Over the last week or so, we've been blogging about our Executive Survey which showed that one of the key growth opportunities for UK manufacturers in the year ahead will be the commercialisation of new products and services.
37% of companies expect new product development to drive growth in the year ahead
For smaller companies, new product development was the most frequently cited growth opportunity
This chimes with what we found in our Innovation Monitor survey last year, where manufacturers reported increasingly ambitious innovation strategies. However, we also saw that many of the long-standing challenges to innovation remained in place. Manufacturers reported concerns about access to skills, facilities and finance as well as difficulties with speed to market.
Many companies responded to this by collaborating with customers, suppliers and other external organisations such as universities. But innovation support schemes were also important, with 56% of manufacturers saying they used the R&D tax credit, and 27% saying they used Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. The next-most commonly used form of support was European support.
A fifth of manufacturers said they had used European Funding for innovation.
European support provides an important complement to the support offered by the UK government. Not only is it an additional source of finance for innovative companies, but the support schemes encourage and support international collaboration, which can greatly enhance the effectiveness of innovation. For example, one manufacturer we spoke to described the opportunity to collaborate with potential customers across Europe as invaluable.
The UK has historically done very well out of European innovation support. In Framework Programmes 5&6 – the most recent funding rounds for which there is complete data – the UK received 15.9% and 14.2% of available funds. And data suggests that the UK will have received at least 14% of Framework Programme 7 (FP7) funds as well. Only Germany has received more.
Good news on innovation in the year ahead
The FP7 programme has now ended, and in its place – launched this month – is Horizon 2020. This is an ambitious and well-funded programme to support science and innovation across Europe. With nearly €80bn committed between 2014 and 2020, the UK stands to receive over €11bn worth of funding for science and innovation projects in that time.
Manufacturers and innovators who are interested in accessing the funding can find more information on the Horizon 2020 website here: http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/