£18m+ to go to manufacturing innovations

Posted on 20 Nov 2017 by Jonny Williamson

The 130 organisations representing 63 projects will get funding through Innovate UK’s regular competition in this industry sector, which has just completed its third round.

These projects are primarily led by small and medium-sized enterprises, and they support manufacturing innovations.

Projects include improving efficiency and sustainability in food packaging and revolutionising a labour-intensive process in high-value manufacturing.

The strength of UK manufacturing and materials was highlighted on 16 November with an £18.4m investment in businesses and organisations across the UK.

Improving processes, creating efficiencies

These projects are primarily led by small and medium-sized enterprises. Examples of the projects funded include:

  • a prototype coating system that will increase the manufacturing efficiency and sustainability of the food metal packaging industry. PPG Industries (UK)is the project lead
  • the TexANN project – led by Pireta– is optimising the process for producing durable, highly-conductive textiles for use in wearable antennas in products including smartwatches and glasses. These will be snag free, lightweight, and support omni-directional communication (radio waves that are widely used for radio broadcasting and in mobile devices that use radio)
  • demonstrating the potential of robotic manufacture and installation for wiring harnesses in digital and additive manufacturing. This would revolutionise one of the last labour-intensive elements of high-value manufacturing. The lead is Printed Electronics
  • using sugars recovered from waste heading to landfill to manufacture high-grade lactic acid. This is a bulk chemical that is commonly used in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries to produce bioplastics. Fiberight is leading the consortia, which includes Unilever

Opportunities for UK manufacturers

At The Manufacturer Leaders Conference in Liverpool, Simon Edmonds, Director – Manufacturing and Materials, Innovate UK, said: “The quality and scope of these projects is outstanding. It highlights the appetite of UK manufacturing and materials companies across the country to innovate and grow.

“This ongoing investment in R&D through our sector competitions, combined with the opportunities for UK manufacturers through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, offers unparalleled levels of R&D support for businesses of all sizes.”

Centre of excellence

Science Minister Jo Johnson said:” These successful projects showcase how companies of all sizes can utilise the UK’s research and innovation expertise to improve their operations and competitiveness, boosting the UK economy and our global standing as a centre of excellence.

“The government is helping researchers and businesses to develop ground-breaking innovations through our £4.7bn research and development uplift, and along with competitions such as these, is ensuring that our world-leading researchers continue to receive the necessary recognition and support within our Industrial Strategy.”