Business Secretary Vince Cable today opened a new exhibition at the Science Museum in London to show young people and the general public what Britain makes and the rewarding career opportunities available in British manufacturing.
The campaign, with a budget of £3 million, was launched last year to change outdated perceptions of manufacturing, including dispelling the myth that the UK ‘doesn’t make anything any more’, a misconception that has contributed to a shortage of skills in the sector.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Generating £137bn each year and employing 2.5 million people, manufacturing is a vital part of the UK’s economy. Perceptions of the industry are outdated and need to change if we are going to attract the talent needed to support manufacturing in the long term. Both Government and industry have a role to play, which is why we launched the Make it in Great Britain campaign and are hosting this exhibition.”
The Business Secretary joined business minister Mark Prisk to launch the Make it in Great Britain Exhibition, which is running for six weeks during the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The exhibition features a mixture of iconic names but also a number small and medium sized businesses such as Elfab, Evac+Chair, Ultra Global and Topper Sailboats.
Ian Blatchford, director of the Science Museum said: “The Science Museum and its world leading collections demonstrate some of the greatest engineering achievements of the last 200-years, and the Make it in Great Britain exhibition is no exception, highlighting the exciting places that UK manufacturing could take us in the next few years and beyond.”
Showcasing alongside the businesses are the finalists of the Make it in Great Britain Challenge – a competition to seek out the next big pre-market products or ideas from across the UK. These include a new technology which could offer relief to tinnitus sufferers and an eco-friendly alternative to everyday cement that could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90%.
Mr Blatchford noted how science, technology and engineering have all been used to solve problems throughout history, from light-bulbs and televisions to inventions such as the Stephenson’s Rocket locomotive on show at the museum, which have all gone on to contribute to British manufacturing.
As part of the Challenge, all finalists of the Make it in Great Britain Breakthrough category were put to a public vote ahead of the exhibition, with the winner being crowned the ‘People’s Choice’. Bedflex, a device designed by a group of BAE Systems apprentices to assist the recovery of amputees and critical care patients by allowing them to take part in bed-based exercises, has today been named as the winner.
Throughout the exhibition the public will vote on what finalists they want to win across all five categories. The winners from each category will go on display together during the final week of the exhibition. An overall competition winner will then be chosen. Entry is free to the Make it in Great Britain Exhibition which will be on display until 09 September 2012.