Region’s manufacturers look to innovation in growth drive

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Almost nine in ten manufacturers in Yorkshire are engaged in innovation, according to a survey published today by manufacturers’ organisation, EEF.

The findings suggest that the region’s manufacturers are keeping pace with peers elsewhere in the UK, but share the same fears about falling behind competitors.

The EEF/Vodafone 2015 Innovation Monitor shows that the main focus for manufacturers in the region is on improving their manufacturing processes.

Around 58 per cent have innovated around product improvement, while 46 per cent have looked to improve their organisational methods and processes.

Andy Tuscher, Yorkshire and Humber region director at EEF, said: “Manufacturers continue to forge ahead into new markets at home and abroad, with investment in innovation playing a starring role.

“However, innovation is a resource-hungry process and manufacturers are finding that the results they achieve do not always match their ambition. Shortages of expertise, equipment and finance are holding them back.

“This matters for manufacturing and for the UK because manufacturers are increasingly concerned about falling behind competitors.

“We’ve seen year after year that manufacturers want to do more and every additional pound invested in developing the products and services of tomorrow can help get the UK closer to its goal of having a more productive economy.

“This ambition should be matched by Government to ensure the UK continues to compete on the global stage.”

The biggest drivers for innovation are satisfying existing clients, seeking new domestic markets and improving energy efficiency.

Around 35 per cent of the region’s manufacturers have innovated in the last three years to comply with environmental standards and regulations.

However, export success is also high on the agenda, with 47 per cent of the region’s manufacturers saying that seeking new export markets is a key innovation driver, while 59 per cent said the same of developing existing export markets.

The survey coincides with the CBI increasing its gross domestic product (GDP) forecasts for the UK to 2.6 per cent this year and 2.8 per cent in 2016, with robust business investment set to help power additional growth.