both nationally and internationally – we believe UK manufacturing and materials companies can thrive and become the destination of choice for low and zero carbon manufacturing. 

The next few pages highlight how Innovate UK supports manufacturing in the UK and illustrates a selection of the companies we work with. They explain how we aim to: 

• Inspire innovative businesses to work collaboratively to solve key societal challenges 

• Involve people by building networks and communities, linking businesses with support

• Invest to help progress innovations through grants and loans 

The engaging content within this UK Manufacturing Outlook publication demonstrates an incredible breadth of capability, proving the UK is well-positioned to meet the opportunities presented by a fast-changing world. Innovate UK is here to support businesses to find and exploit these opportunities. 

Learn more at www.ukri.org/councils/innovate-uk

“The UK is well-positioned to meet the opportunities presented by a fast-changing world”

David Elson, Head of Manufacturing and Materials at Innovate UK