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Brimful of passion for engineering, Will is helping to revive UK manufacturing prowess. Brompton design, produce and distribute 50,000+ folding bicycles each year from their London factory – with half the 1200 parts made onsite. Exports account for 80% of sales. With cycle hire stations, Brompton Junction stores and retailers in 44 world markets, they continue to explore new markets and innovations from the addition of electric motors to the connected bike. Riding onto the stage, Will explains his belief in ‘built-out’ obsolescence.

Paul has launched and led businesses in motorsport, food and bioscience, turning an Oxford spinout into a multi-national vaccine company. He also served as Defence, Business and Science & Innovation Minister in the Blair/Brown Governments, establishing the UK Space Agency and the Office for Life Sciences. Paul is now setting speed records for electric cars (219mph). In speeches he covers innovation policies and profits, leading edge engineering and green technology.

If your office has a water cooler, the chances are it was manufactured by Ebac. John’s firm also makes specialist refrigeration and air conditioning for everything from field hospitals to the London Underground. As he proved on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire, John is passionate about solving problems, accepting mistakes, adding value and answering only to Joe Public.

Since selling Red or Dead, Wayne has worked with local authorities to regenerate their housing stock, both in urban and coastal communities. He has also launched pop-up shops and Vintage Festivals, using modern technology and marketing to create a new heritage brand. Wayne believes economic recovery offers opportunities for the creative; his kiosks are a prime example, providing low-rent space to a new generation of designers.

After heading the CBI, Digby entered government and circled the globe, lobbying on behalf of British business. As ambassador for UK Trade & Investment he still flies the flag. Digby argues we need to adapt to Asia’s century and build the skills and confidence to sell to the developing world. Opportunity is there for those who widen the base and invest in training. Meanwhile we need to re-think the role of business in society, based on a socially inclusive ‘covenant.’

The suitcase that children ride on was rejected by manufacturers and retailers, struggled, was derided on Dragons’ Den, and almost went under, but Rob’s vision, as well as his brilliant, innovative design won through. As well as inventing a whole new market sector, the award winning product has sold millions and Trunki is now synonymous with children’s luggage. Rob considers the lessons in leadership, brand, customer insight, and innovation as well as looking at how global markets and online retail has changed his business.

The Financial Times’ former Manufacturing Editor has written a detailed study of the future for mass production. He is broadly positive on the prospects for high cost countries like the UK. While output is still below the level prior to the crisis, and we have slipped to 11th in the world league table, a number of specialists are coming to the fore – making items that many of us would be hard pressed to recognise. Some SMEs could even become global players.

As Chief Executive of Dyson, Martin transformed it from a niche manufacturer to a £1bn global brand, moving production to Asia. Even after the onset of recession, he doubled turnover and trebled profits - increasing sales in 70 markets. Now in private equity Martin argues we must use our inventiveness rather than try to compete with China on their terms. But with 40,000 unfilled skilled jobs, UK industry needs to work much more closely with educators.

Armed with a good idea, limited contacts but lots of drive, Michelle progressed from making the tea at a brewery to creating the cleavage-enhancing Ultimo bra. She’s now sold the lingerie business and written an emotional autobiography – My Fight To The Top. In speeches she tells a tale of setbacks and publicity coups, and what can happen “if you have fire in your belly.”

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