IF you were seeking a credible blueprint for industrial growth following the worst recession in living memory, you could do a lot worse than take a look at Motorsport Valley.
Many people may not immediately recognise the term, but the Stoneleigh-based Motorsport Industry Association represents a sector which deserves the closest scrutiny at a time when the UK economy remains largely stagnant.
The motorsport industry is a microcosm of revival and reinvention during still highly volatile times, an exemplar of innovation and enterprise. It’s also a case study in how to prosper and grow.
The MIA, largely unsung, is leading the world in its own sector. Over 80 per cent of UK motorsport businesses export services or products abroad. As MIA chief executive Chris Aylett points out, there isn’t a motor-racing event anywhere in the world which gets off the grid without some British influence.
The business model here is key, and holds the most illuminating of mirrors up to a post-industrial Britain which has seen heavy industries from steel to mining and shipyards decimated while India, China and others muscle in on the country which once gave the world the Industrial Revolution.
The world of UK motorsport has continued to thrive because it is niche, low volume, agile, lean and, possibly most crucial of all, global.
It was largely recession-proof because its customer base stretched out to the Far East and other parts of the planet far from the power-brokers at the City of London who had watched in horror as the near collapse of the banking world in October 2008 threatened to bring much of UK business down with it.
Of course it is no longer October 2008, thankfully. Fred ‘The Shred’ Goodwin of RBS infamy and his like have been rooted out, and much of the business world is older and wiser, and still hanging on in there.
But too much of UK industry remains becalmed, nervous of investment and what the future holds for the Eurozone. The brutal truth is that the competition these days is as likely to be in Shanghai as Smethwick. Motorsport Valley has known that for years.