Manufacturing barometer points to growth

News editor

We start the week with some encouraging news from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), which has just released the results of its latest Barometer survey.

The organisation questioned 607 manufacturing SMEs and found that 55 per cent expect to grow between now and March 2013, with 41 per cent of firms looking to invest in plant and machinery and 38 per cent planning to spend on new technology.

Materials/general engineering (42 per cent), automotive (39 per cent) and defence (35 per cent) were identified as sectors SMEs are selling into and – looking at sales growth to 2016 – aerospace, marine, rail appear, and off shore wind attractive propositions for companies aiming to increase moderate sales to a significant level.

You can request a full copy of the report by emailing

On an equally positive note, MIRA, the motor industry research association, says it has taken a step toward its ambition of becoming Europe’s most advanced independent transport technology solutions provider with the completion of a new control centre.

Representing £6m of investment, the building is located in MIRA Technology Park, which has so far attracted Bosch Engineering, Lockheed Martin, Ashok Leyland, Norgren and Triumph Motorcycles to take up secure facilities on site.

Business secretary Vince Cable is due to open the new facility today.

Still in the Midlands and news from Birmingham University, which has announced a new Innovation Voucher competition.

Awarded competitively and designed to help develop and grow businesses, the vouchers provide access to experts at the university who can help bring a fresh perspective to specific challenges.

The university adds that the voucher can be used to fund all types of innovation, research, consultancy and testing with key themes covering – but not being restricted to – advanced materials, energy or medicine.

More details can be found here.

On a similar theme, the UWE Conference Centre hosts Venturefest Bristol 2012 this Wednesday.

The organiser tells us that the all-day event is free to attend and aimed at SMEs looking for funding opportunities and support, investors looking for new opportunities, and researchers looking to commercialise their work.

This year’s event includes an Innovation Showcase where up to 30 of the best new and emerging technology business concepts will be chosen to demonstrate their ideas to large corporates, prospective investors and business support providers.

The good folk of The Engineer’s marketing team have asked for an early heads-up on next year’s Subcon exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham.

Held in conjunction with MWP advanced manufacturing magazine, Subcon is the UK’s only dedicated national exhibition for contract and subcontract manufacturing and will be joined by The Advanced Manufacturing Show, which will be supported by MWP, and a two-day summit organised by The Engineer.

More information on Subcon, to be held between 4 to 6 June 2013, can be found here.

Finally, most of you probably guessed that Monday October 22’s Briefing was written on Friday October 19, given that I was due to fly to sunny climes on Sunday October 21 for a week’s holiday.

Before packing my bucket and spade I paid a visit to London’s Barbican Centre to attend the riveting Battle of Ideas, a weekend of topical discussions about pressing issues in education, the arts, economics and so forth that engaged speakers and attendees alike in a format that was informal and informative.

Unfortunately my comments on this event didn’t make it into October 22nd’s Briefing, but it was a fascinating couple of days. One particularly pertinent strand was called Making it in the 21st Century. Sessions included debates on manufacturing’s place in the UK economy; the likelihood of fracking ever being adopted in Britain; and a discussion that asked if engineering is still pushing boundaries or simply retreading old ground.

Make a point of looking up next year’s Battle of Ideas. It’s bound to be remarkable.