Engineering remains a huge part of the UK economy, contributing about 23 per cent of the UK turnover and employing just under one in five people in the UK workforce. There are many challenges to maintaining and hopefully improving on this formula - not least finding a workable solution to the Brexit conundrum - but one vital piece of the puzzle is ensuring that the engineering wealth-generators of tomorrow are able to grow and prosper.
The UK doesn’t have a great track record in this regard. But there are positive signs that things are changing. In early 2018, research by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub suggested strongly that the UK no longer lags behind the US when it comes to engineering start-ups.
Building on this, however, is vital and there are a number of ways that industry, academia, government and the media can help.
Firstly, it’s time to end the increasingly outdated distinction between engineering and ‘technology’. If the sector is to cast its net wide, tap into the opportunities presented by the blurring boundaries between once distinct area and attract fresh talent, it must address perceptions that it stands apart from other industries.
Secondly, the broader UK engineering community also needs to be encouraged to become less risk averse. Addressing this is perhaps doubly difficult in the uncertain climate created by Brexit, but it’s vital that fledgling firms are given the confidence to take those first bold steps, and that larger companies are emboldened to help them on their way.
And finally, despite UK industry’s strong track record of collaborating with the academic research base, there is still more that can be done to tap into this source of innovation. Indeed, according to the latest research carried out by The Engineer’s sister event Subcon, just 3 per cent of engineering businesses collaborate with academia to drive innovation.
In our own small effort to help address this, The Engineer is pleased to support Subcon’s Launchpad initiative, which will give eight British engineering start-ups a free platform to share their innovations with thousands of senior industry decision makers.
Each of the eight start-ups will also be entered into the inaugural Subcon Launchpad Awards, the winner of which will receive a £10,000 package including a free stand on the main floor at Subcon 2021 as well as PR and marketing support.
Qualifying businesses must be under two years old with a product or service that relates to engineering and/or manufacturing.
To enter and to find out more visit: http://www.subconshow.co.uk