Projects in the aerospace, automotive, pharmaceuticals and food are beverage set to benefit from the new R&D fund
14 projects across the UK clinch funding in first round of government’s ‘Manufacturing Made Smarter’ challenge, geared at streamlining supply chains and slashing waste
Fourteen industrial research projects geared at improving productivity and reducing waste in the manufacturing sector have snapped up £50m in the first round of the government’s new Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge.
The winning projects include plans to build digital virtual assistants able to design bespoke products, a platform geared at reducing waste in the food supply chain, and a project to develop digital robots that are able to weld metal parts.
Announcing the new funding today at London Tech Week, the government said it expects to invest a total of £147m over five years on “creative ideas” that could boost UK manufacturing productivity by 30 per cent .
The funding, which is set to be matched by £153m of industry funding, would provide a “crucial lift” to the aerospace, automotive, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage sectors as the UK “builds back better” from the pandemic, it said.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma emphasised the winning technologies had the potential to make UK manufacturing more environmentally responsible as well as more competitive.
“Increasing productivity is vital for any business, and having the right new technologies in place can help manufacturers make better products to compete and thrive,” he said. “By helping manufacturers to reduce costs, cut waste, and slash the time it takes to develop their products, this multi-million pound uplift will help fire up the cylinders of productivity as we build back better from the pandemic.”
The first £50m tranche of funding was allocated today to 14 manufacturing projects that involve 30 small or medium businesses, 29 larger enterprises, and nine universities, the government said.
Beneficiaries include Account Management Online’s ‘Digital Designer Robot’ concept, WeldZero in the West Midlands, Smart Connected Shop Floor in Bristol, and the Digital Sandwich in Chelmsford.
Manufacturing Made Smarter industrial advisory group chair Hamid Mughal said that rapid advances in digital manufacturing technologies would help shore up the resilience of the UK’s manufacturing sector over the years ahead.
“By harnessing the potential of this technology, we will be able to make a transformational improvement in productivity, sustainability and global competitiveness and create new products and services that forge modern digital enterprises,” he said.
Firms of all sizes are eligible to apply for up to 70 per cent of for industrial research projects through the programme.
Elsewhere, industry players commended the government’s new R&D investment programme. John Kitchingman, managing director of French software firm Dassault Systèmes’ EuroNorth division, said the initiative to invest in solutions that could make supply chains more effective and more sustainable represented a “huge step in the right direction”.
“The government’s Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge will enable more organisations to benefit from solutions such as virtual twins and data visualisation to create sustainable supply chains that harmonise products, people and the planet moving forward – which is fantastic news for the industry, as well as consumers and citizens across the whole country,” he said.