Surface engineering is a critical technology underpinning the competitiveness of UK industry. As the examples in Table 1 indicate, this influence is broad and of major economic importance. This document, prepared by the Surface Engineering Committee of The Institute of Materials, highlights the contribution made by surface engineering to key industry sectors and identifies some challenges for the future. Obvious links exist with parallel Foresight activities in areas that include bioengineering, construction, corrosion, packaging, energy, and steel.