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It takes two: research shows UK manufacturers must partner to prosper

30 May 2018

Subcon 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.

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 percent) fund innovation wholly internally as part of an established R&D strategy
• A further 35 percent fund innovation wholly internally on an ad hoc basis
• 15 percent of UK manufacturers and engineering companies collaborate with companies in their own sector
• Just 3 percent of respondents collaborate with academia and a further 9 percent 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.

“These figures tell a story of UK manufacturing companies taking a cautious and pragmatic approach to innovation,” said Gordon Kirk, event director, Subcon. “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.”

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