Late last year, the UK government announced the creation of a new fund to assist businesses with improving and enhancing their supply chains. £125 million pounds has been set aside, allowing businesses in any industry to compete for the funding. The business secretary Vince Cable expects the funds to be used to strengthen domestic supply chains, allowing British businesses to remain competitive in the event of natural disasters such as the Japanese tsunami or the floods in Thailand affecting the UK.
Originally it was suggested that companies register their initial interest in the scheme during December 2011, with the application process proper opening this month. As a result businesses are encouraged to contact the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for full details as soon as possible.
The BIS are also keen to emphasise that the funding is available to any business, regardless of size, ensuring that SMEs also have a chance to access the money. Traditional manufacturing industries such as aerospace, automotive and chemicals are all expected to apply, although emerging technologies like renewable energies are equally entitled to funding. Investments in equipment, research and development and training are all eligible for government cash.
The focus on growing and strengthening the UK manufacturing sector has also led to the creation of the new Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) which is tasked with providing assistance to SMEs in the sector. Business Minister Mark Prisk has announced that the MAS will help to generate an additional £1.5 billion in economic growth, creating 23,000 new jobs in the process.
These two new initiatives also expected to attract global companies interested in co-location of key supply chain elements. However all interested parties are encouraged to apply for funding sooner rather than later in order not to risk missing out altogether.