A Framework for Developing Manufacturing Strategy in Start-up Companies

Research aims

Manufacturing start-ups in high-tech sectors are increasingly being viewed as central to economic growth and rejuvenation in the UK, creating jobs and building the potential for technological leadership, particularly in emerging industries. However, research into successful strategies and tools to assist such firms is scarce. This project endeavours to address this gap by examining the development of strategy in start-ups and the typical challenges they face. Ultimately, the project provides guidance for first-time entrepreneurs and managers as they navigate their initial challenges and form their strategies.


Current work and completed research

In order to gain rich insight into the challenges and strategic evolution of these nascent firms, multiple in-depth case studies have been conducted.  A number of manufacturing start-ups in the UK were been selected for inclusion in a detailed study on development and evolution of start-up strategy. Strategy charts were used to better understand key events, business orientation and strategic choices such as value-chain position and make-or-buy.


Sample Strategy Chart

Dataset and case-study research specifically into the strategic decisions of university spin-out (USO) firms in the advanced material sector provided an avenue to examine how resource-constrained start-ups with new technologies can leverage other resources in their innovation ecosystem in order to create value for customers.  This research focuses on partnership and market selection strategies appropriate for USOs commercializing generic technologies.


Innovation Ecosystem of a high-tech USO

The theory and evidence collected for the project also provided the basis for a number of recommendations that were woven into a workbook to provide guidance for early-stage manufacturing entrepreneurs and managers. Short-case studies of both successful and unsuccessful start-ups are used to illuminate the challenges these firms are likely face as they survive and grow.  Frameworks and worksheets are also provided to help entrepreneurs work logically through their strategic manufacturing and funding choices.


Make or Buy Framework



This project has produced a number of deliverables, including:


  • A conceptual strategy development for data collection and strategy mapping
  • Six in-depth case studies in several emerging industries, including: internet security, X-ray imaging, renewable energy and medical devices
  • A categorisation of the major challenges encountered by start-ups
  • In-depth analysis of technology-push and market-pull strategies, mark-or-buy decisions, partnership strategies and market selection for manufacturing start-ups.


Thus far, the project as produced several conference and journal publications as well as a practical workbook for early-stage manufacturing ventures: “Choose Your Own (Ad)Venture”. 


For more information, please contact Dr. Sarah Lubik

Share This