This follows a difficult recovery where most businesses were focused on improving processes to cut costs and meet the needs of existing customers.
But companies are now looking to develop new opportunities, with more than 70 per cent of manufacturers planning to move into new markets on the strength of innovation in products and services – a jump from 54 per cent in the past three years.
Andy Tuscher, EEF’s regional director for the North, said: “After a long and slow recovery manufacturers are looking to drive growth through innovation, developing new products and services for new markets.
“However, the demands of selling into new markets have increased the ‘need for speed’ when it comes to innovation, something that remains a key challenge for manufacturers.”
He said that Government schemes to support innovation are well-targeted but need long-term funding.