The Manufacturer Collaboration Challenge – event review

Posted on 19 Dec 2013 by Tim Brown

The final session on day one of The Manufacturer Directors’ Conference (MDC) saw the first in what is planned to become a series of events titled The Manufacturer Collaboration Challenge.

The premise of the events is to ascertain whether the UK has the wherewithal to produce locally some of the products that are currently imported in large quantities. As an example, research conducted by The Manufacturer revealed that from June to August in 2013, the UK exported £13m worth of children’s scooters but imported almost £180m over the same period. Similar results were revealed for products including torches, watches, microwaves, mens trousers, bicycles and many more.

This particular version was run as a fun light hearted competition but, for future versions, The Manufacturer is looking to pull together manufacturers into potential real collaboration partnerships and investigate the true feasibility of creating such products in the UK using a UK-based supply chain. This will be done in conjunction with market research and feasibility studies from universities, retailers and OEMs.

For this iteration, teams were divided up into four job roles: a design engineer, a finance director, a procurement manager and a marketing manager.

The challenge was kicked off by a presentation by John Elliot, the chairman of Ebac, which is commencing production of a UK-made washing machine in 2014.

Following his thought provoking speech, the teams were then allocated products which included a bicycle, a torch and a child’s scooter, and asked to create a brand, a logo, a product design, identify local manufacturing suppliers, generate a list of competitors, allocate a budget for cap ex, and perform a cost analysis.

In the end the winner of the competition was the torch brand LIT, which scored very well in both the design and marketing elements. The bicycle brand Creepa also faired well but came a close second due to deductions caused by cap ex funding issues. The Scooter brand came in just behind in third place with a highly commended effort.


The Manufacturer is looking to run new versions of The Manufacturer Collaboration Challenge in the new year with real world products and is inviting UK manufacturers, who are looking to expand their client and product portfolio, to register their interest now.

We are also looking for OEMs, large manufacturers and retailers to submit product ideas which will be considered in the next round of The Collaboration Challenge.

This is your chance to help start to swing the balance of trade in a positive direction. Don’t sit idly by. Get involved by emailing Tim Brown – [email protected]

Logos completed by graphic design company Optic Juice.
Product design and judging completed by contract product designers Renfrew Group International.
Digital marketing and judging completed by web designers Xanda.