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International Benchmarking: Advanced Manufacturing and Materials

Published on July 1st 2021

The advanced manufacturing and materials (M&M) sector makes a vital contribution to the UK economy. Manufacturing industries account for 8% of UK jobs but 42% of UK exports and remain the largest contributors to R&D expenditure across the UK despite their relative decline as a share of the economy in recent decades. Manufacturing accounts for 42% of the UK’s total gross expenditure on R&D (GERD), with pharmaceuticals, automotive and aerospace making up almost two-thirds of this figure. Innovation in advanced materials underpins all manufacturing industries and therefore plays a strategic role in the country’s long-term industrial performance. Indeed, the UK Innovation Strategy, published in July 2021, highlighted the importance of innovation for future British prosperity and the international nature of innovation. This report provides analysis and intelligence to support the UK’s mission to deliver on this innovation agenda.

The M&M sector is now entering a dynamic new phase. Resource scarcity, a circular economy and sustainable energy generation are all challenges that no individual country can tackle alone. The pace of change in technological developments and global competition are shifting the sources of value capture within industries and challenging traditional patterns of industrial leadership. Strategic international research and innovation (R&I) collaboration in the advanced manufacturing and materials sector is more vital than ever for the UK to strengthen its global position in the future “net-zero economy”.

The key findings of this report include:
  • the identification of key motivations and win–win principles for international research and innovation collaboration;
  • the strengths of the UK advanced manufacturing and materials sector;
  • the identification of UK technology priorities, and key opportunities for international collaboration;
  • the identification of key partner countries;

the implications for the selection and funding of future international collaboration.

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This summary report highlights the key findings from the “International Benchmarking: Advanced Manufacturing and Materials” study, commissioned by Innovate UK to provide insights into emerging advanced manufacturing and materials technology domains where international research and innovation collaboration could unlock strategic opportunities and help to position the UK as a global hub for innovation.

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