The Manufacturer’s Digital Manufacturing Week in Liverpool succeeded in highlighting the role digitalisation in manufacturing must play in the net zero agenda. Simon Edmonds, Innovate UK’s Deputy Executive Chair and Chief Business Officer reports.
The events highlighted the best manufacturing case studies, collaborations and stories of tech developers supporting manufacturers on the road to digital transformation. The Made Smarter Innovation challenge, funded by UK Research and Innovation, aimed to showcase the myriad of partners and projects it is delivering alongside its stakeholders and partners across KTN, Digital Catapult, ESPRC, ESRC and Connected Everything.
Activities included the Made Smarter Innovation Summit, which ran over two days and brought together a wealth of speakers from across industry and academia, and some highly engaging panel discussions to discuss the ‘here and now’ of Made Smarter Innovation and the importance of digital manufacturing innovation in future plans.
The conference also brought in key themes around climate emergency and explored the opportunities for digital technologies in solutions to achieve net zero. The £20m Smart Sustainable Factories Collaborative R&D competition was also launched at the show. UK registered businesses and organisations can apply for a share of up to £20m for digital innovation projects that will improve the resource and energy efficiency of manufacturing processes in factories.
Applications are encouraged from consortiums comprising a mix of manufacturing and technology development capabilities working together on innovative developments or novel applications of digital technologies. Projects can range from £1m to £8m, run for up to two years and tackle themes such as reducing in-process material losses, and better sequencing manufacturing operations to reduce energy consumption.
One company that is already innovating in this area is TrakRap, who have received Innovate UK funding in the past and has worked with the Manufacturing Technology Centre, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.
Other Made Smarter highlights
Made Smarter Innovation Alley ran through the heart of Smart Factory Expo and brought together 57 of the new and developing technologies that will change the landscape of manufacturing over the next five to ten years. Ground-breaking solutions from the next wave of technology and consultancy businesses targeting manufacturers were demonstrated on the stands.
Fifteen companies from the Alley also took part in the Made Smarter Innovation Alley Investment Readiness programme where they had the opportunity to pitch their innovative solution to in-person and online Angel and VC investors ready and willing to invest in the sector.
The Made Smarter Emerging Technology Show showcased the early-stage R&D which is occurring across the manufacturing ecosystem from the Made Smarter Innovation EPSRC Research Centres, the Made Smarter Innovation ESRC Network and Connected Everything.
The InterAct network, launched at Digital Manufacturing Week, is a call to arms for academics from the social sciences to support the innovation and diffusion of digital technologies that will result in a stronger, more resilient UK manufacturing industry. The SME Growth Summit, supported by BEIS and the Made Smarter Adoption programme highlighted the benefits of adopting industrial digital technology through the Made Smarter programme.
Other funding opportunities:
Innovate UK Smart Grants
UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25m for game-changing and commercially viable research and development (R&D) innovation that can significantly impact the UK economy. The closing date for applications is Wednesday 5 January 2022.