Simon Edmonds introduces UK Research and Innovation and reports exciting news from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.
At the start of April, the new body of UK Research and Innovation was established officially.
Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6bn, UK Research and Innovation will bring together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England.
Research England will work closely with its partner organisations in the devolved administrations.
The new organisation will ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation by creating the best environment for it to flourish.
The first CEO is Sir Mark Walport, who has set three challenges for the new organisation:
- Knowledge – pushing the frontiers of human knowledge and understanding
- Economy – delivering economic impact and social prosperity
- Society – supporting our society and others to become enriched, healthier, more resilient and sustainable.
Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund
The organisations under the new UKRI are already working closely on delivering the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
For example, my Manufacturing and Materials team are working closely with colleagues from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to deliver the Faraday Battery Challenge.
The latest challenge fund to open that will be of interest to The Manufacturer readers is the Transforming Construction Challenge.
As part of this challenge, Innovate UK has up to £72m to invest in establishing a core innovation hub to support collaboration between industry and academia and to transform the construction sector.
The funding is for UK-based research and technology organisations that already have substantive existing facilities and expertise to work with others in the construction sector, such as businesses, the research base or public sector organisations.
This competition aims to fund a single, core innovation hub that will develop and commercialise new digital and manufacturing technologies for construction. This will help buildings to be constructed 50% faster, 33% cheaper and with half the lifetime carbon emissions.
The competition is open, and the deadline for applications is midday on 23 May 2018.
High Value Manufacturing Catapult
An important function of Innovate UK is our oversight and governance role of our Catapult network of technology and innovation centres.
As director of Manufacturing and Materials, I am always very encouraged by the continued progress and impact of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult – the network of seven world-leading centres across the country who are working with manufacturers large and small to create jobs and growth in our economy through advanced manufacturing.
I’d urge readers to keep a close eye on the HVM Catapult website for the latest news. I was very encouraged by two recent developments.
First, on the important skills agenda, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) at Ansty Park, Coventry is to launch an additive manufacturing apprenticeship programme.
Starting in September, it will provide a pipeline of technicians fully skilled in one of the fastest growing advanced manufacturing technologies in industry, thereby addressing the skills shortage in this specialised sector area.
The MTC is home to the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing (NCAM) bringing together the most comprehensive combination of equipment and capability in the UK.
Second, the Nuclear AMRC is to create a new industrial R&D facility in Derby. The proposed new centre will complement the capabilities of the Nuclear AMRC’s core research factory on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham, and its modularisation R&D facility in Birkenhead.
It will also draw on the wider capabilities of the University of Sheffield AMRC cluster of advanced manufacturing centres, including the AMRC with Boeing and the AMRC Training Centre.