Innovative thinking

At last, an informed debate about the role of innovation in the future of UK manufacturing which deserves much recognition for raising a topic long overdue for nationwide debate.


At last, an informed debate about the role of innovation in the future of UK manufacturing (Comment, 29 January) which deserves much recognition for raising a topic long overdue for nationwide debate.

Much has been written and said about the need to embrace innovation — as if it were some holy grail that will lead to manufacturing salvation. The truth is that nobody can really define what it means in practical terms — especially to the micro businesses, which make up around 85 per cent of London’s manufacturing base, for example.

Couple innovation with ‘hi-tech’ and ‘high-value’ manufacturing — additional phrases which have also come to symbolise a brave vision, but are not easily defined or understood — and we have the complete range of fundamental issues at the heart of the debate.

None of these by itself provides the solution, as you allude to. The answer lies in an even broader and bolder proposition — an holistic approach.

Our solution to future survival and prosperity surely is to embrace innovation, technology, and high-value manufacturing — to lead and leverage our business offering — and differentiate ourselves from our competitors.

The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) which operates across all manufacturing sectors, and a range of SMEs can cite many examples of enlightened businesses which have done just that and are reaping the benefits of export growth and increased profits, as well as a secure future — despite offshore competition.

In addition, if we look — and learn — from some of the high wage economies in Europe which have added a product-centred, export-led, high-premium, quality brand approach to their positioning we may just produce the right vision and strategy to secure what we have left, and help reverse some of the recent manufacturing decline.

Colin Allaway

MAS, London