Nicole Ballantyne

UK productivity has been on the decline since even before Covid-19 shut the economy down.  But now that a Brexit deal has been agreed, the UK needs to up its game to keep up with the rest of the world post-pandemic. Nicole Ballantyne at KTN explains the role manufacturing has to play in this effort, and how businesses can find support through the Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge.

Productivity in the UK has seen a sharp decline in the last few years, but it has been steadily slowing for even longer. Why is this? Well, one major issue is our slowness in terms of the adoption of new technologies; we’re only at the world average in terms of the rate at which we’ve adopted industrial robots for example.

Perhaps we believe new tech is too risky, too expensive, too complicated or never quite what it says on the tin, but whatever the case is, we really have to buck our ideas up if we’re going to remain a big player on the global stage post-Brexit.

To put the situation in a positive context, faster innovation and adoption of digital technologies represents a £455 billion opportunity to UK manufacturing, according to a 2017 report by Made Smarter UK. Over the next ten years Additive Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Analytics, Robotics, AR and VR and the Internet of Things could grow the manufacturing sector between 1.5 and 3 percent per annum, creating a conservative estimated net gain of 175,000 jobs throughout the economy.

That’s all easy to say, but practically, how can manufacturers embrace innovation and new technologies in a risk-free, funded way? Well, to drive the acceleration of the digitalisation of the manufacturing industry, KTN has partnered with the UKRI with a new Government funded scheme, Manufacturing Made Smarter.

Manufacturing Made Smarter, which is one of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Fund programmes, will invest in fully connected, dynamic manufacturing and inspire and encourage innovation. It will do this by connecting academia, technology providers and manufacturers across the whole of the UK and beyond to make new technologies more visible, accessible, and adoptable and drive the next wave of new technologies.

And KTN has a history of supporting innovation and adoption in the manufacturing industry, so this initiative represents an opportunity to access knowledge and experience as well as funding and academic expertise.

So, if you want to boost your productivity through innovation and the adoption of new digital technologies, while simultaneously contributing the nationwide effort to increase our productivity and set us up for the future, join our community to find out about events, opportunities and funding from the Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge. Visit,