New £30m R&D fund to help UK manufacturers go digital

Posted on 23 Jul 2019 by Jonny Williamson

The government has announced a new wave of funding to encourage the adoption of digital manufacturing technologies. Consortia of manufacturers are being invited to submit R&D projects, as part of the Made Smarter Challenge.

Smart Factories Industrial Robots - Manufacturing Skills Gap - Digital Technologies Smart Factory Automation Robots Digital Tools - Stock ImageManufacturers who are looking for ways to upgrade their productivity and competitiveness through the adoption of digital technologies can bid for a new layer of government funding, it was announced today. 

In what could potentially be his last act as Business Secretary given the change of Prime Minister, Greg Clark announced the £30m R&D competition to turbocharge the drive for digital transformation of UK manufacturing. 

We want to support companies of all sizes who want to develop new digital capabilities,” Clark said, “and will support projects that will help ensure the UK remains at the forefront of technological developments. 

The competition is open to companies with ambitious plans to transform their manufacturing processes through the deployment of industrial digital technologies such as data analytics, immersive technologies, connected environments and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to BEIS. 

The competition is opens from Wednesday 24 July 2019 and closes on Wednesday 28 August 2019.

Click here for more information and to apply

KTN is running a briefing webinar on 30 July to explain more about the Challenge and the opportunities it affords.  

Click her to register

Funding will come via the Made Smarter Challenge, which has already launched the £20m North West Pilot aimed at helping smaller manufacturing companies adopt digital technologies.

This new layer of funding is for groups of companies who want to develop new ways of deploying advanced technologies to improve productivity across the sector, BEIS said, adding that it will fund projects that will help transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing, ready for a fast start and with the potential for rapid impact.

Projects must be business-led and collaborative, with each association involving at least one SME. 

Juergen Maier CBE, Siemens UK CEO and Co-Chair of the Made Smarter Commission, commented: “This investment is an incredibly important step forward, helping our small manufacturers embrace the latest advanced and digital technologies at a very disruptive time for the industry.

“Through this challenge, there is a real opportunity to boost national productivity and stimulate engineering entrepreneurship which will create the new high wage-high skilled jobs of the future.

Technology providers are understandably keen to lend their support to the initiative. Graeme Wright, CTO for manufacturing, utilities and services, at Fujitsu UK and Ireland said: “It is fantastic to see creative incentives to help boost technology in the UK manufacturing sector.

“In a recent study, we found that 90% of manufacturers believe the sector will transform fundamentally by 2021. Technology has always been the bedrock of the manufacturing industry; it is essential that organisations continue to embrace innovation and the new possibilities that technologies like automation, robotics, quantum inspired optimisation, and inter-connected devices.”

Wright added: “The announcement is a great way to encourage productivity and competitiveness. Combine this continual support from the UK government with savvy leaders, and we will see the manufacturing sector go from strength to strength.”

CROPPED OUT SFE 2018 - What is Made Smarter - Infographic