Academics and industrialists are being invited to join a network to help shape the future of British manufacturing.

The Manufacturing Futures Network, to be launched at a workshop at Aston Business School Conference Centre in Birmingham on Friday 17 November, will assess ways of developing – and sustaining – a strong future for the manufacturing industries.

Dr Ben Clegg, operation management lecturer at Aston Business School, said, ‘We aim to raise the debate about the competitive bases of UK manufacturing, and this network forms an integral part of that, by influencing both policy and practice’.

Dr Jill MacBryde, a senior management science lecturer at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, is leading the project. She said, ‘The idea of forming a network initially stemmed from a group of academics who were passionate about manufacturing.’

MacBryde added, ‘We hope that by bringing together a core of committed people from academia and industry, we can not only help safeguard UK manufacturing but develop and sustain it. Manufacturing has for centuries been a core part of the economy, producing value-added products and well-paid, highly skilled jobs. With innovative technology, management and people, manufacturing can have a very healthy future in the UK.’

Speakers at the workshop will include representatives from Rolls Royce, Nissan, the Sector Skills Council (SEMTA), Renishaw and the University of Cambridge. The Manufacturing Futures Network is supported by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).