Today's blog is by Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF
Recognising our great tradition of inventing and manufacturing pioneering products will lay the path for future innovation
Today I will be in Liverpool at the Life Sciences University Technical College, launching a new report which celebrates Britain's great tradition of inventing and manufacturing pioneering products. This venue is fitting as the UTC is located in a former sugar mill. The building is ‘industrial chic' at its best – you can feel the history written into the heavy stone walls and the old wooden floors.
But while getting this glimpse of our industrial past, you are also brought face-to-face with the future. The UTC is a leading school that is equipping young people with the right skills and mind-set to be world-class innovators, problem-solvers and solution-makers.
Similarly, our report isn't just a celebration of past glory. It is also forward-looking – identifying five new inventions that could be future game-changers. It demonstrates that our heritage is still alive and that inventiveness and resourcefulness are in our collective DNA.
It also raises some challenges. It identifies that Britain's role in creating some of the most-widely used, every-day inventions, such as the telephone, the TV and the jet engine, is not fully recognised by the public. There is a worrying lack of awareness of what British inventiveness has contributed, and continues to contribute, to the world.
To me this emphasises the fact that we fail to champion and celebrate our successes, or indeed to fully capitalise commercially on them. We are denying our future generations of the heroes and heroines who could encourage them to learn the science, technology, engineering and maths skills required to invent, design and innovate.
This lack of recognition means that only half of consumers think that Britain is good at both inventing and manufacturing. No wonder so few children are choosing a career in industry today.
Our ability to innovate in the future hinges on the talents of our young people. We need to inspire them and this starts with giving rightful recognition to our great inventors and giving young innovators every reason and encouragement to want to follow in their footsteps.