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National Manufacturing Debate 2013: Does the UK need a manufacturing strategy?

This fourth national debate focussed on whether a national manufacturing strategy is needed and if it could achieve a 20% GDP by 2020.

Inefficient Foreign Trade Agreements (FTAs), the lack of joined up thinking between industry, Government and education, and the need for more young people to choose manufacturing were some of the many comments at this year’s National Manufacturing Debate 2013 hosted by Cranfield University.

This fourth national debate focussed on whether a national manufacturing strategy is needed and if it could achieve a 20% GDP by 2020, something that Professor Rajkumar Roy, Head of the Manufacturing and Materials Department at the University believes is possible, but “only with input from British people.”

Heading the speaker line-up, was Lord Alec Broers who stated that manufacturing output is currently 10 to 11% of the UKs GDP, but still accounts for half of exports. He commented that in order to get anywhere near the 20% goal, “the UK needs to find the means to grow small and medium companies (SMEs) and to sustain large organisations.”

Minister Mike Fallon made the point that countries like Brazil, Russia and South Africa are threats to UK manufacturing, but he also pointed out that they offered potential for export opportunities and noted that the Government is committed to providing a fiscal framework to encourage manufacturing in the UK. He said: “Manufacturing has the potential to contribute to future resilience. There are signs that things are improving, but we mustn’t get complacent. There is more to be done but this is a challenge the Government is fully committed to taking up.”  

Stephen Odell, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe, stated that current Foreign Trade Agreements “need proper implementation” in order to work effectively. EU regulations “make an average car approximately twice as expensive as it otherwise would be.” He highlighted the imbalance in the South Korean Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Europe, pointing out that South Korea imported 200,000 cars from Europe in the first year, with Europe importing nearly 1 million cars from South Korea.

John Elliot, Founder and Chairman of dehumidifier manufacturer Ebac, which is bringing the manufacture of its washing machines back to the UK, also commented on the inefficiencies in FTAs. He pointed out that: “the global imbalance has created the problem….the UK has got to be able to trade evenly. It is up to Government to address this at an international level.” John suggested that if two countries can’t trade evenly, the currencies should be adjusted.

Dick Elsy, CEO of organisation High Value Manufacturing Catapult, said he thought a strategic national approach was the right decision for the manufacturing industry. The Catapult, developed by the Technology Strategy Board, helps small companies to scale up their innovations by demonstrating their practicality for commercialisation and investment. “It’s about giving manufacturer a reason to stay in the UK.”

The lively afternoon debate was chaired by Maggie Philbin, BBC reporter, and generated many comments from the audience on a variety of subjects from materials to sustainability. The panel agreed that manufacturing has the potential to improve the economy of the UK, young people being the key to the future of the sector, as are their teachers and mentors. A number of the panellists also noted that it is important to find ways to bridge ‘the valley of death’ – turning innovative conceptual ideas into reality. Collaborative efforts of large organisations in partnering or mentoring SMEs could be the key to success.

Summing up, Maggie commented that if it isn’t a national strategy that is required, then it is certainly a form of manufacturing ‘ecosytem’ incorporating all elements of the manufacturing industry, from academia, to SMEs, Government and large international corporations, working together.

Presentations from this event are now available to view.

 

Brian Holliday, Divisional Director - Industry Automation, Siemens plc

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Brian Holliday, Divisional Director - Industry Automation, Siemens plc

Brian Holliday

From: National Manufacturing Debate 2013, Cranfield University, 21 May 2013

2013-05-21 | Manufacturing Channel

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Dick Elsy, CEO, High Value Manufacturing Catapult

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Dick Elsy, CEO, High Value Manufacturing Catapult

Dick Elsey

From: National Manufacturing Debate 2013, Cranfield University, 21 May 2013

2013-05-21 | Manufacturing Channel

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John Elliott, Founder and Chairman of Ebac

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John Elliott, Founder and Chairman of Ebac

John Elliott

From: National Manufacturing Debate 2013, Cranfield University, 21 May 2013

2013-05-21 | Manufacturing Channel

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Martin McKervey, Partner, Nabarro LLP

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Martin McKervey, Partner, Nabarro LLP

Martin McKervey

From: National Manufacturing Debate 2013, Cranfield University, 21 May 2013

2013-05-21 | Manufacturing Channel

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Michael Fallon, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise

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Michael Fallon, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise

Martin Fallon

From: National Manufacturing Debate 2013, Cranfield University, 21 May 2013

2013-05-21 | Manufacturing Channel

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National Manufacturing Debate

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National Manufacturing Debate

Maggie Philbin

From: National Manufacturing Debate 2013, Cranfield University, 21 May 2013

2013-05-21 | Manufacturing Channel

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Peter Marsh, former Manufacturing Editor, Financial Times

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Peter Marsh, former Manufacturing Editor, Financial Times

Peter Marsh

From: National Manufacturing Debate 2013, Cranfield University, 21 May 2013

2013-05-21 | Manufacturing Channel

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Stephen Odell, Chairman and CEO Ford of Europe

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Stephen Odell, Chairman and CEO Ford of Europe

Stephen Odell

From: National Manufacturing Debate 2013, Cranfield University, 21 May 2013

2013-05-21 | Manufacturing Channel

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The context and setting the scene

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The context and setting the scene

Professor Rajkumar Roy

From: National Manufacturing Debate 2013, Cranfield University, 21 May 2013

2013-05-21 | Manufacturing Channel

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Welcome and Introduction to the National Manufacturing Debate 2013

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Welcome and Introduction to the National Manufacturing Debate 2013

Lord Alec Broers, Kt, FRS, FREng

From: National Manufacturing Debate 2013, Cranfield University, 21 May 2013

2013-05-21 | Manufacturing Channel

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Welcome to Cranfield University

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Welcome to Cranfield University

Prof Clifford Friend

From: National Manufacturing Debate 2013, Cranfield University, 21 May 2013

2013-05-21 | Manufacturing Channel

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