The All Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG) held a seminar on Monday 6 March under the title “R&D in the Industrial Strategy”.The meeting was chaired by Mark Pawsey MP and had six panellists – Richard Mills (Boeing), Paula Knee(NPL), Steve Timms (BAE Systems), Dick Elsy (HVM Catapult), Asif Moghal (Autodesk) and Tim Minshall (Cambridge University).
Although there was little discussion on the Industrial Strategy directly, all of the speakers in one way or another concentrated on the importance of the “D” in R&D. There was general talk of the need for scale up and the importance of this to SMEs but little by way of concrete proposals was offered.Important topics highlighted by speakers to enable companies to grow included understanding markets/segmentation, skills, and manufacturing expertise. One speaker regretted demise of the government Manufacturing Advisory Service and another suggested that the intermediary Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs) had a role to play.There was a reference to the out-dated idea of the funding “valley of death” and the proposed 2.5% target for national R&D as a percentage of GDP – an old failed policy which was originally proposed in 2004 as part of the Lisbon Agreement.
There was very little debate on what government policies are required to support the key factors influencing economic growth and company scale up. Ministers with responsibility for the Industrial Strategy are recommended to take heed of the analysis provided in the recent book “Camels, Tigers and Unicorns” in framing future policies for stimulating economic growth.