A new initiative of up to £125m is being set up to improve the global competitiveness of UK advanced manufacturing supply chains, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced yesterday.
The Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative aims to help existing UK supply chains to 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 fulfill 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 highlighted how recent economic and natural shocks have shown the fragility of long distance and single source supply chains. “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,” said Dr Cable said.
He added: “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.”
The programme will complement and work alongside other publicly funded schemes such as the Regional Growth Fund, Growth and Innovation Fund, Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) and UK Trade and Investment to maximise impact.
Applications will be assessed by the Technology Strategy Board. Its chief executive, Iain Gray, said: “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.”
Chief executive of manufacturers’ organisation EEF, Terry Scuoler, said: “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.”
John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: “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.”