The single driver for growth in 2014 and beyond is the global demand for better living standards. Global desire for better life and living standards is driving growth and this will sustain strong double-digit growth opportunities over time especially in India and the developing regions.
The five key areas fuelling economic activity and growth will be:
- consumer demand for higher standards and regulation;
- increased demand for quality healthcare;
- better food standards;
- greater efficiency to offset increased competition; and
- the development and ex- ploitation of new materials.
Regulation is becoming a benefit more than a cost because it leads to higher quality products with lower risks of recall. I have seen growing evidence of this, particularly in India and I believe regulatory compliance will continue to be central to improving products in 2014.
The need to drive down the cost of quality healthcare and increase vaccination rates in the developing countries is a big driver and is growing.
The demand for high quality, safe food will also continue to grow, but the market is very fragmented. The food industry is, however, one of the most adaptable industry sectors and we will surely see rapid innovation and improvements. There is potential for the pharmaceutical industry to mirror some of the agility of the food sector.
Increased efficiency will be a theme for 2014. As margins continue to decrease, businesses need to improve productivity.
Finally, I believe the year ahead will see developments of applications and fabrication methods for new materials such as Graphene, a two-dimensional carbon lattice which appears to have enormous potential in many materials and semiconductor applications.
Despite being largely derived from UK research, it seems that much of the development on innovative materials is now being done overseas. I predict more companies in the UK will be looking at ways to contribute to a resurgence of UK influence.
Local suppliers in developing economies are certainly growing in capability but the West has a deep reserve of expertise and is the centre of many of the regulatory initiatives.
Even if currency risks and infrastructure issues create potential for short term reverses, prospects for next year will be driven by increased prosperity in the BRIC economies with ordinary people wanting to be better off.
Tim Linnell is product portfolio manager at Eurotherm