On the other hand, government and national security agencies are keen to ensure that capability, technology and resources critical for national security remain available within the UK. Coupled with this, there is a desire, fuelled by government incentives, to tap into the expertise, innovation and agility of SMEs to build UK competitiveness. Here Jerry Sanham, business development director at RF-to-mmWave designer and manufacturer Filtronic, investigates. Security begins at homeThere are sound economic, commercial and political reasons for investing in our UK supply chains, particularly in the current global climate. Alliances are shifting and the status quo is being upended, due to global supply shortages. All of these are catalysts that can quickly disrupt economies and previously well-established and stable business models. Sourcing goods, services and expertise from within the UK minimises the risk of disruption and builds a self-sustaining business ecosystem that is better able to withstand external shocks and geopolitical upheaval.By ensuring that we have the capability within the UK SME base to deliver advanced, hi-tech components and products, we can better support future-facing UK industries. Building this capability helps to protect local industries and jobs, while enabling businesses to design, develop and deliver truly innovative solutions entirely within the UK.Thriving SME ecosystemThe good news is that the skills, expertise and capability already exist within the UK start-up and SME community. Many SMEs have impressive track records in their specialist fields, and are developing world-leading capabilities in emerging technologies.Filtronic is among those pioneering companies, having designed, manufactured and tested advanced radio frequency (RF) technologies for more than 40 years. With the proliferation of communication channels and devices, there is huge demand for high-performance RF components to develop UK mobile telecommunications infrastructure, aerospace and defence systems, and space capabilities. Within all of these industries, there is a strong motivation to invest in UK supply chains.Smaller suppliers – bigger opportunitiesLike other leading SMEs, Filtronic offers significant benefits to its supply chain partners. Firstly, its broad reach across several markets gives it the volume of orders and throughput to support innovative projects. For example, producing thousands of modules per month for the telecoms sector enables the company to invest in advanced precision manufacturing equipment. This allows it to develop high-performance components for lower-volume, higher-value defence, aerospace and space projects. Filtronic also applies lessons learned in one market to support innovation in others.As an SME, the company is willing to take on more challenging projects. It has a culture of pushing performance boundaries, being flexible and adapting to specific customer needs. Further, it can customise its components and services for individual projects.Powered by ingenuityAt Filtronic, innovation is led by a multidisciplinary engineer team that includes RF, mechanical, PCB, test engineers and process engineers – giving it the breadth of capability required to take on ambitious turn-key projects that require real ingenuity.Another significant benefit offered by SMEs is the vertical integration of business. Projects can be managed seamlessly, from design through manufacturing and testing. Business size means that communication and collaboration between different specialists is constant, and everyone understands their role in delivering complex projects. Such close collaboration ensures that projects run as smoothly as possible, and enables teams to adapt and respond at speed.UK-based world-beatersMany SMEs offer a unique combination of skills and capabilities. In Filtronic’s case, where rich track record in RF innovation is combined with market-leading engineering expertise, the company has also established a position at the vanguard of mmWave technology for next-generation communications. Like other key businesses in the UK SME ecosystem, companies like Filtronic deliver the essential building blocks that make the modern world go round – all designed, made and delivered in the UK.More information on Filtronic here.
Print this page | E-mail this page
Download a copy of our digital magazine