£680m R&D boost to help drive UK’s economic recovery

Posted on 26 Jun 2020 by Jonny Williamson

Research and innovation projects by businesses and universities across the UK are all set to benefit following three major funding announcements by the government.

The government has made a trio of announcements aimed at kick-starting the UK’s economic recovery post-Covid-19.

  • £416m will help support cutting-edge regional R&D projects in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Bristol, Liverpool and Kent.
  • £191m Sustainable Innovation Fund has been ringfenced to help innovative businesses turn ingenious ideas into new technologies.
  • £73m will fund 10 projects for low-carbon emissions research working to achieve around 60 million tonnes of CO2 reduction.

Regional R&D projects

Funding worth £416m will help support cutting-edge R&D projects in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Bristol, Liverpool and Kent, including zero-emissions tech for maritime vessels, smart-packaging to cut food waste, and new health products to combat infections get the investment they need to take-off.

Each programme is expected to deliver long-term economic benefits in every part of the UK, creating thousands of jobs, new skills, and encouraging more competitive and future-proof industries.

This latest investment is part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Strength in Places Fund, which aims to support promising research and innovation projects that will drive local economic growth.

Projects announced today will receive a share of £186m of government investment, backed by a further £230m from private firms and research institutions.

The seven projects receiving funding today are:

£44m for a consortium led by Cardiff University, to group capabilities in South Wales developing technologies in areas such as communications, 5G, innovative vehicles and medical devices

£114m for a consortium led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, which is ensuring innovative, new healthcare products and solutions to combat human infections are made available in the North West faster and cheaper. This could help simplify diagnosis, reduce the need to draw blood and risks from contaminated needles.

£55m for a consortium led by the University of Edinburgh to fund research to understand financial behaviours and address financial challenges such as fair access to credit, property ownership and saving.

£46m for a consortium led by the University of Bristol to support new digital formats in filmmaking in the South West including new experiences across fiction, documentary, games and live performance.

£33m for a consortium led by the National Institute of Agriculture Botany EMR at East Malling to increase investment in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation and smart-packaging for food production to help improve efficiencies and reduce waste

£61m for a consortium led by the University of Glasgow to translate new approaches in Precision Medicine into real-world settings, which will allow doctors to select treatments for patients based on a disease’s genetics.

£63m for a consortium led by Artemis Technologies to develop zero-emissions technologies in Northern Ireland for the introduction of wind-electric hybrids for maritime vessels, including a new zero emissions water taxi scheme.  

The announcement also follows the government doubling investment in its Fast Start Competition to £40m to drive forward new technological advances and support the UK’s next generation of innovative businesses.

 Sustainable Innovation Fund

A new government-backed £191m Sustainable Innovation Fund will be open to companies across all parts of the UK who need urgent financial support to keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive.

Funding totalling almost £200m could go towards developing new technologies focused on making homes and offices more energy efficient to cut bills, creating ground-breaking medical technologies to treat infections and diseases, or reducing the carbon footprint of public transport in our towns and cities.

In a move to support people across the country to establish more ‘climate-positive’ behaviours, businesses and start-ups could also make use of the fund to develop smart sustainability-focused projects – from apps encouraging people to cut down their food waste to sustainable biodegradable packaging.

£73m leap towards net zero emissions

In related news, the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) has awarded £73m to 10 projects in its latest round of government and industry funding for low-carbon emissions research.

These innovative programmes, which combine expertise from OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers, SMEs and academia, will create or secure nearly 10,000 jobs in research and manufacturing, across projects that can bring about a reduction of almost 60 million tonnes in CO2 emissions.

zero carbon economy - Car exhaust pipe emissions - image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Image courtesy of Depositphotos

The 10 winning projects are:

Jaguar Land Rover’s Hi-VIBES project aims to deliver pioneering power electronics which will support the growing number of electrified products across the JLR range.

Working with academics from the University of Nottingham and industry partners Lyra Electronics and Pektron, the project will create a fully integrated power electronics system that will be used for all future JLR battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). The system design will enable significant cost, weight and package benefits.

The Hi-VIBES project is expected to bring significant opportunities for industrial investment and sourcing within the supply chain in the UK.

Partnering with Warwick University and The Welding Institute, the REVO project led by Avid Technology Limited will deliver a highly innovative next generation axial flux motor and a motor manufacturing process for lighter weight, higher efficiency electric vehicle powertrains of the future.

The project will further embed electric motor simulation and design and volume manufacturing, with the new manufacturing process capable of producing up to 100,000 units a year on a single production line within Avid Technology’s existing UK manufacturing facilities.

Tevva’s SANGREAL project will design and bench-test an innovative transaxle and vehicle control system for 7.5 to 14 tonne commercial vehicles.

Further developing and commercialising Tevva’s existing battery module and pack design to a ‘between the rails’ solution will improve safety and impact robustness with active thermal management.

A substantial part of the investment will develop an advanced vehicle control system and cloud-based telematic, ensuring safe and reliable performance for both on and off-road applications. This enables predictive and preventative servicing that intelligently controls the range extender so that its use is minimised overall and avoided entirely in urban environments.

The collaborative EVE (Electric Vehicle Evolution) project involves specialist UK-based companies and academia to develop, localise and industrialise the next generation of EV technology for existing and future vehicles produced by London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC).

Building on the success of the current ‘eCity’ technology that has already helped to reduce more than 30,000 tonnes of CO2, investment in this new EV technology ensures that LEVC will continue to lead the development of innovative green mobility products.

A development team bringing together two premium automotive global companies, BMW & McLaren Applied, Customer Interconnect Limited (CIL), Lyra Electronics, Compound Semi Conductor Applications Catapult (CSAC) and the University of Warwick will foster a new UK supply chain for subcomponents and system capability for the future of electromobility.

Delivered through two strongly interlinked workstreams addressing both volume and performance to drive improved efficiency, lower vehicle level CO2, reduced weight and better use of storage.

Led by Ford, the collaborative ESHADOW research project  aims to develop a hybrid material structural engineering tool to promote lightweight design and verification for product development processes.

This project will create a lightweight multi-material solution for rolling chassis ladder frames to improve vehicle efficiency and promote adoption of zero-emission vehicle architectures and will demonstrate a new approach for engineering practices that will enable development of the next generation of electric vehicles.

Using innovative, high-strength aluminium alloys, the ALIVE (Aluminium Intensive Vehicle Enclosures) project will design, develop, assemble and extensively test novel enclosure architectures that are scaleable in both design and manufacturing capability.

This project hopes to enable these new concepts for the manufacture of both vehicle integration structures and battery enclosures in a new generation of lightweight hybrid and electric vehicles for the UK market.

This collaborative R&D project will demonstrate the development of production technologies for traction motors; providing the electrical alternatives to diesel power solutions with demonstrable operational reliability for the commercial vehicle market.

A consortia, led by Magtec, includes four leading transport sector OEMs – Dennis Eagle, Paneltex, Volta Trucks and Angel Trains who will support the definition of requirements and verification of the solutions developed. Ensuring that the manufacturing processes are repeatable and robust.

From the world of academia, the project will also include the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at the University of Sheffield whose expertise will be focused on utilising the most innovative manufacturing process and assembly methods.

Building on extensive cutting-edge developments in every major component and subsystem across the mechanical and e-machines domains, Cummins Turbo Technologies (CTT) alongside Tier 1 to Tier 3 partners across the UK supply chain aim to create a game-changing energy recovery platform

By redefining the practical limits of system efficiency across multiple thermal propulsion powertrains as well as system level efficiency at vehicle level, the project hopes to deliver CO2 and fuel consumption improvements for ICE-based platforms such as hybrids, natural gas vehicles and reduced-emission diesel variants.

Working with world-class research and industry partners, Jaguar Land Rover is developing a prototype hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

Hydrogen can play a role as a viable fuel in the future across the automotive industry alongside battery electric vehicles, helping to make our environments cleaner.

Working with Delta Motorsport, Marelli Automotive Systems and UKBIC, the project will deliver a zero tailpipe emissions premium fuel cell SUV concept with Jaguar Land Rover attributes, such as long range, quick refill, towing, off road capabilities and low temperature performance.

The project will help drive significant growth and capability in fuel cell electric vehicle design and manufacturing, providing a competitive edge in intellectual property and supply chain for the UK.