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Thursday 31st October,  John Lennon School of Art and Design, John Moores University, Liverpool, UK

Today, the Liverpool City Region held and launched its short but sweet conference to stimulate the region’s advanced manufacturing initiative and we attended to hear about it and tell you.  First – see and enjoy this video for your 2 minute upload.

Several selected speakers, including Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, welcome the work of the Local Enterprise Partnership in making the case for High-Value Manufacturing (HVM) and how it all fits together for the region.

Speakers and What We Heard

Vince Cable emphasized the importance of manufacturing.  Although “only” 10% of the UK economy (same is in USA and France) it is disproportionally important.  It’s deep root system binds together education, services, finances and so on pulling through 50% balance of trade benefits and enabling high-quality R&D.  Manufacturing drives economic growth.  The newly launched Foresight report looks out to 2050 to describe this new world of innovation and manufacturing.

VinceSecondly, it is becoming a nonsense to place a business in the manufacturing pot, or service pot, etc.  The network effects in the economy and the increasing trend towards servitization breaks down these categorizations. Enabled by shifts to manufacturing technology where mass customization is becoming widespread.

Thirdly, “green” stuff is becoming important and integral to the design of new products and processes as we reported on the circular economy.

Lastly, the nature of employment is changing.  We know there are not enough young people in education heading for manufacturing and STEM roles, but the rewards will be there for those who chose to constantly upgrade their skills at the intersection between, technology, business and creativity (i.e. Innovation).

A surprise factor for us was Vince’s personal shift in his point of view on manufacturing in the UK.  When negotiating with top bosses from GM, he heard them talk about how flexible, productive, and supportive GOV was of manufacturing; hence the reason to continue to make in the UK.  And that’s what it’s all about;  be continuously innovative, flexible, adjusting, fleet-of-foot, use your historic advantages, but always upgrade to Version 2.0…

On the now 11 industrial policies; let’s be pragmatic.  If you have successful industries; back them. But be selective.

Mike Gregory, Head Institute for Manufacturing

We know and like IfM.  They blend practical experience with new thinking in a collaborative ethos.

Echoing that manufacturing is complicated “it’s the whole cycle from markets to design, top process to operation, to recovery…”  So, there’s no such thing as pure manufacturing, and service in the offering  is more essential.

An interesting point of view ; the innovation and manufacturing is somehow separate; At System Growth Consulting, we believe it is essential differentiator; Yes, cost, quality, delivery are order qualifiers, but order winners are innovation, flexibility and speed.

Echoing our own view, that SMEs are vital, but as part of any ecosystem, you need big beasts – there are not enough Big Companies in the UK to create pull for new ideas.  innovation requires energy, effort, resources and political will to overcome the activation energy.

Robert Hough, Chair LEP

The Liverpool City Region launches its MakingIt strategy to create a hot-spot for manufacturing.  A moving 2 minute  video  blending history with future visions captured it well.

The headline is that manufacturing is transformed into high-skills and value and that innovation plays a critical part in developing and retaining competitive advantage.

Call to Action

We’d love to talk to you about the role of innovation in creating and retaining competitive advantage in you business.  Please contact System Growth Consulting to start a conversation…

Rob Munro

So, what do you think ?

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