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28 May 2010
The Prime Minister's plans to transform the economy with a greater role for manufacturing have been welcomed by the IET, Europe's largest engineering organisation.
The IET believes that developing the UK's high tech and low carbon manufacturing sector will play a crucial role in addressing the national debt as well as climate change.
To achieve the Prime Minister's ambition to transform the economy, there needs to be continued investment in science and commercialisation of our scientific excellence.
The science budget must be maintained to ensure there continues to be a stream of new ideas and technologies coming out of universities. The innovation infrastructure must be enhanced to ensure that UK manufacturers can take full advantage of the new ideas and technologies coming out of our universities.
Government must also make better use of the wide range of levers it has at its disposal to boost manufacturing. In particular, better use must be made of public procurement. The government spends £220 billion buying good and services, but tends to buy existing, "off the shelf" products rather than giving innovative technological firms the opportunity to introduce new solutions. If the government itself bought more from innovative manufacturers, they would then have a base on which to expand.
Professor Steve Evans, chair of the IET Manufacturing Policy Panel, says: "There is an enormous opportunity for the UK to take a global leadership role in low carbon manufacturing and low carbon technology. We have got great universities and a long tradition in innovation and engineering. In order to achieve a low carbon economy however, government has to create the right environment for investment into the low-carbon industrial sectors of the future."
Paul Davies, head of policy adds: "Continued investment in science and engineering will be vital if we are to boost manufacturing and deal with the national debt. Government also needs to get better at using the other levers which are available to it, such as public procurement, to really transform UK manufacturing."
We now need to see these promises in action as well as words.