Early this year government pledged £200m of public money to the cause of commercially focused research for industry. Through the technology strategy board government has been working with key sectors to develop a group of Technology Innovation Centres or TICs which are designed to bridge the gap between excellence in academic research and the ability to apply technology for competitive advantage and economic prosperity.
In March it was announced that the TIC for high value manufacturing (HVM) would be the first of six priority centres to launch and today the centre opened its doors for business.
Over the next six years the TIC will benefit from £140m of investment from the Technology Strategy Board. This public sector funding will be matched by private sector contributions arranged in key business partnerships. A final third of financial support will also be available to the centres in the form of government grants, and EU funding allocations.
Two chances for the HVM TIC to gain further public funding are already in sight with TSB running a competition for technology inspired innovation, worth £18m and another in conjuction with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, worth £15m
TICs are designed to provide a forum for open innovation and will enable smaller business to access cutting edge research and development facilities – the model of the German Fraunhofer Institutes have been a key influence in the TICs development.
The HVM TIC is structured in a ‘wheel and spoke’ format which brings together expertise and existing capability at seven industrial research hubs across the UK. The seven institutions selected are:
- Advanced Forming Research Centre (University of Strathclyde)
- Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (University of Sheffield)
- Centre for Process Innovation (Wilton & Sedgefield)
- Manufacturing Technology Centre (Coventry)
- National Composites Centre (University of Bristol)
- Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (University of Manchester and Sheffield)
- Warwick Manufacturing Group (University of Warwick)
This group spans expertise in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, food and drink, healthcare, aerospace, automotive, energy, chemicals and electronics.
Chief executive of the TSB, Iain Gray, said: “High value manufacturing is a priority for the Technology Strategy Board. The future of manufacturing in the UK needs to be high value, delivering strong financial performance, strategic importance, and positive social impact. The new centre will help UK businesses stay at the leading edge of manufacturing technology and create and protect jobs long into the future”.
Also supporting the launch Business Secretary, Vince Cable said: “The Government is supporting manufacturing through a modern industrial strategy fit for the 21st century. We are assisting manufacturing companies and their supply chains directly through the Regional Growth Fund and other schemes. But we know there is always more to do. We will set out further proposals to support manufacturing over the next few weeks.”
Steve Radley, director of policy at EEF, commented:
“Today’s announcements are welcome… but with economic headwinds increasing, manufacturers will need to hear more from government soon if they are to make the investment we need to drive our economy forward. Looking forward to the Autumn Statement, it is vital that the government takes the opportunity to set out a coherent strategy and package of measures that will deliver stronger investment, growth and job creation.”