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Industry leaders call for sustainability support at Manufacturing Technology Centre conference

16 February 2022
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Industry leaders have used their platform at the Manufacturing Technology Centre's annual conference to call for Government and industry to work together to help manufacturers respond to the drive for net-zero.

Speaking at the second annual National Manufacturing Summit – held at the Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre – chief executive Dr Clive Hickman called for a specific funding pot for net-zero manufacturing to ensure that UK industry is able to realise the innovation and economic opportunities that de-carbonisation offered.

Speaking to an audience which he described as a "Who's Who of UK Manufacturing", Dr Hickman said the UK's commitments at COP26 required a rapid, deep and sustained reduction in CO2 emissions.

"It will be us, as manufacturers, who make these ambitions a reality. We need a Manufacturing Strategy to ensure the sector is future-proofed for the decade to come.

"A funding pot for net-zero manufacturing would give manufacturers the confidence to pilot innovative green technologies and support the commercialisation of these technologies," he said.

He added that expanding the UK's sector deals to include nascent industries such as hydrogen would create opportunities to boost productivity, employment, innovation and skills as well as attracting investment through greater certainty and clarity.

Addressing the summit, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that green technology is expanding in the UK and that could give the country first-mover advantage, making UK manufacturing more competitive and resilient.

Katherine Bennett, chief executive of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, which the MTC is part of, said the scale of the task of limiting the most damaging effects of climate change was considerable.

"The nation's manufacturers have an absolutely vital role to play in the need to deliver low-carbon living and an affordable low-carbon economy. It's a huge opportunity and those who seize the net-zero agenda will succeed. Support is there to help businesses make the changes needed to drive down carbon emissions," she said.

Chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, Robin Budenberg, told the summit that the importance of the role of manufacturing in moving to net-zero cannot be overstated.

"Awareness of the imperatives among SMEs is high, but our research shows that only half of SMEs have net-zero targets. Lack of information, guidelines, support and cash are commonly quoted barriers to adoption," he said.

He added, "We are launching our Manufacturing Net Zero Report which will provide UK SMEs with a roadmap to net zero. If we can rewire the economy to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change we can have a prosperous, low-carbon economy for generations to come."

The National Manufacturing Summit 2022 summit was an opportunity to set a framework for sustainable manufacturing, pulling together the UK's world-class manufacturing sectors, the opportunities of emerging technologies, and the need to remain globally competitive.

It was attended by around 300 industry leaders, experts and influencers, while around 600 watched the event stream online.

Pictured: Lloyds Banking Group chairman Robin Budenberg (left) with MTC chief executive Dr Clive Hickman.

Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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