FIA Recap – SMEs’ big role in aerospace

Written by Kirsty Templeton

With the Prime companies such as Airbus, BAE System and Boeing grabbing the headlines at Farnborough it is important that we recognise the contribution that aerospace SMEs have within the sector. In her opening ceremony speech, Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged the value of companies such as Produmax, Aeromet and Poeton, highlighting their exceptional skills, energy and innovation within the industry.

In recognition of this she awarded £343m for innovative research and development projects within aerospace to boost productivity. This includes:

  • £255m of joint investment for research and development projects supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute and UKRI. This will fund 18 projects, involving 20 companies, including 13 small and medium size businesses, and 12 research organisations and universities across the UK.
  • £68.2m of joint funding with industry for R&D, specifically targeting small and medium sized businesses to help them increase their competitiveness.
  • £20m of Government and industry match funding will go towards a productivity improvement programme.

These exciting projects will support aviation developments such as the future of flight, and cleaner, greener air power of the future.

This investment is a clear indication of the UK’s investment in the aerospace industry and showcases the Government’s intention of keeping the UK at the forefront of aerospace technology in terms of innovation and productivity.

Building on this the Prime Minister announced that it will start work on a potential Aerospace Sector Deal, which will look at tackling barriers for growth, increase productivity and competitiveness. It calls to our sector to demonstrate how aerospace can support further the industrial strategy grand challenges, regional prosperity and delivery of the government’s skills priorities.

Currently the Aerospace Growth Partnership, a collaboration between the Government and Industry, is already involved in programmes such as Supply Chains for the 21st Century, NATEP and Sharing in Growth which provide grants, collaboration opportunities and mentoring from Primes to SMEs within the Aerospace sector.

There is real innovation to be had in the supply chain and initiatives such as NATEP help to support that ‘bottom up innovation’ to give these ideas and products a competitive advantage. It is a way to create and exploit new technologies.

The aerospace sector is one with a diverse and innovative supply chain. The SME suppliers who support these sectors are something to be celebrated in the UK. They represent a diverse range of products from, high strength powders for additive manufacturing, to turbine blades, all contributing to the technology and innovation within our industry.

Without the innovation and products these SMEs provide, the UK aerospace Primes and industry would not be as strong, which is why it is important to invest in their future.

Now industry has to work on its proposal for an Aerospace Sector Deal with Government that will see further funding in the advancement of the industry. One thing is for sure, the aerospace industry has seen commitment from the Government this summer in its future and sustainability.