Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service Commentary 

2020 is a watershed moment for Scottish manufacturing. The creation of the industryled £65m National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) sits at the centre of the new Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, turning Scotland into a global leader in advanced manufacturing and a magnet for investment. Located just outside Glasgow, NMIS will capitalise on Scotland’s manufacturing prowess.

Nick Shields, Head of Business Support Services, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International, SMAS

From Harris tweed to ship building, the country has long been a hotbed of industrial excellence. Added to this will be the UK-wide Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) and several distributed Manufacturing centres will be created to reach across the whole of Scotland.

More space 

Plans have been announced to make Scotland a hub for space exploration, along with the development of full spaceport capability. Already, more satellites are manufactured in Scotland than anywhere else in Europe, with estimates that Scotland’s space industry could be worth as much as £4bn by 2030. It’s this ambitious vision that will put Scottish manufacturing at the forefront of global manufacturing.

Another highlight during 2020 will be the SMAS National Manufacturing Conference. Taking place at the EICC in Edinburgh on the 26th May (www.smas. co.uk), 600 delegates drawn from across Scotland’s manufacturing community and beyond will attend the only event of its kind in Scotland. Historically the conference has provided an outstanding platform to showcase Scotland’s sector, with this year’s agenda focusing on the opportunities that technology presents and featuring leading industry keynotes and a state-of-the art technology showcase.

However, there’s still serious effort required to address Scotland’s productivity performance in order to maximise these opportunities. Scotland currently sits in the third quartile of productivity amongst OECD members. Although the country’s manufacturers punch well above their weight – accounting for over half of its exports and 54% of Scottish R&D spending – increasing Scotland’s productivity is the defining economic challenge of our age.

History tells us that dramatic increases in productivity have been driven by industrial revolutions and many commentators are saying that we are at the start of the fourth. Scotland is one of the few countries to have experienced every industrial revolution – and they have all driven our economy forward.

We’re committed to helping Scottish manufacturers exploit the opportunities that this next industrial revolution offers. Last year, we supported over 100 manufacturing businesses on their Industry 4.0 journey, with our free Industry 4.0 Review. We’ll continue apace over the course of this year to help even more businesses implement digital solutions to become more productive, competitive and resilient.

While 2020 will see businesses navigate their way through some immediate economic challenges, these only serve to underline the need to step up the pace and embrace the concept of digital technology and invest in it. With a renewed ambition for Scottish manufacturing, along with a strong integrated network of support that businesses can now leverage, I’m optimistic that the future for Scottish manufacturing is extremely bright.