Innovation readiness in UK foundation industries

Young female construction worker

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Bruce Adderley, Challenge Director for Transforming Foundation Industries (TFI), explores innovation readiness in UK foundation industries.

The foundation industries exist as we know them today because of a series of crucial innovations that allowed them for the first time to be manufactured at a scale and price that economies across the globe could afford.

Each industry has continued to innovate and evolve, meaning that this has consistently been the case over decades (in some cases even centuries). And if you look out over the London skyline today over 75% of all the human-made materials you see will have been made by these industries.

But as we move further into the 21st century, the challenges induced by climate change, the need for long-term sustainability in all that we do, need to be rapidly addressed. This includes the continued development of society, which has driven the foundation industries to their present scale and scope. Just as in their beginnings, innovation will be a key to enabling the foundation industries to meet these challenges.

Creating a commercially sustainable future

The Transforming Foundation Industries challenge is one response to this need. It is a programme of interventions designed to stimulate scale-up of the innovation pipeline, focused on creating a commercially sustainable future for these industries.

However, the pace of change continues to increase: take for example the UK’s significantly increased ambition regarding net zero. So it is only right that we regularly review what may be blocking more rapid innovation.

Meeting societal challenges

To do this requires as much evidence, both quantitative and qualitative, as we can gather. Hence we have commissioned Enterprise Research Centre to conduct this research to provide an evidence-based understanding of the factors that shape innovation across six UK foundation industry sectors: metals, paper, chemicals, glass, ceramics, and cement.

Within the full report you will find further evidence to support actions already being taken by the challenge and more widely across the foundation industries. Most importantly, it also provides evidence of where we must act faster or address additional barriers to innovation. If we are to meet 21st century societal challenges such as climate change then we must act on these now.

View the full report by Enterprise Research Centre on the innovation readiness in UK foundation industry.

Findings can be found in the summary document (PDF, 971KB).

Download our sector summary factfiles (PDF, 1.05MB). Sectors include: cement, paper, ceramics, metals, chemicals and glass.

Last updated: 7 December 2023

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