Helping the UK’s manufacturing sector to innovate

Posted on: 15/06/2018

KTN’s Head of Manufacturing, Ben Peace, reflects on the his teams initiatives to help innovation in manufacturing and how they can help your business.


Back in summer 2016, the KTN’s manufacturing team had a team meeting in Liverpool, whilst at the International Festival for Business (IFB). At that meeting we were challenged by our director Iain McGregor to develop a high profile, innovative initiative that could make a major impact helping manufacturers to innovate. Fired up, we set to and started developing a plan.

Here we are two years later and coming up to the next International Business Festival (Yes – they’ve swapped the words around – IBF, not IFB this time…) it’s a good time to step back and review progress.

So what was the starting point? Through a range of initiatives KTN had run over the years (on topics such as flexible manufacturing, business model innovation etc.), allied with the expertise of our tech-focused staff (specialists in the cutting edge in sensors, robotics, etc.) we were very aware of a raft of digital technologies, and the bubbling up of talk of how these technologies have potential to drive a “4th industrial revolution”. In parallel we were very aware of how productivity was (and remains) a big challenge for the UK, and how these digital approaches can have a major role in tackling it. Furthermore, we realised that KTN was in a unique position to help SMEs with this agenda.

It was on these pillars that we developed our 4Manufacturing® initiative.

In the intervening two years we have built and tested a framework that:

  • Starts the first dialogue
  • Establishes a starting point
  • Informs a plan of action
  • Signposts to the right support, providers and funding – on an impartial basis – including innovative SME solution providers, HVM Catapult, Innovate UK funding, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and more.
  • Enables tracking of impacts

This has now been tested, proven and refined with over 200 manufacturing SMEs and we are working with regional partners to provide access to businesses in their respective regions.  Our aim as always is to join things up and make things straightforward for business.

In order to do this we have developed a digital version of the framework, and there’s a certain poetry to the fact that we will be launching this at this year’s IBF.

Come and see us on the joint stand which will form the festival’s “UK innovation hub”. This will feature a mixture of Government support including DIT, BEIS and UKRI.

Also at IBF we will be working to:

  • to help launch a complementary tool we’ve been working on called Digital Readiness Levels (DRL)
  • to support two summits with The Manufacturer magazine – on (i) Innovation and (ii) Women and Diversity.

There’s no need to wait two years for another update – if you’re interested to find out more about how KTN can help you, do come along and talk to us at IBF, sign up to our newsletters, and keep an eye on our website.

Find out more about Ben Peace, Head of Manufacturing here.


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