Queens Award: Service industries make their mark

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The Independent Online
THE INCREASING importance of service industries to the British economy is clearly demonstrated by this year's Queen's Awards for Export, Technological and Environmental Achievement.

Service companies accounted for 33 per cent of the export award winners, compared with about 15 to 20 per cent in recent years.

The three lists have their share of more traditional manufacturers, such as Belleek Pottery, which has been making fine china giftware in Northern Ireland for nearly a century and a half, and HDA Forgings, the Worcestershire- based manufacturer of hand and die-forged components for the aerospace, defence, transport and general industrial sectors, as well as pharmaceutical companies, such as Glaxo and Zeneca.

But taking their place alongside them are such organisations as the City of London-based international law firm Allen & Overy and Bupa, one of the world's leading providers of private medical insurance.

There are also many consultancies, including Cambrian Consultants, which works with oil companies to maximise their hydrocarbon potential in order to improve operational efficiency and control costs, and Huthwaite International, a sales and management training organisation that has clients in 26 countries.

A notable success is London City Airport, located in the capital's Docklands, which has overcome the constraints of a short runway, short operating hours and movement limitations as well as difficult access on the ground to nearly double export earnings over three years.

With 13 airlines serving 23 European cities, it handles 1.4 million passengers a year, of which 60 per cent are not from the UK.

Zeneca, which is merging with the Swedish group Astra, appears twice in the lists. Its agrochemicals division, based in Haslemere, Surrey, receives a technological achievement award for the invention and development of a fungicide that both protects plants from fungus and cures them if they are already affected by the condition.

Meanwhile, Zeneca's metal extraction products arm, based in Manchester, wins an environmental award for the development of a process used in the manufacture of a chemical product associated with the extraction of copper from waste ore that reduces effluent by 85 per cent.

Britain's nautical tradition is upheld by Brunton's Propellers of Clacton- on-Sea, Essex, which wins a technological achievement award for the development of the Autoprop, an automatic variable pitch propeller which adapts to the conditions in which a boat is operating.

By working in this way, the propeller achieves much higher efficiency over a wider range of operating speeds than is possible with conventional fixed propellers.

As a result, vessel speeds are higher, fuel consumption is lower and emissions are reduced.