Developing the UK manufacturing supply chain will remain a critical part of rebalancing the economy says a top British politician.

Speaking as Tata Steel and consultants', Productiv's launched the grant-funded Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain's (AMSCI) initiative, The Proving Factory, in the northern England town of Rotherham yesterday (18 February), Business Secretary, Vince Cable, outlined the coalition government's support for the auto component sector.

"Seen from a government point of view, advanced manufacturing is absolutely critical to getting this country moving forward," said Cable. "The automotive industry is a success story - it used to be somewhat of a joke but it has risen.

"But one of its weaknesses was its supply chain was stripped out and manufacturing agreed it is desirable to rebalance it on a partnership basis. The other thing is to provide some funding - the existing system simply does not allow to it to happen.

"We have the Supply Chain Initiative - this will inject financing [to] build up these supply chains."

Cable hailed the importance of British manufacturing, noting the sector was as large as in France and maintaining half of all UK exports were manufacturing-led.

He added it was "no coincidence down the road in Rotherham is the Catapult Centre," the collaborative research base that also examines metals and composites drawing on university research.

"You get this link between British universities and industry," said Cable. "Other countries do this very well, such as Germany."

Hailing The Proving Factory project, Cable added: "It is a practical initiative to make sure the supply chain develops in Britain. The 'valley of death' is a problem for clever inventors. They have got a big idea and at the first stage, no-one is willing to lend them any money.

"So what they [Factory] are doing is providing a pot of money to take to the car manufacturers to eventually put it [idea] into action."

The Proving Factory is a collaboration agreement with Tata Steel UK, MIRA and Productiv, which are the lead partners in a government-backed initiative to help bring UK low carbon technologies to market. 

This agreement centres around the creation of The Proving Factory, which provides shared development, manufacturing and quality processes.

Torotrak is one of the small group of founding member developers and will also work with Jaguar Land Rover, Schaeffler and the Manufacturing Technology Centre.