British innovation receives nearly £1bn in funding

Leading UK businesses, researchers and manufacturers will benefit from nearly £1bn in funding for advanced innovation, the government has announced today.

The extra funding is to expand the UK's catapult centres, which are fuelling innovation across the country.
The extra funding is to further propel the UK’s catapult centres, which are fuelling innovation across the country.

The funding is to further propel the UK’s seven high value manufacturing catapult centres, which are fuelling advanced innovation across the country.

The £780m investment builds on £180m announced by Theresa May for centres in the North East last month, taking total funding to almost £1bn.

Many forward-thinking and technological centres driving innovation in Britain will gain funding, including £270.9m for the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry and Warwick Manufacturing Group, and £96m for the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) in Strathclyde.

Allan Cook, chair of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, commented: “Innovation is a risky business. By removing risk and providing access to expertise and the tools of innovation, the HVM Catapult plays a key role in boosting the performance of manufacturers across the UK.”

As the manufacturing sector remains increasingly concerned about the industry’s future post-Brexit, the funding is a vote of confidence in the sector, and could encourage British businesses to continue to utilise their place as world-leading in manufacturing innovation.

Dr Ian Campbell, interim executive chair of Innovate UK, said: “In their first five years the catapults have supported around 3,000 small businesses to develop and exploit new technologies.

“They operate more than £850m world-class facilities and are also training hundreds of apprentices and doctoral students, such as at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult where in the last year 900 apprentices have gained invaluable practical experience with cutting-edge technologies used in modern manufacturing.”

Case study: Advanced Forming Research Centre’s FutureForge

CGI of what FutureForge might look like - image courtesy of the University of Strathclyde - image courtesy of AFRC.
CGI of what FutureForge might look like – image courtesy of AFRC.

The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) has secured £16.5m to establish a new advanced engineering facility, named FutureForge. 

Dr Michael Ward, research director of AFRC, said to The Manufacturer: “The investments announced today by the government will underpin the continued development of the Advanced Forming Research Centre, enabling it to enhance its capabilities in high integrity metal processing and in associated materials evaluation methods. This includes supplementing the funding for FutureForge which has come from Scottish Enterprise and the UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme.”

With operation proposed to begin in 2020, FutureForge will reportedly be the world’s most advanced hot forging research platform and will include a bespoke demonstrator.

FutureForge could reportedly revolutionise the global hot forging sector, and will see AFRC work with companies in the aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, energy, nuclear and rail industries. The facility could help generate around £40m of new collaborative R&D projects over a 10-year period, creating up to 34 new jobs.

Government full funding breakdown:

Region New funding Project
West Midlands £270.9m For the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry and Warwick Manufacturing Group (both part of the High Value Manufacturing Centre) and the Energy Systems Catapult, in Birmingham.
Yorkshire and the Humber £126.7m For the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, in Rotherham and Sheffield, and Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Rotherham (both part of the High Value Manufacturing Centre).
North East £180.3m For the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult in Blyth and the Centre for Process Innovation in Redcar.
Greater London £70.6m For the Cell & Gene Therapy Catapult in London (and Stevenage).
South West £65.4m For the National Composite Centre (part of the High Value Manufacturing Centre) in Bristol.
South East £68.3m For the Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell.
Wales £51.3m For the Compound Semiconductor Catapult in Cardiff.
Scotland £96m For the Advanced Forming Research Centre in Strathclyde (part of the High Value Manufacturing Centre) and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.