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Europe still dominant market for UK goods according to new research 16/09/2019

New analysis from Make UK suggests the value of trade with the EU bloc for the UK is worth more than twice that of the United States, with seven of the UK’s top export destinations being within the EU.

According to ‘UK Manufacturing: 2019/20 The Facts’, the annual analysis of the sector published by Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation and Santander, whilst the United States is the single biggest export market for UK manufactured goods and services, worth £118.2bn (1), exports to the top seven EU markets alone amounted to £236.5bn in the same period (£256.1bn including Switzerland).

Broken down by sector the export picture of manufactured goods is dominated by Transport (25.5%) and Pharmaceuticals & Chemicals (17.9%) which highlight the importance of these high value added sectors to the success of UK industry overall, the aerospace and automotive sectors in particular.

The importance of the top two dominant exporting sectors is also reflected in contributions to business R&D where pharmaceuticals and chemicals and the transport sector accounted for almost 70% of the total spend between them.

The transport sector also led the way in export growth increasing by 7.4%, largely on the back of continued growth in aerospace, closely followed by food and drink which increased  exports by 5.3%.

The analysis by Make UK and Santander shows that manufacturing remains central to the success of the economy overall, accounting for two thirds of overall R&D, 45% of exports, 15% of business investment and 2.7m high value jobs which are better paid than the economic average. With annual output of £192 billion the UK remains the ninth largest manufacturing nation in the world.

The analysis smashes the myth that manufacturing jobs are badly paid with the average salary in manufacturing of £33,592, compared to £29,832 for the whole economy and way above services at £29,014.

By sector size, Food and Drink remains the single biggest sector contributing 15.1% of GVA worth roughly £73.1 billion, closely followed by transport (14.9% worth £72.1bn) and pharmaceuticals and chemicals (14.2% worth £68.7bn).

By Region the North West is the biggest single by output, worth £28.5bn, closely followed by London and the South East worth £28.1bn.

Commenting, Seamus Nevin, Chief Economist at Make UK, said: “These figures lay bare the overwhelming importance for manufacturers of trade with our closest market and the need to avoid imposing any barriers which will make this more difficult.

“Whilst the United States remains the biggest market and, presents significant opportunities for export growth, it is a fallacy to believe that geography is not the biggest factor driving trade. For UK manufacturers access to their biggest market must be a premium.

“The figures also provide an important reminder that we’re still one of the top ten biggest manufacturing nations and we want to see policy makers working with industry to help move UK manufacturing up the rankings.”

Paul Brooks, UK Head of Manufacturing, Santander, commented: “The UK has always punched well above its weight when it comes to exports and it’s vital this trend continues – jobs across the UK count on it.

“While we are helping businesses build strong trade links with partners around the world, the message from manufacturers is clear: Europe must remain a strong trade ally. We’ll continue to support the UK to hold its position as a major global economy and exporter.”

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Three quarters of young people do not know what an engineer is 13/09/2019

Engineering could be one of the most poorly understood STEM careers, with new research from EngineeringUK showing that over three quarters (76%) of young people aged 11 – 19 do not know a lot about what those working in engineering do – and this could have far-reaching implications for all of us.

Indeed, according to the World Economic Forum, there are many engineering roles that will be crucial in positively shaping our future society and protecting our environment. However, the UK has an annual shortfall of up to 59,000 engineers3 every year, and research shows that the majority of young people aged 11 – 19 ‘probably or definitely’ do not want to become an engineer (52%). 

Their parents need support in developing a greater understanding of engineering as well: 72% of parents do not know a lot about what people working in the profession do, and yet 63% of 11 – 16-year olds would consider going to their parents for careers advice.

The World Economic Forum2 has identified a number of jobs that will be in demand in the future and are crucial to shaping the world we live in for the better – and many of these important roles involve engineering: 

• New Technology Specialists, who will make solar and wind energy more flexible and reliable by advancing energy storage capacity so that we can store vast amounts of energy from renewable sources to help us meet peak demand, mitigate future energy crises, and move away from carbon-emitting fuels.

• Information Security Analysts, who will make cyberspace safer, for example by preventing cyber-attacks or developing blockchain technologies that enable authenticated and transparent digital voting 

• Software and Applications Developers and Analysts, who will, for example, enhance virtual reality (VR) for use in healthcare. Engineers are already developing virtual reality healthcare systems, complete with treadmills, to help people with Parkinson’s improve mobility, and exploring applications of VR that help sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stroke. 

-Innovation Professionals who will, for example, provide access to clean water in the developing world, and improve water efficiency in developed countries through new strategies for reducing water use. 

While the research shows 42% of young people aged 11 – 19 said that ‘making a difference’ or ‘having an impact’ would be an important factor to them when deciding upon a career, almost half had not ever thought about becoming an engineer. 

With an ambition to turn engineering from one of the most poorly understood, to one of the best understood and in-demand careers, the Royal Academy of Engineering is launching This is Engineering Day on the 6th November as part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week. This is Engineering Day is a new national awareness day to increase understanding of what an engineer is and to celebrate the roles that will contribute to shaping our futures.

Hayaatun Sillem, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says: “Engineering and technology play an incredible role in shaping the world around us and in addressing some of society’s biggest challenges, from providing a sustainable supply of food, water

and clean energy, to advancing healthcare, and keeping us safe and secure. We know that young people increasingly want to tackle these issues and make a difference in the world, but unfortunately the lack of understanding around engineering is stopping them from exploring careers that will enable them to do this. 

“This matters because we face an estimated shortfall of up to 59,000 engineers each year in the UK, and there is a pressing need to diversify our engineering workforce since only 12% of professional engineers are female and less than 9% are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. That’s why we’re making 6 November This is Engineering Day, to raise awareness of what an engineer is and celebrate those that are shaping the world we live in.”

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72% of business data breaches came via unsecured wireless devices 13/09/2019

UK businesses need to be more aware of the security vulnerabilities their wireless devices present, according to new research.

A survey of 1,075 UK workers in full or part-time employment, carried out by technology services provider Probrand.co.uk has revealed that the majority (72%) of companies who suffered a data breach in the last year found that the network infiltration came from an unsecured wireless device, such as a printer, scanner, mobile phone or laptop connected to their Wi-Fi network. 

Recent Probrand research found 43% of UK businesses surveyed had reported cyber security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months.

Of the surveyed businesses who suffered a breach in the last 12 months, it was found that more than half (52%) had open Wi-Fi networks and or devices.

Furthermore, only 23% of the surveyed employees were aware that infiltration could take place through devices such as printers and scanners.

Only one in ten (10%) of the companies surveyed actively check their printers and scanners for malware as part of their security checks.

Matt Royle, marketing director at Probrand comments: “Every device and connection presents an exploitable entry point. Organisations need to take a ‘zero trust’ approach that assumes all devices connected to the network, and the internet, are inherently insecure unless otherwise tested, protected and monitored.

“Cyber-attacks aim to target the weakest point and examples like a wireless webcam, printer or scanner can present an unsecure ‘way in’ to a business’s network. Once in, hackers will exploit the opportunity to make money through whatever means they have at their disposal.”

“The research indicates organisations are not taking this seriously and are running the gauntlet of being hacked via connected devices. This clearly needs to be an area of focus with a look at endpoint security, mobile device management and firewalls amongst other measures to check.”

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More than half of manufacturers have been victims of cyber-crime 10/09/2019

Over half of manufacturers have been the victim of cyber-crime, and a third of those have suffered some financial loss or disruption to business as a result, according to a new report published today.

Manufacturing sector is the fifth most targeted for attack in 2019, behind government systems and finance. Yet manufacturing - which has 2.6 million employees, provides 10 per cent of UK output and 70 per cent of business research and development – remains amongst the least protected sector against cyber-crime in Britain. 

The new report, “Cyber-Security and Manufacturing – A Briefing for Manufacturers by Make UK”, revealed the full extent of the threat across the sector from loss of data, theft of capital and intellectual property along with disruption to business and catastrophic impact on the trading reputation of a business. Alarmingly, all expert opinion points to the fact that many more attacks will have gone undetected, with businesses woefully prepared to protect themselves against this ever-growing threat or to detect a breach after the event.

Cyber threat is increasingly a business-critical issue, with 41% of manufacturers reporting that they have already been asked by a customer to demonstrate or guarantee the robustness of their cyber security processes. Yet, when asked if they would be able to do this successfully, 31% of businesses said they would be unable to give those guarantees of cyber safety if asked.

Investment in the latest digital technologies is also being hampered, with many companies holding back from implementing the latest innovations for fear of increased exposure to cyber-attack. Some 35% of businesses admitted they are currently not fully investing in new digital processes even when not doing so will leave them unable to compete in an ever-changing and developing global marketplace.

Commenting Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation said: “Digitisation is revolutionising modern manufacturing and no facet of our sector will be untouched. The rewards are obvious - technological leaps in the design, development, fabrication and operation of the goods and services the UK makes. But the cyber security threat to manufacturers is growing and evolving with it.

“No business can afford to ignore this issue any longer and too many are still burying their heads in the sand. This is a strategic threat; failing to get this right as a nation could cost the UK economy billions of pounds and put thousands of jobs at risk.

“Make UK recognises the vital role we can play in supporting manufacturers in the face of this challenge. That is why we are partnering with leading cyber security experts Vauban Group to make sure we are able to help our members with the latest protective technologies and support to deliver new cyber security services that will help manufacturers mitigate against current and future threats.”

Mitch Scherr, CEO of Vauban Group, said: “As manufactures continue to innovate and invest in new technologies, there has never been a greater need for more effective cyber defences to mitigate against the increasingly sophisticated cyber threats we’re seeing today.

“Make UK continues to lead the way for manufacturing in the UK and we’re pleased to be working closely with them, delivering services and solutions that meet both the business and cyber security needs of all manufacturers, including SMEs, ultimately improving the resilience of the UK’s manufacturing industry in these uncertain times.”

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Manufacturers urged to grow through digital transformation 10/09/2019

SME manufacturers looking to understand more about how digital tools can boost their business are being urged to attend a free event.

Run by Made Smarter, it will provide practical advice and tools to help North West manufacturers take the first steps on transforming their business by helping them to develop a digital roadmap.

They will hear real life examples of how other businesses have applied new technology, the challenges they overcame and the benefits they are now seeing.

Business leaders can join roundtable sessions, facilitated by industry experts, which focus on specific barriers to adopting new digital technology and overcoming them. The round tables will explore skills, leadership, finance and culture.

Dozens of business leaders have already signed up for the event, Powering your Manufacturing through Digital Transformation, in Blackburn, Lancashire, on the morning of September 11th.

Leading the event will be Made Smarter Programme Manager Alain Dilworth.

He said: “Digital tools can increase profit, reduce inefficiencies, open new markets and provide greater insight for business leaders, but it can be confusing to know what will help your business the most.

"We hear a lot about industry 4.0 technology but our experience of working with North West SMEs tells us that people struggle to know where to start. This event aims to help North West SME manufacturers understand more about digital transformation, provide practical tools to help them take the first steps of their digital journey.

"Lancashire was at the very heart of the first industrial revolution and remains home to hundreds of high-quality engineering, automotive, aerospace, food production and other manufacturing businesses.

“I would urge businesses at the start of their journey to come along and speak to the Made Smarter team.”

Made Smarter supports manufacturers to digitise and innovate through grant funding, fully funded specialist technology advice and leadership and skills development.

The Made Smarter team will be on hand to facilitate one-to-one conversations with business leaders about their business needs and the options available. This includes finding out more about how to qualify for free advice and funding support to help with the adoption of new, smarter production methods such as robotics and automation, additive manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IOT), 3D-printing, the use of ‘big’ data and the latest design software.

Places for the Powering your Manufacturing through Digital Transformation session are free but limited and registration is essential.

More information and details of how to book can be found at https://bit.ly/2KZds4E

Any company interested in the Made Smarter business support programme can find out more at www.madesmarter.uk

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Manufacturers take action to tackle growth-harming skills shortage 04/09/2019

To meet the challenge posed by a chronic shortage of suitable recruits coming into the UK manufacturing sector – a key factor hampering growth – bosses are increasingly “upskilling” their existing employees. 

At the same time a rapidly increasing number of manufacturing firms are seeing turnover and profits nosedive compared to this time last year.

These are two headline findings of the latest SME Manufacturing Barometer, a quarterly survey of the sector’s leading decision makers compiled by SWMAS (South West Manufacturing Advisory Service) and Economic Growth Solutions.

When asked whether it was more difficult now to find skilled and motivated people than it was 12 months ago, 54% reported it was either “much more difficult” (24%) or “somewhat more difficult” (30%).

Just 4% responded that they found it easier to recruit now than a year ago.

In response to being quizzed about their growth aspirations, a fifth referenced an urgent need for certainty on Brexit, while worryingly 15% defined “survival” as their “immediate aspiration”.

Simon Howes of SWMAS said: “Overall, UK manufacturers are seeking stability in the face of this challenging business climate, and are developing people, processes and new products in order to overcome adversity.”  

Those who are still recruiting are finding this more difficult due to factors such as local talent shortage (26%), negative attitudes of candidates (16%) and unrealistic salary expectations (13%).

“This is a real problem.” said Simon Howes. “We are seeing some worrying signs that the lack of suitably skilled and motivated people could become the biggest shared issue for the sector in the near future.

“But manufacturers never stand still and what we are seeing is manufacturing bosses taking a pragmatic approach and focusing internally instead, looking at what they already have by way of people, processes and products, and seeing how all three could be improved.”

He added: “This focus is reflected when you look at manufacturers’ staffing plans, with nearly 70% reporting that they will be deploying strategies to support the development of their existing workforces.”

Turning to business performance, the Manufacturing Barometer found that while the percentage of firms reporting “much increased” turnover and profits was broadly flat compared to previous years, the amount saying their turnover had “greatly decreased” had spiralled sharply, moving from 17% to 31%.

Projected increases in turnover for the next six months revealed that just 51% believed they would see “much increased” sales compared to last year’s 64%, with 22% fearing their sales would be “much decreased” – more than double last year’s 10%.

Dean Barnes, Regional Director of Economic Growth Solutions, commented: “Draw a trend line through the reported findings across sales and profits and there is no doubt the swing in performance continues to move downward.

“However, in unpacking the data in response to questions about staffing and recruitment, we can see that UK manufacturing business leaders overall are far from accepting doom and gloom and are deploying strategies to get their growth aspirations firmly back on track.” 

Back to staffing issues and the Barometer revealed that manufacturers are facing up to their recruitment challenges by investing in their existing workforces.

When asked: “What are your main staffing strategies for the next 12 months?”, a quarter responded they would focus on “upskilling existing staff through training”.

Other strategies include “Staff retention incentives” (15%), “leadership management and training” (11%) and “coaching and mentoring” (10%).

Just 12% said their main focus for the coming year would be “recruiting new permanent staff”.

Simon Howes continued: “The really interesting discovery here is that, to address the challenge of recruitment being limited as a principal growth strategy, manufacturers are taking proactive steps by investing in their existing people.

“In addition, they are looking at their processes to make themselves leaner as well as developing new products to boost sales and stay competitive.

“When we include the introduction of new processes and people in review of these Barometer findings, we clearly see the importance that manufacturers must place on upskilling and retaining their current staff.”

He added: “They know that their existing people are central to their business model if they want their growth strategies to succeed.”

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UK Manufacturing output at seven-year low as uncertainty stifles domestic and export markets 03/09/2019

The high levels of economic and political uncertainty pervasive across domestic and global markets continued to weigh heavily on the performance of UK manufacturing during August according to the latest survey from IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers index.

Output volumes fell as intakes of new work contracted at the fastest pace for over seven years, while business optimism dropped to a series-record low.

At 47.4 in August, down from 48.0 in July, the headline seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI®) fell to its lowest level since July 2012. The downward movement in the headline index was centred on an accelerated contraction in new work, which decreased to the greatest extent in 85 months. Survey data were collected between 12-27 August.

Steep reductions in new orders were registered across the consumer, intermediate and investment goods industries, contributing to the ongoing downturns in output in all three product categories. Where a decrease in new orders was reported, this was linked to weaker domestic and global economic conditions, low market confidence, Brexit concerns, business uncertainty and a slowdown in client spending.

The level of new export business contracted at the fastest rate in over seven years in August. Ongoing global trade tensions, slower world economic growth and Brexit uncertainty were all mentioned by manufacturers as factors contributing to reduced overseas demand. There were reports that some EU-based clients were routing supply chains away from the UK due to Brexit.

Optimism slumps

Business optimism slumped to its lowest level since a question tracking expectations for future output was added to the survey in July 2012. Lower levels of optimism were linked to weakening market conditions, signs of a global economic slowdown, Brexit uncertainty and subdued client confidence. That said, manufacturers still expect to see some output growth over the coming year, as highlighted by 40% of companies forecasting expansion compared to only 13% anticipating a decline.

Manufacturing employment fell at one of the fastest rates over the past six-and-a-half years in August. Job cuts were driven by cost saving initiatives (including reorganisations and redundancies), slower economic growth and the continued impact of Brexit uncertainty. Stocks of finished goods moved mildly higher, while input inventories edged lower. These trends reflected an interplay between companies reducing safety stocks built around the original Brexit date and those gearing up for a departure at the end of October.

Input price inflation remained solid in August. Of the companies providing a reason for increased purchase prices, over 80% made at least some reference to the exchange rate. Manufacturers passed part of the increase in costs on to clients, leading to a further rise in average selling prices. The strongest rates of increase signalled by both price measures were seen in the intermediate goods sector.

Rob Dobson, Director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey comments: “High levels of economic and political uncertainty alongside ongoing global trade tensions stifled the performance of UK manufacturers in August. Business conditions deteriorated to the greatest extent in seven years, as companies scaled back production in response to the steepest drop in new order intakes since mid-2012. Based on its historical relationship against officialONS data, the latest PMI Output Index is consistent with a quarterly pace of contraction close to 2%. The outlook also weakened as the multiple headwinds buffeting the sector saw business optimism slump to a series-record low.

“Demand from domestic and export markets both weakened in August, with new export business suffering the sharpest fall in seven years. The global economic slowdown was the main factor weighing on new work received from Europe, the USA and Asia. There was also a further impact from some EU-based clients routing supply chains away from the UK due to Brexit.

“The further downturn in export orders occurred despite a weakening in the sterling exchange at the start of the month. This was felt on the costs front though, with 80% of companies providing a reason for higher purchase prices making at least some reference to the exchange rate. The current high degree of market uncertainty, both at home and abroad, and currency volatility will need to reduce significantly if UK manufacturing is to make any positive strides towards recovery in the coming months.”

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Advanced manufacturing zone in Scotland to create thousands of jobs 04/09/2019

The University of Strathclyde has welcomed the start of work on a new manufacturing district in Renfrewshire which will create thousands of new jobs for the sector.

The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) will be based next to Glasgow Airport and is expected to put Renfrewshire at the heart of Scotland’s manufacturing industry, estimated to create up to 6,000 jobs and boost Scotland’s manufacturing sector by £535million in GVA a year.

Renfrewshire Council is leading the district’s development in partnership with Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise.

New technologies

A 52-hectare campus at the heart of the district will house companies harnessing new technologies and accessing cutting edge research. With 1.6million square feet of available floor space, the site is already confirmed as the location for the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre.

Work has now started on constructing the enabling infrastructure, which includes new roads, bridges, cycling routes and pedestrian walkways, funded through the £1.13 billion Glasgow City Region City Deal, jointly funded by the UK and Scottish governments.

Derek Mackay, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work joined Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron, Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Steve Dunlop and local Inchinnan Primary School pupils at the official groundbreaking.

Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, Derek Mackay said: “I am delighted to celebrate work starting on the new Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS).

“Building on our rich and diverse manufacturing heritage, this development will help Scotland develop the clean, green, technologically-advanced industries of the future. The first tenants of this new district will be the Scottish Government’s £65 million National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and the £56 million Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre which will both provide an attractive proposition for further inward investment.

“Manufacturing is vitally important to the Scottish economy and AMIDS, and the companies it will attract, will help realise our ambitions for Scotland to become a global leader in advanced manufacturing.”

Important role

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Strathclyde, which is the anchor university of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and research partner in the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, said: “The University of Strathclyde is proud and excited to play a key role in the development of Scotland’s burgeoning manufacturing industry.

“The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland will play a hugely important role in attracting investment in research and development in the manufacturing sector and in developing and sustaining the skills required by industry.

“This is a pan-Scotland activity and we are enthusiastically involving universities from across the country to bring engineering and technology expertise to bear in achieving the enormous potential of AMIDS.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland Colin Clark said: “I want to see the Glasgow City Region thrive as a powerhouse of economic growth. It’s vital that we invest in the skills, industries and infrastructure that will help businesses create high-paying jobs for the future.

“The UK Government is contributing £32 million to unlock the region’s potential through the Glasgow Airport Investment Area and Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre. Across Scotland our £1.4 billion City and

Sustainable growth

Growth Deals programme is helping to create opportunities and sustainable growth for generations to come.”
Renfrewshire pupils were also on hand to plant a tailor-made time capsule packed full of local manufacturing mementos together with the children’s ‘dream inventions’ – covering everything from glasses that can see emotions to a self-navigating bike.

The ground breaking also included a reception and tour of family-owned Inchinnan company Peak Scientific, who design and manufacture the world’s leading gas generators, used for laboratory analytics across a wide range of sectors including cancer research and screening newborns.

They have embraced manufacturing innovation to grow the business, now employing more than 450 employees worldwide, with major operations in North America, China and India and exporting to more than 110 countries.

Provost Cameron said: “Renfrewshire has a rich manufacturing heritage and right now 9000 people work in manufacturing roles across the region, generating more than £1billion in exports.

“The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland will provide fantastic employment opportunities and support companies of all shapes and sizes to prosper. Its success will be built on close collaboration and cooperation.

“We know that from great connectivity to a highly-skilled workforce, we have the right ingredients in Renfrewshire to deliver on its amazing potential and place Renfrewshire at the beating heart of Scottish manufacturing. I am personally very proud that new products for a new world will be made in Renfrewshire.”

Health & wellbeing

Scottish Enterprise has committed £2.47million grant funding towards the project and is also providing its expertise to help shape the district masterplan, creating a high-quality environment that fosters collaboration, supports sustainability and promotes health and wellbeing, with places for work, leisure and socialising.

Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Steve Dunlop said: “This site represents one of the most exciting and important developments for Scotland’s manufacturing community in a generation. Once completed, it will significantly enhance Scotland’s excellent worldwide reputation for attracting inward investors.

“Working collaboratively with our partners, we can help build more resilient and agile manufacturing businesses, offering high quality jobs for local people that will positively impact their communities, Renfrewshire and all of Scotland.”

The enabling infrastructure is scheduled for completion in early 2021 and will also strengthen connections to nearby Westway Park, Scotland’s largest fully enclosed industrial distribution and office park, and to Inchinnan Business Park, home to more than 30 businesses including Rolls Royce PLC, Peak Scientific and the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre.

Dave Tudor, Managing Director, Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, said: “We are delighted to be part of AMIDS. The Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre promises to enhance Scotland’s reputation as a trusted centre for high value manufacturing while transforming the UK’s standing with the global pharmaceutical industry. Being at the heart of what promises to be a hub for advanced manufacturing and leading innovation is what makes AMIDS the location of choice for the centre.”

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Coca-Cola uses self driving robots to deliver drinks at Alton Towers 29/08/2019

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), the world’s largest Coca-Cola bottler, is piloting robotic technology at Alton Towers Resort to help deliver some of the nation’s favourite beverages to customers, as part of its Ventures innovation investment fund.

CCEP Ventures is working with autonomous driving experts TeleRetail to test this state-of-the-art technology in a unique, high-traffic location. During this trial, the robot is collecting products from the Alton Towers distribution centre and delivering them to drinks outlets across the park, using artificial intelligence to manoeuvre around the thousands of visitors during the peak summer season.

The robot travels at 3mph and distances of up to 50km. It is equipped with GPS technology, sight, sound and motion sensors to safely navigate around people and objects. It also uses laser sensors to judge the distance to potential obstacles, enabling it to stop safely and avoid collisions.

This technology was developed by TeleRetail to help fulfil the rapidly growing need for effective logistics solutions. In the future, the software could be used on different sized vehicles to solve a range of delivery problems. If successful, the trial could change the way CCEP delivers products to its customers and transform the experience of Alton Towers’ consumers.

This is one of three pilots taking place in industrial, retail and pedestrian environments – to capture data and improve the quality of the software.

Leendert Den Hollander, Vice President and General Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners, said: “We are seeking out leading-edge technology start-ups and helping them to grow through access to expertise and the opportunity to test and refine their innovative solutions.

“The TeleRetail robots are a perfect example of how we are trialling technology that could enable 24/7 on-demand logistic services and eventually be something that can be scaled up to larger vehicles.

“By developing technology, solutions and processes, we can improve the way we operate, to better serve our customers and consumers – now and in the future.”

Neil Crittenden, Commercial Director at Alton Towers Resort, said: “Our business has been built on innovation so we’re thrilled to be hosting this trial. From developing ground-breaking rollercoasters to exploring the best way to serve customers across our 500 acre site, we are always on the lookout for new ideas.

“If the trial is successful, there are many potential applications for this technology at Alton Towers.  Who knows, in the future guests may be able to order drinks from the queue line to be delivered by robots when they finish a ride, or we could see automated room service deliveries across our 700 hotel rooms. The possibilities are huge.”

Xenia Scholl, Co-Founder of TeleRetail, said: “This is a fantastic location to test our robot and showcase how it can make safe decisions when delivering in a very busy place.

“The robot is set to drive at pedestrian walking speed in the park during the pilot project. It's exciting to see how park visitors positively react to the Robot and interact with it.

“Our self-driving technology inside the robot is called ‘Aito’. It drives the robot autonomously and is constantly being advanced for use at higher speed in vehicles of different sizes. It uses satellite images for navigation and is developed with the support of the European Space Agency.

“Seeing our robot at work in this magical setting full of innovative machines and experiences is really exciting and certainly sparks the imagination for future uses of the technology.”

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UK to miss R&D investment target by £19 billion 04/09/2019

At the current pace of investment, the UK will miss its 2.4% R&D target by £19 billion in 2027 according to a new report by the CBI.

In Untapped Investment, the business group says that ensuring the R&D tax credit keeps pace with the changing nature of R&D and our international competitors will help spur private sector investment to close this gap. Business investment in R&D is helping to tackle the biggest issues of our generation, from climate change to the future of transport.  

The tax credit has already proven it is effective in spurring private investment. In 2016/2017 so far R&D tax incentives cost the government £3.4 billion supporting a return of £24.9 billion of expenditure, more than 7 times the cost to the government.

But the R&D landscape is changing, from increasingly using data and analytics, to outsourcing R&D activity to companies with specialist skills. At the same, it involves significant up-front capital costs that can deter investment from taking place.

As the country prepares to leave the EU, against the backdrop of slowing global growth and declining business investment, it has never been more pressing to support firms to innovate and get the UK economy firing on all cylinders. If the UK is to reach its 2.4% target, the CBI is calling on the Government to:

Widen the scope of eligibility for the R&D tax credit to include:

Capital expenditure

Data driven innovation

Outsourcing of R&D activities, where this is not already captured

Upskilling and retraining of staff

Review the availability of data on private sector R&D investment to help monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of government R&D policy

Regularly benchmark the R&D tax regime against international peers to ensure the UK remains competitive.

Annie Gascoyne, CBI Director of Economic Policy, said: “For the past ten years the UK’s productivity has been severely lagging behind its international peers. With productivity proven to have a knock-on effect on pay and living standards, boosting it cannot be put on the backburner any longer. Part of the answer is to kickstart business investment, and one area of untapped investment is R&D. 

“For many businesses the significant upfront capital costs are stopping them from investing more in R&D.  Pound for pound, the R&D tax credit drives more investment by business than it costs the Government. The tax credit could be the motor to propel the economy forward - but only if it keeps pace with the changing nature of R&D, so it must widen in scope, if the UK is to remain a world-leader in innovation.  

“Improving the R&D tax credit is only one part of the story, and the CBI will be looking to Government at the spending review to set out a roadmap of how to meet the 2.4% target.”

Using the R&D tax credit to boost investment 

HMRC data shows that for every £1 the Government foregoes in providing the R&D tax credit, private R&D investment increases by between £1.53 and £2.35.

Businesses continually cite a country’s R&D tax incentive system as an important factor when deciding where to locate and invest. There are two significant ways the UK’s R&D tax system can be enhanced:

By widening its scope to include the following four areas:

Capital expenditure: Engaging in R&D can often require significant capital investment in facilities and equipment before staff costs are even factored in

 Big Data and Advanced Analytics: Innovation is increasingly becoming more data-driven and less focused on traditional methods of R&D i.e. labs

Outsourcing: R&D is often delivered by extensive collaboration between business, universities, public sector bodies. This includes outsourcing different R&D activities by businesses to access expertise and specialists

Upskilling and training: R&D investment require highly skilled researchers and other professionals. Ensuring staff have the right levels of training can be a significant cost for businesses undertaking R&D. 

By monitoring the impact of the UK’s R&D tax incentive regime 

The Government should continue to sense check the impact its tax regime is having on the UK economy, so that incentives deliver on their objectives and are value for money for the taxpayer. This can be done through:

Availability of data: Ensuring the appropriate data is available is important to be able to robustly measure the effectiveness of the R&D tax credit; and 

International benchmarking: For the UK to maintain its competitiveness for attracting R&D investment, it is important to keep pace with other countries.  

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