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UK manufacturers `need to move to high-value products`
Published:  09 May, 2008

UK manufacturers must respond to the challenges from global competition by moving towards high-value products, processes and services. This was the message from the Technology Strategy Board as it launched its three-year strategic plan to develop the UK’s manufacturing industry.

"Manufacturing in comparatively high wage economies, such as the UK, has had to change radically to remain globally competitive," the Board’s lead technologist for advanced manufacturing, Peter Flinn, said at the launch. "Rapid change will continue for the foreseeable future and the development path for manufacturing in the UK is one where its composition will continue to move away from the traditional areas towards high-value, knowledge-intensive goods. The emphasis of activity will not just be on production, but will embrace provision of lifetime service, around a manufactured product."

In its strategy paper, High Value Manufacturing 2008 – 2011, the Technology Strategy Board explains that the challenge for UK manufacturers is to remain competitive in this changing environment, and to be continually innovative. The Board’s broad aim is to invest in UK manufacturers to maintain and develop their international competitiveness.

Peter Flinn

"The overall aim is for the Technology Strategy Board to invest in the development of the UK to maintain its place as one of the world’s leading manufacturing locations," explained Flinn (above). "The UK has a broad range of world-class manufacturing companies, both small and large, and has demonstrated how a nation can evolve from a traditional manufacturing base by applying modern manufacturing philosophies and by applying technology. We want to present the UK as a country where high-value manufacturing can prosper."

The high-value manufacturing initiative is part of a wider strategy by the Technology Strategy Board to make the UK a global leader in innovation. To achieve this, it plans invest more than £1bn over the coming three years, attracting a further £1bn of private sector investment.

Launching the Board’s strategic plan, Connect and Catalyse – a strategy for business innovation, chief executive Iain Gray summarised the Board’s role as "ensuring that the UK is in the forefront of technology-enabled innovation".

Gray explained that the Board’s plans include:
• developing a strategy for promoting the rapid commercialisation of emerging technologies and industries;
• doubling the number of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, and increasing their flexibility;
• piloting a reformed Small Business Research Initiative; and
• working to maximise the positive impact of government procurement on innovation.

"We want to make the UK a global leader in innovation," Gray said. "That is our destination, and this strategic plan is our roadmap for the coming few years."

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