About Supply Chain Solutions Framework (SCS)

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Raising the Supply Chain Capability of the UK SMEs; boosting growth, quality and delivery performance

The Supply Chain Solutions Framework (SCS) is a simple access, cross sector programme led by industry through a partnership delivery model, facilitated by ADS on a not-for-profit basis in partnership with the Regional Aerospace Alliances (RAA) and Devolved Administrations (DA).

Improve performance using the Supply Chain Solutions Framework (SCS)

The SCS framework provides a comprehensive set of services to support all companies in their development needs. It enables suppliers to improve their competitive performance, highlight opportunities to invest in innovation and digitalisation, as well as helping them understand how to progress towards their ESG goals.

SC21, the leading continuous improvement programme, is the cornerstone of the SCS Framework.

Find out more about the pillars of the framework below:

SC21 Competitiveness

Supply Chains for the 21st Century (SC21) is designed to accelerate the competitiveness of the aerospace and defence industry by raising the performance of its supply chains. Over its lifetime, the programme has had over 1,000 participating companies signed up to the principles of SC21 and engaged in a continuous performance improvement journey.

The programme provides a simple standard improvement framework which defines performance goals and standardizes the approach and tools for continuous sustainable improvement. Participants achieving and maintaining agreed criteria in terms of delivery, quality, sustainable improvement and the associated improvement frameworks (business, manufacturing and relationship excellence) receive national recognition in the form of a Bronze, Silver or Gold Performance Standard Award.

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Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors in the aerospace and defence sectors are gaining increasing importance as the industry recognises the need to minimise environmental impacts, promote social responsibility and ensure long-term viability.

Considering ESG throughout the supply chain is crucial. This involves assessing and managing the environmental, social and ethical impacts of suppliers and working collaboratively to improve ESG practices. We have created an ESG self assessment tool to help you understand your strengths and areas for improvement.

As a starting point, we encourage you to implement Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reporting to help you understand and manage your organisation’s environmental impact. ADS has written GHG reporting guidance for SMEs in the aerospace and defence sectors.

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The SCS Framework enables a collaborative ecosystem in an ever changing ladscape, helping members to learn more and  exploit digital technologies.

Cyber Security

The ADS Cyber Security Toolkit – Guidance for the Supply Chain is supported by the National Cyber Security Centre and facilitated in partnership with ADS Special Interest Group, the Digital Information and Systems Integrity Group (DISIG). Thehe toolkit aims to equip supply chains with the knowledge to cater and respond to the increasing cyber security threats that confront us today.

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Digital Support

The pathway to building our future industry is founded on the successful adoption of digital technologies and all parts of the supply chain will be affected. Every business needs to chart its own journey on the road to adopting digital technologies and this Digital Transformation pack from the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP) is designed as a useful reference to helping the planning and implementation.



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Innovation funding builds on the UK’s strengths and responds to the challenges faced by industry. Funding helps businesses to grow through the development and commercialisation of new products, processes, and services.


The ATI creates the technology strategy for UK aerospace, which builds on the UK’s strengths and responds to the challenges faced by the UK civil aerospace sector. It provides a roadmap of the innovation necessary to keep the UK competitive in the global aerospace market, and complements the broader strategy for the sector created by the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP). Projects funded through the ATI Programme must align with the strategy.

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The National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme is a £20m programme to develop 80 aerospace technologies in the UK aerospace supply chain. The Aerospace Growth Partnership developed the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP) aimed at small and medium sized suppliers to help them develop their own innovative technologies to enhance their capabilities and increase their ability to win new business with higher tier companies anywhere in the world.


The NATEP programme is now closed to new applications.  For information on any of the funded projects please contact


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The Space Technology Exploitation Programme (STEP) is a new project to engage the full space supply chain to develop innovative solutions to overcome technology challenges and unlock new potential market opportunities. It will be delivered by ADS in partnership with industry on behalf of the UK Space Agency.

An initial pilot is being undertaken in Northern Ireland with more than £300,000 funding awarded to three companies who were successful in bidding for funding. Winners of the STEP pilot were announced at Space-Comm Expo 2023 and include:

  • ANGOKA Ltd – ANGOKA’s technology protects space based optical communications, ensuring the authenticity and integrity of data with a quantum resilient solution.
  • IceMOS Technology Ltd – IceMOS Technology Ltd uses an advanced engineering substrate for a Radiation Tolerant, High Voltage Silicon Carbide embedded Drain MOSFET for High-Voltage Power Distribution on Space Spacecraft for LEO, MEO and Deep Space Exploration.
  • Skytek Technology Ltd – AR4Space harnesses Skytek’s ground-breaking advancements in Augmented Reality technology, specifically tailored for the Spacecraft Assembly, Integration, and Test (AIT) sector.

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DTEP is a £16m technology development programme that seeks to improve the competitiveness of the UK Defence supply chain. It is overseen by the Industrial Programmes team in the Directorate of Industrial Strategy and Exports (DISE) and delivered by the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) supported by Innovate UK. From August​ ADS in partnership with the Regional Aerospace Alliances (RAA) are taking on the Project Review Panel element of the process. Grant funding of up to 50% of a total project expenditure is available.

DTEP is currently paused for new Outline proposals. To receive updates on this programme, please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-defence-technology-exploitation-programme and click “get emails about this page”.

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Sharing in Growth

Established to improve the competitiveness of the aerospace supply chain but now operates across several sectors.  It focuses on transferring knowledge and capability to enable ambitious supply chain companies to grow and compete internationally.


The programme offers concentrated training and development, which is tailored to the assessed of each supplier and targeted at world class standards of performance. The training and development covers all relevant disciplines, including lean operations, manufacturing processes, purchasing, cost modelling and leadership. A typical programme is expected to last for four years.



In addition,  the Government funds hundreds of schemes to help businesses increase performance, productivity and investment across the country. Some of these schemes are  bespoke for specific sectors others are general support measures open to all.

There is also the Government website, https://www.gov.uk/business-finance-support and https://helptogrow.campaign.gov.uk/ which can help identify potential support measures available. These tools allow searches by sector, business size, location, activity and business stage.




ADS Finance Forum

ADS members can join the ADS Finance Forum, a group that support companies to grow and develop their business by providing information on general financial issues, the role finance can play in sustainability, and implications of patents and trademarks.


Santander Navigator

Santander Navigator is a one stop shop that helps businesses identify growth opportunities, navigate bureaucratic challenges, tap into emerging talent and optimise logistics. Some services are free, whilst others require subscription. Find out more about the Navigator here. Connections | Santander Corporate & Commercial Banking (santandercb.co.uk).

LG Energy

LG Energy provides bespoke energy consultation, intelligence and procurement services.

Energy Bills Discount Scheme – the UK government announced a new Energy Bills Discount Scheme which took effect from April 2023. The scheme aims to support businesses, charities and public sector organisations, and runs from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024. View more here.

British Business Bank

The British Business Bank is a government-owned business development bank dedicated to making finance markets work better for smaller businesses. By providing answers to 6 questions the bank’s tool can generate a list of finance options.  The Bank’s main support programmes are highlighted below:

Future Fund -Breakthrough is a £375m UK-wide scheme which will encourage private investors to co-invest with government in high-growth, innovative firms. It is delivered by British Patient Capital a commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank.

Angel Cofund – The Angel CoFund makes equity investments of between £100,000 and £1 million in smaller businesses in the UK. It invests alongside strong syndicates of business angels to support businesses with strong growth potential.

Enable Programmes – The ENABLE Guarantee programme is designed to encourage additional lending to smaller businesses. Participating institutions are incentivised by a government-backed portfolio guarantee to cover a portion of a designated lending portfolio’s net credit losses in excess of an agreed ‘first loss’ threshold, which they receive in exchange for a fee.

Enterprise Finance Guarantee – The British Business Bank’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) facilitates business finance to smaller businesses that are viable but unable to obtain finance from their lender due to having insufficient security to meet the lender’s normal requirements. In this situation, EFG provides the lender with a government-backed 75% guarantee against the outstanding facility balance, potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’.

Regional Programmes – The British Business Bank aims to make finance markets work better for smaller businesses across the whole of the UK, in line with the Government’s aim of boosting long-term growth in the regions and narrowing the historic North-South funding gap.

The £500m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, launched on 22 February 2017, supports smaller businesses across the Northern Powerhouse region. NPIF provides funding to fund managers who offer microfinance (£25,000 – £100,000), business loans (£100,000 – £750,000) and equity finance (up to £2m).

The British Business Bank is also working alongside LEPS in the Midlands to deliver a second regional fund, the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF). The MEIF provides over £250m of investment to boost small and medium business (SME) growth in the Midlands and is a collaboration between the British Business Bank and ten Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the West Midlands and East and South East Midlands. The MEIF provides commercially focussed finance through Small Business Loans, Debt Finance, Proof of concept and Equity Finance funds.

The British Business Bank has established the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund in partnership with the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly LEP.

The £40m investment Fund will support access to finance where barriers exist for SMEs and seek to address an equity gap in start-up, early stage and development capital.

Start Up Loans – The Start Up Loans programme is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and is delivered by The Start Up Loans Company (SULCo), a subsidiary of the British Business Bank. It aims to encourage entrepreneurship in the UK, increase the rate of business creation and improve survival prospects. More specifically, the programme offers loans (from £500 to £25,000, at 6% interest) alongside free mentoring and support to individuals who are starting a new business or who have been trading for less than two years.




Business Development


From exhibitions such as Advanced Engineering UK and major domestic events including Farnborough International Airshow and DSEI, to specialist networking events, online briefings and industry conferences, the comprehensive events programme across the partnership ensures participants get access to the markets and stakeholders that matter.



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Ensuring a highly skilled future workforce to deliver a Global Britain

The UK’s engineering and manufacturing skills are essential for delivering world-leading capabilities in the aerospace and defence sectors. Whether driving innovation, advancing technical knowledge or delivering complex systems, highly skilled professionals contribute to cutting-edge technologies such as advanced materials, propulsion systems and avionics which are crucial for maintaining a competitive edge.

In addition, the aerospace and defence sectors deliver high-wage, high-skill careers that boost local economies and communities.

STEM Engagement

Looking to develop your STEM engagement locally? STEM outreach initiatives such as Pioneers of Tomorrow held at Farnborough International Airshow and the annual UK Rocketry Challenge – aimed at 11 – 18 year olds – help to inspire the next generation in fun and imaginative ways.

Talent Recruitment Portal

A strong engineering workforce is essential for sustaining our sector’s capabilities in the long term.

We have joined forces with Talent Retention Services (TRS) to deliver a free to use early careers portal. Using their recruitment technology and extensive people network and relationships with education providers, we can amplify the exciting roles and give our sectors a tool to access talented, creative and inquisitive people. Register your company profile, list your open vacancies and proactively search for talent from the extensive database of candidates.

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Security Vetting Services

ADS holds the necessary accreditations to be able to offer to sponsor National Security Vetting (NSV) clearances through the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Police for employees of member companies that meet the requirements.

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Diversity & Inclusion

Through initiatives such as the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter and Women in Defence Charter and the establishment of LGBTQ+ and EMBRACE internal networks, progress is being made to fulfil industry targets of more inclusive and diverse aerospace and defence sectors.

STEM outreach initiatives such as Pioneers of Tomorrow at Farnborough Airshow, the Build A Plane project in Northern Ireland and the UK Youth Rocketry Challenge proudly organised by ADS help to inspire the next generation.


New Professionals Forum

The New Professionals Forum is an ADS Special Interest Group which provides a supportive networking and professional development forum for early careers professionals in our sectors. Through collaboration and information-sharing, members increase knowledge and further develop their careers.



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Baseline Assessment Tool

Want to know how you compare against the competition?

A new Baseline Assessment Tool (BAT) can help you assess your performance and understand where improvement is needed as a starting point to your continuous improvement journey.

Created by Valuechain Technology Limited and designed by industry supply chain experts from the aerospace, defence and automotive sectors, together with input from national and regional partners, this free to use Baseline Assessment Tool (BAT) will provide an initial holistic report of your benchmark, recommendations on how and where you can improve your business and where to find help to improve your competitive performance.

The BAT can be used by either as a self-assessment by businesses or in conjunction with one of the qualified SC21 Practitioners.

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