The new Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise has hit the ground running by launching a brand new £10million money pot for small and medium-sized enterprises. The investment provision comes as Soubry also opens a new multi-million pound centre for aerospace and 3D printing in Coventry, designed to support and boost the growing aviation sector.
Anna Soubry was promoted to Small Business Minister during the recent Conservative party reconfiguration and filled a role that the Federation of Small Business had long called for. With previous careers in criminal law and journalism, and being the non-privately educated daughter of a small business owner, it comes as no surprise that Soubry has been welcomed with open arms. Some of her duties as minister will involve export control, regional growth and access to finance, all of which UK SMEs need in order to continue their substantial impact on the country’s economic recovery.
One of the first tasks that she can tick of her lengthy to-do list is the opening of the brand new Aerospace Research Centre and National Centre for Net Shape and Additive Manufacturing. The swanky facility, which cost a whopping £60million, is based in Coventry’s Manufacturing Technology Centre and has been opened to add fuel to the fire of the booming aerospace industry.
Earlier this year British firm, Sky Futures secured Europe’s largest drone investment when they received £2.5million worth of investment from capital fund, MMC Ventures. Drone technology is becoming extremely prominent in the aerospace sector and is a lucrative avenue that Soubry is navigating the country’s small businesses down with her new multi-million pound campaign.
MMC Ventures investment director Simon Menashy reinforces these notions: “Drone technology is an exciting area of innovation, but it’s only now that we are seeing leading commercial operators emerge.”
The centre will sit at the epicentre of the action and act as a hub for the industry’s companies to research and develop new materials for planes, jet engines and helicopters. In addition, the development will also provide a 3D printing facility that will enable the production of new products for aircraft landing gear, automotive and medical devices.
Alongside the new centre, Soubry has also launched a £10million fund for small and medium-sized businesses through which SMEs can apply for financial investment. The scheme is being overseen by Innovate UK and is particularly keen to attract enterprises that are offering innovative and unique ideas that can transform research into commercial success.
Soubry said: “Government and industry are working together to keep Britain at the forefront of the global aerospace market. We are currently second only to the United States. But there is more to do and it is important that we continue to invest in R&D and develop ground-breaking technologies.
“Demand for new aircraft is at record levels – around 45,000 new aircraft and 40,000 helicopters are needed between now and 2032, worth over $5trillion. This will provide billions of pounds of work to the UK economy given our leading capability in wings, engines, helicopters, advanced systems and service.
“Getting this right will deliver economic benefit through our large, mid-sized and small companies across the breadth of the country.”
The government and industry are currently working together on funding four initial projects in attempts to support aerospace R&D. Airbus will receive £7.2million to pump into researching wing surface imperfections, while £5million will go towards exploring how the Internet of Things and technological advancements can aid the sector. Automate assembly research will receive financial support worth £6.4million and £4.4million will be allocated to high volume manufacturing.