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Innovation: A Proud British Tradition

If we said the word ‘innovation’, what image immediately springs into your mind?

Maybe it is a contemporary tech titan like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, or perhaps you think of a modern-day company which has disrupted how we live our everyday lives, – an Amazon or an Uber.

This is often how people view innovation, – through the lens of the very latest, cutting-edge inventions. That is why, for many people, the very idea of innovation is something that seems very current, a modern-day phenomenon which is centred on tech-start-ups, or Silicon Valley.

Passing the Baton

However, innovation does not always need to be about a specific product or invention.

In fact, at ENL Group, we regard innovation not as a one-off event, but as a tradition, a baton that is passed on from one generation to the next. And, for all of the incredible things that happen across the world in places such as Silicon Valley or Taiwan, it is a tradition that the British have a right to feel very proud of.

It is worth reminding ourselves as a nation, that some of the greatest, most far-reaching innovations in world industry came from these shores, and took place long before anyone reading this blog was around.

Figures such as Stephenson and Brunel who, in the Victorian era, created railways and the engines which ran on them, or innovators such as Henry Bessemer whose ‘Converter’ could transform iron ore into steel, – providing one of the key building blocks for rapid industrialisation.

This notion, of constant invention and innovation, is what powered British success in earlier generations, and it is a tradition which continues to this day, with world-changing inventions such as graphene, discovered at the University of Manchester, or DNA at Cambridge.

Each of these men was building on the learning, tradition and inventions of inventors who had preceded them. Innovation, for them, was never about one single leap forward, – rather it was the next step in a process that others had already began.

Sir Isaac Newton put it best, as long ago as 1675, when he said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

The Birth of Synthetic Plastics

The plastics industry fits into this proud tradition of British innovation.

Plastic as we know it, is still a relatively modern invention. Natural plastics such as shellac and animal horn, have been used and moulded by humans since antiquity. However, the first synthetic plastic was made in the UK by a man called Alexander Parkes, born in Birmingham, who patented his modestly named invention of ‘Parkesine’ in 1862. This cheap substitute for tortoiseshell or ivory is considered to be the first manufactured plastic.

Parkes may have been a great inventor, but he was not a particularly brilliant businessman. It was left to others, in the United States and the UK to really commercialise his invention.

ENL Group

At ENL group, we very much view ourselves as inheritors of this tradition of British ingenuity and invention. We are aware both of our own history and heritage as a company, and also the broader tradition of British engineering that we are the modern-day manifestation of.

In the context of such a young industry ENL has been around for a long time. Synthetic plastics themselves have only existed for less than 160 years and for over sixty of those years, ENL has been at the forefront of technology and quality when it comes to plastic injection moulding.

Maybe it is because we remain a family-run firm which makes us so acutely aware of history, heritage and tradition. Our current MD, Richard, now holds the reins of the business his grandfather established in 1958, and continues the Gamble family involvement in British engineering that can be traced back to the 1890s.

Our Values

This sense of being custodians of a proud tradition is the reason that our values are so important to us as a company. Indeed, for a business which is so committed to investing in the latest technologies, our values can seem curiously old-fashioned, – focusing on quality, trust, technical expertise and reliability.

At ENL these values don’t feel old-fashioned though. In fact, they feel to be absolutely right for us, our business, and our customers.

These values sit at the heart of everything that we do. Our leadership team demonstrate these values to staff, any employee coming into the company learns the importance of them, and every piece of new technology that we invest in is tested against them. 

They express the things that matter most to us, whether that is the quality of the products and services we provide, the trust that our customers place in us and our components, our world-class technical expertise, or our reliability – doing what we promise, when we say we will.

We like to think that the values that underpin our business would resonate with previous generations of innovators, who recognised that often innovation comes from doing the small things right, not just one big paradigm changing idea. Innovation is a British tradition that ENL Group is proud to be part of. We will continue to use the past as a foundation and an inspiration, as we keep moving forward.

About ENL Group

ENL Group is based in Portsmouth, UK and Veľké Kostoľany, Slovakia. Established in 1958, we have been servicing UK-based and European companies for decades. Working with a secure supply chain, ENL provides quality components for quality-driven customers – with full certification for all of our products and quality checking at every stage.

Operating 24/7, we design, manufacture and deliver critical components for our customers across the UK and Europe.

Contact Us for more information about ENL and how we can help your business.