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Posted on January 25, 2017 by staff

Funding access crucial to UK digital manufacturing strategy

A leading tech businessman and thought leader has welcomed the Government’s investment into digital manufacturing – but sounded a word of warning.

Vikas Shah, CEO of Manchester-based textile firm Swiscot Group, is also an investor and academic and will speak at BusinessCloud’s ‘Tech in manufacturing’ breakfast event in March.

He reacted to Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement this week of how £556 million would be invested into the North’s industrial future, which includes the building of an International Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sunderland.

“Any investment for the North is greatly welcomed, but the most important thing is to see how that funding is distributed, and how easily – or not – businesses are able to access it,” Shah told BusinessCloud. “The sector has an historic lack of support and investment.

“It also has a severe image problem, which poses a challenge when attempting to get the best people to enter the industry.

“People simply don’t often see it as a sexy sector for the country, when in fact it is.”

The Swiscot Group is a manufacturer, importer and distributor of textiles alongside trading commodities and has built up international suppliers and clients.

Shah continued: “Manufacturing in the UK has been under severe pressure over the past decade with the pressures of international competition, a lack of the right support for manufacturing sectors, and also massive consolidation and price sensitivity at the client end in most markets.

“Technology is absolutely critical to the success of manufacturing  through the ability to work with ever more global and technology driven supply chains, but also in terms of innovating at the product end.”

He said the March 7th event in Manchester is “a chance to have an exciting debate on manufacturing with a group of industry leaders”.

Tom Dawes, group CEO of Valuechain, is another of the speakers at the free-to-attend event.

He said of the Government’s investment announcement: “The industrial digitisation strategy is an exciting proposition that will integrate the UK’s traditional high value manufacturing sectors with digital technology entrepreneurs and leading academics.

“However, if we are to capitalise on this opportunity, we must establish cross-sector collaborative ecosystems – and this will require a paradigm shift for traditional high value manufacturing businesses.”