A survey of 250 manufacturers by the EEF showed that nine out of ten wanted to improve productivity and most were keen to adopt new technology and produce new products.
But the manufacturers’ organisation said the positive trends were not enough to make up for a decade of declining investment.
Since the recovery from recession, investment in the UK has been slower than in other countries, leaving it 14 per cent below its 2008 peak, the report noted.
The EEF, which holds its annual manufacturing conference in London this week, said its study revealed that a fifth of companies believe they are falling behind international competitors.
EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler said: “Manufacturers are telling us they have ambitious strategies for growth but many are also saying they are not investing enough to deliver them. We need to close this gap between ambition and reality.”