A North East business has been praised by the Government for the crucial role it has played in ensuring the growth of the UK’s manufacturing sector.
The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), which employs around 250 staff at bases at Wilton, Darlington and Sedgefield, is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a network of seven technology and innovation centres tasked with boosting the sector.
At its annual conference, Business Secretary Vince Cable highlighted the continued importance of innovation when it comes to securing manufacturing’s long-term future.
Shadow business minister Ian Murray reinforced the message by referring to the commercial achievements of CPI and its contribution to the Government’s Catapult network.
CPI uses applied knowledge in science and engineering, combined with state-of-the-art development facilities, to enable its clients to develop, prove, prototype and scale up the next generation of products and processes.
At the conference, it used a series of presentations and working panels to demonstrate how its structured innovation process enables partners to prove that manufacturing processes can be conducted economically and repeatedly to fully substantiate the product’s viability.
Case studies included Applied Graphene Materials, PolyPhotonix and Invista, all of which have benefitted from CPI’s expertise.
CPI chief executive Nigel Perry said: “To date, we have completed more than £300m of projects, delivering more than £2.3bn of value to the UK.
“We have won more than €150m worth of EU projects and this year we aim to turn over £18m.
“Today we learnt that for the UK to capitalise on its world-leading science base, it must continue to focus on translation – on innovation.
“It is a fact that modern manufacturing nations such as Germany, France and Finland, spend between three and 10 times more on translation and innovation than they do on university-based research.
“Yet we spend nearly 10 times more on university research than we do on translation and innovation. We must redress the balance to ensure there is no downturn in economic growth and that we do not lose our competitive edge.”
He added that in the short-term, CPI was looking forward to bringing three new centres to fruition - the National Formulation Centre, the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre and the National Graphene Applications Centre.
“These three centres will support Industry to create substantial value for the UK,” he said.
“We will continue to develop spin-out companies, we will build on our skill development work with universities and with industry, providing industry with the skills it craves to exploit new technology, and we will build closer relationships with our world-leading university research partners to ensure that industry has access to innovation based on leading science.”
Over 150 delegates attended the conference, which was chaired by BBC business reporter Steph McGovern.
Other speakers included Professor Sir Mike Gregory of the Institute for Manufacturing, who spoke of how the industry must create and capture value.
Another consistent theme across the presentations was the need for collaboration between academia, industrialists, businesses, funding streams and skills providers, long identified as being intrinsic to successful innovation.
Dr Cable said at the event: “Today’s conference demonstrates the importance of innovation to our manufacturing industry.
“Through the Catapult network we are showing that Government and business must work together in partnership to support innovation”.