Making a difference

Commentary by Terry Scuoler, CEO, EEF The Manufacturers’ Organisation

Terry ScuolerInnovative and enterprising businesses have always been key to the prosperity of the UK and economic growth.

Despite the headlines large companies attract, some 96% of manufacturing businesses are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), often operating in complex supply chains with dynamic relationships with their customers and suppliers. They are key to the success of many of our most successful sectors such as aerospace, automotive, electronics and pharmaceuticals. I am delighted, therefore, to praise the 1000 inspirational companies in this book and London Stock Exchange Group for supporting them.

“The down payment that the Chancellor made on a modern industrial strategy in the Autumn Statement should help the growth of SMEs”

As we embark on Brexit, it is difficult to assess the impact of this momentous decision on the psychology of investors and consumers. One thing is certain, however, and that is that the importance of SMEs driving the future growth of our economy is only likely to keep increasing. While the process of leaving Europe may be difficult and prospects may remain uncertain, it will inevitably create opportunities for those companies that are prepared to invest, to take risks and to exploit the new avenues for exporting that potential new trade deals will create.

"As the paper develops, Support must focus on initiatives that improve the UK’s ability to commercialise successful leading-edge research”

The down payment that the Chancellor made on a modern industrial strategy in the Autumn Statement should also help the growth of SMEs. A highlight of the strategy was a focus on innovation, productivity and exports. As the government’s Green Paper on Industrial Strategy develops, support must focus on initiatives that improve the UK’s ability to commercialise successful leading-edge research through the use of the R&D tax credit, patent box and other incentives.

  • 96% - the proportion of uk manufacturing businesses that are SMEs

Much of this type of investment for SMEs is not without risk but, well-managed, can be highly rewarding and financially lucrative. This is where the City can also play its part in the success of the 1000 companies highlighted in this book by taking a similarly longer-term approach to investing in UK companies. By doing so, it will provide the vital third piece of the jigsaw, together with government support and the investment made by companies themselves.

“SMEs are key to the success of many of our most successful sectors such as aerospace, automotive, electronics and pharmaceuticals”

Such measures can only help improve productivity, increase private-sector investment, drive competitiveness and increase overall economic performance – a truly worthy objective.