Page 36


METALL LAUNCHES WITH A SELL-OUT FIRST EVENT Chris Coopey, Head of the Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology Group at Carpenter Box, reports on the first meeting of the Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology Alliance (METALL) held at Roffey Park near Horsham.


because resource is tight and money is

particularly grant funding is not always well

tighter. There are advantages to being small.

signposted and sometimes the application

Smaller businesses can make decisions more

process may not appear to be worth the effort.

within the Gatwick Diamond) joined my

quickly and take advantage of opportunities

In a straw poll of the businesses attending

colleagues and I from Carpenter Box, together

without having to jump through the hoops

METALL, many had not previously heard of

with fellow sponsors asb law and CBSbutler for

that big corporates often have to do. One of

Innovate UK nor the help it was able to offer in

the first METALL event.

the points made by Robert Pearson is that by

both funding and advice terms. Zoe Webster’s

collaborating, small businesses with big ideas

presentation shone a light on some of the

‘Innovation’ and the keynote speakers, Dr

can achieve amazing results around innovation.

options, but in the Q&A session afterwards

Robert Pearson of Cobham Antennas and

Of course there are practical worries when

other organisations such as Coast to Capital

Dr Zoe Webster of Innovate UK, each did a

smaller businesses collaborate with larger

also talked about the various funding options

fantastic job of explaining what innovation

ones. There are concerns around the ownership

they could offer. We will gather together as

looks like, how it can be achieved and how

of intellectual property and who ultimately will

many threads as we can in relation to all of

it can be funded. There were a number of

benefit the most. These are best dealt with

the help available and make sure it sits in

takeaways from the session:

by making strong relationships, developing

the resource area of the

trust and by buttoning down expectations as


n July, over 30 manufacturing, engineering and technology businesses (who between them employ over 5,000 skilled personnel

The subject for the inaugural meeting was

Passion Innovation is born of passion. Passion to solve a problem and provide a solution can drive a project from concept to realisation and

much as possible at the outset in a clear and transparent written agreement. Collaboration starts by conversation, which

when harnessed effectively, it can become a

is why joining all of the elements together

massive and unstoppable force. We English

was such an important aim for METALL. These

are not known for our fondness of the word

elements include the businesses themselves,

‘passion’, but our place as one of the most

those who can help fund them and those that

innovative nations shows that we have it tucked

can give the practical and academic help to

away somewhere in our psyche!

take innovation forward.



We used to be seen as a nation of small

Researching and developing innovative ideas

shopkeepers. That may not now be the case but

takes money and all too often businesses are

we are certainly a nation of small businesses.

not well equipped to understand their various

Sometimes that mitigates against innovation,

options. It’s also fair to say that funding,


The subtext to this first METALL meeting was of course around the possible effects of Brexit and the challenges it will pose. Consensus in the room was that it is far too early to predict how our departure from the EU will affect the sector, but there were obvious concerns around currency fluctuation, possible trade tariffs and the difficulty of finding skilled and motivated staff if restrictions on recruitment from overseas becomes a reality.

I’m pleased to say that METALL is already forming into a community and that a LinkedIn group has been established to carry on the conversation. For more on METALL check out


The widest-read business publication in the South East. Covering International Trade, Legal Issues, Accountancy, Wealth Management, Business...