Science and universities minister David Willetts has announced a £45m package of investments in manufacturing research to be distributed as Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grants.
The money will be split between three different areas. The construction of four new centres for innovative manufacturing has been awarded £21m. The new centres will bring the total number to 16 across the UK and will focus on large area electronics, food manufacture, manufacture of medical devices and laser based production processes.
Six different research efforts to improve manufacturing competitiveness through IT systems were given £12m. The research will investigate how new IT developments such as cloud computing, crowdsourcing and gaming technology can make UK manufacturing more efficient and environmentally sound.
“The UK has a proud history of manufacturing,” said Mr Willetts, “but to build on this success industry needs access to the very latest science and technology. This £45 million package of investment will see our world-class research base investigating innovative new manufacturing equipment and techniques. This will support our industrial strategy, driving growth and keeping the UK ahead in the global race.”
A further £12.2m was awarded to research into light-based systems for accurate measurement of products and real time control of machines as well as precise metal forming processes that can deliver small batches of high value components.
“Our high labour costs mean that the future of UK manufacturing lies in being as smart as possible,” said EPSRC’s Chief Executive, Professor David Delpy, “we have the scientific and engineering know-how to not only develop new, valuable products, but the means to produce them more precisely, efficiently and to order.”
The centres and research projects will all be led by top academics from the UK’s best universities and will partner with industry leaders.
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