Here, lead technologist Merlin Goldman, who’s heading out on the mission, tells Smarta why small businesses should follow in their path.
“The UK is home to some of the most innovative small businesses in the world. To encourage innovation, this week the Technology Strategy Board and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China (MOST) are leading a delegation to China to encourage collaboration between the two countries. The ‘mission’ is focused on greener approaches to manufacturing and delegates comprise 13 of the most innovative start-up (and established) UK companies and five of the top academics.
"During the mission, which Chinese and UK Government’s are calling ‘Tomorrow’s Manufacturing: Mission to China’, the businesses will participate in partner, investor, supplier and customer meetings with a strong focus on enterprise and innovation. The six-day mission should generate a number of project ideas that could result in the companies receiving funding on their return with additional collaborative research and development funding opportunities. This will be specifically for projects that support the development and commercialisation of innovative approaches to sustainable manufacturing. Funders include: Technology Strategy Board, EPRSC and MOST.
"Despite being a significant driver behind China’s impressive economic growth, demand for its manufacturing has slowed. This is because of the rise of the raw materials and labour costs and falling demand for its exports. China is now exploring new routes to sustainable manufacturing as it seeks to address the environmental impact of its heavier manufacturing industries. Therefore the opportunities for these innovative companies to make new links with likeminded businesses are fantastic.
"Each of the companies on the mission has been selected by a competitive process administered by both countries. They demonstrate a variety of capabilities in areas such as novel coatings, additive manufacturing, microwaves, fuel cells and biotechnology. They vary in size from the start-up (Arcola Energy, Oxford Nanosystems and Scionix) to larger companies (Ingenza, e2v and Teer Coatings), and also include a representative from CPI, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.
"Our hope is that the companies involved will take a lot from this experience and make some great links with partners in China in order to continue to support growth and enterprise in this country.”
You can keep up-to-date with their journey by following them on twitter @tsbmission.