UK Research and Development in Crisis?

MPs have criticised UK companies for their lack of innovation, reports PRW (November 2015).  In a damning report, the UK is listed as being 12th in the R&D investment table of European countries, a position causing UK economists and industrialists a great deal of concern.

Innovation and new product development is vitally important for any business, especially in the technology sector.  With Global political pressure on conserving resources, recycling is one industry where such innovation is key.  There is a need to improve segregation and separation to optimise material recovery for reintroduction into the manufacturing chain.

In the past 2 months, Bunting Europe has exhibited at 2 major recycling shows:  RWM 2015 held at the NEC in Birmingham, UK and Recycling Technik held in Dortmund, Germany.  At both shows, equipment manufacturers had the opportunity to showcase new technology.  At RWM, companies including BHS-Sonthofen, Ekko Waste Solutions and JCB showcased new technology.  Bunting Europe also led the way in showcasing innovation with the launch of the Stainless Steel Magnetic Separator.

Bunting Stainless Steel Separator at RWM2015-0094

The latest concerns from the UK government are understandable, but are they misdirected?  Do the political parties also need to take some responsibility?  Innovation and new product development takes time and resource, two factors that are not necessarily compatible with many businesses philosophies at the present time.  There is intense pressure to generate a quick return with higher and higher profits and this is not necessarily ideal for longer term development of ideas, of which some will fail.  Planning only for the short term with a rapid turnover of senior management and board members stifles R&D.

There is no easy answer to this problem and it is likely that the situation will worsen before it gets better.  However, there needs to be a rethink from UK business and government and this may involve finally looking for stability and setting longer term objectives and financial goals.  It may upset share holders in the short term, but the opportunities in the future are far far greater.

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