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Manufacturing stories

Nineteen stories celebrating innovation in manufacturing, and highlighting the emerging science and technologies that are improving the productivity and sustainability of manufacturing systems in the UK.

Introduction from Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society

The UK has a fine tradition in manufacturing, driven by the power of people and ideas. Today the UK will not be competing on cheap labour, nor on our ability to dig natural resources out of the ground. Our competitive advantage is our ability to innovate. Innovation is central to increasing productivity and in driving the UK’s long-term growth and wellbeing.

Fortunately, as you can see in the stories told in this booklet, the spirit of innovation is alive and well in labs, manufacturing sites and offices all across the UK. And these are not stories of growth driven solely by consumption and the pursuit of growth as an end in itself, these are stories of sustainable growth and societal benefit.

You can read about more efficient and novel food production and new techniques not only for the creation of new materials, medicines and vaccines but also in how we can manufacture them efficiently at scale. There is the development of technology to use low carbon fuels and crucially how we put them to work in everyday situations in the real world. There is also greener packaging and construction, and the use of greater digitisation of processes to drive efficiency.

Among these innovators there are university spin-outs, collaborations and industrial giants. There are new products, new takes on existing ones, new applications and also new processes. All of these are crucial to an innovation driven economy and we need to ensure that we have the skills, support and funding to ensure that the examples in these pages are just the tip of a large iceberg.

It has been said that if we do not get smarter, we will get poorer and that is undoubtedly true but we also need to focus on making the most of the creativity and ideas that are already out there. This publication is a celebration of innovation and there is much to celebrate but there is always more that can be done. We all have to strive to ensure that we continue to build on success, now and into the future.

Read the case studies

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