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Discussion panel: Is now the most opportune moment for a manufacturing revival in the UK?

The Institute for Prosperity will be hosting a panel discussion this coming Monday to propose solutions to the UK’s ongoing manufacturing decline.

JMI founder John Mills will be joined by an array of spokespeople across the industry to ask: Is now the most opportune moment for a manufacturing revival in the UK? The panel will be moderated by JMI Chair and former government minister, Caroline Flint.

The discussion is being held in partnership with the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and will take place at 6pm on Monday 18 July at Sewtec Automation, a global automation specialist and market leader in bespoke automation based in Wakefield.

Mills will sit on the panel alongside MTC’s Chief Automation Officer, Mike Wilson, Sewtec’s Chairman Mark Cook, Dr Yan Wang of the University of Brighton, and Tom St John of The Manufacturer.

With the current economic crisis, compounded by rampant inflation and the war in Ukraine, we need to rethink attitudes towards manufacturing and come up with ideas to rejuvenate the sector. The discussion will offer solutions on boosting manufacturing throughout the UK, improving diversity and inclusion in the sector, and future-proofing British manufacturing.

With the release of the most recent JMI research report, 'Energy and Manufacturing: Solutions to high cost energy facing the manufacturing sector', the current environmental challenges facing the sector will also be widely discussed.

Key members of the Yorkshire business community will attend, including representatives from the Mayor of West Yorkshire's office and the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, and members and key executives from Wakefield council and some of Yorkshire's largest businesses.

More information on the panellists and moderator below:

John Mills

John Mills is a businessman, economist and author who has long been involved in political affairs. He is also the founder, Chairman and majority shareholder of JML, the global consumer goods company which sells high-volume consumer products in the UK and 85 countries worldwide.

John has been a Labour Party supporter, donor, and activist for over 50 years. He served as a Labour Councillor on Camden Borough Council almost continuously from 1971 to 2006.

A committed and well-respected advocate for growth and enterprise, John Mills is an accomplished writer and has published over 12 books over the last 40 years on a range of political and economic issues. As an economist, his main interests are the relatively poor performance of western economies compared with those in the East and the UK’s relationship with the EU.

Rt Hon Caroline Flint

Caroline Flint is the Chair of the Institute for Prosperity's Advisory Board.

Caroline is a well-known figure in politics and the media, having been in the frontline of British politics for 22 years, six as a government minister, five as Shadow Secretary of State. She was the first woman MP for Don Valley (1997 – 2019).

As a member of the Public Accounts Committee from 2015-2019, Caroline led inquiries on energy and infrastructure projects, major suppliers’ contracts after the Carillion collapse, housing policy and tax transparency. A Senior Parliamentarian, she served on the Intelligence and Security Committee from 2017-19.

Caroline has been a passionate advocate for rebalancing the UK economy, and for investment in the North, having served as Chair of the Northern Powerhouse All-Party Parliamentary Group. Her policy contributions have included recommendations that the UK adopts a “muscular economic nationalism”; using the transition to a low carbon economy to rebuild UK manufacturing and domestic supply chains; and policies to upskill the UK workforce to make it more economically self-sufficient.

Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson has 40 years of experience in the application of automation to manufacturing across a broad range of industry sectors and is widely recognised as one of the leading authorities on the application of industrial robot systems in the UK.

Mike is Chief Automation Officer at the Manufacturing Technology Centre, leading the drive to increase the adoption of automation in UK manufacturing. He is also past Chairman of the British Automation and Robot Association, a Director of the Manufacturing Technologies Association and has previously been Chairman of the International Federation of Robotics. His book “Implementation of Robot Systems” was published in 2014.

Dr Yan Wang

Dr Yan Wang is a Principal Lecturer at the University of Brighton. Dr. Wang’s research direction is remanufacturing which adds value to the waste stream by returning items to working order with case studies on automotive, machine tools, rolling stock etc. She has published 50+ journal papers and been granted 10 patents. She is a committee member of BSI technical group (BS8887, which provides remanufacturing protocols), was involved in the standard writing of BS8887-part 3. Dr. Yan Wang has rich experiences in engagement with policy makers in remanufacturing, including BEIS, Innovate UK and Chinese government. e.g., her engagement with policy makers in China and the UK has been listed as one of the policy outcomes of 9th UK-China economic and financial dialogue (Item 57).

Tom St John

Tom joined The Manufacturer as Multimedia Editor in May 2021. His professional background previously was in broadcast journalism; in tv and radio. He is currently overseeing all podcast and video content at The Manufacturer and is thoroughly enjoying getting to know inspirational individuals and amazing companies within manufacturing.

Mark Cook

Mark is a motivated and highly effective Director, who holds more than 35 years’ experience in developing technology and service businesses internationally and in the UK. In his role as Chairman at Sewtec, Mark is responsible for leadership and development of the board, with a focus on strategic matters and adherence to high standards of governance.

Mark held several senior positions before joining Sewtec, including Executive Chairman and CEO at Stirling Dynamics, CEO at Seven Technologies Group (previously Datong PLC), Founder and Managing Director at Persides (acquired by Edif ERA), and various Director roles at Thales. Mark’s early career also includes electronic and software product development, systems engineering and project management.

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From The John Mills Institute for Prosperity

Updates from the John Mills Institute for Prosperity.


“To increase prosperity, growth and equality by putting a more successful economic future at the heart of British political discourse.”