LONDON The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has outlined its proposals to invest in the development of the U.K.’s manufacturing industry and launched a three-year strategic plan to respond to the challenges brought about by the lowering of economic barriers to trade, the reduction in transport costs, the effect of communications technology – and the gravitation of manufacturing to countries of lowest overall cost.
“Manufacturing in comparatively high wage economies such as the U.K., has had to change radically to remain globally competitive,” said Peter Flinn, the Technology Strategy Board’s lead technologist for advanced manufacturing. “Rapid change will continue for the foreseeable future and the continuing development path for manufacturing in the U.K. 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 U.K. manufacturers is to remain competitive in this changing environment, which in turn translates into being continually innovative.
The Technology Strategy Board’s broad aim is to invest in U.K. manufacturing companies to maintain and develop their international competitiveness by focusing on innovation in four broad areas: products, processes, service systems and value systems.
The key recommendations are that the TSB should in 2008 to 2011 invest in the development of U.K. manufacturing industry by running broadly-based collaborative research & development programs; investing in knowledge transfer particularly through engagement with business and the science base; supporting skills development; and promoting international engagement by investing in scoping studies which identify issues and barriers to the global success of U.K. manufacturing
The U.K.is the sixth largest manufacturer by gross value added in the world and has an industry which accounts for 14 to 15 percent of gross domestic product and 50 to 55 percent of exports, as well as employing 3 million people.