What impact is the UK’s network of Catapult centres having?

By providing state-of-the-art access to facilities and expertise, the UK’s Catapult network of world-leading centres bridges the gap between businesses, research and government. Simon Edmonds reports.

The Catapult centres are an elite network of not-for-profit  facilities designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation in specific areas and help drive future economic growth.

For areas where high-cost capital investment is required, the network aims to de-risk innovation and help businesses grow.

Map of Catapult Centres - The Catapult Centres are an elite network of world-leading technology and innovation centres designed to transform the UK's capability for innovation and help drive future economic growth. The centres are not-for-profit, independent organisations which connect businesses with the UK's research and academic communities to “close the gap between concept and commercialisation”. They are established and overseen by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Three recent examples across manufacturing illustrate how:

Demonstrator to help businesses adopt smart manufacturing

An innovative ‘Factory in a Box’ demonstrator to show businesses how they can grow through the adoption of smart manufacturing techniques and processes has been launched at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC).

Developed by the Coventry-based MTC working alongside the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University and a team of industrial partners, the Factory in a Box is an industrial-scale demonstrator, showcasing how advanced industrial digital technologies can benefit manufacturers and their supply chains.

It is part of the £60m Innovate UK-funded Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) programme, which was formally launched on 13 March at the MTC in front of an audience of nearly 300 manufacturing leaders.

Presentations explained how businesses could benefit from the adoption of a smarter, more digital approach. The Factory in a Box demonstrates several industrial digital technologies in an autonomous, rapidly deployable, remote-controlled modular unit.

This article first appeared in the May issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here

Manufacturing centre international inward investment

It is very welcome news that immunotherapy company TCR2 Therapeutics is to become the first US organisation to work with the Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult at its Stevenage manufacturing centre.

TCR2 has selected the facility to establish a site for global manufacturing and capability development to advance novel T-cell receptor therapies for patients suffering from cancer.

The CGT Catapult manufacturing centre in Stevenage, opened in April 2018, is backed by more than £60m of government investment, including funding from Innovate UK and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

TCR2 joins advanced therapy companies Adaptimmune, Autolus, Cell Medica, and Freeline.

The decision by TCR2 Therapeutics to establish a presence at this world-leading facility is a major international vote of confidence in the UK life sciences sector. Its choice recognises the level and maturity of government investment into UK manufacturing capability and the associated supply chain.


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Virtual simulation of new Boeing facility based in Sheffield

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has developed a virtual simulation model of the new Boeing Sheffield facility. The model will help to validate the opportunities Boeing has to increase productivity by up to 50%.

As part of the Smart Factory research project, which the AMRC are working on for Boeing, its Manufacturing Intelligence Group has worked closely with the Boeing team to create a virtual simulation model using Discrete Event Simulation (DES) techniques to examine the potential capabilities of their new factory, and also to validate opportunities for increasing its productivity.

The key benefits of using simulation for factory floor planning are: optimising factory flow to improve productivity; examining the impacts of uncertainties and validating new technology introduction.

Innovation blogs

I would like to recommend the Innovate UK blog site as a good source of valuable innovation information and viewpoints. For example:

Competition news

Photonic technologies, including lasers and fibre-optics, contribute almost £13bn to the UK economy. These technologies, which generate and harness light, can currently be found in smartphones displays and driverless cars.

Light-based technologies also account for 7% of all UK manufacturing output. This means that the UK is currently among the top 10 countries for global market share of photonics components.

However, ensuring the UK’s continued success will require continued improvement on products and processes.

A share of £2m is available for international partnerships developing novel industrial photonic technologies. The funding is available through the EUREKA Network in Photonics, a joint initiative between Innovate UK and the Photonics21 Mirror Group.

The competition is open and the deadline for registration is at midday on 15 July 2019. Click here for more information.

Simon Edmonds, director - manufacturing, materials & future of mobility, Innovate UK.
Simon Edmonds, director – Manufacturing, Materials & Future of Mobility.

Innovate UK

For more information on any of Innovate UK’s funding opportunities, please contact the customer support service:

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