Expert commentary on Manufacturing & Engineering

Opportunities for growth are thriving

Terry Scuoler, CEO, EEF The Manufacturers’ Organisation

A traditional propensity among brits for taking risks has helped the uk’s economy, but more needs to be done to encourage smes to take their next plunge

Entrepreneurship and growing businesses are key to our country’s prosperity. Together with the spirit of dynamism linked to a preparedness to take risks, referred to by Adam Smith in the 18th century as the ‘invisible hand’, the business leaders and their companies showcased in this book benefit enormously from the provision of accurate information on markets, sources of finance, investment opportunities and networking with business leaders who share a common enthusiasm and drive.

Therefore, the services of London Stock Exchange Group, one of the most professionally regulated main trading markets in the world, along with the more entrepreneurial and highly successful Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and, of course, the 1,000 inspiring companies in the book deserves praise.

“While challenges abound and global competition becomes fiercer, opportunities still thrive in the strong UK consumer growth market”

The UK’s future growth will be linked in large measure to our ability to reverse our decades-long relative decline in industrial performance, and in our export and balance of trade performance.

The link between productivity, innovation and export performance is clear and if we, as a nation, are to approach, let alone achieve, the £1trn per year export target and facilitate an additional 100,000 companies exporting by 2020, then the ongoing success of these 1,000 and indeed others among the circa four million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK is critical.

  • 120 – The number of years EEF has been backing Britain's manufacturers

Growth and success can be measured in a number of ways and the government has an important strategic role to play, especially in providing our business and physical infrastructure.

From supporting businesses through the so-called valley of death by helping to enable a competitive flow of loan finance, as well as equity finance for larger companies, to export guarantee insurance, support for research and development and, even more crucially, applied research and product development are all key.

Government support and encouragement is essential. The establishment of the network of catapult centres covering seven industrial sectors is therefore welcome.

That said, more needs to be done to encourage SMEs to participate.

Another key dependency for the 1,000 inspiring companies highlighted here and indeed for all businesses, is the need to access the right skills to help growth.

The link between skills, technology and productivity is well documented, as is the compelling need to improve educational standards, produce more science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates and deliver the government’s promised three million apprenticeships at the appropriate level of attainment (NVQ level 3 and above).

While challenges abound and global competition if anything becomes even fiercer, opportunities still thrive in the strong UK consumer growth market, as well as overseas markets that are supported by global demographic trends.

As the 1,000 companies featuring in this book have demonstrated, we in the UK can claim our place as a leading global player.