Study to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on UK manufacturing

A woman in a mask operating a machine

Researchers at Strathclyde have been awarded funding to investigate the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on UK manufacturing and to provide insights to help secure a stronger future.

The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19.

The projects address the key challenges, not just around the health issues but also looking at the challenges for business and how the recovery can be shaped.

UK manufacturing

The University team was awarded £280,000 to carry out research to understand the impact of the crisis on UK manufacturing and to identify priorities for renewal through innovation.

The 18 month long project is being led by Professor Jill MacBryde from Strathclyde Business School with colleagues Remi Zante and Benoit Fernandez from the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and Tim Reckordt from the University’s Department of Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management.

Woman facing camera

Professor MacBryde said: “We know that the pandemic could have a shattering effect on UK manufacturing and so there is an urgent need for action. Improving innovation capability within manufacturing firms and across manufacturing supply chains is going to be important.

“We will be working with industry bodies and using interviews and surveys to build up a clearer picture of the effects of COVID-19 on manufacturing firms and supply chains. “

The research team will use the data and their understanding of UK supply chains to analyse areas of particular vulnerability and will work with scenario experts to look at possible futures for a number of manufacturing supply chains.

Develop strategies

It’s anticipated the findings will be useful for both policy makers and those trying to develop strategies within the manufacturing firms.

 Professor MacBryde added: “The researchers will use their existing academic knowledge, combined with the data gathered to identify targeted actions that could help UK manufacturing to develop innovation capability, within the firm and also across supply chains.

“Ultimately we hope to provide insights into developing innovation capabilities that will help secure a stronger future for UK manufacturing.”

UKRI is supporting hundreds of projects that are addressing the key challenges of COVID-19. More than £400 million has been invested in research and innovation tackling the pandemic and its many impacts on business, the economy and society.

Major breakthroughs so far include identifying the world’s first treatments for COVID-19, leading the global effort to find a vaccine and accelerating the UK’s vaccine manufacturing capacity.