Innovation is the name of the game in business

3 February 2015

Innovative thinking and a pioneering approach to work has been at the cornerstone of Britain’s financial resurgence, with vibrant new start-ups challenging the status quo and daring to do things differently in order to get the economy back on track.

The recent announcement that manufacturers have been invited to bid for a share of £1m from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) as part of a competition aimed at boosting UK innovation is excellent news for forward-thinking businesses.

The scheme will provide up to £150,000 of matched funding for projects that will help manufacturers to improve innovation processes. It is just reward for those who look not just outside the box, but redefine the box itself.

The competition challenges firms to come up with new ways of developing the skills and business practices to maximise the value of innovation to the UK economy.

The UK has risen from 14th on the Global Innovation Index in 2010, to second last year. However, a government assessment of the UK’s science and innovation system, undertaken in 2014, found “worrying deficiencies”.

Paul McKelvie OBE, a commissioner at the UKCES, said: “It is fantastic that the UK is ranked as a front-runner in terms of innovation, second only globally to Switzerland. However, we need to do more to capitalise on this if we want to reap the economic reward and remain competitive.

“This competition is a great opportunity for businesses in the manufacturing sector to come together and come up with ideas and solutions that they want to trial and develop to better maximise the value of innovation.”

The competition closes on March 11. Successful bids would be expected to start in June 2015 with UKCES funding available until June 2016.

For more details visit

The importance of an innovative approach to product development and creative thinking in the workplace is one of the topics currently being explored at a series of free workshops being run by Velocity Business Support.

The sessions, which are running across Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, look at ways of challenging your existing processes and coming up with alternative methods to boost productivity and sales.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with several companies implementing new strategies on the back of the workshops, which last for three hours and are completely free to attend.

For more details on the sessions, and a complete list of times, dates and venues, as well as booking information, please visit

Meanwhile, the SEMLEP-supported Manufacturing Co-operative is continuing to help match the specialist skills of small UK manufacturing businesses with the needs of original equipment manufacturers.

The co-operative, launched by Cranfield University’s newly established Operations Excellence Institute (OEI), is open to UK based SMEs providing design, production or through-life support for engineering systems.

To find out more please visit