Manufacturers will break the mould to beat the downturn

Posted on 13 Nov 2008 by The Manufacturer

Manufacturers are turning towards innovation in an attempt to proactively alleviate the threat of recession, according to research from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme (KTP).

The survey by KTP – a non-profit, part government-funded programme which links businesses with academic institutions to facilitate bespoke vocational training – revealed half of manufacturers have increased their focus on innovation and product design due to the growth of global markets. Respondents said heightened innovation provides the marketability for UK manufacturers to compete with low cost economies.

In fact, 64 per cent said innovation was even more important during a downturn, suggesting manufacturers are adopting strategic plans to ‘recession-proof’ rather than just shoring up through tactical means.

Two-thirds say the main internal company culture they now adopt is one of ‘ideas and knowledge sharing’ while a similar number said investment priorities now lie in staff training and skills as a way of ‘future-proofing’ their business.

“These are clearly very testing times for the manufacturing sector and businesses must focus both on short term survival, as well as longer term stability in a global marketplace,” says Dr Debbie Buckley-Golder, Programme Director for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

“KTP continues to work to bring together businesses with the higher and further education sectors to facilitate effective knowledge transfer in the UK. We were reassured to see that survey respondents recognise the value of knowledge sharing and innovation in helping to future-proof their business – as well as an investment in the developing the skills of their workforce.

“This positive attitude to innovation will help to strengthen sector expertise in the longer term and we strongly encourage more companies to consider collaboration with academic partners. Our competitiveness in the UK could depend on our ability to share the rich base of knowledge produced by this type of collaboration.”

The KTP – led by the Technology Strategy Board – is appealing for more manufacturers to begin innovation-focussed collaborative partnerships and has case studies available on its website. Visit or call 0870 190 2829.

200 manufacturers were surveyed for the KTP’s research.