Business innovation is key to manufacturers’ success at home and overseas, and is seen as a critical part of their growth strategies, according to a new survey published by EEF and Santander.
Business innovation helps manufacturers to do things better; it also helps them to enter new export markets, as well as to seek new domestic markets. It’s about much more than new products and new markets; and as a result, the breadth and focus of manufacturers’ business innovation activities have changed significantly in recent years.
Confirming the dominance of industry research & development (R&D) spend, the survey highlights the ongoing prioritisation of investment on innovation in the past three years. While the development of new and improved products remains critical in meeting customer requirements and cementing manufacturer’s position in global value chains, process innovation is becoming even more important.
A balance of 37% of companies surveyed, agreed that process innovation is more important than other forms of business innovation. This growing importance Is being driven by the need for complementary innovation to deliver leading edge production techniques in support of new products, the need to increase the flexibility of product processes and the increasingly pressing need to improve productivity.
A £250m, 200-acre manufacturing hub is set to be developed on the site of a former Rolls-Royce maintenance depot in Coventry in one of the biggest industrial schemes announced in the UK for several years. Rolls-Royce is partnering with Manse and Opus Land to develop the project on a site close to Ansty Park.
There are no details yet on who potential tenants might be, but it is thought the scheme will be capable of supporting thousands of jobs and provide a massive boost to the economy of both Coventry and the wider West Midlands and Warwickshire.
British manufacturers reported stronger growth in October, driven by higher domestic demand and export orders.
The IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to 56.3 last month, from 56 in September. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. It was the fifteenth consecutive month of expansion for the sector.
“UK manufacturing made an impressive start to the final quarter of 2017 as increased inflows of new work encouraged firms to ramp up production,” said Rob Dobson, a senior economist at IHS Markit.
The report said the UK domestic market was the prime source of new manufacturing orders. However, growth of the consumer goods sector fell to a seven-month low as new contracts eased. New export orders increased at a slightly slower pace as well, due to the recent fluctuations in sterling.
More than 50% of manufacturers surveyed said they expected output to be higher in one year’s time.