This first survey of over 250 manufacturing companies in the spring of 2008 sought firms’ views on their overall strategy, the range of innovations and innovative activities they undertake, their sources for innovative ideas, support and finance – effectively what they’re doing and how good they are at it.
Over the past 12 months, UK manufacturing has remained resilient in spite of sustained turbulence in financial markets, the price of oil pushing towards $150 per barrel and the US economy on the brink of recession. This continued strength reflects a range of changes that companies have made in how they run their business – including investing in innovation.
Faced with low-cost competition, more manufacturers are choosing to compete on the basis of customer service and quality and less on price. Consequently, more companies are using innovation to add value, cut cost and become more efficient.
But as the credit crunch continues to weigh on the UK economy, some parts of manufacturing are beginning to show the strain. While innovation isn’t a panacea for a weaker economy, some manufacturers have used innovation to make their business more competitive and take advantage of still-healthy markets abroad by becoming more customer focused.