Skip to content

Covid and Brexit...Innovation's Most Perfect Storm

As the sector navigates the aftereffect of Brexit & Covid, there’s one distinct factor sitting at the forefront of ta very challenge period is Innovation. This week, we caught up with Hayden allen-Vercoe, COO of Orbital Global Group, here’s what he had to say…

I’m sure there’s not a single person on the planet who’d want to relive the past 18 or so months. It’s been tough on every level. However, the sun is starting to set on a brand-new era of opportunity for those willing to grab it with both hands.

Survival for many of us has meant the need to step into the shoes of an economist, only to quickly appreciate the daunting complexities that brings. Accurately predicting a future in uncertain times is nothing short of a massive leap of faith. One step in the wrong direction could lead you off a cliff, but in the right direction, could propel your business onto a whole new level. ‘Fortune favours the brave’ has never been a truer statement.

But one direction is certain for us all wanting to safeguard our future and flourish in this brave new world. Innovation.

Even world leaders recognise that their fragile economies depend heavily upon innovation to succeed and expand, starting right from grass roots level. Right now, governments are literally throwing billions of pounds to support their bright entrepreneurial networks. This is progress on so many levels. For instance, in the UK, consider Innovation Loans, R&D Tax Credits, or even the new Super Deduction opportunity, where companies can claim 130% capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery investments.

But even before the dreaded ‘B’ and ‘C’ words even became part of our daily vocabulary, lights were being switched on by our Government in relation to driving the need for more innovation. The emphasis on making Britain great again post Brexit, has absolutely been heightened. The result is that the likes of Innovate UK and other relevant government agencies have stepped up massively and are actively seeking out and supporting our innovators showing promise, with grants, knowledge transfer and some of the most exciting international networking opportunities ever seen.

But what do we mean by ‘innovation’, it’s such a broad term right. Firstly, we’d argue that the term innovation should primarily be a business mind-set. In an ideal world, innovation would flow through a company like blood through our veins; from management techniques to NPD, streamlining production, marketing etc., and all the while keeping the workforce motivated with a sense of belonging and excitement for their future. Having worked on innovative projects for the best part of 15 years, we appreciate what it takes to succeed. It’s hard work, burns a whole lot of energy, but the rewards can be game changing when you find that sweet spot.

Whilst competition is a certain, and obsessing around futureproofing something just causes endless delay, simply opening your mind and understanding the key technology trends of tomorrow can often spark a few light bulbs. In particular, I’m talking about artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality and augmented reality to name just a few. In particular, the opportunity for such technologies to enhance workforce learning and safety, reduce unnecessary costs, increase output, streamline production and increase sales are endless when you start scratching below the surface.

So, where to start?

Well, firstly understanding these broad technologies and where they are being successfully deployed across industry is the logical first step. A quick google around ‘artificial intelligence in manufacturing’ or ‘virtual reality in manufacturing’ will inspire you massively – try it!

Now list the challenges you face at every single stage of your business process. Will an element of predictability or machine learning enhance your customer’s experience or help you plan for better resource control? Or perhaps you’d benefit from allowing your customers to design, view and interact with a product in virtual reality before committing it to the workshop floor and all the costs that involves.

There are so many scenario deployments that would rapidly demonstrate the opportunity for cost saving, growing sales through added value, as well as less tangible benefits such as extensive publicity and competitive advantage.

This is the opportunity, and right now there is an extensive pool of grants, loans, match funding and investors who want to help you achieve greatness through innovations such as these.

There are always going to be challenges of course. For example, right now, one of the biggest challenges is finding the technical talent to deliver the project. Due to the sheer volume of AI projects, technicians are massively in short supply, with the costs for contracting or even employment often outweighing the benefits of developing a Minimum Viable Product.

But there are options. Perhaps seeking a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, or even finding a specialist technology partner could achieve a proof of concept. Set the challenge and see what comes back. Understanding their experience in developing and deploying similar technologies could actually save you an awful lot of time and money. If they are open to it, you may even seek a joint venture agreement, whereby the technology may have a wider opportunity for white labelling/reselling. The opportunities are endless if you keep focussed on the opportunity or problem you want to address.

About Orbital

Orbital offer a complete cycle of innovation support services, from concept and funding to technical development (AI and immersive tech) as well as strategic marketing.

Please see Orbital’s NAAME brochure below. If you would like to discuss an AI, web or immersive technology related project please email below!

Brochure HereContact Orbital Here

Got a Story to Share

We welcome all good news stories from our manufacturing and engineering firms in Norfolk and Suffolk, please get in touch and share your story!

Sign up to our newsletter

Need help?

Contact us on to find out more about NAAME, our Talent Sharing Platform or Manufacturing Groups.