A new initiative of up to £125 million is being set up to improve the global competitiveness of UK advanced manufacturing supply chains, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced recently.
The Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative aims to help existing UK supply chains grow and achieve world class standards while encouraging major new suppliers to come and manufacture here.
The new fund will support innovative projects in established UK advanced manufacturing sectors such as aerospace, automotive and chemicals. It will also target newer growth areas where the UK is well placed to take a global lead, such as energy renewables and other low carbon sectors.
The competitive fund will invite applications early in the new year and will be flexible in the type of support offered to successful proposals, recognising that to fulfil their potential and address market failures suppliers and supply chains may require a combination of investment in capital equipment, associated research and development and improved skills and training support.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Recent economic and natural shocks such as the ash clouds, tsunami and Japanese earthquake have shown the fragility of long distance and single source supply chains.
“I want to seize on the increased preference that big global companies are showing for co-locating key elements of their supply chains with their UK manufacturing operations.
“British suppliers have a lot to offer and we need to help them realise and develop their strengths and sell them on the international market.
“While still encouraging free trade I also want to gain maximum value for the UK by ensuring our suppliers are in the best position possible to compete for the very significant new private and public investments being made in the UK over the next few years.”
John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said:
“We welcome this new initiative which will help build UK supply chain capability and resilience. It will enhance our manufacturing competitiveness and build on strengths in advanced engineering, research and innovation.
“Better coordination of effort and a concerted focus to develop areas of comparative advantage will create new manufacturing jobs and drive growth as part of a rebalanced economy.
“This initiative will help ensure we make the most of value chain opportunities in key sectors such as chemicals, food, automotive and aerospace. It is a clear step in the right direction as part of a new approach to industrial policy.”
Chief Executive of EEF Terry Scuoler added: “UK suppliers in manufacturing compare with the best in the world but there are simply too few of them. Addressing this shortcoming is vital as many companies are responding to the shocks of recent years by looking afresh at how they manage their supply chains. Now is the right time to provide a serious boost to our domestic capability.”
Applications will be assessed by the Technology Strategy Board. Its Chief Executive, Iain Gray, explained: “Our goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. We are delighted to be involved in running this competition, which provides an opportunity to see innovation move rapidly into the market across whole supply chains in a broad range of advanced manufacturing sectors".
The programme will complement and work alongside other publicly funded schemes such as the Regional Growth Fund, Growth and Innovation Fund, Manufacturing Advisory Service and UK Trade and Investment to maximise impact.