Does Manufacturing Have A Future in Britain?

Astronomia Ltd has gone into liquidation. Is this an inevitable process for British Businesses?


Britain has a long and storied tradition of manufacturing. The country was rightly described as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, and historically, this success was due to the widely available natural resources like coal and steel, and a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation that made Britain the largest and most technologically advanced economy in the world by the mid 19th century. Principle British industries included armaments, shipbuilding, iron and steel and textiles, exported worldwide.


By the late 19th and early 20th centuries the USA and Germany had overtaken Britain as the world's major industrial nations. By the mid 20th century (post World War Two) heavy industry was declining (it was becoming more mechanized and less labour intensive) and domestic car manufacturers suffered against cheaper continental and Japanese imports. Government economic policies, especially from the late seventies onward tended to focus on the services sector of the economy, especially internet companies such as or the financial services sector located in the City of London. This coincided with the closure of many mines, shipyards and other drivers of heavy industry located in the North of England. The contemporary age of mass consumption has seen China and other Asian low cost manufacturing centres become the main producers of disposable, mass produced electronic and consumer goods, with seemingly little future for manufacturing in Britain.

On the other hand...

While the traditional British manufacturing industry is consigned to history, in the current climate the manufacturing sector is a powerhouse innovator, driving research and development in the British economy. The high value added engineering sector of British manufacturing is powered by cutting edge sectors like 3D printing, nanotechnology, car manufacturing and the pharmaceutical industry. This high value added sector forms 30% of all exports and contributes over £150bn worth of value to the nation's GDP. The West Midlands area has the highest cluster of high added value engineering workers in the UK with almost 50,000 employees, and the sector has generated almost £13 billion to the West Midlands regional economy. Birmingham and surrounding areas exported almost £3 billion worth of goods to China in 2013. Rumors of British Industry's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Financing a Manufacturing Startup.

Grant assistance programs are available, supervised and facilitated by the British government, to assist with financing new venture creations and they are intended for entrepreneurs who intend to start a new business. However, these programs not are eligible for every single business venture or individual. Only applicants with the prerequisite qualifications and credentials can seek and apply for a new venture seed capital grant. Try the Angel Cofund for more information.

Likelihood of Success

Statistically speaking, the odds are against any start up succeeding. Nine out of ten startups do not succeed. However, if the entrepreneur has a product that there is a definite market for, and is determined to work on, rather than work in their business, then there is a chance of survival. It is not the business founder's job to answer the phone or fill trade supplier ledgers, but to focus on strategy and building a strong brand. This universal business truth is particularly applicable to a manufacturing startup in Britain. If an innovator can come up with a cutting edge product, and knows how to access seed capital funding, and is skilled enough to delegate the day to day running of the business from day one, then they are giving their manufacturing start up every chance to not only survive, but also to thrive and help revive Britain's heritage as a strong manufacturing economy.